Gold Found in Switzerland’s Sewers

Researchers have found that 3 million dollars worth of gold lands in Switzerland’s sewage system every year. After taking a close look at Swiss waste-water treatment plants, they claim that over a hundred pounds of gold and 6,000 pounds of silver  are washed away with waste. However,  it would be too expensive to remove the gold from the wasted water.

Switzerland is a country that processes and refines gold on a large scale.  About 70% of the world’s most precious metal passes through Switzerland in some way or other. Gold is used especially in the country’s watchmaking industry, which dominates the world market.

Other valuable metals pass through the country’ sewage system, but they do not pose an environmental threat.

Most of the refineries lie in the southern canton Ticino, only a short distance from the Italian border.

Swiss watch
Swiss watch – Image: Joe Haupt

 

Words

  • border = line between two countries
  • canton = province of Switzerland
  • claim = to say that something is true
  • dominate = to be number one
  • environmental threat = danger to the world around us
  • especially = above all
  • pose = cause a problem
  • precious = very valuable
  • on a large scale = here: large factories refine large amounts
  • refine = here: to make gold purer
  • remove = take something away
  • researcher = person who studies a subject in order to find out more about it
  • sewage system = a place where waste water  from households is collected; the water is cleaned and returned into rivers or the sea
  • valuable = expensive
  • waste-water treatment plants = place where waste water from households is cleaned from unusable material
  • waste = unwanted material that we do not need

World’s Second Largest Diamond Sold

The second largest diamond ever mined has been sold to a private owner at a public  auction in London. The Canadian company Lucara brought the diamond to the surface in Botswana two years ago.

The gem, called Lesedi La Rona, which means “Our Light“,  is the size of a tennis ball and has a weight of 1,109 carats. The  diamond was bought by a London jeweler for $53 million , the biggest diamond sale in the last one hundred years.  In the next few months the new owner of the diamond wants to cut it into several smaller stones.

The only diamond larger than the Botswana diamond was the Cullinan , which was discovered in South Africa in 1905. It was cut into several smaller diamonds, which are today part of the British Crown Jewels.

Lucara tried to sell the diamond last year but did not get the price it wanted, probably because the diamond is extremely difficult to cut. The Canadian mining company is one of the largest in the world and operates diamond mines in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Angola and South Africa.

The Cullinan Diamond found in 1905
The Cullinan Diamond found in 1905

Words

  • carat = a unit for measuring  the weight of jewels;  1 carat = 200 milligrams
  • discover = to find for the first time
  • extremely = very
  • gem = a beautiful and valuable stone
  • mine = to dig deep holes into the earth and get valuable minerals, like coal, gold or diamonds out if it
  • operate = to control a company or organisation
  • public auction = a meeting where everyone can go to and where land, buildings, paintings and other objects are sold to the person who offers the most money for them.
  • several = many
  • surface = top layer of something
  • weight = how heavy something is

 

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Olympic Games in Paris and Los Angeles

The next Olympic Games have been awarded to Paris and Los Angeles. Both cities will host the games for the third time. 2024 will mark the 100th anniversary of the second Paris Olympics. The city had already organised the summer games of 1900. The 2028 Olympics will be held in Los Angeles for the third time,  after 1932 and 1984. It is the first time that the International Olympic Committee has named host cities for two summer games at once. Los Angeles originally wanted the 2024 games but agreed to hosting them 4 years later.

The IOC presented the new hosts at a time when the organisation is troubled by corruption and accusations that some members took bribes to vote for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The 2024 Paris Summer Olympics are expected to provide jobs and growth to the city. According to city officials, the games will generate 11 billion dollars in income and create jobs for 250 000 people  in the next seven years. Although Paris already has many venues ready for the games, several new ones will be built. The city wants to attract  visitors not only with the best sports stadiums  but also with its unique  cultural and historical sites.

Los Angeles organizers have also said they want to use many existing structures  built in the 1980s in order to make the games as cost-efficient as possible.

After recent terrorist attacks in Paris, London, Barcelona and other major cities , security is expected to be the main factor for both events.

Today, not very many cities are keen on organising  major sports events. On one side bidding costs millions of dollars and on the other side holding the games themselves costs local authorities  and governments billions.

 

Olympic Torch Tower at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles
Olympic Torch Tower at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles

Words

  • according to = as said by …
  • accusation = statement that says someone has done something wrong or against the law
  • agree = to say yes to something
  • although = while
  • award = give to someone
  • anniversary = date or year in which something important took place
  • bidding = here: to offer to organize an event
  • bribe = to give someone money illegally and you expect them to do something for you in return
  • cost-efficient = here: to save money by using buildings or infrastructure that already exist
  • generate = produce , create
  • growth = businesses and the economy grow in a certain region
  • host = here: city that holds a special event
  • income = the money you get for the work you do
  • keen on = happy to do something
  • local authorities = here: the people who are in charge of ruling a town or city
  • main factor = most important thing
  • major = very important; large
  • mark = celebrate an important event
  • official = person in an important position in a country
  • security = safety
  • several = many
  • site = interesting place
  • structure = building
  • troubled = worried; having many problems
  • unique = unusually special; very good
  • venue = here:place where a sports event takes place

Diesel Cars Cause Thousands of Premature Deaths in Europe

According to a new report, diesel cars have caused  thousands of premature deaths in Europe in the past few years. These deaths could have been avoided if countries had met anti-pollution standards. The recently published paper comes almost two years after the Volkswagen scandal, in which the German car maker was caught cheating  on emission tests.

Europe is a continent with  about a hundred million diesel-driven vehicles, almost twice as many as  in all the other countries of the world  combined. Years ago governments and car makers encouraged consumers to buy diesel cars because they were cheaper, used less fuel and produced less carbon dioxide. Many governments also offered tax reductions if people bought diesel cars. What has not been known until now is that diesel cars produce more nitrogen oxides, which may cause lung diseases.

Italy, Germany and France were the countries that recorded the most premature deaths from diesel-polluted vehicles. Especially diesel trucks that drive in densely populated areas contribute to the high level of pollution.

The Volkswagen scandal also shown that emission tests are not accurate and that in some cases diesel vehicles emit up to 4 times more substances than they do when tested in a lab.

Since the scandal broke , governments in Europe and elsewhere have been trying to get people to buy more  petrol-driven cars. They have become more efficient than diesel vehicles and the difference in prices are not not as high any more.

diesel-powered car
Diesel powered car – Image by Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz

Words

  • according to = as said by …
  • accurate = detailed; exact
  • anti-pollution standards = laws that are made to keep pollution levels in a country low
  • avoid = stop ; not happen
  • carbon dioxide = gas that is produced when animal or people breathe out or when carbon is burned in the air
  • cheat = here: to trick people and not tell them the truth
  • combined = together
  • contribute = to help make something happen
  • densely populated = when many people live in a small area
  • efficient = if something works well
  • emission test = testing how much gas or dirty substances are sent into the air
  • emit = send into the atmosphere
  • encourage = to say that people should do something
  • especially = above all
  • fuel = liquid used to produce energy and make a car drive
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • nitrogen oxide = combination of nitrogen and oxygen
  • paper = report
  • petrol-driven = run with normal petrol, not diesel
  • premature = something that happens before the natural time
  • record = write down information
  • substance = material
  • tax reduction = to pay less tax than you normally would
  • vehicle = machine with an engine that is used to transport people or products

 

 

Gotthard Base Tunnel Becomes World’s Longest Railway Tunnel

The world’s longest railway tunnel, the Gotthard Base Tunnel, was opened after many years of construction. Trains can travel at speeds of up to 250 km an hour through the 57 km long tunnel. It took 17 years to complete and cost $12 billion. The engineering milestone will bring southern Germany and northern Italy closer together.

The new Gotthard Base Tunnel is also the world’s deepest tunnel, located 2300 metres below Swiss mountain peaks. A total of 2600 workers involved in building the tunnel had to excavate more than 28 million tonnes of rock.

Gottardino shuttle trains will be running between the two endpoints of the tunnel and make a stop at Sedrun, a mountain station in the middle. 65 passenger  and 240 freight trains are expected to travel through the tunnel every day. The Gotthard Base Tunnel  will reduce the time it takes trains to pass through the Alps. A journey from Zurich to Milan, for example,  will be reduced by an hour.

The new tunnel is part of a larger European transportation project that includes two other tunnels in the Alps. Ultimately, the EU plans a high-speed rail connection between its two major harbours, Rotterdam and Genoa.

During the course of history  the Alps have been a natural barrier to travel. In the past traders and merchants had to use mountain passes to travel from north to south. The first Gotthard rail tunnel opened in 1882, but as time went on it could not handle the growing traffic.

In the 1990s, Swiss citizens approved of a government plan to build a new tunnel. How hard such a construction feat would be soon became obvious . In places where there was hard rock boring was extremely slow. Workers could only advance only about half a metre every day.

The new tunnel is expected to reduce road traffic crossing the Alps as more and more lorries and cargo companies will put their freight on Swiss trains.

Gotthard Base Tunnel
Inside the Gotthard Base Tunnel – Image : Hannes Ortlieb

Words

  • advance = move forward
  • approve = to agree with something or to say yes to a plan
  • barrier = a mountain, lake or any other natural object that stops people from going somewhere
  • boring = to make a hole in the mountain by using a special machine
  • cargo = goods carried by a train, ship, lorry, plane etc..
  • citizen = a person who lives in a country and has rights there
  • course of history = as time went on
  • complete = finish
  • connection = joining or linking two places
  • construction = building
  • engineering = the building of roads, railways bridges etc..
  • excavate = remove earth
  • feat = something very difficult to do
  • freight = goods that are transported from one place to another
  • handle = deal with
  • harbour = place where ships load and load goods
  • high-speed = very fast
  • include = something as part of something else
  • involved = here: worked at the tunnel site
  • journey = trip
  • located = where something lies
  • lorry = truck ; large car that carries goods
  • major = very big and important
  • merchant = person who bought and sold things in the past
  • milestone = an important development in history
  • obvious = easy for everyone to see
  • peak = the top part of a mountain
  • reduce = lower
  • shuttle = train that travels regularly between two places
  • speed = how fast something is
  • Swiss = from Switzerland
  • ultimately = here: when the whole project is finished