经济学人双语精读 | 地震还不可预测。暂时如此

Seismology
地震学

Predicting earthquakes is not possible. Yet
地震还不可预测。暂时如此

But an intriguing new approach shows promise
但一种新奇的方法显现了希望

  • intriguing 非常有趣的、引人入胜的、神秘的

One of the questions most frequently asked of the United States Geological Survey is whether earthquakes can be predicted. Their answer is an unconditional “no”. The relevant page on the agency’s website states that no scientist has ever predicted a big quake, nor do they know how such a prediction might be made.
美国地质勘探局最常被问的问题之一是地震是否可以预测。他们的回答是斩钉截铁的“不能”。根据该机构官网上相关网页的说法,还没有哪位科学家成功预测过一场大地震,而且他们也不知道如何能做出这样的预测。

  • unconditional 无条件的、无限制的、绝对的

But that may soon cease to be true. Though, after decades of failed attempts and unsubstantiated claims about earthquake prediction, a certain scepticism is warranted—and Paul Johnson, a geophysicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, is indeed playing down the predictive potential of what he is up to—it is nevertheless the case that, as part of investigations intended to understand the science of earthquakes better, he and his team have developed a tool which might make forecasting earthquakes possible.
但事情可能很快会有变化。虽说鉴于几十年来地震预测屡试屡败,加上成功预测了地震的说法也未曾证实,一定的怀疑合情合理——实际上,美国洛斯·阿拉莫斯国家实验室的地球物理学家保罗·约翰逊对于自己的研究在地震预测方面的潜力确实很低调。但也无可否认,在为了更好地认识地震科学的各种研究中,约翰逊和他的团队开发的一种工具或许会让地震预测成为可能。

  • scepticism 怀疑态度;怀疑主义
  • warrant 使有必要、使正当、使恰当

As do so many scientific investigations these days, their approach relies on artificial intelligence in the form of machine learning. This, in turn, uses computer programs called neural networks that are based on a simplified model of the way in which nervous systems are thought to learn things. Machine learning has boomed in recent years, scoring successes in fields ranging from turning speech into text to detecting cancer from computerised-tomography scans. Now, it is being applied to seismology.
就和当今许多科学研究一样,他们的方法也依赖人工智能,具体来说就是机器学习。而机器学习又要运用被称为神经网络的计算机程序——一种根据对神经系统学习功能的认识而做出的简化模型。机器学习近年来蓬勃发展,并在很多领域有所建树,比如将语音转录为文本、通过计算机断层扫描检测癌症等。现在,它又被应用到了地震学中。