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ACID RAIN

One of Europe and North America's most serious pollution problems is acid rain. What happens is this. First, factories send gases and chemicals into the air. There they mix and are carried for hundreds of miles by wind. Finally, they fall back to earth when it rains. This 'acid rain' kills fish and trees. It slowly destroys buildings too.

Industrial countries should control their levels of pollution.

 

POLLUTION

Man has been trying to make his life easier for many centuries. In doing so, he invented machines and instruments. They have been working - and polluting the world we live in.

In this world around us, there are two things that do not belong to any one country: air and ocean water. In both the air and the water, there is much pollution. People are concerned about the air and the water used by everyone, and they are also concerned about the future of the Earth.

One of the most important pollution problems is in the oceans Many ships sail in the ocean water - fishing ships, some ships carrying people, some carrying oil. If a ship loses some of the oil in the water, or trash from the ships is put into the ocean, the water becomes dirty Many birds and fish die because of the polluted water. Many fish are dying in the sea, others are getting contaminated. Fishermen catch contaminated fish which may be sold in markets and people may get sick from eating them. Fish may also move to another part of the ocean. Lakes and rivers are getting polluted, too. Some beaches are considered dangerous for swimming.

The second important problem is air pollution. Cars and factories pollute the air we use. It also destroys the ozone layer which protects the Earth from the dangerous light of the Sun.

Another problem is that our forests are dying from acid rain. This, in turn, affects the balance of nature.

If we want our children to live in the same world we live in, or in a better and healthier world, we must learn to protect the water, the air and the earth from pollution.

Economists have long thought of the environment as an unlimited source of resources. They have thought that the atmosphere, forests, rivers and seas are capable of absorbing all the rubbish the economy throws into them. In fact, the economy and the environment are closely related. The environment supplies the economy with all its resources, such as water, timber, minerals and oil. The environment has to absorb all its waste products.

Nevertheless, some economists have always argued that pollution damages the resources. For example, pumping waste gases from a power station does not get rid of them. The waste gases cause acid rain; this leads to forest damage an therefore reduces the resources of forestry industry.

There are many consequences of damaging the environment. One of them is acid rain. Another one is water shortage resulting from abuse of arable lands in agriculture. The third one is destroying the ozone layer of the Earth through pollution from factories and plants. The fourth problem is damage to water and soils. The fifth one is damage to wildlife: numerous species of animals and plants can disappear. Lastly, the most serious danger arising from damaging the environment is the result of the above-mentioned consequences. This is the danger for the life and health of the man.

The territories of the former Soviet Union are suffering many environmental problems. Many of these problems have been caused by economic activities. Apart from the effect of the Chemobyl disaster, the worst problem is probably in the area around the Aral Sea. Cotton growing m the region has used huge quantities of water, and the sea's level has fallen by 14 yards. This destroyed fishing industry and led to a damage in soils, crops and wildlife. Many forests in the north of European Russia and the Far East are under threat. A system of dams on the Volga has caused damage to fish.

If we are unable to learn to use the environment carefully and protect it from damage caused by man's activities, very soon we'll have no world to live in.

 

DID DRAGONS EVER EXIST?

In the folklore and legends of countries all over the world, there are tales of great and horrible dragons.

They were pictured as huge, snakelike monsters frightful to behold. They had bulging eyes, their nostrils spouted flames, and their roar was so great they caused the earth to tremble.

One of the most famous of these ancient dragons was the Hydra, which had nine heads! it devoured many beautiful young girls before it was slain by Hercules. Another famous dragon was the Chimera, a fire-breathing monster that met its death at the hands of a young warrior, Bellerophon, who was helped by his winged steed, Pegasus.

Many dragons were supposed to be guarding great treasures. The Golden Fleece was guarded by a dragon with a hundred eyes! In other cases, great heroes always fought battles with dragons.

Although the dragon usually represents the spirit of evil, it has also been used as a symbol of protection. The early warriors painted fierce dragons on their shields to frighten away enemies.

People at one time actually did believe that dragons existed. For example, before the time of Columbus, sailors used to be afraid to venture into unknown seas because they believed huge dragons would swallow up the ships and men.

Of course, dragons never existed except in legends, myths, and fairy tales. Then why did the belief in them arise? In prehistoric times, all kinds of huge reptiles roamed the Earth. The most terrifying of these beasts, the dinosaur, lived long before man appeared on the Earth. But it is possible that during the time of the cavemen some reptiles of great size still survived, and from this came the legends of the dragons.

HOW DO WE KNOW WHAT DINOSAURS WERE LIKE?

Scientists believe that dinosaurs first appeared on the Earth about 180 million years ago, and died out about 60 million years ago. This. is long before human beings appeared on Earth, and also before such animals as dogs, rabbits, horses, monkeys, or elephants. Then how can we possibly know anything about these giant creatures?

Everything we know about dinosaurs and everything we will ever know - comes from fossils. These are remains, which these creatures left in the Earth. But there are many different kinds of fossils.

The most common fossils are petrified remains of what were the hard parts of their bodies - bones, teeth, and claws. Scientists can study these remains and from them reconstruct how the whole body of the dinosaur was built!

Sometimes, petrified tendons and skin are found, and this provides even more clues. Fossils can also be trails or footprints that were made in wet sand or mud that hardened into stone over the ages. From these, it is possible to tell how the dinosaurs walked and whether it was on two legs or four. And the rarest fossils of all from this time are dinosaur eggs.

In this way we can tell that the Brontosaurus was a monster from 70 to 80 feet long and weighed about 38 tons. We know it lived in swamps and was a plant-eater. And we also know that a dinosaur called Allosaurus had sharp teeth and powerful claws and it fed upon Brontosaurus and other plant-eaters. You see, scientists have found, among the broken and deeply scratched bones of Brontosaurus - fossil teeth of the Allosaurus!

 

HOW DID DINOSAURS EVOLVE?

Scientists believe that dinosaurs came into being about 180,000,000 years ago and died out about 60,000,000 years ago. Since dinosaurs were reptiles, they must have developed from reptiles that lived before them. Reptiles, by the way, are a separate class of animals with these characteristics: They are cold-blooded; they can live on land; they have a distinctive type of heart; and most of them have scales.

The first reptiles appeared long before the dinosaurs. They looked like Amphibian (able to live in water and on land), but their eggs could be hatched on land. The young ones had legs and lungs, could breathe air, and probably ate insects.

Then the reptiles became larger and stronger. Some looked like big lizards and others like turtles. They had short tails, thick legs, and big heads. They ate plants.

The first dinosaurs to develop resembled their reptile ancestors, who were like lizards, and who could walk on their hindlegs. The first dinosaurs were slender, about as large as a turkey, and could also walk on their hindlegs. Some kinds remained small, but others grew heavier and longer. In time, many of them were six to eight feet long. There were even a few 20 feet long and weighing as much as an elephant. They had small heads, short, blunt teeth, which were only good for eating plants. They lived in low, swampy places.

Then came the next period in the Age of Reptiles. Some of the plant-eating dinosaurs became so large that even four legs couldn't support them on land. They had to spend most of their lives in rivers and swamps. One of these giants was Brontosaurus, 70 to 80 feet long and weighing about 38 tons!

At the same time, other dinosaurs were able to walk about on land. One of these, Allosaurus, was 34 feet long, had sharp teeth and claws, and fed on Brontosaurus and other plant-eaters! So dinosaurs were a stage in the development of the reptiles. They may have disappeared because of changes in the climate of the Earth, which robbed them of places to wade and feed.

 

TORNADOES

Tornadoes are the most violent of all storms. They are so powerful that no one can predict what they may do. Tornadoes uproot large trees, overturn houses, and carry away telephone booths and cars.

One tornado picked up a schoolhouse, turned it around, and then set it down backwards.

Another one carried off a horse, then dropped it on the ground. Luckily, the animal remained alive.

In Russia, during one tornado, people were amazed to see money falling out of the sky. At least a thousand coins dropped from the clouds. The winds had removed the earth from a buried treasure and picked up the coins.

A typical tornado is usually shaped like a funnel wide at the top and narrow at the bottom. When it has picked up enough material (leaves, dirt, pieces of wood, etc.), it sometimes looks like a giant elephant. But tornadoes can come in other shapes, too.

Tornadoes consist of twisting winds that are probably the strongest on earth. Scientists say that they can reach speeds of up to 320 kilometres an hour. That is why they are so dangerous.

Most tornadoes last less than an hour, but some can last several hours. Such tornadoes are especially destructive.

A tornado's path is narrow, but within this narrow path a tornado can destroy everything. It can even kill people.

The greatest killer tornado in history roared through Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana on March 18, 1925. It killed 689 people. This tornado was one of the largest and fastest tornadoes ever recorded. Its path was about 354 kilometres long and up to 1.6 kilometres wide. The storm travelled at a speed of about 97 kilometres an hour.

Tornadoes occur throughout the world, but mostly in the United States. The central states, from Texas to Michigan, have probably more tornadoes than any other place on earth.

Most tornadoes occur in spring. A hot, humid day in the afternoon or in the early evening is the most likely time for this dangerous storm. Large clouds appear in the sky- They become darker and darker. There are sounds of thunder in the distance. Bright flashes of lightning are seen. A cloud then forms a funnel and begins to twist. A hissing sound begins the funnel cloud moves towards the earth. It moves faster and faster. The faster the winds, the louder the noise. If the funnel touches the ground, it picks up everything it can. The hissing becomes a loud roar. The violent winds of a tornado blow down almost everything in its path.

Scientists have often wondered what the inside of a- tornado is really like. Only a few people who saw the heart of a tornado have lived to describe it later. One of these people was Will Keller whose farm was in Kansas where tornadoes are common. He described what he saw when a tornado swept over him.

"At first everything was as still as death. There was a strong gassy smell, and it seemed as though I could not breathe. There was a screaming, hissing sound coming directly from the end of the funnel. I looked up. To my astonishment, I saw right into the heart of the tornado. In the centre of the column there was a circular opening about a hundred feet wide. It extended straight upward for about half a mile."

While inside the walls of the circular funnel Will Keller saw bolts of lightning everywhere. Flashes shot from side to side of the funnel.

Keller always remembered those few seconds when he looked up into

the heart of a mighty tornado. When it finally moved away, he saw it pass over a neighbour's house and barn and tear the buildings apart.

Fortunately. meteorologists can predict tornadoes, and today, people have a much better chance of protecting themselves.

 

COMPUTERS.

A. Hardware

 

As well as the hardware (=the machines), you also need software (==programs needed to work the machines). These programs are on disks, e.g. the hard disk inside the computer, or floppy disk (small pies of floppy disk) or on CD-ROMs (^Compact Disk Read Only Memory, a CD on which you can put a large amount information).

B. Operating a computer Using themouse, you can do a number of things byclicking on

differenticons (=moving the mouse to point at different pictures at the top of the screen

C. What do people use computer for

A word processor is a computers used to prepare documents or letters, or the software that is for this purpose. Many people use their computers forword processing, e.g. writing letters and report. A lot of business people usespreadsheets (=a program which used enter and arrange numbers and financial information) anddatabase(^program which allow you to store, look at or change a large amount of information quickly and easily). Some people also usegraphics (= the pictures and symbols a computer program can produce).

D. Important vocabulary

More and more people are becomingcomputing-literate (=have experience of working with computers and know how to use them) as many programs and machines are souser-friendly (=easy to use).

You can now connect your computers to computers all over the world using theInternet (=a system that allows computers to connect using telephone lines). People send each othere-mail (electronic mail) messages using this system ornetwork.If you computer is slow it may need morememory. It maycrash(=stop working) if there is not enough memory or if it has abug(=software problem; also avirus). Make sure you make aback-up copy of your work (=an extra copy on floppy disk).

 

THE HISTORY OF PERSONAL COMPUTING

One of the most important developments leading to the personal computer revolution was the invention of the semiconductor, or transistor, in 1948. This feat was accomplished by John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley, who were engineers working at Belt Telephone Laboratories. The transistor, nothing more than a solid-stale electronic switch, replaced the much larger vacuum tube and consumed significantly less power in tube's job. Thus, a computer system built with transistors was much smaller and more efficient.

The tube also could act as a switch but was inefficient in this role. A tube consumed a great deal of electrical power and gave off enormous heat.

The switch to transistors began the trend toward miniaturisation that has enabled today's small laptop PC systems, which run on batteries, to have more computing power than many earlier systems that filled rooms and consumed huge amounts of electrical power.

In 1959, engineers at Texas instruments figured out how to put more than one transistor on the same base material and connect the transistors without wires. Thus, the integrated circuit, or 1C, was born. The first 1C contained only six transistors, but the Intel 80386 in many of today's systems has 280,000. Today, IC can be built with millions of transistors on-board.

In 1969, a company called Intel made waves in the industry by introducing a 1 ʗ bit memory chip, which was much larger than anything else available at the time. Because of Intel's success in chip manufacturing, the company Japanese-calculator manufacturer called Busicomp and was asked to produce 12 chips for creation of Busicomp's calculator scientific designs. Engineers at Intel took the 12-chtp design and incorporated all the desired functions and capabilities into a single" generic" multipurpose chip. This chip was different from previous designs. The new chip read a variable set of instructions from memory, which Intel already had been producing. The concept was to design what was almost an entire computing device on a single chip. This first microprocessor was the Intel 4004. a 4-bit microprocessor, introduced in 1971. The successor to the 4004 was the 8008 5-bit microprocessor in 1972.

in 1973, some of the first microcomputer kits based on the 8008 chip were developed. In late 1973, Intel introduced the 8080 microprocessor, which was 10 time faster than the earlier 8008 chip and also could have 64 of memory.

With a cover story In the January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics magazine, a company called MITS introduced the Altair kit, which is generally considered to be the first personal computer- This kit included an 8080 processor, a power supply, a front panel with a great deal of lights, and an enormous 256 bytes ( not kilobytes) of memory. The kit sold for 5395 and had to be assembled. The new processor inspired other companies to write programs, including the CP/M ( Control Program for Microprocessors) operating system and first version of Microsoft basic-now things really started moving. IBM introduced its first" personal computer" in 1975. The Model 5100 had 16K of memory, a built-in BASIC language Interpreter, and a built-in cartridge tape drive for storage. The Mode! 5100 was succeeded by the 5110 and 5120 before IBM introduced the IBM Personal Computer ( which was called the Model 5150).

In 1976, a new company called Apple Computer introduced the Apple I- This system consisted of a main circuit board screwed onto a piece of plywood. A case and power supply were not included; the buyer had to supply them. The Apple I was followed in 1977 by the Apple II. The Apple II, because of its enormous success, helped to set the standards for nearly all the microcomputers , including the IBM PC.

In 1980, the microcomputer world was dominated by two main factions of computers. One faction was the Apple II, which claimed of loyal users and a gigantic software base that was grow at a fantastic rate. Also available were ail the systems that had evolved from the original MITS Altair. These system were compatible with each other and were distinguished by their use of the CP/M operating system and expansion slots that followed the S-100 ( for slot with 100 pins) standard. Although built by a variety of companies and selling under various names, these systems all were able (for the most part) to use the same software and plug-in hardware

MASTERS OF INVENTION

Nolan Bushnell (Born in 1943)

The father of home video games. He build Pong in 1972, starting the video-game craze that led to today's powerful super systems.

During the 1950's and 1960's, computers improved enormously. Still, only big businesses, universities and the military had them. Then in 1972, the video-game craze began. Computers were scaled down to small boxes, using electronic circuitry instead of the Mark Fs switches. They could do more than analyse data. They could play games.

The first big hit was a simple game called Pong. Two players sat in front of a television screen where a "ball" - a point of light - bounced back and forth. Using knobs on a cabinet, the players could hit the ball with inch-long "paddles" on the screen.

Pong was created by Nolan Bushnell, who grew up near Salt Lake City, Utah. He loved to tinker with machines and became an electrical engineer. He played primitive computer games that were even older than Pong.

"I build it with my own two hands and a soldering iron," Bushnell said of his creation of the first Pong game.

In 1972 Bushnell founded Atari Inc. In Sunnyvale, Calif., to build Pong games. By 1975 there were 150,000 Pong games in American homes. Steve Wozniak (Born in 1950) and Steven Jobs (Born in 1955)

Working out of a garage, the young video game fanatics invented the Apple computer in 1976. The age of home computers was born.

One of Atari's early employees was 19-year-old Steve Wozniak, who worked for another computer company, both loved video games.

Jobs and Wozniak dreamed of a personal computer, one that could do more than play games. From this dream, the Apple Computer Company started in family garage.

In 1977 Jobs and Wozniak sold their first Apple II, which launched the personal computer industry. By 1985 they had sold more than two million Apple II's.

The Apple II was more than a toy. People could use it to write letters, keep financial records and teach their children. And, yes, they could play games on it. The Apply II evolved into today's high-tech Macintosh computers. These computers popularised the use of the mouse, the hand-controlled device that moved the cursor on a computer display.

 

WHAT'S YOUR OPINION OF COMPUTER GAMES?

By Bill Gates

What is your opinion about computer games? Kail Pvnkkv, Finland (caspar(AT)Zal4l .stuitsLratol.fi)

I like games, off and on the screen.

My family played board games together when I was a kid, and I'm a fairly avid bridge, poker, go and chess player

When the PC out in 1981 my company offered several software products for n in addition to the operating system, MS-DOS Some of the applications we marketed, such as Adventure and Typing Tutor, are now obscure But we also released Flight Simulator, which is still selling very well after 17 years and numerous updates.

In recent years, Microsoft has offered a whole line of computer games, and encouraged other companies to invest m games, too Getting numerous companies to build good games will help build the market for PCs at home PCs that will be used for games as well as other applications

I used to be embarrassed by how hard it was to install games on PCs It was terrible! In die days of Windows 3 1, conflicts between games and productivity applications were commonplace People often had to find an expert to help them install a game The frustration early held back the market

The situation is much improved now. It's a lot easier for publishers to write games that install easily and run well on a wide variety of hardware Game publishers have seen the cost, of providing telephone support decline

Because hardware and software are improving, publishers are able to concentrate more on being creative and less on figuring, out how to coax performance from PCs Many action games still are fine-tuned for high performance, however, because many consumers have proven their interest in games that push the state of-the-art

The boundary between what's a game and what 5 not is less clear ever) day If you re using software that simulates an interactive fantasy space that you can seem to walk around in, is that a game7 If you or ur children use educational software that offers challenges, rewards and feedback, is that a game

The Internet often has noticeable latency, or delay, particularly when accessed through telephone modems that don t use a recent software protocol called V90 Latency usually isnt an is sue for people using the Internet to play bridge on chess, but it can be a big problem for multiplayer action games where instantaneous response time is important

One solution is to design the software so it connects only people who happen to have fast connections to each other Another approach is for players of fast paced games to use private servers and networks

As technology improves, latency will be less of an issue and you play games that accommodate a large number of simultaneous players It will become common for people from around a nation or die world to use the Internet to compete with each other

In some circles, it's common already At any given moment, my company typically has as many customers playing our games online (at www zone corn) as has people using our online service We don't know how to make money with online games yet but we'll figure it out someday

In a speech, you spoke of bringing citizens and the government into closer contact via a digital nervous system." Don't you think that this concept is contrary to what people want: distance from the government? Jthomp(AT)po-box.mcgill.ca

Government is pervasive, and most interactions people have with it are positive Governments create order and provide services, including school and health systems and roads

Even if you don't personally reach out to the representatives of government, certain infrastructures and issues related to the rule of law are important to you Nobody challenges the night of governments to issue a parking ticket or to ask you to get a business license or a passport or to pay your real-estate taxes

Since we agree these are legitimate functions of government, why not use technology to make government more efficient, for the benefit of the people it serves you and me7 Why should dealing with the government-mean filling out rwork or standing in line.

As we make governments more efficient by equipping them with digital news systems, they'll have new potential to gather and consolidate information about individuals and groups.

 

LIFE IN THEIR HANDS

The latest craze to hit Japan is a computer pet called the Tamagotchi. It is pocket-sizes toy with a tiny screen on which a bird is born and then reared by its owner. But beware, the Tamagotchi will die if it is not properly looked after.

When I first heard that Japan's latest craze was a computer pet you can keep in your pocket, I scoffed at the idea. I mean, who on earth could get attached to silly egg-shaped game on a key-ring? Within no time, Tamagotchi were selling like hot cakes. Originally priced at less than $20 each, they were soon changing hands on the black market for $800.

The Tamagotchi starts as a pulsating egg on the screen. After five minutes, if hatches into a demanding chick, which wants to be fed, played with, and have its dropping cleared away regularly. Like many small creatures, it's prone to infections and needs to be given injections at the first sign of illness. All this is done with a series of bleeps and squeaks via three little buttons.

Consequently, within half an hour of ownership, my life had been taken over by this small plastic bauble. The whole office started taking an interest in my computer pet. They gave advice on how much to feed it, when to give it a virtual smack, and whether that was the politically-correct way to treat a computer bird. One colleague made a nest for the Tamagotchi. Some even offered to babysit. And we all anxiously awaited the day when it would grow a beak. When it finally sprouted wings, we cheered and sang the little jingle that the gadget plays when you press the buttons.

The Tamagotchi has captured the imaginations of the Japanese. It's idealfor a country in which many people lived in small houses or apartments, where there's no room for a real pet. It's even rumoured that a member of parliament takes his computers chick into the debating chamber.

But being a Tamagotchi owner is not all fun. The pets can grow into snake-like monsters if they aren't brought up properly. And they can be dangerous, too. People have been mugged for their Tamagotchi.

 

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