Earth Hour 2018 – The World Goes Dark

Once again, the earth has gone dark.  Every year since 2007, thousands of public buildings and landmarks around the globe are switched off  for an hour to raise awareness for climate change. Earth Hour 2018 started in Samoa and spread to all continents.

Numerous sites, including Sydney’s Opera House, the Paris Eiffel Tower and Brandenburg Gate in Germany, went dark at exactly 8.30 pm local time. In addition, millions of private citizens joined in the event and turned off lights in their homes. 187 countries took part in this years Earth Hour , organised by the WWF.

In the past the Earth Hour movement has achieved breakthroughs in  many environmental fields. In 2014 Ecuador’s government banned the use of plastic bags on the Galapagos island. Solar-powered lights were  installed in remote villages in India and 17 million trees were planted in Kazakhstan.

According to the WWF, Earth Hour 2018 will concentrate on the preservation of forests and oceans, as well as wildlife protection. The organisation says that it hopes to raise awareness of global warming especially in the USA, where President Trump has vowed to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

 

 

 

Earth Hour 2012 in Berlin
Earth Hour 2012 in Berlin – Image : David Biene / WWF

Words

  • achieve = reach, get
  • according to = as said by …
  • agreement = document signed by two or more groups or countries
  • ban = forbid
  • breakthrough = here : to do something really important after trying for some time
  • citizen = person who lives in a country or city and has rights there
  • environment = nature and the world we live in
  • especially = above all
  • globe = world
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • in addition = also
  • including = also
  • join = take part in an event
  • landmark = something that is easy to recognise, like a famous building
  • movement = campaign ; a group of people who have the same ideas and want to work together to achieve things
  • numerous = many
  • preservation = to keep something in its original condition
  • public = place where everyone can go to
  • pull out = leave; not be a part of
  • raise awareness = to get people to see and understand a problem
  • remote = far away and hard to get to
  • solar-powered = operated by the sun
  • spread = move to
  • switch off = turn off
  • vow = promise
  • wildlife protection = to save and protect animals that live in the wild
  • WWF = the World Wide Fund for Nature

 

Roger Federer Wins 20th Grand Slam Title

Tennis superstar Roger Federer has won his  20th Grand Slam Title and his 6th Australian Open trophy. In a dramatic match, the Swissman beat Croatian  Marin Cilic  6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 3-6 and 6-1. The match went on for over  3 hours with both players being exhausted at the end. It was one of the hottest tournaments ever played on the ATP tour. In some of the matches temperatures reached 40° C (104 ° F).

Federer is the first to win 20 Grand Slam titles. He has won three out of the last 5 Grand Slams. At 36 Federer became the second oldest man to win a grand slam title after Ken Rosewall who won the Australian Open in 1972. In addition, he has become the oldest player ever to climb to the top of the ATP rankings.

The sympathetic Swiss player had the majority of supporters on his side at Melbourne Park. Red and white flags dominated the arena. In a game that went back and forth, Federer’s experience was decisive in winning the final set.

After dominating men’s tennis for a decade, the Swissman’s intermediate downfall started in 2013 when he lost in the second round at Wimbledon and failed to reach the quarter-finals in the following three Grand Slam events. After suffering from a series of back injuries between 2013 and 2016  Federer made an amazing comeback last year.

Tennis is a sport in which injuries take their toll during the latter part of an athlete’s career. Federer rivals Raphael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, both in their 30s, are also coping with injury problems.

 

Roger Federer
Roger Federer – Image: Tatiana

Words

  • ATP tour = worldwide series of tournaments for professional tennis players; they take place at the same time every year
  • back = back part of your body between the neck and legs
  • back and forth = here: both players took turns winning sets
  • beat = win against
  • comeback = here to win again after an unsuccessful time
  • cope with = deal with
  • decade = ten years
  • decisive = here: it is why he won
  • dominate = here: more than other flags
  • downfall = here: when you suddenly start losing matches
  • exhausted = very tired
  • experience = here: the skill and knowledge you have from winning many difficult matches
  • fail = did not
  • Grand Slam = the four most important tennis tournaments = Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open
  • in addition = also
  • injury = damage to a part of your body
  • intermediate = here: for a short time in between other phases
  • latter = last
  • majority = here: most of the people in the stadium
  • quarter-finals = the last eight players in a tournament
  • ranking = position on a list that shows how good you are compared to others
  • reach = get to
  • rival = person who you play against
  • suffer = to be in pain
  • supporter = person who cheers for you in an event
  • take their toll = to have a bad effect on something over a longer period of time
  • tournament = series of matches in which players play against each other until there is one winner
  • trophy = large object, like a cup or plate made out of silver or gold, that someone receives as a prize for winning a sports event

Baba Vanga Makes New Predictions for 2018

Baba Vanga, a mystic Bulgarian woman who died in 1996, has been known for predicting future events. She predicted the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the rise of Islamic terrorism and the Christmas tsunami of 2004. For 2018, there are two events that the blind woman said would become true.

China will overtake the USA as the world’s number one economic power and scientists will discover a new form of energy on our sister planet Venus. These two predictions may, in fact, just have a chance of becoming reality.

China’s economy has been growing steadily for many years. Today, China’s share of the world’s economy is at 15.6 % while the US still is the largest economic power at 16.7% . Many experts say that China will be overtaking the USA soon.

On the other side, NASA is not planning to send a space probe to Venus but will send a spacecraft to the sun in 2018. The mission was scheduled for 2015 but postponed because of technical problems. The probe will fly by Venus and scientists do not rule out new discoveries of the planet that may be made.

Baba Vanga, whom many followers call the Nostradamus of the Balkans, made predictions up to the year 5079, when, according to her, the world and the universe will come to an end. In 2028 the world will suffer a global hunger crisis and in 3005 a war on Mars will change the trajectory of the planet.

Referring to her predictions of 9/11 and Brexit, Baba Vanga said that two birds of steel would attack America and Europe would cease to exist in its known form by the end of 2016.

 

Baba Vanga predicted the 9/11 attacks on the USA
Baba Vanga predicted the 9/11 attacks on the USA – Image: Wally Gobetz

Words

  • according to = as said by …
  • Balkans = countries in the southeast part of Europe
  • cease to exist = here: not exist anymore
  • discover = to find something for the first time
  • economy = system by which a country buys and sells goods and manages its money
  • follower = person who believes in what someone else teaches or says
  • global = worldwide
  • mission = trip by a spacecraft to the sun, moon or another planet in order to get information
  • mystic = person who tries to get to know facts  by praying, and talking with God
  • overtake = here: to be better than ..
  • postpone = to change the date of an event to a later one
  • predict – prediction  = to say that something will happen in the future
  • probe = spaceship without people in it that is sent into space to collect information
  • referring to = to mention or talk about something
  • rise = here: when someone becomes very powerful
  • rule out = to decide that something is not possible
  • scheduled = planned
  • scientist = a person who works in a lab and is trained in science
  • share = part
  • spacecraft = object that can travel in space
  • steadily = slowly and regularly
  • suffer = to be in a bad situation
  • trajectory = path that a planet takes around the sun
  • tsunami = very large wave that can flood large areas when it hits the coast
  • universe = all space, including all  the stars and planets

California Publishes New Cell Phone Guidelines

California’s Department of Health has published new guidelines on how to handle cell phones. It warns that radiation emitted from cell phones can be harmful but does not say that cell phones are dangerous.

.Health authorities in California suggest a few measures cell phone users should take. When sleeping, you should keep your phone at least an arm’s length away from your body.  You should also avoid keeping your cell phone in your pocket. They also recommend only using cell phones when reception is strong.

Some doctors agree that carrying cell phones close to your body could increase the risk of getting brain tumours , cancer and becoming infertile. It may also lead to headaches, hearing problems and a loss of memory. On the other side, there are many health experts who say that the risks cell phone usage present are not proven

Cell phones emit radiation in the form of low-energy radio waves when they receive and send signals from cell towers.    The frequencies that cell phones use could be linked to various illnesses.

The new cell phone guidelines have existed since 2009 but not been published. Recently, a Berkeley professor won a lawsuit against the Department of Health to release the guidelines to the public and push for more action.

 

The California Department of Health has released new guidelines on how to use cell phones.
The California Department of Health has released new guidelines on how to use cell phones.

Words

  • authorities = government organisation that can make decisions
  • avoid = stop; not do something
  • brain tumour = illness in your brain  in which cells increase in an uncontrolled way
  • cancer = serious disease in which cells in one part of your body start to grow in a way that is not normal
  • cell tower = high object that sends out and receives cell phone signals
  • Department of Health = authorities that are responsible  for health programs and health information that is given to the public
  • emit = release, send out
  • guidelines = instructions on how people should do something or deal with something
  • handle = use
  • increase = go up
  • infertile = if you are not able to have babies
  • lawsuit = a problem that is settled by a judge in court
  • loss of memory = when you start forgetting things
  • public = the people in general
  • publish = to release official information to all people
  • radiation = form of energy that is sent out as waves that you cannot see
  • receive = pick up, get
  • recently = a short time ago
  • reception = the quality of the signal you get for your cell phone
  • suggest = recommend
  • usage = how something is used

The Earth’s Hum – A Mysterious Noise

For the first time, scientists have recorded a humming sound that the earth has probably been producing for a long time. Scientists have been aware of the hum for decades, but for the first time, a team of experts have actually been able to record it

57 seismometers were placed over millions of square kilometres of the Indian Ocean.  Ultralow radio frequencies were recorded on the ocean’s floor

For some time, geologists have pointed out that the earth is not silent but vibrates almost everywhere. However, it is a sound with a frequency thousands of times lower than what the human ear can hear.

Scientists don’t know what causes the earth’s hum but could learn more by getting a clearer audio signal. There are a few theories about where the sound may come from. Some say that it’s the echo of waves crashing onto the coast, while others think that it may be the atmosphere in motion. Geologists, however, agree that the sound does not come from earthquakes because it is continuous.

In 1998 Japanese scientists proved that the earth’s hum was real, but nobody has been able to record it until now. Geologists hope that by analysing the recording they can get more information on the interior structure of the earth.

 

Seismometers record all kinds of noises and disturbances on the surface of the earth
Seismometers record all kinds of noises and disturbances on the surface of the earth

Words

  • agree = to have the same opinion
  • analyse = look at very closely in order to get more facts
  • atmosphere = the mixture of gases that surrounds a planet
  • audio signal = sound
  • aware = to know that something exists
  • cause = the reason for something
  • continuous = when something goes on all the time
  • crash = to hit something very hard
  • decade = ten years
  • earthquake = a sudden shaking of the earth’s surface that causes a lot of damage
  • geologist = person who studies rocks and how they make up the surface of the earth
  • humming = a steady low sound
  • in motion = moving
  • interior structure = what something consists of, or what it is made up of inside
  • place =  put, install
  • point out = to say how important something is
  • radio frequency = waves that are produced when you send out a radio signal
  • record = information about something that is written down or stored on a computer
  • seismometer = machine that measures how the ground moves
  • vibrate = to shake quickly and steadily in very small movements

 

Traditional Sports in Britain on Boxing Day

Boxing Day, the 26th of December,  has become a traditional day of sports in the UK, with many events taking place all across the country.

The day got its name from a time when many upper-class families gave boxes of gifts to poor people who had to work at Christmas while everybody else was celebrating. Boxing Day is celebrated in many Commonwealth countries.

The first important sports event on Boxing Day took place back in 1860 when two of the oldest football clubs in England played against each other. Today the Englisch Premier League schedules a full round of matches on this Christmas holiday. In many cases, teams that are geographically close to each other play on Boxing Day so that fans do not have that far to travel.

While most European football leagues take a winter break, sometimes for several weeks, English football continues between Christmas and New Year.

The holiday schedule is welcomed by many football fans, but there are critics however who say that the Christmas season is a time when everybody should be at home with their families. Some managers point out that the season is very long and major teams need a break for players to recover from injuries.

Football is not the only popular sport that is played on  Boxing Day. Horse racing and rugby have also seen regular sports events on the second day of Christmas.  Traditional fox hunting is opposed by more and more Britons. In addition, Boxing Day has become one of the strongest betting days of the year.

 

Traditional King George VI chase on Boxing Day
Traditional King George VI Chase on Boxing Day – Image: Carine06 , https://www.flickr.com/photos/43555660@N00/8315710432/

Words

  • betting = when people risk money on the results of games  or future events
  • break = pause; a time during which you have no games
  • celebrate = to have fun or do something special
  • Commonwealth = group of about 50 countries that were once a part of the British Empire
  • critics = people who think that certain things are not good
  • everybody else = all the other people
  • gift = present
  • however = but
  • in addition = also
  • injury = when a part of your body gets hurt
  • major = important
  • manager = someone who is in charge of and coaches a football team
  • oppose = to be against
  • point out = to say something that is important for you
  • Premier League = the 20 best football teams of England an Wales which play against each other
  • recover = to  get better
  • schedule = to plan something for a certain time
  • traditional = something that has existed for a long time
  • UK = United Kingdom
  • welcome = to be glad that something happens
  • winter break = time during which teams do not play because it is too cold or there is too much snow on the ground

IOC Bans Russia from Olympic Games

The International Olympic Committee has banned Russia from taking part in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Russian officials are not allowed to take part in the opening ceremony and the Russian flag will not be raised.

Russian athletes, however, will be able to take part as individuals under a neutral flag if the IOC has determined that they have been clean athletes in the past.

The decision comes after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed that Russia was guilty of systematic doping during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. In a case of state-sponsored doping, officials tampered with urine samples to hide athletes’ drug abuse.  More than 20 Russian athletes, among them some medal winners,  have been disqualified from the final Sochi results.

The whole investigation into the doping claim started when Grigory Rodchenko, director of Russia’s   anti-doping lab in Sochi 2014, defected to the United States. He stated that the country ran an official doping programme and switched samples during the Games.  Doping was especially widespread in sports like biathlon and cross-country skiing.  A report by the World’s anti-doping organization (WADA) stated that between 2012 and 2015 a thousand Russian athletes in 30 sports benefited from the programme.

Although many countries welcomed the IOC’s decision, it was sharply criticized in Russia. Some officials urged the country not to allow any of its athletes to take part in Pyeongchang Olympics. Russia would have ranked first in the Sochi medal table, but lost 13 medals because of the scandal, 4 of them in gold.

Vladimir Putin congratulates Alexandr Zubkov at a ceremony for Russian athletes during the Sochi Olympic
Vladimir Putin congratulates Alexandr Zubkov at a ceremony for Russian athletes during the Sochi Olympics. Zubkov is one of several Russian athletes who lost his medals because of doping. Image: www.kremlin.ru

Words

  • although = while
  • athlete = someone who takes part in a sports competition
  • ban = an order that does not allow a country to take part
  • benefit = something that helps you get better
  • biathlon = event in which athletes ski across fields and then shoot a rifle
  • claim = to say that something is true even if you have not proved it
  • clean athlete = an athlete who has not taken any illegal drugs
  • confirm = to say that something is true by giving proof
  • cross-country skiing = a race in which you ski-across fields
  • decision = order
  • defect = to leave your home country to go somewhere else, mostly because you have something to be afraid of
  • determine = find out the facts
  • disqualify = to take athletes out of the official results
  • doping = the practice of using drugs to improve performance in sport
  • drug abuse = here: taking drugs illegally
  • especially = above all
  • guilty = to do something that is not allowed
  • however = but
  • individual = here: a single person, not part of a country’s team
  • investigation = here: when organizations try to find out the truth about something
  • medal table = list that shows the number of medals that each country has won
  • official = person in a high position in an organisation
  • opening ceremony = the first event at the start of the Olympic Games
  • raise = put up
  • rank = the position in a table
  • sharply = very strongly
  • state-sponsored = the government knew about doping
  • switch = replace, exchange
  • tamper = to change something without permission
  • urge = to strongly suggest that you do something
  • urine samples = yellow liquid waste that comes out of your body; by examining urine experts can see if there are any illegal substances that  an athlete has taken
  • welcome = to be in favour of the decision
  • widespread = common

Facebook Introduces Messenger Kids

Facebook has announced that it will release a new version of its popular app Messenger for children aged between 6 and 12. They do not need their own Facebook account to access the app, called Messenger Kids.

With Messenger Kids, parents will be able to control what their children see and who they are allowed to communicate with. There are no ads in the children’s version and Facebook has promised not to use a child’s information for other purposesIn addition, children’s names will not be integrated into Facebook’s search tool. At the moment, the app will only be available in the United States.

Facebook aims at getting children to become used to its product even if they are under the age required to get a normal account. As the company is losing younger customers to rivals Instagram and Snapchat, the company is trying to get young users to connect to their product before competitors do.

Messenger Kids will offer text and video chat as well as stickers and drawing tools. Special detection filters prevent children from sharing sexual content or violence online.

According to Facebook,  over 90% of all 8 to 12-year-olds have smartphones or tablets. Many use their parents’ Facebook account.The new app is intended to give children a feeling of having their own account, while parents are still in control.  Messenger Kids will not automatically be converted into a normal Facebook account when children reach 13.

 

Children can now use a special Facebook app to contact their friends.
Children can now use a special Facebook app to contact their friends.

Words

  • access = use
  • according to = as said by …
  • account =a service that allows you to  do or  see things on the Internet
  • ad = picture, words or a short film which is intended to make people buy a product
  • aim = wants, plan to
  • available = here: use
  • announce = to say officially in public
  • communicate = talk, chat with or write to
  • competitor = rival
  • content = comments, pictures video etc..
  • convert = change into, automatically become
  • customer = person who buys something
  • detection filter = here: a tool that is used to stop bad things from getting seen by children
  • in addition = also
  • intend = plan to
  • prevent = stop
  • promise = to say that you will  do something
  • purpose = here: other things
  • release = here: you can download and use it
  • required = needed
  • rival = a company that sells the same things as you do
  • share = exchange, swap
  • sticker = here: a frame with a picture or words; you can collect them

 

Texting Celebrates 25th Birthday

Short Message Service (SMS), also called texting, is celebrating its 25th birthday. The first text message was sent in Great Britain shortly before Christmas in 1992 in Great Britain. It was British engineer Neil Papworth who sent the first message from a computer to a  mobile phone on the Vodaphone network. At that time mobile phones could only receive messages, not send them.

In 1994, Nokia presented its first mobile phone that could actually send and receive messages.  It was the first phone that could produce more than an audio signal. Shortly afterwards the first commercial SMS service started in Finland. Text messages were limited to 160 characters.

25 years later text messaging is widely popular.  97% of all smartphone users send some type of text message regularly. About 25 billion are sent every day. Today there are more complex messaging services like WhatsApp, Facebook Messanger and iMessage.

Media experts regard texting as the first step towards today’s smartphones, which are basically pocket computers with countless apps.

Texting has changed the way we communicate. For the first time, you could send the same text to different contacts at the same time and it didn’t matter if the recipient was reachable or not. A new language has also emerged with abbreviations and short sentences.

Texting on a mobile phone
Texting on a mobile phone – Image : Helar Lukats

Words

  • abbreviation = short form of a word or phrase
  • actually = really, in fact
  • basically = practically
  • celebrate = to show that an event is important
  • commercial = here: something that you can make money with
  • communicate = exchange information or get into contact with each other
  • complex = advanced; with many different parts
  • countless = very many
  • emerge = develop, appear
  • engineer = person who designs and builds machines and other objects
  • limit = only allow
  • network = here: system of telephone lines that are connected to each other
  • reachable = here: speak to someone
  • receive = get
  • recipient = here: a person who receives a message
  • regard = think of something as…
  • widely popular = used by many people

NASA Fires Voyager 1 Thrusters After 37 Years

Voyager 1 is the first man-made object to leave the solar system. 37 years after it was launched, NASA’s engineers fired the spacecraft’s backup thrusters. The primary thrusters have been getting weaker over the last few years. 

Voyager’s thrusters were fired for a few milliseconds from a distance of 13 billion miles in order to reposition the spacecraft so that the antennae would point towards earth.

Nobody at NASA knew if firing the thrusters would work after decades of inactivity. After 19 hours, the time which it took for the signal to get back to earth, it was confirmed that the thrusters had actually been fired. Voyager 1 will now be able to operate and send data back to earth for another 2 to 3 years.

As Voyager 1 software dates back to the 1970s,  scientists had to examine the software code to make sure the engines worked correctly.

Voyager 1 and its twin Voyager 2 were launched in 1977  to carry out a grand tour of the solar system. They passed Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. After that, the spacecraft kept on flying and passed the boundaries of the solar system. In the past decades, the two spacecraft made great discoveries, including active volcanoes on Jupiter’s moon Io and a methane atmosphere on Saturn’s moon Titan.

Although Voyager 2’s thrusters are in a better condition than it’s sister craft NASA also plans to fire them in the near future.

 

Voyager 1
Voyager 1

Words

  • although = while
  • backup = something that you use to replace something that doesn’t work
  • billion = a thousand million
  • boundary = where something ends
  • condition = shape
  • confirm = know for sure that something has worked
  • correctly = in the right way
  • data = information
  • dates back = here: is from a certain time in the past
  • decade = ten years
  • discovery = to find something for the first time
  • distance = the amount of space between two objects
  • engine = machine that makes something travel
  • engineer = someone whose job it is to design and build machines, rockets, bridges etc..
  • examine = look at something very closely
  • fire = here: to make something work
  • grand tour = here: a journey that takes you far away to all the planets of our solar system
  • inactivity = here : not in operation
  • launch = start into space
  • man-made = made by a person, not nature
  • methane = gas that you can not see or smell, but which is burned to give heat
  • near future = sometime soon
  • operate = work the way it should
  • primary = most important, main
  • reposition = here: to move it into a new position
  • scientist = person who is trained in science and works in a lab
  • solar system = our sun and the planets that go around it
  • spacecraft = object that can travel in space
  • thruster = small engine in a spacecraft that controls how it flies by  pushing out small amounts of gas
  • twin = here: built in the same way