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父母捉襟见肘,我愿一走了之

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众所周知,在诸如饥荒等压力的环境下,女孩的出生率要比光景好的时候多。
IT HAS been known for a while that stressful conditions such as famine result in more girls being born than happens in good times.
从性别比来看是很小的,只有约1%,但是放在众多的人口中看,确实颇为令人瞩目的。
The shift in the sex-ratio is tiny—around 1%—but in a large population that is still noticeable.
一个进化理论是说女性不管在何种环境中,都更加容易交配和生产,而男孩子往往会在繁殖的竞争中落败。
A possible evolutionary explanation is that daughters are likely to mate and produce grandchildren regardless of condition, whereas weedy sons may fail in the struggle to have the chance to reproduce at all.
在艰苦的环境中,女儿更是一个安全的进化筹码,不管是因为何种原因,长期以来人们都认为这一现象发生的时刻就是受精的那一刻,或者是进入子宫的时刻。有一种观点认为,面对压力的子宫不太容易接纳一个男性的胚胎。
In hard times, then, daughters are a safer evolutionary bet. Regardless of why the shift happens, though, it has long been argued that the moment when it happens is conception—or, more probably, implantation. A womb exposed to stress hormones, runs the hypothesis, is less likely to accommodate a male fetus.
但是最近发表的一项研究说并不必然是这样。根据加州伯克利大学的Ralph Catalano和他的同事在美国人类生物学杂志上的论述,因为压力而产生的性别选择也可以是在受精或者着床之后很久以后发生的。
A recently published study, however, suggests this ain’t necessarily so. According to Ralph Catalano of the University of California, Berkeley, and his colleagues, writing in the American Journal of Human Biology, stress-induced sex selection can take place long after conception and implantation.
饥荒现在在美国是很罕见的,Catalano和他的同事们用了失业来作为压力事件,他们研究了加州从1995年4月到2007年12月的出生记录,又将新申报的数量和失业保险比较。
Famines being rare in America these days, Dr Catalano and his colleagues used unemployment as their stressful event. They studied the birth records of the state of California from April 1995 to December 2007, and compared these with the number of new claims for unemployment insurance.
以过去的研究成果为基础,他们又具体看了失业的记录,申报失业往往能比解雇几个员工引起更大的社会反响,这主要是指那些解雇50个员工的雇主。
Based on hints from earlier work, they looked specifically at unemployment claims that had wider social resonance than the firing of a few individuals—namely those in which an employer sacked 50 workers or more in one go.
这些大规模的解雇时间,就有些像自然灾害比如饥荒带来的影响,比一些仅仅导致几人死亡的事件影响要大很多。
These mass lay-offs, it might be hypothesised, are more like natural catastrophes, such as famines, than isolated accidents that cause a few people to fall on hard times.
研究者发现大规模的解雇确实会导致更少的男孩出生,在整个时段52.4%的新出生婴儿为男孩。
The researchers discovered that mass lay-offs did, indeed, lead to fewer boys being born. Over the whole period 52.4% of births were of boys.
尽管在有些月份,会降到51.2%.对这些数据的分析表明大批裁员很可能导致了这一比例的下降,但是这些失业裁员也可能发生在受精的数月之后,也就是说男性的胚胎很可能由于压力的原因被抛弃了。
In some months, though, that fell as low as 51.2%. Teasing out the statistics suggested that the stress of mass lay-offs probably caused these drops, but that the lay-offs in question could happen months after conception. Male fetuses were, in other words, being spontaneously aborted—presumably as a consequence of stress.
这并不意味着原来的假设是错误的,但是不是百分之百正确的。这个残忍的筛选后代的过程看来可以是在一个胚胎已经开始发育后发生的。根据Catalano的说法,下一步就要测量怀孕女性的荷尔蒙水平,来预测自然流产,同时弄清楚这些水平是否会因为压力事件而发生变化。
That does not mean the original hypothesis is wrong. But it is not the whole truth. The ruthless winnowing of inappropriate offspring can, it seems, also take place well after a fetus has started developing. The next step, according to Dr Catalano, is to measure in pregnant women the levels of hormones known to predict spontaneous abortion, and to work out if these levels vary with stressful events.
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2010-01-03 21:59 编辑:kuaileyingyu
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