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Reading Task 1
Imprisoned after his defeat at Waterloo in 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte died on the British island of
St. Helena at the age of 52. Ever since, few have agreed on what killed the former French emperor.
One of the most persistent theories is that he died from arsenic poisoning. Ben Weider, who started
the International Napoleonic Society, argues that French Royalists and the British poisoned
Napoleon. As evidence, Weider points to a toxicology report that found traces of arsenic in his hair
samples. But arsenic poisoning could have a number of accidental causes such as eating large
amounts of seafood, as Napoleon likely did, or breathing in fumes from the arsenic that was in
the wallpaper of his house, a common feature during that era. Further, Napoleon's autopsy did not
indicate typical symptoms of arsenic poisoning and the report in this regard is inconclusive.
Other theories are related to medical issues and revenge. One idea is that doctor error killed
Napoleon. A dose of mercurous chloride could have combined with other medicines to cause a
fatal heart attack. Another theory is that stomach cancer was the cause; a possibly-cancerous ulcer
showed up on the autopsy but this evidence is also inconclusive since Napoleon did not show
symptoms. Finally, perhaps the most interesting theory involves revenge. François de CandéMontholon, the great-great-great-great grandson of the Count of Montholon, says the Count, who
was on St. Helena, may have poisoned Napoleon as revenge for the former emperor's affair with
his wife. The Count had access to Napoleon's food and wine cellar, and he had a motive.
Napoleon's body now lies in a grand tomb in Paris. Some have suggested opening the tomb and
using modern science to solve the mystery of Napoleon's death. French physician and historian
Jean-François Lemaire disagrees. Lemaire recommends that we simply continue to enjoy this
fascinating mystery.
1. The main idea of the passage is that __________.
A. the former emperor was killed because of a love affair
B. the true cause of Napoleon's death is a mystery
C. there were many plots against Napoleon
D. arsenic poisoning killed Napoleon
2. Which was NOT discussed as a possible cause of Napoleon's death?
A. a heart attack
B. arsenic poisoning
C. old age
D. revenge
3. One medical-issues theory is that Napoleon's death was caused by __________.
A. Count Montholon
B. French Royalists and the British
C. doctor error
D. breathing in fumes
4. Which of the following undercuts Weider's theory about the cause of death?
A. a motive
B. a stomach ulcer
C. a toxicology report
D. an autopsy report
5. In the last sentence of paragraph three, the word motive could be replaced by
A. reason
B. opportunity
C. involved
D. desire
Reading Task 2
Marcella Fierro and Alphonse Poklis can tell you about solving mysteries. Fierro is Chief Medical
Examiner for the Commonwealth of Virginia, a professor in the Legal Medicine Department at
Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), and the inspiration for Kay Scarpetta in Patricia
Cornwell's crime novels. Alphonse Poklis works closely with Fierro. He is also a professor at
VCU, with expertise in pathology, chemistry, forensics, pharmacology, and toxicology.
Fierro and Poklis' work begins after a violent or suspicious death occurs in Virginia. Once Fierro
and Poklis have access to the dead body, Fierro conducts an autopsy. She takes tissue samples from
the spleen, liver, brain, heart, lungs, hair, and nails, examines the blood, and tests the vitreous
humor from the eyes. She consults with Poklis to determine which poisons are good candidates to
test for given the circumstances of the case. If death occurred on a farm, for example, the duo
might decide to test for pesticides or other agricultural chemicals.
Once Fierro and Poklis have a plan about which tests to conduct, they use sophisticated, modern
equipment to perform the tests. Tests using mass spectrometry can detect even minute amounts of
poison (parts per trillion). In some cases, the team uses tests to confirm what they observe. For
example, the smell of cyanide is apparent the moment a body is opened during an autopsy. This
smell would prompt a test for cyanide poisoning, which causes an instant, dramatic death by
attacking the mitochondria in a victim's cells, depriving the cells of oxygen and suffocating them.
Although poison killing is not common in the U.S., cases involving poisons interest Fierro and
Poklis. Poklis describes poisoners as the most manipulative, sneaky, and remorseless killers who
use poison to cover up their crimes. Fierro recalls one case in which a man repeatedly came to the
hospital with strange gastrointestinal pains and his wife would visit, bringing banana pudding.
Perplexed about the man's symptoms, doctors finally tested the pudding which was found to be
laced with arsenic. Do these experts know how to use poison to get away with murder? Probably
so, but they are not sharing.
1. The passage describes how cyanide __________.
A. was used to kill a man who ate pudding laced with this poison
B. is usually always tested for during an autopsy
C. gives off a certain smell when a body is opened for an autopsy
D. is useful as an antidote to other poisons
2. Why are Poklis and Fierro probably interested in poisoning as a cause of death?
A. They rarely have to perform autopsies in poisoning cases.
B. They support having bodies exhumed for medical testing.
C. Poisoners generally show remorse for their crimes.
D. It allows them to use their expertise to solve a murder.
3. What effect does cyanide poisoning have on the body?
A. It raises body temperature and makes the victim feverish.
B. It is fatal only in dairy products (such as pudding).
C. It causes a slow death, gradually shutting down body systems.
D. It deprives cells of oxygen and suffocates the victim.
4. The phrase vitreous humor in the second paragraph means __________.
A. a clear gel in the eye
B. the colors of the eye
C. the cornea of the eye
D. the retina of the eye
5. Which of the following cases would probably LEAST interest Fierro and Poklis?
A. a millionaire dying of strange gastrointestinal pains
B. an elderly man apparently dying of natural causes
C. a young woman found dead in a swimming pool
D. a college student dying in her sleep after attending a party
Task 1: Watch the video and complete the summary
in its skin
when born
source of the toxins
tastes bitter
from their diet
a colorful amphibian
keys to medicines
The Mantella poison dart frog, (1)________, lives on the island of Madagascar. The toxic
chemicals (2)________ could hold the key to life-saving drugs. Valerie C. Clark studies the
frogs. The frogs are not poisonous (3) ________ but develop toxicity (4) ________.
To find out which insect in the frog's diet is causing the toxicity, Clark collects data about the
frogs' location and the insects in that area. When several chemicals in an insect match those in
the dart frogs, the insect may be a key part of the frog's diet and an important (5) ________ in
its skin.
Clark also samples the toxins in the dart frogs, including a"quick lick taste test." She licks the
frog's back with her tongue. If the frog (6) ________ , it is toxic. Although frogs may be
poisonous to other animals, they are only mildly toxic to humans and their skin may hold
the (7) ________.
Task 2: Fill the gaps
1. Mantella poison dart frogs eat millipedes, ants, and ________
2. The toxins in the frog's skin may help produce drugs such as _________
3. Clark tracks down the toxins in the frog by taking ________ of insects that the frog eats.
4. To test toxins in the frog, Clark may ________
5. Clark believes protecting the rain forest will help insure the ________ diversity frogs need
to survive.
Key: Reading Task 1
Reading Task 2
Video watching
Task 1
1 colorful amphibian
2 in its skin
5 source of the toxins
6 tastes bitter
3 when born
7 keys to medicines
Task 2
1 mites
2 pain relievers
4 wipe their backs
5 insect
3 samples
4 from their diet