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更新时间:2017/10/14 10:58:35 来源:本站原创 作者:佚名

Canadas vital role in the communications revolution

The cool, crisp breeze dancing in from the Atlantic Ocean lifted my hair back from my face, and the bright sunshine highlighted a massive iceberg floating a few miles out, a powerful and sparkling contrast against a gentle blue sky.


I carefully framed the iceberg over my left shoulder and snapped the perfect selfie. A few taps of my phone later, the image was soaring through cyberspace from my location in St John’s, Newfoundland, to my various social media channels and followers around the world.

我巧妙地选取了一个角度,让冰山显现在我的左肩上方,抓取了一张完美的自拍。接着,我轻触了几下手机屏幕,这张照片就从我所在的纽芬兰省(Newfoundland)圣约翰市(St John's)旋即通过网络空间,传到了我的多个社交媒体账号上,出现在遍布世界各地的粉丝面前。

I smiled, wondering if, when Guglielmo Marconi stood on this spot in December 1901 to receive the world’s first wireless transatlantic transmission, he had any idea of where his success would lead. Would Marconi have taken a selfie on this spot?

我莞尔一笑,很想知道,当古利莫·马可尼(Guglielmo Marconi)1901年12月站在这个地方接收到世界上首次跨大西洋无线信号传输时,他曾否想到他的成就会引领怎样翻天覆地的变化?马可尼会不会在这里留下一张自拍?

I was on Signal Hill, a massive piece of bedrock about 140m above the Atlantic Ocean on Canada’s eastern shore. It’s a dramatic spot where the ocean merges into St John’s Harbour, creating a waterway appropriately called The Narrows. Fishing boats and trawlers pass through each morning just as the sun begins to illuminate the route, and again in the early evening hours to bring seafood to the local restaurants and canneries.

我所站的地方叫作信号山(Signal Hill),是位于加拿大东海岸高出大西洋140米的一块巨大基岩。这里颇为壮观,大西洋在这里汇入圣约翰港(St John's Harbour),形成了被称作"狭窄水道"(The Narrows)的一条航道。每天早上,当太阳开始照亮这条水道时,渔船和拖网渔船都会从这里通过,到了傍晚时分,这些船只将再次从这里经过,满载着海鲜带到当地的餐馆和罐头厂。

They, too, make vivid images to share on social media.


A paved trail from downtown St John’s follows the harbour shoreline to the bottom of the hill before winding around and up via a series of switchbacks and steps that make the hike an energetic workout. When I explored on a Saturday afternoon, the hillside was dotted with picnickers, dog walkers and people enjoying the beauty of the day. Two wedding parties with photographers in tow were taking advantage of this exceptional setting as a backdrop for their special day.


But its popularity was not what brought Marconi to Signal Hill. Indeed, the number of visitors was a concern as he considered the needs for his experiment.


The child of a wealthy family in Bologna, Italy, Marconi was well-educated, and from an early age was fascinated with science, specifically the transmission of electromagnetic waves through the air. He was the first to discover that by grounding a transmitter and receiver, and raising the height of an antenna, he could extend a signal’s range.


That was big news in 1894. But few in Italy were impressed, so Marconi moved to Great Britain where he patented the invention and found investors to continue his work. The big question of the day was whether a long-distance radio wave could follow the curvature of the Earth or whether it just shot out into space.


Marconi scoured several locations on North America’s eastern seaboard for this experimental, transatlantic transmission. His first choice was a rocky outcropping in Wellfleet on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, but a series of storms on both sides of the ocean that battered antennae and other equipment eventually led him further north.

马可尼选取了北美东部沿海的几处地方进行这次跨大西洋传输实验。他的首个选址位于马萨诸塞州(Massachusetts)科德角(Cape Cod)的韦尔弗利特(Wellfleet)的一块露出的岩石,但来自大西洋两侧的一连串风暴破坏了他的天线和其他设备,最终迫使他进一步向北。

Signal Hill is not the most eastern point in North America; that would be Cape Spear, a little further south. But Signal Hill is slightly more protected from the North Atlantic’s furious storms by a natural recess in the coastline. On a clear day, you feel as though you could shout a greeting to someone on England’s rocky coast, about 3,500km to the east.

信号山并不是北美的最东端,最东端是稍稍偏南的斯必尔角(Cape Spear)。不过,由于海岸线在这里有一处自然的凹进,让信号山免受北大西洋暴风雨袭击。在一个晴朗的日子里,你甚至可以感觉你可以向距离3,500公里以东、站在英国岩石海岸的某个人大声发出问候。

Marconi had already chosen his ideal location on the other side of the Atlantic: Poldhu on the Lizard Peninsula in South Cornwall. Although the original transmission station is gone, a monument and visitors centre today marks the spot and interprets what was going on here while Marconi and team worked on the other side of the ocean.

马可尼已经在大西洋的另一侧选择好了一处理想的位置:位于英国南康沃尔(South Cornwall)蜥蜴半岛(Lizard Peninsula)的波尔杜(Poldhu)。虽然当年的传输站今已不在,但今天竖立着的纪念碑和游客中心标出了当时的地点,并说明了马可尼和团队在大洋另一边工作的过程中所发生的一切。

Those in England worked in isolation, struggling with weather conditions of their own, not knowing at all what was transpiring in Newfoundland. It had been weeks since they had communicated with Marconi and team.


For several days, at an appointed time each day, the scientists at Poldhu transmitted three simple dots – the Morse code signal for the letter ‘s’. Marconi was battling against the violently cold and windy winter up here, and needed to use a series of balloons and kites to help keep his antennae upright. But each day, at the designated time, he donned headsets and listened.


Finally, on 12 December 1901, it happened. Dot-dot-dot.


Marconi was instantly a name known around the world, comparable today perhaps to Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs. He made millions from his inventions and received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1909.

马可尼一夜间成为世界名人,堪比当今的马克·扎克伯格(Mark Zuckerberg)或是史蒂夫·乔布斯(Steve Jobs)。他的发明为他带来了数百万美元的财富,并且于1909年获得了诺贝尔物理学奖。

Signal Hill is now a National Historic Site. And about 64km south is Cape Race, the first permanent Marconi station in North America. It was here on a cold night in April 1912 that wireless transmissions from the RMS Titanic were received and shared with the rest of the world.

信号山现在是加拿大的国家历史遗址。大约向南64公里是莱思角(Cape Race),北美第一个永久性马可尼站就位于那里。在1912年4月的一个寒冷的夜晚,泰坦尼克号发出的无线信号就在那里被接收到并传向世界各地。

Both places are worthy of a selfie, thanks to Guglielmo Marconi.