Cloning of First Monkeys in China

Two monkeys have been cloned in a Chinese laboratory. They were created with the identical technique used to clone Dolly, the sheep back in 1996. Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua were born a few weeks ago at a Chinese lab. Researchers say they are growing normally.

Over two decades ago, Dolly, became the first successfully cloned mammal. Since then cows, pigs, dogs and other mammals have been cloned.  The cloning of primates was thought to be more difficult than the creation of other mammals in a lab. The Chinese team has brought the scientific community one step closer to the cloning of humans.

The technique used in the test involves transferring the nucleus of a cell into an egg which has had its nucleus removed. The experiment was remarkable because it used fetal cells instead of adult cells. It took the Chinese scientists many attempts and 127 eggs to clone just two monkeys.

According to scientists, the cloning of monkeys will help to research human diseases, including cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. It is also important in drug research.

China has invested heavily in research in the past years. The successful test came at a time when American and European scientists have backed away from using monkeys and apes for ethical reasons.


Close-up of Dolly, the sheep in her stuffed form
Close-up of Dolly, the sheep in her stuffed form – Image: Toni Barros


  • according to = as said by …
  • Alzheimer’s disease = disease that affects the brain, especially of older people; it makes it difficult for you to move, talk or remember things
  • attempt = try
  • back away = stop doing something
  • cancer = serious illness in which cells can grow in an uncontrolled way
  • clone = an animal or plant produced by scientists from one cell of another animal or plant so that they are exactly the same
  • creation = making something
  • decade = ten years
  • disease = illness
  • drug research = creating new forms of medicine
  • ethical = something that is morally good or bad
  • fetal = belonging to an unborn baby or animal
  • human = a person
  • identical = the same
  • including = also
  • invest = put money into …
  • laboratory = room or building in which scientific experiments take place
  • mammal = type of animal that drinks milk from its mother’s body when it is young; humans, dogs and cows are mammals
  • nucleus = the central part of an atom
  • primate = member of a group of mammals that includes humans and monkeys
  • remove = take away
  • remarkable = unusual, surprising
  • researcher = person who studies something in order to find out more about it
  • scientific community = all the people who do research work in labs
  • technique = method; way of doing something
  • transfer = move from one place to another


Amazon Go – The First Automated Store

Amazon has opened its first automated store to the public. Amazon Go is a grocery store located on the ground level of the corporation’s Seattle headquarters. The store, which offers food, salads and boxed meals could revolutionize our shopping experience in the future. As soon as you arrive at the store, a cell phone app connected to an Amazon account registers your presenceEverything that happens in the store is tracked by hundreds of infrared cameras. When you pick up items from the shelves they are automatically put into your virtual shopping cart. The cameras also detect when you put an item back on the shelves and remove it from your cart. The moment you walk out your account is charged without making any physical payment. The technologies used at Amazon Go are the same as with driverless cars –  computer tracking, weight sensors on shelves and complicated algorithms. The 1,800 square foot store has been open to Amazon employees for a year. Now the public can also shop there. However, not everything has been running smoothly in the store’s opening year.There were hardships to overcomeFor example, it’s hard for cameras to distinguish between different flavours or products that look the same. They also have problems handling people who move around or identifying shoppers with similar body sizes and clothes. Even though there are no checkout counters and cashiers who make you wait in line, there are shop assistants who restock goods and help customers find their way around.  
Amazon Go store in Seattle
Amazon Go store in Seattle – Image: SounderBruce


  • account = here: the  services of a company that you use
  • algorithm = set of instructions that are followed in a fixed order and used  for solving problems
  • automated = using computers, cameras and machines
  • boxed meal = meal that has already been cooked and is ready to eat
  • cashier = person who you pay money to in a shop
  • charge = you have to pay money for the goods you buy
  • checkout counter = place where you pay for products when you leave a store
  • complicated = difficult
  • connect = link
  • corporation = big company
  • detect = discover, notice
  • distinguish = find the difference between two things
  • driverless = without a driver
  • employee = a person who works there
  • even though = although, while
  • flavour = the taste of something
  • hardships = problems, difficulties
  • headquarters = place from where a company operates
  • however = but
  • identify = find out the name of someone
  • infrared = light that gives out heat but cannot be seen
  • item = product
  • located = to be found; situated
  • overcome = solve
  • physical payment = real money you pay with in a store
  • presence = someone is present
  • public = here: everybody
  • register = record
  • restock = bring in more items to replace those that have been bought
  • revolutionize = to change completely the way you do something
  • shopping experience = the way we shop
  • similar = almost the same
  • smoothly = here: the way it should; without any problems
  • track = watch closely
  • virtual = not real; here: your Amazon account
  • weight sensor = small object that finds out if there is something on the shelf or not

New Blood Test May Be Able To Detect Cancer

Researchers at the John Hopkins University in Baltimore have announced that they are close to developing a new blood test that could detect common cancer forms. The new test, called  CancerSEEK ,  would cost about $500 and be able to identify early forms of cancer cells in the body. According to the scientists, the test concentrates on the most frequent types of cancers including lung, breast, colon,  and stomach cancer. After testing about  1000 people diagnosed with these cancer forms the new blood test found signs of cancer in 70% of them. Tumours release tiny amounts of altered DNA into the bloodstream. The test looks for mutations in 16 genes that frequently come up in cancer. Although the first tests have had promising results there are still problems that have to be dealt with. There is still a high rate of false alarms, where cancer is shown in patients who are not diagnosed with any disease. Another problem is that the test sometimes shows signs of cancer but cannot pinpoint where exactly in the body they appear. Doctors state that the new blood test could be a major breakthrough for cancer patients and can extend their lives. The earlier a cancer is found and located the better the chances are for it to be treated. The ultimate goal is to find cancer at early stages of the illness, at a time when patients can be treated successfully. In some forms of cancer, for example, pancreatic cancer, symptoms show up in the late stages of the illness. As a result, four out of five patients die shortly after it has been diagnosed  
New blood testing could detect cancer at an early stage
New blood testing could detect cancer at an early stage – Image: GrahamColm


  • according to = as said by …
  • altered = changed
  • although = while
  • announce = to say officially, in public
  • bloodstream =the blood flowing through your body
  • breakthrough = an important new discovery, especially after having done experiments for a long time
  • cancer = serious illness in which cells in parts of the body grow in an uncontrolled way
  • colon = lower part of your stomach in which food is changed into waste matter that leaves your body
  • common = something that happens very often
  • concentrate on = focus on
  • deal with = to take action to solve a problem
  • detect = find something that is very difficult to see
  • develop = to make or do something new
  • diagnose = to find out what illness a person  has by doing medical tests
  • disease = illness
  • DNA = substance that carries genetic information in the cells of the body
  • extend = lengthen, make longer
  • frequent = often
  • gene = part of a cell in a living thing that controls what it looks like, how it grows
  • goal= something you hope to achieve or finish in the future
  • high rate = very many
  • identify = to recognise and name something correctly
  • including = also
  • major = very important
  • mutation = a change in the structure of something
  • pinpoint = to show the exact position of something
  • promising = to show signs of being successful
  • release = set free
  • researcher = person who studies a subject in order to find out more about it
  • scientist = person who is trained in science and works in a lab
  • stage = phase, period
  • state = to say that something is true
  • successful = to complete what you have wanted to
  • tiny = very small
  • treat = to try to cure a disease and make someone healthy again
  • tumour = mass of bad cells in your body that have divided and grow very quickly
  • ultimate = final; in the end

UK Government Appoints Minister for Loneliness

British Prime Minister Theresa May has appointed 42-year-old Tracey  Crouch as the country’s first Minister for Loneliness. She will continue the work started by Jo Cox, a Labour Party MP who was shot by a right-wing extremist in 2016. According to a commission headed by Cox, about 9 million Britons feel some form of loneliness. Half of all people aged 75 and over live alone – about 2 million across the UK. Many of them go on for days and even weeks without communicating or talking to anyone else. However, not only the elderly feel lonely. A growing number of younger adults, especially those who use social media heavily, are in danger of becoming lonely. Doctors claim that feeling lonely raises the likelihood of suffering a premature death.  It is even worse than smoking.  People who are isolated for a longer period of time often do not seek help. They eat and exercise less, which can lead to increased blood pressure and heart disease. Loneliness is also associated with dementia and depression. In addition to the creation of a new government ministry, the statistics department has received the task of working out a way of measuring loneliness. Theresa May has pledged to raise additional funds to deal with the issue.  
Millions of people in the UK feel lonely at some time or other
Millions of people in the UK feel lonely at some time or other – Image: Bert Kaufmann


  • according to = as reported by …
  • additional = extra
  • appoint = to choose someone for a job or a government position
  • associated with = connected to
  • blood pressure = the force with which blood travels through your body
  • claim = to say that something is true even if you cannot prove it
  • dementia = illness that affects your brain and memory; it makes you unable to think clearly
  • department = organisation inside the government that deals with certain problems
  • depression = condition in which you feel sad and worried;  you are often unable to lead a normal life
  • especially = above all
  • funds = money
  • head = lead
  • heart disease = when your heart gets weaker
  • heavily = here: a lot
  • however = but
  • in addition = also
  • increased = higher than nromal
  • isolated = away from other people
  • issue = problem
  • likelihood = how much something can be expected to happen
  • loneliness = the feeling of being alone
  • measure = calculate how much something is
  • MP = member of British parliament
  • pledge = promise
  • premature death = when you die too soon; before you have to
  • raise = go up
  • raise = here: organise more money
  • receive = get
  • right-wing extremist = person who has radical conservative opinions and  is willing to do violent things  to achieve them
  • seek = look for
  • task = job

World’s Largest Flooded Cave Discovered in Mexico

In one of the world’s biggest underwater discoveries, Mexican divers have found a flooded cave near Tulum, a beach resort on the Yucatan peninsula. The cave is part of the Sac Actun cave system, which now measures a total length of 347 km. The discovery was made by members of Gran Acuifero Mayaa, a  project dedicated to the study and preservation of underground water systems in Yucatan. After a few months of exploring divers found an underwater link between two existing caves. After examining the flooded area divers found rocks and stones with ancient markings, grave sites and remains of human bones. The flooded cave may be connected with the ancient Maya civilisation and could help us understand the Mayan culture. The Yucatan peninsula is full of monuments and ancient Mayan sites. Mayan cities and temples were built over sinkholes, so-called cenotes. They were natural pits that were formed by the collapse of limestone, revealing subterranean rivers.  
Flooded cave
Flooded cave – Image: Blueway


  • ancient = very old
  • collapse = when something suddenly falls down or apart
  • connect = to join together
  • dedicated = to work on something very hard
  • discovery = to find something new for the first time
  • diver = person who swims or works under water  using special equipment that helps them breathe
  • examine = to look at something very closely
  • flooded cave = natural hole in the earth that is full of water
  • grave site = place where people are buried
  • length = how long something is
  • limestone = type of rock that lets water through and has calcium in it
  • link = connection
  • measure = how large something is
  • peninsula = piece of land that is surrounded by water on three sides
  • pit = hole in the ground
  • preservation = to try to keep something in its original state
  • remains = what is left over from a human body
  • resort = town where people spend their holidays
  • reveal = to show something that you didn’t see before
  • sinkhole = a hole in the ground caused when the surface collapses

EU Plans To Recycle All Plastic Waste by 2030

The European Union has released plans to recycle all plastic by the year 2030. It wants to ban all types of plastic that can only be used once. The measure comes as a  consequence of China’s decision to ban imports of foreign plastic that is to be recycled in in the country. Currently, the EU exports half of its collected plastic,  most of which goes to China. The European Commission also plans to reduce plastic waste that is washed up on North Sea, Atlantic and Mediterranean shores. According to the new proposal, it will be illegal to dump plastic waste in the open seas. Although the EU does not want to introduce a tax on plastic yet, it does aim at the development and production of new kinds of plastic that can be recycled in Europe. EU countries produce 25  million tons of plastic every year but only a fourth is recycled. It takes plastic hundreds of years to degrade. The EU wants to invest 300 million euros to develop better plastic materials. The new strategy aims at making plastic recycling more profitable While the production of one-time-only usable plastic items, like drinking straws, coffee cups and takeaway packaging is to be reduced, families should also be persuaded to cut down on plastic usage altogether. Non-EU countries are also considering cracking down on plastic. Some countries have already started to tax the use of plastic bags. Iceland has announced that it will ban all plastic packaging for domestic products.  
Plastic waste
Plastic waste


  • according to = as planned by…
  • aim = hope to do something
  • although = while
  • announce = to say something in  public or in front of the media
  • ban = forbid
  • consequence = result of something that has happened
  • crack down on = to become more strict about dealing with a problem
  • currently = now; at the moment
  • cut down on = reduce
  • decision = choice you have made after thinking about something
  • degrade = when a material or substance changes into a simpler form
  • development = designing and producing something new
  • domestic = made in your home country
  • dump = here: throw something away at sea
  • European Commission = central organisation in the EU that has certain tasks to do
  • illegal = against the law
  • item = product
  • measure = action that should deal with a problem
  • persuade = to make someone decide to do something and give them reasons for doing it
  • profitable = to make more money out of something
  • proposal = plan or suggestion made by a group of people
  • recycle = to use over and over again
  • reduce = lower
  • release = announce; to say something in front of people and the media
  • shore = coast; where land meets the sea
  • tax = here: money you must pay to the government if you use or buy something
  • takeaway packaging = here: the packages that are used to put takeaway food into
  • usage = using  a product
  • wash up = here: to land on …

Ford To Invest $11 Billion in Electric Cars

The Ford Motor Company has revealed plans to invest over $11 billion dollars in the development and production of electric cars by 2022. The announcement was made public at the Detroit Motor Show. The American carmaker plans to produce 16 fully battery-driven vehicles and 24 hybrid cars by 2022. At the moment the Focus is the only Ford car that can be driven by batteries alone. Apart from producing electric-driven cars for the North American market, Ford also aims at increasing sales to China, the largest growing car market in the world. In addition, it wants to become the world’s leader in fuel-efficient trucks. The car producer also plans to bring a battery-driven SUV on the market by 2020. Instead of creating completely new electric vehicles from scratch, Ford wants to electrify cars that are already popular because people will know what they get and buy more easily. Automobile manufacturers around the world are under pressure to develop electric cars because many large countries, including China, India, France and the U.K. have said they would phase out vehicles powered by internal combustion engines within the next two decades. They also face fierce competition from companies like Tesla, a car-maker that specialises in innovative technologies. As battery costs are going down rapidly, carmakers may find it easier to produce electric cars with higher mileage and at cheaper prices.  
The electric version of the Ford Focus at an Amsterdam automobile show
The electric version of the Ford Focus at an Amsterdam automobile show – Image: Overlaet


  • aim = target , plan
  • announcement = official statement
  • apart from = other than
  • battery-driven = run by a battery
  • billion = a thousand million
  • competition = trying to be more successful than other companies
  • decade = ten years
  • development = working on a new product
  • electrify = make electric
  • fierce = here: strong
  • from scratch = to start something from the beginning without using anything that has existed before
  • fuel-efficient = car that burns fuel in a more effective way than usual; it does not need as much fuel as others do
  • fully = completely
  • higher mileage = here: to make an electric car that can travel more miles or kilometres before you have to recharge it
  • hybrid car = a car that has both a petrol or diesel engine and an electric motor
  • in addition = also
  • innovative = new way of doing something; often better than existing methods
  • instead of = in something’s place
  • internal combustion engine = engine that produces power by burning petrol or diesel; it is used in most cars
  • invest = spend money on …
  • make public = to say something for everyone to hear
  • manufacturer = producer
  • phase out = to slowly stop using or producing something
  • popular = well-known and liked by many people
  • production = here: making cars
  • rapidly = quickly
  • reveal = announce to many people
  • sales = selling cars
  • SUV = sport-utility vehicle = car that is bigger and is made for travelling over rough ground; mostly with a 4-wheel drive
  • under pressure = to make someone do something  by using arguments and threats
  • vehicle = a machine with a motor that is used to take people or things from one place to another

One of the Biggest Diamonds Ever Discovered in Lesotho

The fifth biggest diamond ever discovered has been unearthed in a mine in Lesotho, a small landlocked country surrounded by South Africa. The stone has a weight of 910 carats and the size of two golf balls. The diamond is especially valuable because it belongs to a category of gems that are colourless and do not have grave impurities. The diamond was found in the Letseng mine, which in the past has been famous for the size and quality of gems discovered there. Diamonds that come from the Lesotho mine usually sell at a high price. Since 2006 the mine has produced some remarkable diamonds, including the Lesotho Promis, a 603-carat diamond found in 2006. The newly found diamond will now be cut into smaller stones and polished. After that, diamond traders can actually say how much the diamond is worth, probably around $40 million. Gem, the British based company that operates the mine together with the Lesotho government, expects its shares to recover after prices fell and a new mine had to close in Botswana. The largest diamond ever discovered is still the Cullinan, a 3,106-carat gem found near Pretoria in 1905. It was cut into several stones including the Great Star of Africa, the largest cut diamond in the world. The rest has been cut into the gems that are in the British Crown Jewels.  
Cut and polished diamond
Cut and polished diamond – Image: Steve Jurvetson


  • British-based = its main headquarters are in the U.K.
  • discover = to find for the first time
  • colourless = clear, so that you can see through it
  • Crown Jewels = objects that are a symbol of the British monarchy, kept in the Tower of London
  • especially = above all
  • gem = beautiful stone that has been cut into a special shape
  • government = people who rule a country
  • grave = serious, bad
  • impurity = object that is not very pure; with other substances that are mixed into it
  • including = also
  • landlocked = country that has no coast
  • mine = deep hole in the ground that people dig in order to find coal , gold and other metals or minerals
  • operate = to run a company; the owner of …
  • polish = to make something smooth, bright and shiny by rubbing it
  • recover = here: to go up again
  • remarkable = unusual, surprising
  • share = part of a company that belongs to an individual
  • surrounded = all around it
  • trader = person who buys and sells things
  • unearth = to dig something up from the earth
  • valuable = worth a lot of money
  • weight = how heavy something is
  • worth = how much money you can get by selling it

Ozone Layer Over Antarctica Is Slowly Recovering

According to the American space agency  NASA, the world’s ozone layer is slowly recovering. A report states that, for the first time,  scientists have observed a decrease in the amount of chlorine in the ozone layer over Antarctica. Ozone in the atmosphere is essential because it protects life on our planet by absorbing dangerous ultraviolet radiation, which causes skin cancer and damages plant life. Is the 1980s, scientists discovered a hole in the ozone layer, which has become larger ever since.  It is especially large over the Antarctic continent and Australia. Shortly after the discovery, an international agreement, the Montreal Protocol, was signed, banning the use of substances that are responsible for the destruction of the ozone layer. It limits the use of CFCs, chemical compounds that rise into the upper layers of the atmosphere where they are broken down by the sun’s ultraviolet light. In the process, chlorine is released which destroys the ozone molecules. Since the ban has taken effect major companies have started looking for alternatives to CFCs. Changes in the ozone level are usually measured during the Antarctic winter, between July and September, when temperatures are lower and results are more accurate. Since 2005, there has been a 20% rise in the amount of ozone. Even though it is the first time that the hole in the ozone layer has become smaller it will take decades to recover completely. Environmentalists around the world have welcomed the announcement, stating that we can actually save the environment by acting decisively.  
Largest ozone hole ever recorded over the Antarctic in 2006
Largest ozone hole ever recorded over the Antarctic in 2006


  • absorb = take something in
  • according to = as reported by …
  • accurate = exact
  • act decisively = to do something about a problem
  • agreement = promise by two or more countries to take action
  • announcement = official statement
  • atmosphere = mixture of gases that surrounds a planet
  • ban = forbid
  • break down = chemical change
  • cancer = serious disease in which cells in your body grow in an uncontrolled way
  • CFCs = chlorofluorocarbons = a gas used in refrigerators and spray cans; they are responsible for the destruction of the ozone layer
  • chlorine = greenish-yellow gas with a strong smell, that is also used to keep swimming pools clean; it is one of the gases that are responsible for the destruction of the ozone layer
  • completely = fully
  • compound = substance containing two or more atoms
  • decade = ten years
  • decrease = when something goes down
  • destruction = when something is damaged completely
  • discover = find for the first time
  • environmentalist = person who cares about nature and the world we live in
  • especially = above all
  • essential = very important and necessary
  • even though = true, but other things are true too
  • limit = control, check
  • measure = to find out how big something is
  • molecule = smallest unit made up of two or more atoms
  • observe = watch closely
  • protect = to keep something safe
  • recover = to return to a normal condition
  • release = set free
  • responsible = the reason for
  • scientist= person who is trained in science and works in a lab
  • sign = put your name on a document
  • state = say in public
  • substances = elements; material
  • take effect = start
  • ultraviolet radiation= light that comes from the sun but cannot be seen; it makes your skin darker
  • welcome = to be glad that something has happened

Bleaching Endangers World’s Coral Reefs

A recent study shows that the world’s coral reefs have been showing signs of strong bleaching due to global warmingIn the 1980s bleaching was rare, occurring about once every 25 years. Now the rate has risen to about once every five years. Environmentalists predict that by 2050 bleaching will happen every year or two. Bleaching is caused when warm water breaks down the algae inside the reefs. They provide food for the corals and keep them healthy. When algae fall off, corals lose their colour and can die within a short period of time. Even if the water surrounding the reefs gets colder again it may take years for the damaged reefs to recover completely. While bleaching is especially a problem in the waters of the Carribean Sea and Western Atlantic, reefs around Australia and South Africa have hardly been hit. In addition to the warming temperatures of the oceans, coral reefs are also endangered by pollution and overfishing. Coral reefs are an important ecosystem. They are home to 25% of all marine species and provide a  habitat for countless types of fish. Reefs protect coastal regions from flooding and tidal waves. In addition, coral reefs are tourist attractions that lure millions of people every year.  The tourist industry around the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, for example, is worth about 5 billion dollars a year.  
Healthy coral on the left and bleached coral on the right
Healthy coral on the left and bleached coral on the right


  • billion = a thousand million
  • bleaching = to make something pale or white; when an object loses its colour
  • break down = to change its structure
  • Carribean Sea = sea between North and South America
  • cause = the reason for something; why something happens
  • countless = too many to be counted
  • due to = because of
  • ecosystem = all the animals and plants in a certain area and the way they live together
  • endangered = to be in danger
  • environmentalist = a person who cares about the world around us
  • especially = above all
  • global warming = when the temperatures in the atmosphere get higher because of increased amounts of carbon dioxide
  • habitat = place to live
  • in addition = also
  • lure = attract; here: bring people to the area
  • marine species = animals and plants that live in the oceans
  • occur = happen
  • overfishing = when you take too many fish from the sea so that the overall number of fish becomes too low
  • pollution = when water becomes dirty so that it cannot be used anymore
  • predict = to say that something will happen in the future
  • protect = keep safe
  • provide = give
  • rare = not very often
  • recent = a short time ago
  • recover = to become as healthy as they were before
  • sign = to show that something is happening
  • study = a piece of work that is done to find out more about a certain topic
  • surrounding = around
  • tidal wave = very large ocean wave that flows over land and destroys things