他们六个
——狱中给女儿的信选刊六十四

亲爱的小文:
  你要爸爸给你讲六个科学家,好。现在就照你开来的名字讲。

   第一个是亚里士多德(Aristotle),活了六十二岁。

   公元前五到四世纪的时候,有四个人有师生关系,并且都是大名人,前三个人都是哲学家(philosophers),最后一个是东征西讨的皇帝Alexander the Great。


   苏格拉底       柏拉图          亚里士多德       亚历山大
  Socrates        Plato          Aristotle      Alexander
       Socrates' greatest pupil  Plato's greatest pupil  Aristotle's greatest pupil

  Aristotle的学问很大,是哲学家,也是教育家(educator),也是科学家(scientist),他在科学方面的著作有logic、physics、natural history、psychology……但他究竟是两千三百年前的人,他的科学有很多错误,比如他认为地球是宇宙中心,太阳星星绕地球转,这是错的;他认为月亮表面是光滑的,自己发光,这是错的;他认为同时下落,重的东西比轻的东西先着地,这是错的;他认为男人的牙比女人多,这也是错的,这大概是Mrs. Aristotle的牙掉了的缘故!

   Aristotle的真正贡献,chief contribution是他把学问造成一个“继往开来”(to carry on the heritage so as to pave the way for future generations)的局面,使人类爱真理(truth)。
  
   Aristotle在他的Ethica(ethics伦理学)中表示他爱老师Plato,但是更爱真理。在中国也有这种看法,叫“当仁不让于师”。(to yield to nobody when one is doing what is right;do not refuse to accept a reward or position which one deserves;to be behind none in the desire to benefit mankind.)Aristotle differed from Plato both in the aims of his philosophy and in the methods of his investigation. In his Ethica he states that, while both Plato and truth are dear to him, he is bound to prefer truth.

   While Aristotle was a biologist of note, even if we allow for some rather peculiar lapses, his views on physics and astronomy were hopelessly muddled. Plato, combining the Milesian and Pythagorean traditions, had been much nearer the mark, and so were later Hellenistic scientists like Aristarchus and Eratosthenes. Aristotle's most famous contribution to systematic thought is probably his work in logic.

   对Aristotle在science方面的conclusion是——300's B.C. Aristotle's studies in logic and classification contributed to the foundations of science.

   第二个科学家——伽利略(Galileo),活了七十八岁。Galileo was the first great experimenter and the father of modern astronomy. He was also an outstanding mathematician. Galileo说

   Aristotle认为重东西先落地,不对,他跑上比萨斜塔(the Leaning Tower of Pisa),拿两个不同重量的球实验,结果证明Aristotle错了。——但别人都错的时候,他一个人对没有用,他被大学赶走了。

   Galileo又印了一本书,说太阳不动,动的是地球,于是,惹起公愤,虽然他对了。——但别人都错的时候,他一个人对没有用,他被抓到“宗教裁判所”,宗教法庭(Inquisition)。Inquisition动不动就把人烧死,因为Galileo是大学者,又太老了(七十岁),又有点后台(有贵人保护),又“认错”,于是“优待”,改判为“终身软禁”(permanent house arrest)。House arrest, a form of arrest in which a person is confined under guard in his own house:Authorities insisted no one had been jailed but said some strikers were under house arrest.(Tuscaloosa News)

   他“认错”以后,偷偷在一个朋友耳边说:“但它(地球)还在动啊!”Yet it does move!(Epur si muove!)

   他被关在家里,大诗人John Milton(当时三十岁),到Italy旅行,到Galileo家里拜访,Galileo已经瞎了,真巧,十四年后,Milton也瞎了。

   John Milton, an English poet and political writer, wrote one of the world's greatest epics, Paradise Lost.(一六六七)He composed this famous epic and two other works, Paradise Regained(一六七一)and Samson Agonistes(一六七一), when he was totally blind. Milton
Galileo的头脑比时代新,所以老是倒霉。这叫“生不逢辰”(born at a wrong time;luckless;unlucky)。

   对Galileo在science方面的conclusion是——c. 1600 Galileo emphasized the mathematical interpretation of experiments in science. He discovered many important physical laws.
第三个科学家——哈维(William Harvey),活了七十九岁。

   中文有句成语叫“周而复始”(to repeat the cycle all over again)血在人身体里就是周而复始的。发现这一现象很不容易。

   但是哈维发现了。哈维也指出过Aristotle的错误,但对Aristotle的敬爱并不因而减少。哈维有一个大阔佬病人,也是他的好朋友,就是当时英国的皇帝King Charles I。后来Charles I倒台,在Oxford地方哈维的许多稿本都被反对皇帝的人destroyed了,Their loss caused him great sorrow.

   对William Harvey在science方面的conclusion是——1628 William Harvey published his theory on the circulation of the blood.

   第四个科学家——波义尔(Robert Boyle),活了六十四岁。

   波义尔是哲学家、物理学家、化学家(Boyel was a philosopher, a physicist and a chemist),“the father of modern chemistry”。

   英国最有名,也是世界最有名的学术团体——皇家学会(the Royal Society)创办的时候,本来要请Boyel做会长,但因为他在religion方面的原因不愿宣誓,所以没做。(While at Oxford he was the leader of a group of scientists known as the Invisible College, which in 1663 was incorporated as the Royal Society of London. Although Boyle was invited to be president of this organization in 1680, he refused because he had religious scruples against taking an oath. Boyle was deeply religious. At Geneva he had been under strong Calvinist influence which deeply impressed him and gave his life a serious character.)

   ROYAL SOCIETY is the oldest scientific society in the world and probably the most famous. The full title of the organization is The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge. It grew out of weekly meetings which London scientists held as early as 1645. In 1660, the society was officially organized with the approval of King Charles II.(就是Charles I的儿子。)

   In 1662, the society was formally incorporated by charter of Charles II as the Royal Society of London for Promoting Natural Knowledge, or, as it is popularly known, the Royal Society. From its earliest years, the Society maintained correspondence with Continental philosophers, and selections from this correspondence became the world-famous Philosophical Transactions. Sir Isaac Newton was the Society's president from 1703 until his death in 1727. In the approximately 300 years of its existence, the Society has sponsored numerous scientific expeditions and extensive research, including, in recent years, a notable series of investigations of tropical diseases.

   对Boyle在science方面的conclusion是——1660's Robert Boyle applied the scientific method to chemistry.

   第五个科学家——牛顿(Isaac Newton),活了八十五岁。

   Galileo死的那年(Jan.8, 1642),就是Newton生的那年(Dec.25, 1642)。

   Galileo死在年头,Newton生在年尾。他们都没结婚,但Galileo有两个女儿一个儿子。Galileo的一些观察是错的,他虽然把球从斜塔朝下丢,但并没发现落体的真正速度,也没成立定律(law),直到Newton出来,才完成了这一解释。牛顿是个“遗腹子”(an infant born after the death of its father;a posthumous child),从小妈妈不在身边,跟姥姥长大,他从小就喜欢科学。

   ①Newton discovered that sunlight is a mixture of light of all colors. He passed a beam of sunlight through a glass prism and studied the colors that were produced.(By passing a beam of sunlight through a prism, Newton showed that white light is made up of the rainbow's colors.)

   ②He made great discoveries in the field of mathematics. He is credited with inventing integral and differential calculus.(微积分)

   ③He was the first to state the laws of gravitation.
Newton的成绩,英国诗人Alexander Pope有两句诗描写得最好:


   Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night:
God said, Let Newton be!and all was light.
(Alexander Pope:Epigram on Sir Isaac Newton)

In 1705 Newton was knighted by Queen Anne. 所以他名字前面有Sir.就是爵士。热门音乐中文也翻成爵士,但那是jazz的译音,并不真的是爵士,并且乱扭乱唱,一点也不爵士。
Newton虽然有那么大的成绩,但他很谦虚(humble),他说:

To myself seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

对Newton在science方面的conclusion是——1687 Sir Isaac Newton published the Principia, which summarized basic of mechanics. Newton formulated the laws of gravitation and motion and contributed greatly to the theories of light and optical science.
第六个科学家——爱因斯坦(Albert Einstein),活了七十六岁。

   爱因斯坦是German(德国人),又变成了Swiss(瑞士人),又变成了German,又变成了American(美国人),但他的blood是Jew(犹太人)。他帮助Jews复国,但成立Israel(以色列)的时候,他拒绝做总统,结果由他的朋友,会六国语言的Weizmann做了。

   Einstein的新学说是“相对论”(the Theory of Relativity),使Newton的学说一部分动摇。

   Albert Einstein, the German-American physicist, rejected Newton's explanation of universal gravitation but not the fact of its operation. He said that his own work would have been impossible without Newton's discoveries. He also said that the concepts Newton developed “are even today still guiding our thinking in physics”.

   人类能够利用原子能(atomic power),就是从Einstein来的,没有Einstein,就没有原子弹(atomic bomb)用来war,也没有原子能用来peaceful uses。

   对Einstein在science方面的conclusion是——1905 Albert Einstein presented his Special Theory of Relativity. Einstein developed the theory of relativity which revised older theories of time and space, and led to the use of atomic power.

爸 爸 一九七五年五月三十一日



   五月十八日信上托姥姥每周办的事,姥姥办了吗?