TOEFL Reading: ETS-TOEFL阅读机经 - 0STH4234V8634Z4DM$

Motion pictures and television are possible because of two quirks of the human perceptual system: the phi phenomenon and persistence of vision. The phi phenomenon refers to what happens when a person sees one light sources go out while another one close to the original is illuminated. To our eyes, it looks like the light moves from one place to another. In persistence of vision, our eyes continue to see an image for a split second after the image has disappeared from view. First observed by the ancient Greeks, persistence of vision became more widely known in 1824 when Peter Roget (who also developed the thesaurus) demonstrated that human begins retain an image of an object for about one-tenth of a second after the object is taken from view. Following Roget's pronouncement, a host of toys that depended on this principle sprang up in Europe. Bearing fanciful manes (the Thaumatrope, the Praxinoscope), these devices made a series of hand-drawn pictures appear to move. Before long, several people realized that a series of still photographs on celluloid film could be used instead of hand drawing. In 1878 a colorful Englishman later turned American. Edward Muybridge, attempted to settle a $25,000 bet over whether the four feet of a galloping horse ever simultaneously left the ground. He arranged a series of 24 cameras alongside a racetrack to photograph a galloping horse. Rapidly viewing the series of pictures produced an effect much like that of a motion picture. Muybirdge's technique not only settled the bet (the feet did leave the ground simultaneously at certain instances) but also photography. Instead of 24 cameras talking one pictures in rapid order, it was Thomas Edison and his assistant, William Dickson, who finally developed what might have been the first practical motion-picture camera and viewing device, Edison was apparently trying to provide a visual counterpart to his recently invented phonograph. When his early efforts did not work out, he turned the project over his assistant. Using flexible film, Dickson solved the vexing problem of how to move the film rapidly through the camera by perforating its edge with tiny holes and pulling it along by means of sprockets, projections on a wheel that fit into the holes of the film in 1889 Dickson had perfected a machine called the Kinetoscope and even starred in a brief film demonstrating how it worked. These early efforts in the Edison lab were not directed at projecting movies to large crowds. Still influenced by the success of his phonograph, Edison thought a similar device could make a money by showing brief films to one person at a time for a penny a look. Edison built a special studio to produce films for his new invention, and by 1894, Kinetoscope parlors were spring up in major cities. The long-range commercial potential of his invention was lost on Edison. He reasoned that the real money would be made by selling his peep-show machine. If a large number of people were shown the film at the same time, fewer machines would be needed. Developments in Europe proved Edison wrong as inventors there devised large-screen projection devices. Faced with competition, Edison perfected the Vitascope and unveiled it in New York City in 1896. Early movies were simple snippets of action – acrobats tumbling, horse running, jugglers juggling, and so on. Eventually, the novelty wore off and films became less of an attraction. Public interest was soon rekindled when early filmmakers discovered that movies could be used to tell story. In France, Alice Guy-Blachè produced The Cabbage Fairy, a one-minute film about a fairy who produces children in a Cabbage patch, and exhibited it at the Paris International Exhibition in 1896. Guy-Blachè went on to found her own studio in America. Better known is the work of a fellow French filmmaker and magician, Georges Méliès. In 1902 Méliès produced a science-fiction film that was the great-great-grandfather of Star Wars and Star Trek; it was called A Trip to the Moon.