It is hardly necessary for me to cite all the evidence of the depressing state of literacy. These figures from the Department of Education are sufficient: 27 million Americans cannot read at all, and a further 35 million read at a level that is less than sufficient to survive in our society.
But my own worry today is less that of the overwhelming problem of elemental literacy than it is of the slightly more luxurious problem of the decline in the skill even of he middle-class reader, of his unwillingness to afford those spaces of silence, those luxuries of domesticity and time and concentration, that surround the image of the classic act of reading. it has been suggested that almost 80 percent of America's literate, educated teenagers can no longer read without an accompanying noise (music) in the background or a television screen flickering(闪烁)at the corner of their field of perception. We know very little about the brain and how it deals with simultaneous conflicting input, but every common-sense intuition suggests we should be profoundly alarmed. This violation of concentration, silence, solitude(独处的状态)goes to the very heart of our notion of literacy; this new form of part-reading, of part-perception against background distraction, renders impossible certain essential acts of apprehension and concentration, let alone that most important tribute any human being can pay to a poem or a piece of prose he or she really loves, which is to learn it by heart. Not by brain, by heart; the expression is vital.
Under these circumstances, the question of what future there is for the arts of reading is a real one. Ahead of us lie technical, psychic(心理的), and social transformations probably much more dramatic than those brought about by Gutenberg, the German inventor in printing. The Gutenberg revolution, as we now know it, took a long time; its effects are still begin debated. The information revolution will touch every facet of composition, publication, distribution, and reading. No one in the book industry can say with any confidence what will happen to the book as we've known it.
1. According to the passage, the chief purpose of explorers in going to unknown places in the past was ______________.
A) to display their country's military might
B) to accomplish some significant science
C) to find new areas for colonization
D) to pursue commercial and state interests
2. At present, a probable inducement for countries to initiate large-scale space ventures is _____________.
A) international cooperation
B) nationalistic reasons
C) scientific research
D) long-term profits
3. What is the main goal of sending human missions to Mars?
A) To find out if life ever existed there.
B) To see if humans could survive there.
C) To prove the feasibility of large-scale space ventures.
D) To show the leading role of science in space exploration.
4. By saying "With Mars the scientific stakes are arguably higher than they have ever been" (Line 1, Para.4), the author means that _________________.
A) with Mars the risks involved are much greater than any previous space ventures
B) in the case of Mars, the rewards of scientific exploration can be very high
C) in the case of Mars, much more research funds are needed than ever before
D) with Mars, scientists argue, the fundamental interests of science are at issue
5. The passage tells us that proof of life on Mars would _______________.
A) make clear the complex chemistry in the development of life
B) confirm the suggestion that bacterial fossils traveled to Earth on a meteorite
C) reveal the kind of conditions under which lie originates
D) provide an explanation why life is common in the universe