Stephen Hawking Dies Aged 76

Stephen Hawking, world-famous British physicist, died at the age of 76 at his home in Cambridge, England. The scientist became famous for his work on black holes, relativity and quantum mechanics.

In his most famous discovery, Hawking showed that black holes leak a bit of energy, known as Hawking radiation and then shrink and evaporate.

At the age of 22, Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with ALS,  a rare disease of the nervous system.  At that time doctors gave him only a few years to live.  However, Hawking proved them wrong and fought bravely against his illness. He spent most of his life paralyzed in a wheelchair and was only able to speak through a voice synthesizer.

Hawking was not only a professor at Cambridge University until 2009, but also a popular celebrity who appeared in TV shows like the Simpsons, and the Big Bang Theory.  He also wrote a bestselling book about the mysteries of the universe called A Brief History of Time, which sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. His early life was dramatized in the 2014 film “The Theory of Everything“, which received several Academy Award nominations.

Because of him, many ordinary people got interested in physics and the universe. Scientists, politicians and other experts around the world praised Hawking as a person with a  brilliant and extraordinary mind.

 

Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking

Words

  • Academy Award = an Oscar
  • black hole = an area in space into which everything near it, including light, is pulled
  • bravely = with a lot of courage
  • brilliant = extremely clever and intelligent
  • celebrity = famous person
  • diagnosed = to find out what illness someone has
  • discovery = finding something for the first time
  • evaporate = here: disappear slowly
  • extraordinary = great and impressive
  • however = but
  • leak = a hole that lets something through
  • mind = your thoughts and ability to think
  • nervous system = your brain and nerves in your body; it controls what you feel and how you move
  • ordinary = normal, like you and me
  • paralysed = unable to move or feel all or parts of your body
  • physicist = a scientist who has special knowledge of physics
  • politicians = people who work in the government, parliament or for political parties
  • popular = well-known
  • praise = to admire and approve of someone
  • quantum mechanics = the scientific study of the way atoms and smaller parts of things behave
  • radiation = form of energy  which may be dangerous in large amounts
  • rare = something that does not exist very often
  • receive = get
  • relativity = the relationship in physics between  time, space and movement; the theory was created by Albert Einstein
  • several = some, a few
  • scientist = a person who is trained in science and works in a lab
  • universe = all of space, including the stars and planets
  • voice synthesizer = a computer system that produces sounds like human speech
  • wheelchair = a chair with wheels, used by people who cannot walk

SpaceX Launches World’s Most Powerful Rocket

SpaceX, a private space transport company owned by American billionaire Elon Musk, has launched the world’s most powerful rocket, the Falcon Heavy. It is the larger version of the Falcon 9 rocket, which has successfully been putting payloads into space for years. The booster is made up of three rockets strapped together for combined thrust.

The Falcon Heavy was developed over a period of 7 years and cost about $500 million. It is 23 stories tall and has 27 engines. The rocket’s thrust equals that of 18 Boeing 747 jumbo jets.

The new rocket is designed to send large satellites into earth orbit. It can carry 64 metric tons, twice the payload of other rockets, into space at a lower price. The rocket can also transport spacecraft to destinations further away from earth. In addition, its starting boosters are reusable.

The first flight was set to travel as far as the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The rocket had an electric sports car, Elon Musk’s privateTesla Roadster, on board.

SpaceX has been flying NASA cargo missions to the International Space Station for a few years. The company wants to compete with other business in carrying payloads to space. Musk’s company has several commercial customers and has been receiving contracts to fly government payloads. The first manned mission to space is planned for the end of 2018.

 

Space X rocket Falcon Heavy on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida
Falcon Heavy on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida

Words

  • asteroid belt = large rocks that move around the sun between Mars and Jupiter
  • billionaire = person who has a billion dollars, euros etc.. or more
  • booster = a rocket that gives you the power to leave the earth
  • cargo mission = here: a trip that carries goods and other products into space
  • commercial = here: private
  • compete = be as good as or better than others
  • contract = an agreement to do a job for someone
  • design = the way something should work
  • destination = place you want to go to
  • develop = to design and create a new product
  • equal = the same as
  • in addition = also
  • International Space Station = ISS = space station that was built by scientists from 16 countries; it is mainly used for scientific experiments
  • launch = to send an object into space
  • manned mission = here: trip that sends people into space
  • orbit = move around an object in a circle
  • payload = the goods or products that a machine transports to a place
  • receive = get
  • reusable = you can use it again
  • several = some, a few
  • stories = floors
  • strapped together = bind together so that it works as one
  • successfully = if something works the way it should
  • thrust = power of an engine that makes a rocket move upwards
  • twice = two times

Twitter Announces First Profits

The social media site Twitter has announced its first profit since the founding of the company in 2005. The last quarter of 2017 saw the company making $ 91 million in profits. After the announcement, Twitter shares rose more than 20%.

Twitter made the profits from an increase in ad sales and from expansion outside the US.  Overall revenue has been increasing constantly and is now at $ 731 million, due to a better targetting of ads. While revenue in the US fell, it increased strongly in Japan and other countries.

Currently, Twitter is reported to have over 330 million active users. It has been an important media outlet for celebrities and politicians, especially in the United States, for a long time. However, surprisingly, up to now, the company has failed to make any profits. Business experts have criticized Twitter for failing to grow over the longer term and step out of the shadows of its bigger brother, Facebook.

 

The company has announced its plans for 2018.  It wants to improve the quality of information and tackle security issues, for example, fake accounts and spam. As many as 15% of all accounts on Twitter are said to be controlled by bots.

 

Twitter headquarters in San Francisco
Twitter headquarters in San Francisco – Image: Runner1928

Words

  • account  = agreement you have with an organisation so that you can use its services or website
  • ad = advertisement = pictures, text or a short film that persuades people to buy a product
  • announce = to say in public, officially
  • bot = computer programme  that can control information on a website
  • celebrity = famous person
  • constantly = slowly, but all the time
  • currently = at the moment
  • due to = because of
  • especially = above all
  • expansion = when something increases in size
  • fail = here: not succeed in doing something
  • fake = not a real person
  • founding = when the company started
  • increase = grow, become larger
  • longer term = over a longer period of time
  • outlet = here: organization through which information is presented
  • overall = total; altogether
  • politician = person who works in the government, parliament or a political party
  • profit = the money you for selling things or doing business after  your costs  have been paid for
  • reported = it is said that …
  • revenue = money that a company gets in a certain time for selling products and services
  • rise – rose = to go up
  • security issues = problems in which the website is attacked by criminals and hackers
  • shares = part of a company that you can buy
  • spam = message that is sent to many different people by email or the Internet, usually as a way of advertising something
  • tackle = manage ; fight against
  • target = here: people who are chosen for getting ads

Polar Bears Could Face Extinction Earlier Than Thought

Polar bears could become extinct faster than predicted. That is because there is a shortage of food in their habitat and scientists have now found out that polar bears need more energy than previously thought.

As a result of global warming, Arctic ice is melting quickly, so that polar bears have to travel further in search of food. In a study that has spanned the last three years, scientists found out that polar bears have to travel one and a half times more than in the past.  As a result, they lose weight.

Experiments conducted with modern technology show how polar bears move and behave. High-tech GPS collars were put on 9 female polar bears. Their movements and energy consumption have been tracked over a period of 12 days. Results show that a few of them lost up to 10%of their weight.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, polar bears spend half of their time hunting for something to eat. They rely mostly on young seals as the main source of food, but the seal population is getting scarce because of the melting ice.

A polar bear needs about 12000 kilocalories a day to stay healthy and even more to put on the body fat it needs to survive the winter months.

Over the past ten years, the number of polar bears has declined by 40%. Ice on their habitat, Arctic Sea ice is decreasing at a rate of 14% per decade.  It is currently at its lowest level in 40 years.

 

Polar bear feeding on a dead seal
Polar bear feeding on a dead seal – Image: AWeith

Words

  • according to = as reported by …
  • behave = act in certain situations
  • body fat = here: the fat an animal needs to protect itself from the cold weather
  • collar = band of leather or plastic that is around an animal’s neck
  • conduct = carry out
  • currently = at the moment
  • decade = ten years
  • decline = to go down
  • decrease = become lower
  • energy consumption = the amount of energy you need and use up
  • extinct = to die out and not exist anymore
  • global warming = increase in the atmosphere’s temperature caused by more carbon dioxide and other gases
  • further = a longer distance
  • GPS = system that shows where your position is on earth through a system of radio signals
  • habitat = natural home of a plant or animal
  • lose weight = become thinner
  • melt = when ice turns into water
  • predict = to say that something will happen before it does
  • previously = at an earlier time
  • rely = here: eat
  • scarce = not very much left
  • scientist = person who is trained in science and works in a lab
  • seal = large sea animal that eats fish and lives near coasts
  • shortage = not enough
  • source = where something comes from
  • span = period of time between two events
  • study = piece of work that is done to find out more about a subect
  • survive = stay alive
  • track = monitor, watch closely
  • World Wildlife Fund = organisation that wants to protect the environment and save animals and plants

 

 

India’s Unwanted Girls

The Indian government has announced that 63 million females are missing from its population.  About 2 Indian females go missing across all age groups because of abortions, diseases and malnutrition.

As in China, Indian society prefers men to women. Many families would rather have a son than a daughter. This can be seen in the country’s birth statistics.  For every 1,000 males that are born, there are only 940 females, which is much lower than average in many countries. According to population experts, there are about 21 million unwanted girls in India, females whose parents actually wanted a son.

Although testing for the gender of an unborn child is illegal, it still happens in many areas.

In Indian society, not only low-income families in rural areas prefer having a son instead of a daughter. In upper-class families, sons carry on the family tradition or take over the family business. While land and property pass on to a family’s son, many parents have to pay a fee, called dowry, when their daughter marries.

Social problems also arise in Indian society. Girls are often treated worse than boys. Some families keep on having babies until they get a son.  Although the preference for boys in Indian society cannot be ignored, the situation of girls and young women is improving. They are being better educated and have more opportunities in the workforce than decades ago.

 

Boy in an Indian family -
Boy in an Indian family – Image: Praveenpaavni

Words

  • abortion = a medical operation that kills an unborn baby
  • according to = as said by …
  • although = while
  • announce = to say officially, in public
  • arise = come up; emerge
  • average = normal, usual
  • decade = ten years
  • fee = amount of money you have to pay to someone
  • gender = being male or female
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • ignore = to pay no attention to something
  • illegal = against the law
  • improve = to get better
  • low-income = if you earn very little money
  • malnutrition = when someone becomes ill or weak because they have not had enough to eat
  • opportunity = here: the chance to get a job
  • pass on = to give to someone else
  • population = all the people who live in a country
  • prefer = to like something  more than something else
  • property = land that you own
  • rural = in the countryside
  • society = people in general and how they live together
  • take over = continue; take control from someone else
  • workforce = all the people who work in a country

Oldest Human Fossil Found Outside Africa

A human fossil found in Isreal in 2002 now shows that humans may have left Africa up to 100,000 years earlier than originally thought. Researchers spent one and a half decades studying an upper jawbone and stone tools found in a cave in Isreal.

The jawbone was found with teeth that were thought to be between 170 000 and 190 000 years old.  CT scans helped to build a 3D model, which researchers then compared with other fossils from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The tools found nearby suggest that prehistoric people were busy making various objects that they used for hunting animals and gathering.  While some scientists say that the tools could only have been made by homo sapiens, modern people, others do not ignore the fact that Neanderthals could also have made them.

Up to now, the oldest fossils found outside Africa were also located in Israel. According to archaeologists, they were no more than 90,000 to 120,000 years old.

The new discovery also sets back the date at which homo sapiens appeared in Africa. While the current theory says that they originated in Africa 200,000 years ago, we now may believe that they actually showed up between 300,000 and 500,000 years ago. If that is true, then they probably left Africa on short trips to other continents as early as 200,000 years ago.

 

Skull of a Homo Sapiens
Skull of a Homo Sapiens – Image: Dr. Günter Bechly

Words

  • according to = as said by …
  • appear = show up; start to exist
  • archaeologist = a person who studies ancient civilisations by looking at what is left of buildings, tools etc..
  • cave = a large natural hole in the side of a hill or mountain
  • compare = to look at two or more things and find out the differences between them
  • CT scan = an  examination in which the inside of an object  is produced on a computer using x-rays
  • current = now
  • decade = ten years
  • discovery = finding something for the first time
  • fossil = an animal or plant that lived many thousands of years ago and that has been preserved in rock
  • gathering = to look for plants to eat
  • homo sapiens = modern man; the type of human that exists now
  • humans = people
  • ignore = pay no attention to …
  • jawbone = one of the bones that are in your teeth
  • located = found
  • Neanderthal = early type of human being who lived in Europe during the Stone Age
  • originally = at first
  • originate = come from
  • prehistoric people = people who lived a long time ago, before anything was written down
  • researcher = someone who studies a subject in detail in order to find out more about it
  • scientist = a person who is trained in science and works in a lab
  • skull = the bones of a person’s head
  • stone tools = early tools that the first people made out of stone; they were used for hunting, gathering food and making fire
  • suggest = to say that something may be true
  • various = different kinds of …

 

 

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

Coca-Cola Wants To Recycle All Packaging By 2030

Coca-Cola, the world’s largest soft drink corporation, is planning to recycle all of its bottles and cans by 2030. The company wants to take on more responsibility and make its contribution to saving our environment. The company sells over 500 types of fizzy drinks, juices and mineral water around the world.

Coca-Cola has announced a campaign called “World Without Waste“. It says that food and beverage companies are responsible for much of the litter that can be found on streets and beaches.

The company said it wants to increase the amount of material that can be recycled in its products. By 2030 Coca-Cola aims at making 50% of all the content in bottles and cans recyclable. It also intends to advise users on how to recycle products best. Coca-Cola plans to work together with local governments and environmental groups.

On the other side, Coca-Cola has also stated that that packaging is important because it can reduce the amount of spoilt food and can extend the shelf life of food products.

Greenpeace, one of the most important environmental organisations,  has welcomed the move but also said that the company should focus especially on reducing the amount of plastic that is produced. Plastic bottles are a major problem because plastic does not break down and degrade quickly. It is eaten by animals and fish and ends up in our food chain.

 

Words

  • advise = to tell someone what they should do
  • aim = something you want to do
  • amount = how much of something
  • announce = to say officially, in public
  • beverage = hot or cold drink
  • campaign = series of actions you do to achieve something; movement
  • contribution = something that you give or do in order to be successful
  • corporation= large company with factories around the world
  • degrade = is a material that changes to a simpler form
  • environment = air, water and land that is around us
  • especially = above all
  • extend = make longer
  • fizzy drink = sweet, non-alcoholic drinks with bubbles of gas
  • food chain = when a smaller plant or animal is eaten by a larger one, which itself is eaten by something larger etc..
  • government = people who rule a country
  • increase = to make more
  • intend = plan
  • litter = waste that is thrown to the ground
  • major = very important
  • move = action, plan
  • packaging = container that a product is sold in; made out of plastic, aluminium or other material
  • recycle = to use something over and over again
  • reduce = lower
  • responsibility = something that you feel you must do because it is a good thing
  • shelf life= the length of time that a product, especially food, can be kept in a shop before it becomes too old to be sold
  • spoilt food = here: food that cannot be eaten anymore because it has already started to decay
  • welcome = to be happy about something

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

Words

  • 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

Words

  • 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