• 1.   During an interview for one of my books, my interviewer said something I still think about often. Annoyed by the level of distraction(干扰)in his open office, he said, “That’s why I have a membership at the coworking space across the street —so I can focus. "His comment struck me as strange. After all, coworking spaces also typically use an open office layout (布局). But I recently came across a study that shows why his approach works.   The researchers examined various levels of noise on participants as they completed tests of creative thinking. They were randomly divided into four groups and exposed tovarious noise levels in the background, from total silence to 50 decibels(分贝),70 decibels, and 85 decibels. The differences between most of the groups were statistically insignificant; however,the participants in the 70 decibels group—those exposed to a level of noise similar to background chatter in a coffee shop-significantly outperformed the other groups. Since the effects were small, this may suggest that our creative thinking does not differ that much in response to total silence and 85 decibels of background noise.   But since the results at 70 decibels were significant, the study also suggests that the right level of background noise—not too loud and not total silence—may actually improve one’s creative thinking ability. The right level of background noise may interrupt our normal patterns of thinking just enough to allow our imaginations to wander, without making it impossible to focus. This kind of "distracted focus" appears to be the best state for working on creative tasks.   So why do so many of us hate our open offices? The problem may be that, in our offices, we can't stop ourselves from getting drawn into others’ conversations while we’re trying to focus. Indeed, the researchers found that face-to-face interactions and conversations affect the creative process, and yet a coworking space or a coffee shop provides a certain level of noise while also providing freedom from interruptions.

    阅读理解 2021年 ● 安徽卷

  • 2.   You’ve heard that plastic is polluting the oceans—between 4.8 and 12.7 million tonnes enter ocean ecosystems every year. But does one plastic straw or cup really make a difference? Artist Benjamin Von Wong wants you to know that it does. He builds massive sculptures out of plastic garbage, foreing viewers to re-examine their relationship to single-use plastic products.   At the beginning of the year, the artist built a piece called“Strawpocalypse,” a pair of 10-foot-tall plastic waves, frozen mid-crash. Made of 168,000 plastic straws collected from several volunteer beach cleanups, the sculpture made its first appearance at the Estella Place shopping center in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.   Just 9% of global plastic waste is recycled. Plastic straws are by no means the biggest source (来源)of plastic pollution, but they’ve recently come under fire because most people don’t need them to drink with and, because of their small size and weight, they cannot be recycled. Every straw that' s part of Von Wong's artwork likely came from a drink that someone used for only a few minutes. Once the drink is gone, the straw will take centuries to disappear.   In a piece from 2018, Von Wong wanted to illustrate (说明) a specific statistic: Every 60 seconds, a truckload's worth of plastic enters the ocean. For this work, titled "Truckload of Plastic, "Von Wong and a group of volunteers collected more than 10,000 pieces of plastic, which were then tied together to look like they’d been dumped(倾倒)from a truck all at once.   Von Wong hopes that his work will also help pressure big companies to reduce their plastic footprint.

    阅读理解 2021年 ● 安徽卷

  • 3.  When almost everyone has a mobile phone, why are more than half of Australian homes still paying for a landline (座机)  These days you'd be hard pressed to find anyone in Australia over the age of 15 who doesn’t own a mobile phone. In fact plenty of younger kids have one in their pocket. Practically everyone can make and receive calls anywhere, anytime.  Still, 55 percent of Australians have a landline phone at home and only just over a quarter (29%) rely only on their smartphones, according to a survey (调查).Of those Australians who still have a landline, a third concede that it's not really necessary and they're keeping it as a security blanket - 19 percent say they never use it while a further 13 percent keep it in case of emergencies. I think my home falls into that category.  More than half of Australian homes are still choosing to stick with their home phone. Age is naturally a factor (因素)-only 58 percent of Generation Ys still use landlines now and then, compared to 84 percent of Baby Boomers who've perhaps had the same home number for 50 years. Age isn't the only factor; I'd say it's also to do with the makeup of your household.  Generation Xers with young families, like my wife and I, can still find it convenient to have a home phone rather than providing a mobile phone for every family member. That said, to be honest the only people who ever ring our home phone are our Baby Boomers parents, to the point where we play a game and guess who is calling before we pick up the phone (using Caller ID would take the fun out of it).  How attached are you to your landline? How long until they go the way of gas street lamps and morning milk deliveries?

    阅读理解 2021年 ● 安徽卷

  • 4. The Biggest Stadiums in the World   People have been pouring into stadiums since the days of ancient Greece. In around 8 A.Q., the Romans built the Colosseum, which remains the world's best known stadium are continues to inform contemporary design. Rome’s Colosseum was 157 feet tall and had 80 entrances, seating 50,000 people. However, that was small fry compared with the city’s Circus Maximus, which accommodated around 250,000 people.   These days, safety regulations-not to mention the modern sports fan’s desire for a good view and a comfortable seat-tend to keep stadium capacities(容量)slightly lower. Even soccer fans tend to have a seat each; gone are the days of thousands standing to watch the match.   For the biggest stadiums in the world, we have used data supplied by the World Atlas list so far, which ranks them by their stated permanent capacity, as well as updated information from official stadium websites.  All these stadiums are still functional, still open and still hosting the biggest events in world sport. •Rungrado 1st of May Stadium, Pyongyang, D.P.R-Korea. Capacity. 150,000. Opened. May 1,1989. •Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S. Capacity: 107,601. Opened. October 1, 1927. •Beaver Stadium, State College, Pennsylvania, U.S. Capacity: 106,572. Opened: September 17, I960. •Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio, U.S. Capacity: 104,944. Opened: October 7, 1922. •Kyle Field, College Station, Texas, U.S. Capacity: 102,512. Opened: September 24,1927.

    阅读理解 2021年 ● 安徽卷

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