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English to Chinese: Vivid Sydney (缤纷悉尼灯光音乐节） General field: Other Detailed field: Tourism & Travel
Source text - English
Vivid Sydney is back again and this year it is bigger, better and brighter than ever before!
The 18-day annual event of light, music and ideas has become Sydney’s major winter festival; attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors and tourists to signature events such as the Lighting the Sails of the Opera House and the beautiful, meandering journey around the harbour for the much-loved Light Walk. You just can’t miss out!
For the first time in 2014, Vivid Sydney’s famous Light Walk extends beyond the harbour foreshore and onto the harbour itself. This has never been seen before in the history of the festival! The many cruise vessels and ferries that travel around the harbour will be decorated with brilliant lights that change colour as they enter the different Vivid precincts – a real WOW moment for spectators.
Be part of Vivid’s dazzling nightly show/ as you travel around Sydney Harbour on board /one of its newest and most colourful attractions during Harbour Lights.
This, and other major Vivid Sydney precincts include the world’s best lighting technology used to transform skyscrapers and heritage sites at night into an amazing colourful canvas.
Darling Harbour is now one of Vivid’s most colourful and popular precincts, offering entertainment and fun for the whole family. The spectacular show features illuminated water jets of light and water, a recreation of the Versailles Fountain, spectacular laser shows, and site-specific installations across the Darling Harbour foreshore.
Sydney Opera House also offers an extraordinary series of music performances while Vivid Ideas brings creative minds together in Sydney to connect with global leaders in the creative industries from filmmaking to photography, design, technology and gaming – what more could you ask for?!
English to Chinese: Alchemy — Forerunner of Modern Chemistry （炼金术——现代化学的先驱） General field: Social Sciences Detailed field: History
Source text - English
The Chinese were also pioneers in the ancient art of alchemy which antedated modern chemistry. This field of experimentation, which concerned itself with efforts to convert base metals into precious ores, attracted the attention of men until the eighteenth century, when its theories were exploded.
We are all familiar with the romance which surrounded the lives of Roger Bacon and the other notable European alchemists of the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Who has not seen pictures of them laboring over their smoky furnaces in secret laboratories, vainly trying to produce artificial gold or silver from such base metals as lead and mercury? Today they are regarded by many people as mere quacks. They themselves, indeed, helped to give this impression of magic by the vague and mystical language with which they described their art — a language which they used purposely to prevent uninitiated outsiders from learning their precious secrets.
Yet, despite the mystical practices that undoubtedly entered their work, modern historians recognize that these men were often much more than ordinary quacks. Some, indeed, ranked among the most learned scholars of their time. The thirteenth century Roger Bacon, for example, is regarded as one of the fathers of modern science. His theories and those of other alchemists of the Middle Ages, though disproved today, were based upon principles which in their own age were almost universally accepted. And though they failed in their immediate purpose of making gold, their discoveries of various compounds and dyes definitely helped to increase the knowledge of mankind. Alchemy, indeed, as its very name shows, was in some ways the forerunner of our modern chemistry. The syllable "al," in the name "alchemy," tells us something about the history of the word. It shows us that it is of Arabic origin, as are several other words that have "al" as their first syllable, such as "alcohol," "algebra," or "alkali." ("Al" means "the" in Arabic.) But though the Arabs undoubtedly brought alchemy to Europe, they were not its originators. Traditionally, alchemy is believed to have started in Alexandria and other Egyptian cities among metalworkers who lived there during the early centuries after Christ. These men, in their turn, are commonly believed to have followed philosophical ideas going back to the ancient Greeks. It is now established, however, that Chinese alchemy is more than two centuries older than that of the Alexandrians. Though it is not yet absolutely proved that Western alchemy had its origin in China, we do know that the world's earliest recorded attempt at alchemy appears in an official history of China in 133 B.C. In that year, a certain old man came before the emperor with the claim that at the age of seventy he had discovered a way to keep from growing older. When the emperor asked for the secret of this magic power, the old man told him that if he would worship the Goddess of the Kitchen Stove, he would find himself miraculously able to change a mercury-sulfur compound called "cinnabar" into gold. And by eating from plates made of this artificial gold, he could prolong his life indefinitely as he, the old man, had done. The emperor eagerly followed these instructions, but unfortunately for their success, the old man himself soon fell ill and died!
Several other equally unsuccessful attempts are recorded in the official Chinese histories and in other literature during the next two centuries. It is not surprising, therefore, that much prejudice developed against would-be alchemists. Even the death penalty, in fact, seems to have been decreed for anyone convicted of trying to produce artificial gold. This severe punishment, however, did not stop the alchemists from secretly continuing their work, and around A.D. 150 a very important treatise on alchemy appeared. It contains the world's earliest detailed recipe for manufacturing artificial gold in order to produce the magic elixir of immortality. Its language, however, is purposely made so abstruse that no modern chemist would dare to follow its directions! Nevertheless, some of its symbolism, as when it speaks of mercury as "the tiger" and sulphur as "the dragon," is remarkably similar to that found later in European literature on alchemy.
Chinese alchemy was based on the theory that the fundamental law of the universe is one of change — in other words, that everything in the universe is constantly evolving from one state to another and nothing remains permanently the same. The transformation of one metal into another by human means, therefore, was regarded simply as a particular instance of the operation of this universal natural law. Gold was the chief metal that Chinese alchemists concentrated on producing. This was not because they were particularly desirous of wealth, but rather because they hoped to discover a means of preparing an elixir of immortality. Gold was regarded as the most suitable substance for their experimentation, as it does not rust or corrode under chemical action. They reasoned that it must, therefore, be an "immortal" mineral, which, if taken as a medicine by mortals, would endow them with similar immortality.
These ideas appear in a famous Chinese treatise on alchemy written by a recluse scholar, Ko Hung, around the year 325. In this he says, for example:
Flying, running, and crawling creatures all have definite forms. Yet all of a sudden they may discard their old bodies and change into new creatures. Among all creatures, man is the noblest. Yet there are not a few cases when men and women have been changed into a crane, a stone, a tiger, a monkey, sand, or a turtle.... Transformation is the natural law of the universe. Why, then, should we suspect that gold and silver cannot be made out of other things?
But success, he warns, is possible only when working in solitude and after long spiritual preparation:
The preparation of the elixir should be done in some lonely spot on a famous mountain, with not more than three people present. One should first fast for one hundred days and wash oneself with the five fragrant things until one is perfectly purified. One should not approach any impure things or have contact with vulgar people. Furthermore, one should not allow doubters of the Art to know about the matter, for if any slander is made of the Divine Elixir, it will surely fail.
Having prepared oneself, one goes to work as follows:
Use an iron vessel, nine inches long and five inches in diameter. Fill it with a paste made of ground arsenic sulphide, mixed with powder made from worms, crickets, beetles, etc. Two measures of "elixir powder water" may be added. Place it over a fire of horse dung until it is extremely dry..."
Several more processes of this kind are carried out, until.
the furnace is heated to redness over a charcoal fire. Mercury is added. When the mercury begins to stir, lead is poured in. Yellowness will then rise up from the sides and meet in the middle. Upon pouring this on the ground, gold will be obtained.
This gold is then mixed with two unidentifiable substances for a hundred days, until it becomes soft and can be kneaded into pills. The eating of these pills three times a day
will drive away all diseases. A blind man will regain his sight, a deaf man his hearing, and an aged man will become again as if he were but thirty years old. It will be possible to enter fire without being burned, and to be invulnerable to all evils, poisons, cold winds, hear, or dampness.
In these ideas Chinese alchemy shows important differences from the practices of the Alexandrian metallurgists, who never claimed to be able to make genuine gold and silver out of other metals. They merely said they could change the color of these other metals, and thus make them look like gold or silver. Furthermore, their aim in so doing was to gain wealth by palming off their imitations of precious metals on other people. They did not have the belief, as did the Chinese, that gold is an "immortal" metal, and that it could, therefore, be used to give immortality to human beings.
This fundamental Chinese idea crops up again in later Arabic and European alchemy, though often mixed with other ideas that go back to the Alexandrians. Thus, in European alchemy we often see references to the "philosopher's stone," the "elixir of life," and the "fountain of perpetual youth." (It will be remembered that when the Spanish explorer, Ponce de León, discovered Florida in 1521, he was searching for such a "fountain of youth.") By the thirteenth century, when alchemy was attracting attention in Europe, it had become largely discredited in China. Before that time, however, Chinese alchemists had succeeded in persuading even emperors to try their elixirs. Among them were some who actually died from the effects! What is more important is the fact that the experiments of the Chinese alchemists probably resulted in certain inventions of great practical value for mankind. Among them, it has been suggested, were porcelain and gunpowder. The use of gold in modern medicine, especially in treatment for arthritis, has still to be traced historically, however.
In Europe, alchemy lingered many centuries longer than in China. Its deathblow was dealt only in 1783, when Lavoisier (l743-94), the famous French father of modern chemistry, published an epoch-making treatise. In this he demonstrated, by making careful weight measurements of things before and after they had been burned, that fire cannot possibly exist as a separate element. He thus disproved the old theory that all things are formed from the constantly changing combinations of only a few basic elements, of which fire is one. In its place he laid the foundations for our modern classification of chemical elements. And our grandfathers came to consider alchemists quacks or magicians.
We have no definite evidence of how the Chinese art of alchemy was brought to Western Asia, but very probably it was carried there over the Central Asiatic trade route by traders, religious pilgrims, or possibly even soldiers. In the case of paper, for example, we know that the Arabs learned the secret of its manufacture from Chinese soldiers whom they captured in battle in the year 751. As Arabic alchemy begins not long after this event — in the ninth century — it, too, might very possibly have been learned by the Arabs from the Chinese through chance contacts of this sort.
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