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Why do we sigh? – Sophie, aged 4, East St Kilda, Melbourne.

我們為什么要嘆氣?——索菲,4歲,墨爾本。



Dear Sophie,
Thanks for your lovely and excellent question about sighing.

親愛的索菲,感謝你問了一個關于嘆氣的問題。

Since you asked a question about sighing, it is probably safe to say that you already know something about breathing. But, for the benefit of everyone else (who might not be an expert like you or me) I am going to talk a little bit about breathing first.

既然你問了一個關于嘆氣的問題,可以說你已經對呼吸有所了解。但是,為了幫助其他人(可能不像我們這樣專業),我將先談一談呼吸。

You have two lungs that you use to breathe. Each lung is a stretchy sack, kind of like a balloon, but not empty like a balloon. Inside your lungs are millions and millions and millions of tiny sacks called alveoli. These tiny sacks called alveoli are very important.

你有兩個肺用于呼吸。 每個肺都是一個有彈性的袋子,有點像氣球,但不像氣球那樣空。肺部內有數以百萬計的小袋子,叫做肺泡。這些叫做肺泡的小袋子非常重要。

To keep living, we need a gas called oxygen to be moved out of the air and into our blood. And that’s not all! We need another gas called carbon dioxide to be moved in the opposite direction: from out of your blood and into the air.

為了活著,我們需要一種叫做氧氣的氣體從空氣中移到我們的血液中。這還不夠!我們還需要另一種叫做二氧化碳的氣體向相反的方向移動:從我們的血液中移到空氣中。

For these two things to happen, the air and your blood need to be brought very, very close together. This is exactly what happens in the tiny sacks called alveoli that fill your lungs. If you don’t get oxygen in and carbon dioxide out, you will die, which is bad.

要促成這兩件事情的發生,需要將空氣和血液非常緊密地結合在一起。這正是在充滿你肺部的叫做肺泡的小袋子里發生的事情。如果你沒有吸入氧氣和呼出二氧化碳,你就會死,這很糟糕。



When you breathe in, the tiny sacks called alveoli (seriously, your lungs are full of ‘em) get filled with air. At the same time, blood (pumped by your heart) flows around the sides of the tiny sacks.

當你吸氣的時候,那些叫做肺泡的小袋子(說真的,你的肺部里充滿了它們)里充滿了空氣。 與此同時,血液(由你的心臟抽吸)在小袋子的兩側流動。

This brings the air and the blood very close together and so allows the gases to move in the right direction (oxygen in, carbon dioxide out).

這使得空氣和血液靠得非常近,并讓氣體向正確的方向移動(氧氣進入,二氧化碳排出)。

Moving these gases is essential for survival, which means that breathing is essential for survival, which means the tiny sacks called alveoli are very, very essential for survival indeed.

移動這些氣體對生存至關重要,即呼吸對生存至關重要,也即這些叫做肺泡的小袋子對生存至關重要。

Back to sighing

回到嘆氣這個事情上來。

Here’s the thing about the tiny sacks called alveoli: you have so many of them that, actually, you don’t need to use them all at once. When you are sitting quietly, you can get move enough gas by using just some of them.

關于肺泡你要了解一些東西:你有很多肺泡,而實際上你不需要一次使用全部的肺泡。當你靜靜地坐著時,只用其中一些就可以交換足夠的氣體了。



If you need to worry about remembering anything, Sophie, it’s that you should never stop asking this sort of lovely question. Congratulations: you are now an expert on breathing and sighing.

如果你害怕忘記任何事情,索菲,那就永遠保持好奇心。恭喜你現在是一個了解呼吸和嘆氣的專家了。