Disappearing through the Skylight
Ⅰ Write short notes on the following: Lysenko and Leonardo (da Vinci).
any standard encyclopedia
Ⅱ Questions on content:
1. How does the writer substantiate his statement that science is committed to the
2. How does technology exhibit this universalizing tendency?
3. How does the automobile illustrate this universalizing tendency?
4. How has man become cosmopolitan?
5. What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a cosmopolitan?
6. What does Madame Gabrille Buffet-Picabia say about ―machine aesthetic‖?
7. What is the ―real world‖ according to the writer?
8. How is the playfulness of modern aesthetic displayed?
9. Why do the banks appear to be disappearing through their own skylights?
Ⅲ Questions on appreciation:
1. Sum up the main views of the writer and comment on how they are organized and
2.Comment on the use of topic sentences.
3.Comment on the use of the present tense and universal statements.
4.Comment on the use of some figurative language. Cite examples.
5.What stylistic features of scientific English are to be found in this piece.9 Cite
1. Science is committed to the universal. (para 1)
2. The Fiesta appears to have sunk without a trace. (para 5)
3. It was the automotive equivalent of the International Style. (para 5 )
4. As in architecture, so in automaking. (para 6)
5. No longer quite an individual, no longer quite the product of a unique geography
and culture (para 7)
6. The price he pays is that he no longer has a home in the traditional sense of the
word. (para 7)
7. The benefit is that he begins to suspect home in the traditional sense is another
name for limitations (para 7)
8. The universalization imperative of technology is irresistable. (para 8)
9. when every artist thought he owed it to himself to turn his back on the Eiffel Tower,
as a protest against the architectural blasphemy (para 9)
10. a mobile, extra human plasticity which was absolutely new (para 9)
11. It has thus undermined an article of faith: the thingliness of things. (para 10)
12. That, perhaps, establishes the logical limit of the modern aesthetic. (para 19)
V. Translate paras 13 and 14 into Chinese.
Ⅵ Give the Chinese equivalents of the following terms:
1. thermodynamics 2. genetics
3. stress 4. genetic mutation
5. streamlining 6. all-welded body
7. cylinder block 8. carburetor
9. transmission 10. cells
11. molecules 12. galaxies
13. particles 14. black hole
15. genes 16. high-tension lines
17. circuit 18. geodesic dome
19. terminal 20. magnetic tapes
Ⅶ Look up the dictionary and explain the meaning of the italicized words:
1. makes the world look ever more homogeneous (para 2)
2. experience it as a sameness rather than a diversity (para 2)
3. but if it is important to the efficiency or economics of automobiles (para 3)
4. but universally regarded as an asset (para 3)
5. he begins to suspect home in the traditional sense (para 7)
6. Barring the catastrophe of nuclear war (para 8)
7. as a protest against the architectural blashphemy (para 9)
8．machines soon generated propositions which evaded all tradition (para 9)
9. a mobile, extra human plasticity which was absolutely new (para 9)
10. it has produced images of orders of reality (para 10)
11. Produced images that are pure artifacts (para 10)
12. the lacy weavings of circuits etched on silicon (para 14)
13. the Tinkertoy complications of trusses and geodesic domes and lunar landers
Ⅷ Study the meaning of the prefixes or combining forms of the following words and
give 5 examples of each:
1. universal 2. thermodynamics
3. disappear 4. technology
5. homogeneous 6. automobile
7. transmission 8. cosmopolitan
9. postmodernism 10. neomodernism
Ⅸ Rewrite the following instructions in the form of impersonal descriptions, using
the passive voice:
Model: Depress the clutch pedal and engage the next gear. The clutch pedal is
depressed and the next gear is engaged.
1. Build the piers. Then erect the towers on the piers. Run the cables from one side of
the river to the other and anchor them. Attach the suspenders to the cables. Finally,
raise the deck.
2. Remove the slide from your microscope and replace it by a transparent ruler with 1
mm graduations. Now measure the width of the field or view of the microscope.
Convert the diameter of the field from millimeters to microns, then measure the width
of field (in microns) for each objective lens you require.
X . Express the following more concisely by using noun modifiers:
Model: structure of marble or granite--marble or granite structure
1. a turbine operated by steam
2. an outlet for air
3. noise caused by aircraft
4. research done in a laboratory
5. a laboratory used for research
6. a thermometer using mercury
7. a plant for the production of power by nuclear means
Ⅺ Shorten the sentences, omitting repeated words, helping verbs, etc.
Model: The liquid is cooled, and then it is passed through this tube.
The liquid is cooled and then passed through this tube.
1.The theories we use in meteorology are complicated and they do not cover all
aspects of the weather.
2.The raw materials are weighed, then they are mixed automatically in the correct
proportions and then they are fed into the granulator.
3.When they are thoroughly mixed with the suspension, these substances separate the
virus particles from the rest of the suspension.
4.The plastic material is fed into a hopper and then it is heated.
5.Local calls, long-distance calls and intercontinental calls are connected
automatically in this exchange.
6.Many signals are transmitted directly from this centre, while a few signals are
passed on to the next relay station. When the signals have been grouped together,
they are transmitted as composite signals.
7.The steel is heated. Then it is quenched rapidly in water. It is heated again and this
time it is cooled slowly.
Ⅻ Choose the right word from the list below for each blank:
disappeared surface produce group
mathematical reflecting before own
similarities traditional faded happened
administrative nature beyond work
hamburger Pepsi-Cola policies facet
invisible offers clarity cases
disappearance century moment process
identities mouth and bridge
objectifies close turn gorge
it never whether global
In the nineteenth century, science presented nature as a ______of objects set
comfortably and solidly in the middle Distance__________ the eyes of the beholder.
In the ________ of D’Arcy Thompson, published around the ________of the century,
nature has_________. It has become a set of geometric and_______ relations that lie
under the ________of the visible. Today ,_______________has slipped, perhaps
finally ,__________our field of vision. We can imitate ______________in
mathematics—we can even __________convincing images of it –but we
can________ know it. We can know only our ______ creations.
Because of its _________alliance with technology, architecture _______the forms of
modern culture with great _________.Since the turn of the ________, a global
architectural style __________the state of art at the _________of design has begun to
replace local and _______styles. thus a suspension _________has the same form
whether over a _________in the Himalayas or the _______of San Francisco Bay .A
Hiton Hotle _______essentially the same accommodations ___________in Tokyo or
Denver, and the visible __________are objective manifestations of ________
similarities in, for example ,_________structures and accounting and financial
_________.By the same token, a McDonald’s _________is the same in New York
and Rome, and ____________ produces the same bubbles in Vladivostok
____________Grand Rapids. In all of these __________,the effect of change has
been the ____________ of regional and
Parochial _________and the emergence of a _______consciousness.
The universalizing _________of technology has touched every __________of culture.
As this has __________the sense of individuality has inevitably___________.
XIII.Topics for oral work:
1. Is history really in the process of disappearing?
2. Is the world becoming more uniform or more diverse?
XIV. Write a short composition on the following topic:
The Impact of Science and Technology on Our Society
Ⅰ . 1. Lysenko : Trofim Denisovich Lysenko (1898-- 1976), Russian agronomist. As
president of the Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences he became the
scientific and administrative leader of Soviet agriculture. In 1937 he was made a
member of the Supreme Soviet and head of the institute of Genetics of the Soviet
Academy of Sciences. He first became known for his process (vernalization) of
moistening and refrigerating the seed of spring wheat thereby reputedly imparting to
it the characteristics of winter wheat. He became the leader of the Soviet school of
genetics that opposed the theories of heredity accepted by most geneticists and
supported the doctrine that the characteristics acquired through environmental
influences are inherited. Lysenko rejected neo-Mendelism and was a disciple of the
Russian horticulturist I. V. Michurin. Ly senkol s theories were offered as Marxist
orthodoxy and won the official support (1948) of the Soviet Central Com- mittee.
However, they were severely criticized after the death of Stalin in 1953, and in 1956
he was removed as director of the Institute of Genetics, which resulted in there turn
of Soviet biological thought to the mainstream of international scientific ideas.
2. Leonardo. Leonardo da Vinci (1452 -- 1519), Italian painter, sculptor, architect,
musician, engineer, and scientist, born near Vinci, a hill village in Tuscany. In 1466
he moved to Florence, where he entered the workshop of Verrocchio. Early in his
apprenticeship he painted an an-gel, and perhaps portions of the landscape, in
Verrocchio’ s Baptism of Christ. The culmination of Leonardo’ s art during his first
period in Florence is the magnificent unfinished Adoration of the Magi commissioned
in 1481 by the monks of San Donato a Scopeto. In this work is revealed the
integration of dramatic movement and chiaroscuro that characterizes the master’ s
mature style, He went to Milan around 1482 and remained at the court of Ludovico
Sforza for 16 years. In 1483, Leonardo, with his pupil Ambrogiode Predis, was
commissioned to execute the famous Madonna of the Rocks. Leonardo’ s fresco of
the Last Sup-per (Milan) was begun around 1495 and completed by1498. After the
fall of Ludovica Sforza (1499) Leonar do left Milan and returned to Florence. Here
he engaged in much theoretical work in mathematics and pursued his anatomical
studies at the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova. In 1502 he entered the service of Cesare
Borgia as a military engineer. In 1503 he was commissioned to execute the fresco of
the battle of Anghiari but was never completed. From about this time dates the
celebrated Mona Liza, the portrait of the wife of a Florentine merchant. The old
master spent his last years in France at the castle of Cloux, near Amboise. Here he
was left entirely free to pursue his own researches until his death. The versatility and
creative power of Leonardo mark him as a supreme example of Renaissance genius.
The richness and originality of intellect expressed in his notebooks reveal one of the
greatest minds of all time.
Ⅱ There are broad agreemants about the basic concepts of science, for example,
there is only a single science of thermodynamics whose basic concepts are accepted
by all countries, including such diverse countries as China, Americaor the Soviet
Union. For a short time there were two genetics, a Soviet genetics as proposed by
Lysenko and a Western genetics. However, Soviet Lysenko’ s theories were refuted
and in 1956 the Soviet Union accepted the Western genetic concepts.
2. It makes the world look more and more uniform. Different styles in architecture,
dress, music and eating that exist in various countries and among different people are
tending to disappear. They are being replaced by more uniform styles or world styles.
The houses the people live in, the cars they drive, etc. , are becoming more alike.
3. A technological innovation in the manufacture of automobiles like streamlining or
all-welded body construction may be initiated by one company in one country, but
when it proves to make cars more efficient and cheaper, it is soon adopted universally
by all automobile manufacturers. Today, the basic features of an automobile are to be
found in automobiles in general, no matter who makes them. Besides this feature, all
large automakers are now international companies. Americans have auto plants in
Europe, Asia and South America, and Europeans and Japanese have plants in
America and South America, and so on.
4. He drives cars that have the same basic features. When he goes shopping, he finds
the climate in all the shops is the same because they are all similarly air-conditioned.
When he travels he finds all the airports to be familiar because they are all
constructed along similiar lines and the hotels to have the same amenities. In a word,
he finds himself at home in all countries and places.
5. He no longer has a fixed home with all the emotional ties144 that are usually
attached to such a home with its fixed location surrounded by well-known neighbors,
etc. His home is now everywhere and he is always surrounded by all kinds of
neighbors. He feels the old home limited his activities and his emotions.
6. She says in the past artists regarded machines and machinelike structures like the
Eiffel Tower in Paris as ugly and irreverent. After 1949 the artists discovered a new
beauty in machines which could now be shaped and moulded very easily into various
7. The writer doesn’t t directly answer the question. He says science has now thrown
doubt on ―the thingliness of things‖. It does not produce the material objects we see
with our eyes but images, geometric and mathematical, of the reality underlying these
things. It has made the world rather ―insubstantial‖. The writer in his prologue states:
―Today, nature has slipped, perhaps finally, beyond our field of vision. We can imitate
it in mathematics -- we can even produce convincing images of it -- but we can never
know it. We can only know our own creations.
―8. It is displayed in the architectural styles found in cities of the developed world --
styles that typify collage city and urban adhocism. It is also displayed in the mosaic
architecture of facadism and the playful theme parks and museum villages. It abounds
in images and sounds and values utterly different from those of the world of natural
things seen from a middle distance.
9. The banks are no longer the solid, ponderous buildings of the past but airy
structures Of steel and glass. People need not go to the banks directly for many
financial transactions which can now be carried out in stores or trailers with slot-
machinelike terminals linked to the banks. Money is now recorded, erased, processed
and reprocessed as digital signals by a computer.
Ⅲ.1.In the passage, the writer puts forward his central theme of ―disappearance‖ --
nature disappears, history disappears and even the solid banks disappear. Besides
expressing the central theme of the book, the metaphorical phrase, ―Disappearing
Through the Skylight‖, is used also specifically in this chapter to describe the
changed appearance of modern banks which seem to be disappearing. The second
important idea he puts forward is the universalizing tendency of science and
technology. The basic concepts of science are understood, accepted and adopted by
scientists all over the world. There is only one science of thermodynamics, genetics,
etc. This universalizing effect is reflected in architectural styles, dress styles, musical
styles, etc. They all tend to become world styles. The third concept is, ―If man creates
machines, machines in turn shape their creators. ― The modern man is no longer a
unique individual, the product of a special environment and culture. The
homogeneous world he now lives in universalizes him. He becomes a cosmopolitan,
a citizen of the world. Finally, the disappearance of history is a form of liberation and
this feeling of liberation is often expressed through play. the playfulness of science
has produced game theory and virtual particles, in art it has puoduced the paintings of
Picasso and Joan Miro and so on.
2. The writer’ s views are generally clearly and succinctly presented as a topic
sentence at the beginning of each paragraph and then developed or illustrated in the
paragraph itself. or by succeeding paragraphs. For example, the first sentence in the
opening paragraph is a topic sentence that presents a very important view of the
writer, ―Science is committed to the universal. ― This idea of universality is
developed and illustrated in the five paragraphs that follow and each paragraph that
follows also has its own topic sentence. The organizational pattern is very clear and
3. The writer uses tha present tense and universal statements to attain the goal of
4. The writer uses figurative language freely to make his ideas more vivid and
forceful. Readers can find many metaphors, analogies, rhetorical questions, repetition
and balanced structure, etc. in this piece. The very title of this piece, ― Disappearing
Through the Skylight ―, is a metaphorical phrase that immediately stirs the
imagination of readers.
5. A lot of scientific and technical terms are used in this piece, such as
thermodynamics, genetics, genetic mutations, etc. Many sentences are complex and
compound ones; some of them, though simple sentences, are complicated in structure,
for example, ―The skepticism of modern science ―― from the soul. ― ―It surrounds its
citizens with ―-‖ and geodesic domes and lunar landers. ― All these are stylistic
IV. 1. Science is engaged in the task of making its basic concepts understood and
accepted by scientists all over the world.
2. The car model, called Fiesta, seems to have disappeared completely.
3. The idea of a world car is similar to the idea of having a world style for
architecture. /As architecture was moving toward a common International Style, it
was natural for the automobile to do the same.
4. Things that are happening in auto making are similar to those happening in
5. The modern man no longer has very distint individual traits shaped by a special
environment and culture．
6．The disadvantage of being a cosmopolitan is that he loses a home in the old sense
of the world．
7．The benefit of being a cosmopolitan is that he begins to think the old kind of home
probably restricts his development and activities．
8．The compelling force of technology to universalize cannot be resisted．
9．When every artist thought it was his duty to show his contempt for and objection to
the Eiffel Tower which they considered an irreverent architectural structure．
10．a flexible and pliable quality that was beyond human powers and absolutely new
11．People used to firmly believe that the things they saw around them were real solid
substances but this has now been thrown into doubt by science,
12．That，perhaps, shows how far logically modern aesthetic can go．／The solid
banks can become almost abstract and invisible．／This is perhaps the furthest limit
of how solid objective things may be disappearing．
V．See the translation of the text．
4．genetic mutation 遗传突
6．all—welded body 全焊车身
7．cyclinder block 气缸套
11．molecules 分子 变
13．particles 粒子 线型
1 6．high—tension lines 高压
18．geodesic dome 用轻便和挺直建筑材料的拉力建造的圆屋顶
Ⅶ ；similar or identical
．1．homogeneous：the same in structure，quality，etc．
3．economics：things related to the economy(of automobile manufacturing，such as
production costs，consumer appeal，sale price，etc．)
4．asset：a valuable or desirable thing
5．suspect：think it probable or likely；guess；suppose
6．barring：unless there should be；excepting
7．blasphemy：any remark or action or thing held to be irreverent or disrespectful
8．proposition：a person，problem，undertaking，etc．，being or to be dealt with
9．extra：outside the scope or region of；beyond
11．artifact：a product(as a structure on a microscope slide)of artificial character due
to extraneous(as human)agency
12．circuits：an integrated circuit，a tiny complex of electronic components and their
intereonnections produced on a single small silicon chip silicon：a silicon chip，a
small slice of silicon on which an integrated circuit is etched．
，for supporting a roof
1 3．truss：a rigid framework of beams，struts bars，etc．
geodesic dome：a dome made of light straight structural elements mostly in tension
Ⅷ．1．uni-，having or consisting of one only：universe，uniaxial， unicellular,
unilateral, unipolar, univalve
2. thermo-, heat : thermodynamics, thermochemistry, thermoelectric, thermometer,
3. dis-, fail, cease, refuse to .disappear, dissatisfy, disallow, disappoint, disapprove,
4. techno-, art, science, skill, technical, technological: technology, technography,
technocracy, technocrat, technologist, technologize
5. hom or homo-, one and the same : similar, alike : homogeneous, homograph,
homochromatic, homology, homonym, homophone
6. auto-, self-propelling: automobile, autotruck, autobus, autocade, autogyro,
7. trans-, over, across, through: transmission, transfer, transmigrate, transfuse,,
8. cosmo-, world, universe, cosmopolitan, cosmography, cosmology, cosmonaut,
9. post-, after in time, later (than), following: postmodernism, postglacial, postnatal,
posthumous, postimpressionism, postmortem
10. neo-, new, recent, latest : neomodernism, neolithic, neo-Darwinism,
neoimpressionism, neologism, neophyte
IX. 1. The piers are built, Then the towers are erected on the piers. The cables are run
from one side of the river to the other and are anchored, The suspenders are attached
to the cables. Finally the deck is raised.
2. The slide is removed from the microscope and is replaced by a transparent ruler
with 1 mm graduations. Now the width of the field of view of the microscope is
measured. The diameter of the field is converted from millimeters to microns, then
the width of the field (in microns) is measured for each objective lens required.
X. 1. a steam 2. an air outletnoise3. aircraft turbine 4. laboratory research5. a research
laboratory 6. a mercury thermometer7. a nuclear power plant
Ⅺ The theories we use (or the theories used) in meteorology are complicated and do
not cover all aspects of the weather,
2. The raw materials are weighed, (then) mixed automatically in the correct
proportions and then fed into the granulator.
3. When thoroughly mixed with the suspension, these substances separate the virus
particles from the rest of the suspension.
4. The plastics material is fed into a hopper and then heated.
5. Local, long-distance and inter-continental calls are connected automatically in this
6. Many signals are transmitted from this centre, while a few are passed on to the
next relay station. When grouped together, they are transmitted as composite signals.
7. The steel is heated, quenched rapidly in water, heated again and finally cooled
Ⅻ 1. group 2. before 3. work 4. turn 5. disappeared 6. mathematical 7. surface 8.
nature 9. beyond 10. it11. produce 12. never 13. own 14. close16. clarity 17. century
18. reflecting15. objectifies 19. moment20. traditional 21. bridge 22. gorge 23. mouth
24. offers25. whether 26. similarities 27. invisible 28. administrative 29. policies 30.
hamburger 31. Pepsi-Cola 32. and33. cases 34. disappearance 35. identities 36. global
37. process 38. facet 39. happened 40. faded
Ⅹ . Omitted.
Ⅹ . Impact of Science and Technology on Our society
The development of science and technology nowadays has exerted an enormous
influence on our society. We needn’ enumerate the achievements human beings have
made in the fields of electronics and biochemistry which so benefit us. Only have a
look around us and we are sure to feel the ubiquitous impact.
Radios and cassette recorders are the necessary tools for learning foreign languages.
A telephone has become one of the most important communication tools even among
students. When the clock strikes, announcing the arrival of the new year, many
students wait at the telephone box with an intention of sending greetings to their
family members. And we now use magnetic cards to buy food in the canteens. The
procedure becomes simple and the management systematic. With the help of the
sophisticated medical equipment, some diseases which used to be incurable can be
got rid of.
On the other hand, the scientific and technical development has resulted in some
problems, among which is pollution. Fortunately, more and more people have come
to realize the seriousness of a variety of pollutions and begun to take the action
Although the development of science and technology has brought some side effects,
with its further advance, human beings are sure to get over them, and enjoy more and
more ad-vantages of science and technology.