is the truth true?
i encourage all of us, whatever our beliefs, to question the basic narratives of our world, to connect past developments with present concerns, and not be afraid of controversial issues.
—— yuval noah harari*
so begins sapiens: a brief history of humankind, harari's take on what it means to be human. in chapter two, harari writes about humankind's unique ability to make things up (lies, fiction, imagination, etc.). he explains it as the important reason that human beings have been able to develop into the modern creatures we are now. we created tools, stories and traditions based on common made-up beliefs so that we could live better lives. these "truths" may have created the fundamentals (基础) for our society, but they are ever-changing.
recently, an image of china's iconic (标志性的) earthquake detector (探测器) was removed from a new version of a history textbook. the device has been widely believed to be the world's first earthquake detector and an invention of zhang heng, who lived during the han dynasty. based on about 200 characters in a biography (传记) about zhang's life, historian wang zhenduo re-created a model of the detector in 1951. that is the very model that most chinese people are familiar with. unfortunately, neither the re-creation nor the device's actual ability to detect earthquakes was explained in detail when it was put into textbooks. in fact, the device wasn't able to detect the extremely destructive tangshan earthquake in 1976.
researchers at the china earthquake networks center (中国地震台网中心) had been trying to get the image removed from textbooks. they doubt whether the device actually works. this has been met with differing opinions online. people's education press (人民教育出版社), the textbook's publisher, has chosen to remove the picture. instead, they encourage students to do research and design their own models based on what they have learned. however, some people believe that the picture should remain for educational purposes. that is a wild and dangerous opinion. what if zhang heng wasn't the first person to invent the seismograph (地动仪)?
as far as i am concerned, education has never been about believing everything someone else tells you. it is about questioning everyone and everything you see. it is about learning to generate (使形成) a reality that keeps changing and evolving as you gain access to more information. while i would like to believe that zhang did create the first ever working earthquake detector, it's really up to me to find out.
1. how much do you know about zhang heng?
note: (ad 78-139) a han chinese polymath (博学的人) who lived during the han dynasty. he achieved fame as an astronomer (天文学家), a mathematician, an inventor, a geographer, a cartographer (制图师), an artist, a poet, a statesman (政治家), and a man of letters (文人). he is probably best known to most chinese people as the inventor of the world's first working seismograph.
2. what do you know about the seismograph and the detection of earthquakes?
1. we created tools, stories and traditions based on common made-up beliefs① so that we could live better lives②.
① 过去分词短语based on ...在这里用作后置定语，修饰前面的名词tool, stories and traditions，相当于一个定语从句 ... and traditions that/which are based on ...。
② so that在这个句子中引导了一个目的状语从句。
e.g. i'm going to take an early bus so that i can get there in time. (目的状语从句)
i took an early bus so that i got there in time. (结果状语从句)
e.g. i always write carefully so that i can make myself clear. (目的状语从句)
the gravestone was covered with moss so that it was impossible to read the name on it. (结果状语从句)
2. unfortunately, neither the re-creation nor① the device's actual ability to detect earthquakes was② explained in detail when it was put into textbooks.
① neither ... nor ...，意为“既不……也不……”或“……和……都不”，通常连接两个对等的成分(名词、动词、形容词)，用于否定两者。
e.g. my father neither smokes nor drinks.
e.g. it's neither too cold nor too hot in shanghai in october.
② neither ... nor ... 连接两个成分作主语，其谓语动词的单复数形式遵循“就近原则”。
complete each sentence using one word from the box in its correct form. note that there is one word more than you need and you can use each word only once.
widely ability explained actually differing remain
1. doctors must ________ the risks of the treatment to patients before operations.
2. i know germany won last night, but i don't know the ________ score.
3. our aim is to bring classical music to a ________ audience.
4. i'd like to do more housework, but i never seem ________ to find the time.
5. the show is ________ from most exhibitions of modern art.
key: explain actual wider able different
2. 其他人都觉得这是个好主意，但我却有所怀疑。(doubt n.)
3. 我从未想过去怀疑他是不是在讲真话。(question v.)
1. this might be one of the reasons why she would not take the job.
2. everyone else thinks it’s a good idea, but i have my doubts.
3. i never thought to question whether he was telling the truth.
choose the best answer.
1. what can we learn from the first paragraph?
a. sapiens: a brief history of humankind mainly talks about human's unique ability to make things up.
b. human's ability to make things up is the only reason why we are able to develop into the modern creatures we are now.
c. the tools, stories and traditions we create help us live a better life today.
d. all the "truths" in the history, including the tools, stories and traditions, are lies made up by human beings.
2. it has been widely believed that the world's first working earthquake detector ______.
① was invented by zhang heng
② was a re-creation by historian wang zhenduo
③ was described in a biography about zhang heng's life
④ had helped forecast many earthquakes in the history
a. ①② b. ①③
c. ②③ d. ③④
3. what does the author want to tell us by writing this article?
a. history is made up by human beings.
b. the earthquake detector is unable to detect earthquakes.
c. the content about the seismograph should be removed from chinese students' textbooks.
d. students should learn to question what others tell them.
do you think it was reasonable to remove the content about the world's first working seismograph from chinese students' textbooks? why or why not? share your opinions with your classmates.
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