《明報》名人教英文

堆芯熔毁

22/3/2011 《明報》 名人教英文

地震及海嘯破壞了日本福島核電站的冷卻系統,核電機組發生爆炸,威脅會導致核反應堆的堆芯熔毁。Following the earthquake, explosions shook a nuclear power plant near Fukushima and raised fears of a meltdown and radiation leak.

核電站因反應爐溫度過高,導致核反應堆堆芯熔毁,輻射漏出,叫做meltdown。這是最嚴重的核災難。1986 年烏克蘭的切爾諾貝爾核電廠便發生了這樣的大災難,13 萬人須緊急疏散,並造成數千宗癌症和畸胎:The Chernobyl accident in 1986 sent thousands of tonnes of toxic nuclear dust across Ukraine and Russia, prompting the evacuation of 130,000 people and causing thousands of cases of cancer and birth defects.

福島核電站發生爆炸後,附近大氣中驗出含有放射性元素caesium(銫)。有美國核專家認為,這顯示已發生部分熔毁。A US nuclear expert said the presence of radioactive caesium in the atmosphere indicated that a partial meltdown was under way.

本來專指核災難的meltdown,現在最常用的解法,卻是指財經方面的大災難,例如股市大崩潰叫a market meltdown, 金融大災難叫a financial meltdown。The global financial system suffered a major meltdown,全球金融大崩潰。

Meltdown 一字更可推而廣之,解作任何崩潰,如The last few months have seen the progressive meltdown of the country’s political system ︰過去數月,這國家的政治體制逐步崩潰。又如After several corporate meltdowns, only two reporters are main in the bureau. 機構經歷過幾次解體之後,部門只餘下兩名記者。

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