《明報》名人教英文

探月計劃

2010年10月19日《明報》 名人教英文

嫦娥二號繞月探測衛星成功進入軌道,中國探月工程又邁進了一步。嫦娥二號的英文名稱(漢語拼音)是「Chang’e-2」。有關報道說:China moved closer to its goal of landing on the moon as its second unmanned lunar probe, Chang’e-2, blasted off seconds before 7:00pm on Friday (1 October) from the southwestern city of Xichang (西昌).

報道又說: The circumlunar satellite separated from the rocket at 7:26pm to enter the Earth-moon transfer orbit. In less than five days, it will enter a100-kilometer lunar orbit. TheChang’e-2 mission is considered a starting point of the second stage of China’s lunar exploration programme that focuses on landing on the moon.

這裏多次出現的形容詞lunar, 意思是「與月球有關的」:繞月軌道是lunar orbit,探月計劃是lunar exploration programme, 探月衛星可叫lunar probe, 亦可叫lunar satellite 或circumlunar satellite。

在lunar 前面加上circum- , 是「圍繞月球」的意思。Probe 作為動詞,是偵測、探測;作為名詞,指一項偵測的行動,或者一件探測儀器,如space probe 是太空探測飛船,lunar probe 就是探測月球的飛船或衛星;因為是不載人的, 所以叫unmanned lunar probe。

在嫦娥二號升空前幾天(9 月25 日),《紐約時報》專欄作家Thomas Friedman 發表了一篇題為China’s Moon Shots 的文章,說的卻不是中國的探月計劃。文章開頭說: China is doing moon shots. Yes, that’s plural. When I say “moon shots" I mean big, multibillion-dollar,25-year-horizon, game-changing investments.

本來moon shot 或moonshot就是指探月計劃;由於探月計劃牽涉龐大、長遠、跨時代的投資,所以Friedman 就把這名稱借用來泛指龐大而長遠的投資項目。他在文章裏指出,中國目前正在進行的moon shots,最少有4 項:建造超現代化的機場網絡、建造高速鐵路網絡、發展幹細胞及遺傳工程工業,以及研發電動汽車。

然後,他諷刺地對美國人說:

Not to worry. America today also has its own multibillion-dollar,25-year-horizon, game-changing moon shot: fixing Afghanistan.

Friedman 是批評,當中國正投資龐大資源去發展科技和經濟的時候,美國卻把龐大的資源花在處理阿富汗。

20101019

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