打开潘多拉魔盒的八大发明 8 Inventors Who Came to Regret Their Creations

2017-08-04 23:15:27


◎ By Kenny Hemphill 译 / 杨瑞

Just because someone’s invented something, it doesn’t mean that they’re happy with the end result.

J. Robert Oppenheimer1)/ Albert Einstein—The Atomic Bomb

It’s J. Robert Oppenheimer who, as director of the Los Alamos Laboratory2) during World War II, is credited with the creation of the atomic bomb. But Albert Einstein’s work made it possible.

Despite past associations with left wing organizations, Oppenheimer welcomed the opportunity to play a part in the war effort. Later, however, he had mixed feelings about the bomb. “I have no remorse3) about the making of the bomb … As for how we used it, I understand why it happened and appreciate with what nobility those men with whom I’d worked made their decision. But I do not have the feeling that it was done right. The ultimatum4) to Japan [the Potsdam Proclamation5) demanding Japan’s surrender] was full of pious6) platitudes7) .... Our government should have acted with more foresight and clarity in telling the world and Japan what the bomb meant,” he said.

Einstein was less equivocal8). Years later he regretted having signed a letter to President Roosevelt urging him to support the research of physicists into nuclear chain reactions and their use as a weapon, because he believed the Germans were already working on it. “Had I known that the Germans would not succeed in producing an atomic bomb,” he said, “I would have never lifted a finger.”

Mikhail Kalashnikov9)—AK-47

Kalashnikov designed the rifle that bore his name for the Russian army at the end of the Second World War after witnessing terrible casualties in battle and being injured himself. Designed to be a simple automatic rifle that could be made cheaply using the mass production methods available at the time, Kalashnikov, who died in 2013, lived long enough to see his creation be responsible for more deaths than any other assault rifle.

“I keep coming back to the same question. If my rifle claimed people’s lives, can it be that I, an Orthodox believer, am to blame for their deaths, even if they are my enemies?” he wrote in a letter to the head of the Russian Orthodox church in 2010.

Tim Berners Lee10)—The Double Slash

Given what Sir Tim did for all of us when he developed HTML11) and created the World Wide Web, he’s got a fair amount of credit in the bank. If he did have any major regrets about the web, we wouldn’t find it too difficult to forgive him, but his mea culpa12) relates to only two characters, the “//” at the beginning of every web address. “Really, if you think about it, it doesn’t need the //. I could have designed it not to have the //,” he said, according to Business Insider.

Ethan Zuckerman—The Pop-up Advert

If you’ve ever found yourself yelling at your computer screen in frustration as yet another pop-up ad leaps into view, obscuring13) the content behind it, Zuckerman is the person to blame.

Now head of the Center for Civic Media at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Zuckerman wrote an essay for The Atlantic last year entitled “The Internet’s Original Sin,” in which he took full responsibility for the pesky blighters14). Working as an employee of web host15) Tripod at the time, Zuckerman explained that the company, which provided free web pages for consumers, had spent five years looking for a way to generate revenue.

“At the end of the day, the business model that got us funded was advertising. The model that got us acquired was analyzing users’ personal homepages so we could better target ads to them. Along the way, we ended up creating one of the most hated tools in the advertiser’s toolkit: the pop-up ad.”

Dong Nguyen—Flappy Bird

Flappy Bird was a sensation a year ago. What looked like a crude and simple game proved to be hugely addictive thanks to it hitting that sweet spot16) between infuriating17) difficulty and being just playable enough to make you think that next time you’ll do better. Downloads soared and controversy raged until, after 50 million downloads and advertising revenue that was hitting around $45,000 a day, Nguyen had had enough and announced that he was going to withdraw it from app stores. “I cannot take this anymore,” he tweeted. Apparently, the publicity generated by the game had attracted the attention of the world’s press and Nguyen was bombarded with calls, tweets, and emails.

The removal of the game from app stores did little to quell the publicity. Nguyen received death threats, while phones with the game already installed sold on eBay for small fortunes18), and app stores were flooded with copycat19) titles.

Bob Propst—The Office Cubicle

While working as a consultant for Herman Miller20) in the 1960s, Bob Propst introduced America to the open plan office and with it, the office cubicle. It was, he told the New York Times in 1997, designed to “give knowledge workers a more flexible, fluid environment than the rat-maze boxes of offices.”

Companies saw his invention as a way to save money, doing away with individual offices and replacing them with open plans and cubicles. Propst came to lament his invention. “The cubiclizing of people in modern corporations is monolithic insanity,” he said.

Vincent Connare—Comic Sans

“If you love it, you don’t know much about typography21).” An anonymous critic of the font22) Comic Sans didn’t say that, for those are the words of its designer, Vincent Connare, talking to the Wall Street Journal. Connare followed up that comment, however, with this: “If you hate it, you really don’t know much about typography, either, and you should get another hobby.”

Connare’s view, and one shared by lots of others, is that the problem with Comic Sans is not with the font itself, but its overuse and misuse. Designed for a Microsoft application aimed at children to be used as a replacement in speech bubbles for Times New Roman, Connare never imagined it would become so widely used and derided23).

Tom Karen—Raleigh Chopper24)

Before the BMX25) arrived on the scene in the late 1970s, if you wanted a bike that wasn’t of the drop-handlebarred26) racing variety, Raleigh’s Chopper was one of the few options. Loved by millions for its comfortable saddle, laid-back seating position, and those huge Harley Davidson-esque27) handlebars, it was one of Raleigh’s best-selling bikes in the 1970s.

However, its designer, Tom Karen, wasn’t enthusiastic when a comeback28) for the Chopper was mooted29) last year. He told The Telegraph: “The Chopper wasn’t a very good bike. It was terribly heavy so you wouldn’t want to ride it very far. There was some guy who rode it from Land’s End to John O’Groats30)for a good cause and by the end he was cursing it.”

1. J. Robert Oppenheimer:即尤利乌斯·罗伯特·奥本海默(Julius  Robert Oppenheimer, 1904~1967),著名美籍犹太裔物理学家,曼哈顿计划的领导者,原子弹之父。

2. Los Alamos Laboratory:即美国洛斯·阿拉莫斯国家实验室,简称阿拉莫斯实验室,世界上最大的多功能实验室之一,曾云集大批世界顶尖科学家,发明了世界上第一颗原子弹和第一颗氢弹。

3. remorse [rɪˈmɔː(r)s] n. 痛悔,悔恨,自责

4. ultimatum [ˌʌltɪˈmeɪtəm] n. 最后通牒

5. the Potsdam Proclamation:即《中美英三国促令日本投降之波茨坦公告》,简称《波茨坦公告》或《波茨坦宣言》,是二战末期盟国对日本的最后通牒式公告,其中一条内容是:“盟国将予日本以最后打击,直至停止抵抗。”

6. pious [ˈpaɪəs] adj. 虚伪的

7. platitude [ˈplætɪtjuːd] n. 套话

8. equivocal [ɪˈkwɪvək(ə)l] adj. 模棱两可的,态度暧昧的,含糊的

9. Mikhail Kalashnikov:米哈伊尔·卡拉什尼科夫(1919~2013),俄罗斯著名枪械设计师,以设计AK-47突击步枪闻名。

10. Tim Berners Lee:蒂姆·伯纳斯·李(1955~),英国计算机科学家,万维网(World Wide Web)的发明者

11. HTML:超文本标记语言

12. mea culpa:拉丁语,意为“我的过失”;认错

13. obscure [əbˈskjʊə(r)] vt. 遮掩

14. blighter [ˈblaɪtə(r)] n. 讨厌的事物

15. host [həʊst] n. [计]主机

16. sweet spot:(球拍、球棒等上的)最有效击球点

17. infuriating [ɪnˈfjʊəriˌeɪtɪŋ] adj. 使人十分生气的

18. small fortune:〈口〉大笔钱

19. copycat [ˈkɒpiˌkæt] n. 模仿者,仿效者

20. Herman Miller:赫曼米勒,美国最主要的家具与室内设计厂商之一

21. typography [taɪˈpɒɡrəfi] n. 印刷格式,排版式样

22. font [fɒnt] n. 字形

23. deride [dɪˈraɪd] vt. 嘲笑,嘲弄

24. Raleigh Chopper:英国著名自行车公司兰令(Raleigh)于20世纪70年代推出的一款造型独特的经典自行车,有着高高的车把和形似靠背椅的厚实坐垫,后轮比前轮大。

25. BMX:指BMX小轮车,BMX的全称是Bicycle Motocross (自行越野车),这种车结实、轻巧、抗震、耐摔,车胎粗而耐磨,刹车性能高,车把能360度旋转。

26. drop-handlebarred:带有竞赛用自行车下弯形把手的

27. Harley Davidson-esque:哈雷摩托车风格的

28. comeback [ˈkʌmˌbæk] n. 恢复,重现

29. moot [muːt] vt. 提出(问题、观点等)供讨论

30. from Land’s End to John O’Groats:从兰兹角(Land’s End,英格兰最西南端的海岬)到约翰奥格罗茨(John O’Groats,曾被认为是英国最北端),指横跨英国的距离。仅仅因为一个人发明了一件东西,并不意味着其会对最后的结果感到高兴。





















文森特·康纳尔:Comic Sans字体

“你如果喜爱这一字体,那你就对印刷排版所知不多。”说这话的人并不是Comic Sans字体的什么匿名批评人士,因为这是该字体的设计者文森特·康纳尔对《华尔街日报》讲的原话。但是康纳尔随即又说了这么一句:“你如果讨厌这一字体,那你对印刷排版更是所知不多,而且你应该找一个别的爱好。”

康纳尔的观点也是其他很多人的观点,他们认为Comic Sans字体的问题不在字体本身,而在于该字体被滥用、误用。这本是为一款针对儿童的微软应用而设计的字体,用来代替Times New Roman字体,用于漫画中的话框。但是康纳尔永远想不到,该字体的使用会变得如此广泛并招致嘲弄。




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