• 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

  • 5.   During the rosy years of elementary school (小学), I enjoyed sharing my dolls and jokes , which allowed me to keep my high social status. I was the queen of the playground. Then came my tweens and teens, and mean girls and cool kids, They rose in the ranks not by being friendly but by smoking cigarettes, breaking rules and playing jokes on others, among whom I soon found myself.   Popularity is a well-explored subject in social psychology. Mitch Prinstein, a professor of clinical psychology sorts the popular into two categories: the likable and the status seekers. The likables plays-well-with-others qualities strengthen schoolyard friendships , jump-start interpersonal skills and, when tapped early, are employed ever after in life and work. Then there's the kind of popularity that appears in adolescence: status born of power and even dishonorable behavior.   Enviable as the cool kids may have seemed, Dr. Prinstein's studies show unpleasant consequences. Those who were highest in status in high school, as well as those least liked in elementary school, are "most likely to engage (从事) in dangerous and risky behavior."   In one study, Dr. Prinstein examined the two types of popularity in 235 adolescents , scoring the least liked, the most liked and the highest in status bаѕеd оn ѕtudеnt ѕurvеуѕ (调查研究). "Wе fоund thаt thе lеаѕt wеll-lіkеd teens had become more aggressive over time toward their classmates. But so had those who were high in status, It clearly showed that while likability can lead to healthy adjusment , high status has just the opposite effect on us."   Dr. Prinstein has also found that the qualities that made the neighbors want you on a play date-sharing, kindness, openness-carry over to later years and make you better able to relate and connect with others.   In analyzing his and other research, Dr. Prinstein came to another conclusion: Not only is likability related to positive life outcomes, but it is also responsible for those outcomes, too. "Being liked creates opportunities for learning and for new kinds of life experiences that help somebody gain an advantage," he said.

    阅读理解 2019年 ● 全国卷Ⅰ

  • 6.   As data and identity theft becomes more and more common, the market is growing for biometric (生物测量) technologies - like fingerprint scans - to keep others out of private e-spaces. At present, these technologies are still expensive, though.   Researc hers from Georgia Tech say that they have come up with a low-cost device (装置) that gets around this problem: a smart keyboard. This smart keyboard precisely measures the cadence (节奏) with which one types and the pressure fingers apply to each key. The keyboard could offer a strong layer of security by analyzing things like the force of a user's typing and the time between key presses. These patterns are unique to each person. Thus, the keyboard can determine people's identities, and by extension, whether they should be given access to the computer it's connected to regardless of whether someone gets the password right.   It also doesn't require a new type of technology that people aren't already familiar with. Everybody uses a keyboard and everybody types differently.   In a study describing the technology, the researchers had 100 volunteers type the word "touch" four times using the smart keyboard. Data collected from the device could be used to recognize dfferent participants based on how they typed, with very low error rates. The researchers say that the keyboard should be pretty straightforward to commercialize and is mostly made of inexpensive, plastic-like parts. The team hopes to make it to market in the near future.

    阅读理解 2019年 ● 全国卷Ⅰ

  • 7.   For Canaan Elementary's second grade in Patchogue, N.Y., today is speech day, and right now it's Chris Palaez's turn. The 8-year-old is the joker of the class. With shining dark eyes , he seems like the kind of kid who would enjoy public speaking.   But he's nervous. "I'm here to tell you today why you should… should…" Chris trips on the "-ld," a pronunciation difficulty for many non-native English speakers. His teacher, Thomas Whaley, is next to him, whispering support. "… Vote for… me…" Except for some stumbles, Chris is doing amazingly well. When he brings his speech to a nice conclusion, Whaley invites the rest of the class to praise him.   A son of immigrants, Chris started learning English a lttle over three years ago. Whaley recalls (回想起) how at the beginning of the year, when called upon to read, Chris would excuse himself to go to the bathroom.   Learning English as a second language can be a painful experience. What you need is a great teacher who lets you make mistakes. "It takes a lot for any student," Whaley explains, "especially for a student who is learning English as their new language, to feel confident enough to say, 'I don't know, but I want to know.' "   Whaley got the idea of this second-grade presidential campaign projet when he asked the children one day to raise their hands if they thought they could never be a president. The answer broke his heart, Whaley says the project is about more than just learning to read and speak in public. He wants these kids to learn to boast (夸耀) about themselves.   "Boasting about yourself, and your best qualities," Whaley says, "is very dificult for a child who came into the classroom not feeling confident."

    阅读理解 2019年 ● 全国卷Ⅰ

  • 8. Need a Job This Summer?   The provincial government and its partners offer many programs to help students find summer jobs. The deadlines and what you need to apply depend on the program.   Not a student? Go to the government website to learn about programs and online tools available to help people under 30 build skills, find a job or start businesses all year round. Jobs for Youth   If you are a teenager living in certain parts of the province, you could be eligible (符合条件) for this program, which provides eight weeks of paid employment along with training.   Who is eligible: Youth 15 — 18 years old in select communities(社区). Summer Company   Summer Company provides students with hands-on business training and awards of up to $3,000 to start and run their own summer businesses.   Who is eligible: Students aged 15 — 29 , returning to school in the fall. Stewardship Youth Ranger Program   You could apply to be a Stewardship Youth Ranger and work on local natural resource management projects for eight weeks this summer.   Who is eligible: Students aged 16 or 17 at time of hire, but not turning 18 before December 31 this year. Summer Employment Opportunities (机会)   Though the Summer Employment Oporonitites program, students are hired each year in a variety of summer positions across the Provincial Public Service, its related agencies and community groups.   Who is eigile: Students aged 15 or older. Some positions require students to be 15 to 24 or up to 29 for persons with a diability.

    阅读理解 2019年 ● 全国卷Ⅰ

  • 9.   By the end of the century, if not sooner, the world's oceans will be bluer and greener thanks to a warming climate , according to a new study.   At the heart of the phenomenon lie tiny marine microorganisms (海洋微生物) саllеd рhуtорlаnktоn. Весаuѕе оf thе wау lіght rеflесtѕ оff thе organisms , these phytoplankton create colourful patterns at the ocean surface. Ocean colour varies from green to blue, depending on the type and concentration of phytoplankton. Climate change will fuel the growth of phytoplankton in some areas, while reducing it in other spots, leading to changes in the ocean's appearance.   Phytoplankton live at the ocean surface, where they pull carbon dioxide(二氧化碳) into the ocean while giving off oxygen. When these organisms die, they bury carbon in the deep ocean, an important process that helps to regulate the global climate. But phytoplankton are vulnerable to the ocean's warming trend. Warming changes key characteristics of the ocean and can affect phytoplankton growth, since they need not only sunlight and carbon dioxide to grow, but also nutrients.   Stephanie Dutkiewicz, a scientist in MIT's Center for Global Change Science, built a climate model that projects changes to the oceans throughout the century. In a world that warms up by 3℃, it found that multiple changes to the colour of the oceans would occur. The model projects that currently blue areas with little phytoplankton could become even bluer. But in some waters, such as those of the Arctic, a warming will make conditions riper for phytoplankton, and these areas will turn greener. "Not only are the quantities of phytoplankton in the ocean changing," she said, " but the type of phytoplankton is changing."   And why does that matter? Phytoplankton are the base of the food web. If certain kinds begin to disappear from the ocean, Dutkiewicz said,"it will change the type of fish that will be able to survive." Those kinds of changes could affect the food chain.   Whatever colour changes the ocean experiences in the coming decades will probably be too gradual and unnoticeable, but they could mean significant changes. "It'll be a while before we can statistically show that the changes are happening because of climate change," Dutkiewicz said, "but the change in the colour of the ocean will be one of the early warning signals that we really have changed our planet. "

    阅读理解 2019年 ● 北京卷

  • 10.   The problem of robocalls has gotten so bad that many people now refuse to pick up calls from numbers they don't know. By next year, half of the calls we receive will be scams(欺诈). We are finally waking up to the severity of the problem by supporting and developing a group of tools, apps and approaches intended to prevent scammers from getting through. Unfortunately, it's too little, too late. By the time these "solutions" (解决方案) become widely available, scammers will have moved onto cleverer means. In the near future, it's not just going to be the number you see on your screen that will be in doubt. Soon you will also question whether the voice you're hearing is actually real.   That's because there are a number of powerful voice manipulation (处理) and automation technologies that are about to become widely available for anyone to use. At this year's I/O Conference, a company showed a new voice technology able to produce such a convincing human-sounding volce that it was able to speak to a receptionist and book a reservation without detection.   These developments are likely to make our current problems with robocalls much worse. The reason that robocalls are a headache has less to do with amount than precision. A decade of data breaches (数据侵人) of personal information has led to a situation where scammers can easily learn your mother's name,and far more. Armed with this knowledge, they're able to carry out individually targeted campaigns to cheat people. This means, for example, that a scammer could call you from what looks to be a familiar number and talk to you using a voice that sounds exactly like your bank teller's, tricking you into “confirming" your address, mother's name, and card number. Scammers follow money,so companies will be the worst hit. A lot of business is still done over the phone, and much of it is based on trust and existing relationships. Voice manipulation technologies may weaken that gradually.   We need to deal with the insecure nature of our telecom networks. Phone carriers and consumers need to work together to find ways of determining and communicating what is real. That might mean either developing a uniform way to mark videos and images, showing when and who they were made by, or abandoning phone calls altogether and moving towards data-based communications - using apps like FaceTime or WhatsApp, which can be tied to your identity.   Credibility is hard to earn but easy to lose, and the problem is only going to get harder from here on out.

    阅读理解 2019年 ● 北京卷

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