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大学英语精读:第四册 UNIT 8

2007-03-01 17:25   来源:旺旺英语       我要纠错 | 打印 | 收藏 | | |

  Would you choose to live underground if you could gain many advantages from doing so? Weather would no longer trouble you. Temperature would remain the same all the year round. Artificial lighting could make the rhythm of our life uniform everywhere. And the ecology of the natural world above ground would be greatly improved. Still, the prospect of moving underground may not be appealing to many people.

THE NEW CAVES

Isaac Asimov

  During the ice ages, human beings exposed to the colder temperatures of the time would often make their homes in caves. There they found greater comfort and security than they would have in the open.

  We still live in caves called houses, again for comfort and security. Virtually no one would willingly sleep on the ground under the stars. Is it possible that someday we may seek to add further to our comfort and security by building our houses underground —— in new, manmade caves?

  It may not seem a palatable suggestion, at first though. We have so many evil associations with the underground. In our myths and legends, the underground is the realm of evil spirits and of the dead, and is often the location of an afterlife of torment. (This may be because dead bodies are buried underground, and because volcanic eruptions make the underground appear to be a hellish place of fire and noxious gases.)

  Yet there are advantages to underground life, too, and something to be said for imagining whole cities, even mankind generally, moving downward; of having the outermost mile of the Earth's crust honeycombed with passages and structures, like a gigantic ant hill.

  First, weather would no longer be important, since, it is primarily a phenomenon of the atmosphere. Rain, snow, sleet, fog would not trouble the underground world. Even temperature variations are limited to the open surface and would not exist underground. Whether day or night, summer or winter, temperatures in the underground world remain equable and nearly constant. The vast amounts of energy now expended in warming our surface surroundings when they are too cold, and cooling them when they are too warm, could be saved. The damage done to manmade structures and to human beings by weather would be gone. Transportation over local distances would be simplified. (Earthquakes would remain a danger, of course.)

  Second, local time would no longer be important. On the surface, the tyranny of day and night cannot be avoided, and when it is morning in one place, it is noon in another, evening in still another and midnight in yet another. The rhythm of human life therefore varies from place to place. Underground, where there is no externally produced day, but only perpetual darkness, it would be arificial lighting that produces the day and this could be adjusted to suit man's convenience.

  The whole world could be on eight-hour shifts, starting and ending on the stroke everywhere, at least as far as business and community endeavors were concerned. This could be important in a freely mobile world. Air transportation over long distances would no longer have entail "jet lag." Individuals landing on another coast or another continent would find the society they reached geared to the same time of day as at home.

  Third, the ecological structure could be stabilized. To a certain extent, mankind encumbers the Earth. It is not only his enormous numbers that take up room; more so, it is all the structures he builds to house himself and his machines, to make possible his transportation and communication, to offer him rest and recreation. All these things distort the wild, depriving many species of plants and animals of their natural habitat —— and sometimes, involuntarily, favoring a few, such as rats and roaches.

  If the works of man were removed below ground —— and, mind you, below the level of the natural world of the burrowing animals —— man would still occupy the surface with his farms, his forestry, his observation towers, his air terminals and so on, but the extent of that occupation would be enormously decreased. Indeed, as one imagines the underground world to become increasingly elaborate, one can visualize much of the food supply eventually deriving from hydroponic growth in artificially illuminated areas underground. The Earth's surface might be increasingly turned over to park and to wilderness, maintained at ecological stability.

  Fourth, nature would be closer. It might seem that to withdraw underground is to withdraw from the natural world, but would that be so? Would the withdrawal be more complete than it is now, when so many people work in city buildings that are often windowless and artificially conditioned? Even where there are windows, what is the prospect one views (if one bothers to) but sun, sky, and buildings to the horizon —— plus some limited greenery?

  And to get away from the city now? To reach the real countryside? One must travel horizontally for miles, first across city pavements and then across suburban sprawls.

  In an underworld culture, the countryside would be right there, a few hundred yards above the upper level of the cities —— wherever you are. The surface would have to be protected from too frequent, or too intense, or too careless visiting, but however carefully restricted the upward trips might be, the chances are that the dwellers of the new caves would see more greenery, under ecologically healthier conditions, than dwellers of surface cities to today.

  However odd and repulsive underground living may seem at first thought, there are tings to be said for it —— and I haven't even said them all.

  New Words

  virtually

  ad. almost

  someday

  ad. at some uncertain future time 有朝一日

  underground

  a.  below the surface of the earth; secret 地下的;秘密的

  ad. under the earth's surface; secretly

  manmade

  a.  produced by people; not existing in nature

  palatable

  a.  agreeable to the taster or (fig.) to the mind; acceptable 可口的;受欢迎的

  association

  n.  an idea or object connected with another idea in thought 联想

  legend

  n.  an old story handed down from the past, esp. one of doubtful truth 传说;传奇

  spirit

  n. 神灵;鬼怪

  location

  n.  a place or position 场所,位置

  afterlife

  n.  the life after death as is believed by some people 来世

  torment

  n.  sever pain or suffering in mind or body 痛苦;折磨

  volcanic

  a.  of, like, produced or caused by a volcano

  eruption

  n.  outbreak of a volcano; (an example of) the action of erupting (火山)爆发

  hellish

  a.  like hell, horrible, devilish

  noxious

  harmful to people, plants, or animals 有害的,有毒的

  mankind

  n. the human race 人类

  downward

  ad. towards a lower level or position

  outermost

  a.  farthest from the inside or center

  crust

  n.  地壳

  honeycomb

  vt. fill with holes, tunnels, etc. 使成蜂窝状

  gigantic

  a.  huge, enormous; of or like a giant 巨大的,庞大的

  ant

  n.  蚂蚁

  fog

  n.  very thick mist

  variation

  n.  the action of varying; an example or degree of varying 变化

  equable

  a.  steady; not changing much 稳定的

  constant

  a.  unchanging; fixed 永桓的

  simplify

  vt. make simple; make easy to do or understand

  earthquake

  n.  sudden and violent movements of the earth's surface 地震

  tyranny

  n.  the cruel or unjust use of power to rule a person or country 专制

  vary

  v.  (cause to) the different 变化

  variable

  a.  likely to vary; not steady 易变的

  n.  sth. which can vary in quantity or size 变量

  externally

  ad. outside

  external a.

  artifical

  a.  not natural or real; manmade

  adjust

  vt. set right; change slightly, esp. in order to make suitable for a particular job or new conditions 调整;调节

  convenience

  n.  personal comfort or advantage; the quality of being convenient 便利,方便

  convenient a.

  stoke

  n.  sound made by a bell striking the hours 钟鸣声

  community

  n.  the people living in a particular area considered as a whole; the area itself 社区(居民)

  endeavo(u)r

  n.  effort, attempt 努力

  vt. 试图

  mobile

  a.  movable; able to move, or be moved, quickly and easily 活动的

  entail

  vt. make (an event or action) necessary 使成为必需

  jet

  n.  a narrow stream or streams of liquid, gas, etc. coming forcefully out of a small hole; any aircraft that is pushed through the air by a jet engine 喷射;喷气式飞机

  lag

  n.  falling behind; interval between two related events, processes, etc. 滞后;(事件等的)间隔

  jet lag

  (长时间乘飞机旅行后产生的)时差反应

  coast

  n.  the land on or close to the edge of the sea 海岸;海滨

  gear

  vt. adjust, adapt,; connect by gears

  n.  齿轮;(汽车等的)排档

  stabilize

  v.  (cause to) become firm, steady, or unchanging; (cause to) keep in balance 使稳定;使平衡

  extent

  n.  degree; length; area; range 程度,范围

  encumber

  vt. crowd, fill up; hinder, hamper the function of 塞满,妨碍

  recreation

  n.  play or amusement 娱乐

  deprive

  vt. take away from; prevent from using or enjoying 剥夺

  species

  n.  物种

  habitat

  n.  natural home of a plant or an animal 产地;栖息

  involuntarily

  ad. carried out without one's conscious wishes, unintentionally 不自觉地;无意识地

  rat

  n.  鼠

  roach

  n.  蟑螂

  burrow

  v.  dig a hole in the ground 打(地洞)

  n.  a hole made in the ground (by foxes, rabbits, etc.)

  forestry

  n.  forest land; science of planting and caring for forests 林地;林学

  terminal

  n.  a place or set of buildings for the use of passengers 终点站

  air terminal

  n.  a building at an airport for boarding and discharging passengers from aircraft; a bus station in center of a town for passengers going to or arriving from an airport 航空终点站;航空集散站

  occupation

  n.  the act of occupying or the state or period of being occupied

  elaborate

  a.  worked out with great care; complicated 精心制作的;复杂的

  visualize

  vt. form a picture of (sb. or sth.) in the mind; imagine 想像

  visual

  a.  of or gained by seeing 视觉的

  derive

  vi. come (from); originate 来(自),起源(于)

  vt. get

  hydroponic

  a.  溶液培养(学)的;水栽法的

  illuminate

  vt. give light to; throw light on 照亮,照明

  wilderness

  n.  wild uncultivated waste land 荒野

  stability

  n.  the quality or state of being stable 稳定(性)

  withdraw (withdrew, withdrawn)

  v.  move back or away; take out or away 撤退,撤回

  withdrawal

  n.  withdrawing or being withdrawn

  condition

  vt. bring into a desired state or condition 使处于良好状态

  greenery

  n.  green leaves or plants 草木

  countryside

  n.  land outside the cities and towns; country area 农村

  horizontally

  ad. 水平地

  horizontal a.

  pavement

  n.  (BrE) a paved surface or path a street for people to walk on, (AmE) the paved surface of a street (英)人行道, (美)铺过的道路

  suburban

  a.  of or in a suburb 郊区的

  sprawl

  n.  a widespread untidy area, esp. of buildings 散乱的街区

  underworld

  n.  a region underground

  culture

  n.  ideas, customs and art shared by a particular society; a particular society or civilization 文化;文明

  intense

  a.  (of qualities) high in degree 强烈的

  restrict

  vt. keep within limits 限制

  dweller

  n.  a person or animal that lives (in the stated place); inhabitant 居住者

  repulsive

  a.  very unpleasant; causing strong dislike and fear 令人厌恶的

  Phrases & Expressions

  expose to

  leave no longer covered or protected 使暴露在

  in the open

  在户外,在野外

  add to

  increase 增加

  on the stoke

  at exactly the time stated or agree upon 准点地

  at first thought

  when considered for the first 乍一想

  to a certain extent

  partly, to a certain degree 在一定程度上

  take up

  occupy (space, time, etc.) 占据

  deprive of

  take away from; prevent from using or having 剥夺

  mind you

  (used as an interj.) please note, take this fact into account 听着;请注意

  derive from

  come from; obtain from 来自,起源于;从……得到

  turn over

  give (to sb.) for use or care 移交;交给

  get away from

  succeed in leaving; escape 离开;逃脱

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