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  The Capsula Mundi Project  沈睡的記憶森林
by Paul Hines
The environmental impact of death has inspired an innovative solution.


  Throughout the ages, death has been the only certainty. We will all, at some time, take our final breath, and as our heart beats for the last time, depart this world and go into the hereafter. The destiny of our soul has been debated endlessly by religion and discussed at length by philosophers and other thinkers. However, what becomes of our physical bodies is a lesser mystery. Our bodies are usually cremated or buriedbe it six feet under or at sea.
  As the world's population has doubled to seven billion in only half a century, the environmental impact of disposing of the departed has become an increasingly important issue that needs to be addressed. Burning bodies in coffins requires significant amounts of energy and creates plumes of smoke that pollute the air, while burials in tombs take up valuable space in overcrowded cities. One possible solution to the problem has been devised by Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel from Italy.
  The Capsula Mundi project is an organic and biodegradable burial capsule that will turn the deceased's body into nutrients for a tree. The body is placed in the fetal position inside an egg-shaped capsule made from potatoes and corn. The pods will then be buried beneath a tree chosen by the deceased.
  It is envisioned that thousands of memorial trees will replace cemeteries full of tombstones. This is in contrast to the current situation that requires trees to be chopped down in order to manufacture coffins and rocks to be mined to make tombstones. The concept is still in the planning stages but common sense tells us that this innovation will eventually take root.

1. What is mentioned about death?
(A) It is no longer a certainty.
(B) Only religious leaders and philosophers know what happens to our soul after we die.
(C) What happens after death is not agreed upon.
(D) What happens to our physical bodies is a mystery.
2. What is the main reason why disposing of the dead has become an important issue?
(A) The world's population has increased dramatically.
(B) Space used for cemeteries is running out in overcrowded cities.
(C) Pollution has increased because of the population growth.
(D) More people want to be cremated.
3. What is NOT true of the Capsula Mundi project?
(A) It is an idea developed by a couple of Italians.
(B) It could potentially solve a serious environmental problem.
(C) It is a solution to a growing problem.
(D) It has successfully been implemented in Italy.
4. According to the article, what benefits does the Capsula Mundi project have by contrast with traditional methods of disposing of the departed?
(A) Trees will require less fertilizer to grow.
(B) Trees will be grown instead of chopped down.
(C) The deceased will no longer have to wait so long to be buried or cremated.
(D) Potatoes and corn will finally have a method of being recycled.

Grammar Tips

Our bodies are usually cremated or buried — be it six feet under or at sea.
be it A or B  無論是 A 還是 B
Helen enjoys watching dance, be it ballet or modern dance.

  1. inspire vt. 激發,激勵
    衍: inspire sb to V  激勵∕啟發某人做……
    The book inspired Karen to major in archaeology at college.
    *archaeology n. 考古學
  2. innovative a. 創新的,革新的
    Rachel's innovative photography won her worldwide acclaim.
  3. certainty n. 確定性
    衍: with certainty  確定地
    I can't say with certainty whether or not Susan will come to the party.
  4. destiny n. 命運
    Patrick strongly believes that we control our own destinies.
  5. debate vt. & n. 辯論;爭論
    The two teams debated the topic of whether cloning should be legal.
    Anna excitedly told her parents that she had won the debate.
  6. endlessly adv. 不斷地,無止境地
    No teenager wants to be known as the teacher's pet because he or she will be made fun of endlessly outside of class.
    *a teacher's pet  受老師寵愛的人
  7. bury vt. 埋葬;埋藏
    The volcano erupted, burying the entire town in a layer of ash.
  8. double vi. 增加一倍 & vt. 使加倍
    The small town is booming and has doubled in size in the last 10 years.
    Jason made some high-risk investments in the stock market and doubled his money in only three months.
  9. address vt. 設法解決,處理
    The school addressed the issue of bullying by installing cameras in the hallways.
  10. significant a. 重大的,重要的
    反: insignificant a. 不重要的
    The scientist made a significant discovery during his research.
    Space exploration has taught us how insignificant our planet is in the universe.
    *exploration n. 探測;探索
  11. valuable a. 珍貴的,寶貴的
    同: of value
    All the books in this library are valuable, particularly the ones on the top shelf.
  12. devise vt. 設計,發明出
    Matt devised an ingenious solution to conserve energy at home.
    *ingenious a. 巧妙的,聰明的
  13. envision vt. 展望;想像
    We envision a bright and prosperous future for our new company.
  14. dramatically adv. 劇烈地,大大地
    衍: dramatic a. 大大的;戲劇性的
    Temperatures have been dropping dramatically due to the incoming storm.
    The movie is dramatic and full of intriguing characters.
    *intriguing a. 引人入勝的,令人感興趣的
  15. implement vt. 實施,執行
    Our new manager is planning to implement sweeping changes to the company.
    *sweeping a. 全面的,廣泛的

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depart vt. & vi. 離開;出發
hereafter n. 將來;未來
philosopher n. 哲學家
cremate vt. 火葬
six feet under  六尺之下(喻人死亡後被埋葬)
disposing n. 處理,處置
plume n. 羽狀物(如煙霧等)
burial n. 埋葬;葬禮 & a. 埋葬的
overcrowded a. 過度擁擠的
biodegradable a. 生物能分解的
capsule n. 膠囊
deceased n. 亡者 & a. 已故的
nutrient n. 營養物,養份(可數)
衍: nutrition n. 營養(不可數)
fetal a. 胎兒的
pod n. 容器;吊艙
cemetery n. 墓地,公墓
mine vt. & vi. 採礦
potentially adv. 潛在地
fertilizer n. 肥料

  1. at length  詳細地
    同: in detail
    Sarah described how she got robbed at length.
  2. take up...  佔據……(空間或時間)
    The table takes up too much space in the dining room.
  3. in contrast to...  與……成對比∕對照
    contrast n. 對比,對照
    In contrast to David's fast-paced lifestyle, mine seems rather dull.
  4. chop down... / chop... down  將……砍下
    The lumberjacks decided to chop down all the dead pine trees in the forest.
    *lumberjack n. 伐木工人
  5. take root  生根;扎根;深植人心
    Democracy is taking root in that country.
  6. agree upon / on...  同意∕贊成……
    The couple finally agreed on a date for the wedding.


  千年萬載,死亡都是唯一的必然。我們都將在某個時間點嚥下最後一口氣、隨著我們的心臟跳動最後一下,離開這個世界並進入另一個世界。宗教向來對我們靈魂的命運爭論不休,哲學家和其他思想家們也對此詳盡地討論。然而,我們的肉體會變成什麼樣則是一個較小的謎團。我們的身體通常會被火化或埋葬 ── 無論是死後下葬或是撒在海上。

1. 本文提及關於死亡的下列哪一點?
(A) 它再也不是必然。
(B) 只有宗教領導者和哲學家知道我們往生後,我們的靈魂會發生什麼事。
(C) 死後會發生什麼事眾說紛紜。
(D) 我們的肉體會發生什麼事情仍然是一團謎。
題解:根據本文第一段,宗教向來對我們靈魂的命運爭論不休,哲學家和其他思想家們也對此詳盡地討論,故 (C) 項應為正選。

2. 遺體處置方式成為一項重要議題的主要原因為何?
(A) 全世界的人口急遽增加。
(B) 在過度擁擠的城市中,用於墓園的空間即將短缺。
(C) 由於人口的成長,污染不斷增加。
(D) 更多人想要被火葬。
題解:根據本文第二段,由於世界人口在僅僅半個世紀以內就倍增至七十億,往生者處置方式所帶來的環境影響已經成為一項日益嚴重的議題,需要設法解決,故 (A) 項應為正選。

3. 關於蒙迪膠囊計劃,下列哪一項敘述不是正確的?
(A) 它是由兩位義大利人研發而成。
(B) 它有可能解決一項嚴重的環境問題。
(C) 它是一項日益嚴重問題的解決之道。
(D) 它已經成功地在義大利落實。
題解:根據本文最後一段,這個概念目前仍然處於規劃階段,與 (D) 項敘述不符,故為正選。

4. 根據本文,與傳統的遺體處置方式相比,蒙迪膠囊計劃有什麼益處?
(A) 樹木生長所需的肥料可望減少。
(B) 人們將會種植樹木而非將其砍伐。
(C) 不必等待多時才能埋葬或火化遺體。
(D) 終於有回收馬鈴薯和玉米的方法。
題解:根據本文最後一段,可以預見上千棵紀念樹木將會取代滿地墓碑的墓園。這與現況完全相反,目前必須砍伐樹木以製造棺材並開採石頭以製作墓碑,故 (B) 項應為正選。

答案:1. C 2. A 3. D 4. B

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