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First listen and then answer the following question.


What does the 'uniquely rational way' for us to communicate with other intelligent beings in space depend on?

We must conclude from the work of those who have studied the origin of life, that given a planet only approximately like our own, life is almost certain to start. Of all the planets in our solar system, we ware now pretty certain the Earth is the only one on which life can survive. Mars is too dry and poor in oxygen, Venus far too hot, and so is Mercury, and the outer planets have temperatures near absolute zero and hydrogen-dominated atmospheres. But other suns, start as the astronomers call them, are bound to have planets like our own, and as is the number of stars in the universe is so vast, this possibility becomes virtual certainty. There are one hundred thousand million starts in our own Milky Way alone, and then there are three thousand million other Milky Ways, or galaxies, in the universe. So the number of the stars that we know exist is now estimated at about 300 million million million.

Although perhaps only 1 per cent of the life that has started somewhere will develop into highly complex and intelligent patterns, so vast is the number of planets, that intelligent life is bound to be a natural part of the universe.

If then we are so certain that other intelligent life exists in the universe, why have we had no visitors from outer space yet? First of all, they may have come to this planet of ours thousands or millions of years ago, and found our then prevailing primitive state completely uninteresting to their own advanced knowledge. Professor Ronald Bracewell, a leading American radio astronomer, argued in Nature that such a superior civilization, on a visit to our own solar system, may have left an automatic messenger behind to await the possible awakening of an advanced civilization. Such a messenger, receiving our radio and television signals, might well re-transmit them back to its home-planet, although what impression any other civilization would thus get from us is best left unsaid.

But here we come up against the most difficult of all obstacles to contact with people on other planets -- the astronomical distances which separate us. As a reasonable guess, they might, on an average, be 100 light years away. (A light year is the distance which light travels at 186,000 miles per second in one year, namely 6 million

million miles.) Radio waves also travel at the speed of light, and assuming such an automatic messenger picked up our first broadcasts

of the 1920's, the message to its home planet is barely halfway there. Similarly, our own present primitive chemical rockets, though good enough to orbit men, have no chance of transporting us to the nearest other star, four light years away, let alone distances of tens or hundreds of light years.

Fortunately, there is a 'uniquely rational way' for us to communicate with other intelligent beings, as Walter Sullivan has put it in his excellent book, We Are not Alone. This depends on the precise radio frequency of the 21-cm wavelength, or 1420 megacycles per second. It is the natural frequency of emission of the hydrogen atoms in space and was discovered by us in 1951; it must be known to any kind of radio astronomer in the universe.

Once the existence of this wave-length had been discovered, it

was not long before its use as the uniquely recognizable broadcasting frequency for interstellar communication was suggested. Without something of this kind, searching for intelligences on other planets would be like trying to meet a friend in London without a pre-

arranged rendezvous and absurdly wandering the streets in the hope of a chance encounter.

ANTHONY MICHAELIS Are There Strangers in Space? from The Weekend Telegraph

【New words and expressions 生词和短语】

Mercury n. 水星

hydrogen n. 氢气

prevailing adj. 普遍的

radio astronomer 射电天方学家

uniquely adv. 地

rational adj. 合理的

radio frequency 无线电频率

cm n. 厘米

megacycle n. 兆周

emission n. 散发

intersteller adj.星际的

rendezvous n. 约会地点


1.that given a planet only approximately like our own, life is almost certain to start 这是一个宾语从句,作动词conclude的宾语,其中given a planet...our own,过去分词短语作条件状语,given与if的意思相近,这个过去分词短语可译成“如果一个行星与我们所在的行星大致相同的话”。

2.life is almost certain to start 那几乎肯定会产生生命。

3.be bound to 必然, 必定

例句:You are bound to feel tired after a long walk.


He's bound to notice your mistake.


4.prevailing adj. 盛行很广的, 普遍的

例句:Your price is out of line with the prevailing international market.


He wore his hair in the prevailing fashion.


5.is best left unsaid 不去说(它)

https://www.sodocs.net/doc/4b10169472.html,e up against 遇到,突然(或意外),碰到(困难、反对等)

例句:He often came up against the problem of money.


We expect to come up against a lot of opposition to the scheme.


7.reasonable adj.


例句:The management took all reasonable safety precautions.


All you need is reasonable doubt.



例句:You are fortunate to have such a reasonable father.



例句:At first sight their demands seemed reasonable.


8.emission n.


例句:In addition, wetland soils are known for methane emission, a greenhouse gas.



例句:The limitless emission of foreign currencies has an serious influence on the

country's economy.



例句:Emission of smoke from chimneys is an offense.


9.absurdly wandering the streets in the hope of a chance encounter 荒唐得在街上



例句:For there was never proud man thought so absurdly well of himself, as the lover

doth of the person loved; and therefore it was well said, That it is impossible to

love, and to be wise.



11.wander v. 漫步,闲逛,徘徊

例句:I like to wander in the park after dinner.


The boy was wandering around.


He likes to wander over the countryside.


The river wanders through some beautiful country.



①n.意外的相见, 邂逅, 遭遇

例句:If both participate, it may be an actual encounter of bodiless consciousness.


②v. 遇到,偶然碰到,遭遇

例句:Otherwise, we will encounter grave difficulties.


I encountered an old friend at Rome.


Don't be afraid to encounter risks.










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