Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait of Christ was sold for $450 million at an art auction at Christie’s in New York. It was more than double the price of any art object ever sold.
The painting, Salvator Mundi, is one of the raremasterpieces of the Renaissance painter. Created at around 1500 it is one of 20 da Vinci paintings still in private possession.
Salvator Mundi was once owned by King Charles I of England in the middle of the 17th century. The painting was believed to have been destroyed until it resurfaced in 1900. In England, it was sold for a mere $125 because art experts at the time thought it was a worthless copy, either done by one of da Vinci’s followers or students. Even today, the painting’s authenticity is still in doubt.
After being restored several times, a Russian billionaire bought the painting in 2013. The new owner intends to remain anonymous.
The oil painting shows the upper body of Jesus Christ as the world’s saviour. In one hand he holds a glass sphere in, while the other hand is raised in blessing.
Currently, there is only one da Vinci in the United States. Ginevra de’ Benci can be observedin public at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
anonymous = not known by name
auction = a public meeting where paintings and other things are sold to the person who offers the most money
authenticity = the quality of being real or true
billionaire = person who has one thousand million dollars, euros etc..
in blessing = with the help or protection from God
century = a hundred years
Christie’s = famous auction house in New York
currently = now, at the moment
destroy = to damage completely so that you no longer can use it
in doubt = here: it may not be real
in public = where everyone can see it
intend = want to be
masterpiece = a work of art that is of very high quality or the best of a famous artist
mere = only
observe = see something
own = possess; if something belongs to you
possession = something that belongs to you
raise = hold up
rare = not found very often
Renaissance = period of time in Europe between the 14th and 17th centuries, when art, literature and scientific ideas became very important
restore = repair, so that it appears like it once was
resurface = to appear again after being lost or missing for some time
saviour = a person who saves someone in a dangerous situation – here: Jesus Christ
One hundred years ago, in 1917, the Russian Revolution ended the monarchy. Tsar Nicholas II had to step down and the Bolsheviks underVladimirLenin took control of the country. As a result, the Soviet Union evolved and became the biggest Communist country in the 20th century.
The centennial celebrations did not stir up a lot of publicity and Russian media did not report extensively on the topic. The Russian government under Vladimir Putin all but ignored the anniversary.
In contrast, thousands of Communist party members marched through downtown Moscow in honour of the Bolshevists, holding up flags of Lenin and Stalin.
During the Soviet era, November 7th was always a state holiday with military parades and a display of power on Red Square. It was stopped after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
Public opinion on the Russian Revolution is divided . While most citizens have a positive view of Lenin’s role in history they are opposed to the events that took place under Joseph Stalin’s authoritarian regime. On the other side, many Russians are proud of having won World War II and of the country’s military and scientificachievements.
Lenin’s legacy collapsed in 1991. After years of chaos and a massivegap between the rich and poor, stability returned in the new millennium. While many cities and towns still honour Lenin in some way, others, like St. Petersburg, have returned to pre-revolutionary names.
achievement = something important or successful that you have done and can be proud of
anniversary = a day on which something special happened years ago
authoritarian regime = government that forces people to do what it wants and where the citizens cannot state their opinions
Bolsheviks = group of people who supported the communist party at the time of the Russian Revolution in 1917
centennial = day or year exactly 100 years after a special event
century = a hundred years
citizen = a person who lives in a country and has rights there
collapse = break down; when something stops existing
divided = split
downtown = the centre of a city
evolve = grow
extensively = in detail, very much
gap = big difference
ignore = pay no attention to something
in honour = to show how much you admire or respect someone
legacy = here: what is left over from a certain period in history
massive = very large
millennium = the beginning of the next one thousand years
monarchy = country in which a king, queen or another person rules
oppose = to be against something
parade = here: public celebration where soldiers and weapons move down the streets for the people to see
pre-revolutionary = before the revolution
publicity = attention that something gets from newspapers or TV
public opinion = what the people on the streets think
Red Square = large open area in the centre of Moscow
Pope Francis has announced that the Vatican will ban the sales of cigarettes and other tobacco products in the Roman Catholic state beginning in January 2018. A spokesperson for the Vatican said that the mini-state cannot allow the sales of a product that is clearly damaging to a person’s health.
Vatican employees, diplomats and a few other fortunate ones who have a so-called “shopping card” are allowed to buy cigarettes, groceries and even gas in the duty-free stores of the small country. Some employees have been buying cartons of cigarettes and selling them cheaply on the streets of Rome.
The Vatican earns about $11 million a year through the sales of cigarettes. Tobacco products are the second-largest source of income after tax-free gas.
Italy, which has a 22% sales tax has been urging the Vatican to stop selling products tax-free. It is thought that about 5,000 employees, diplomats and other residents are in possession of such a card and can shop in the Vatican’s stores.
announce = to say something officially, in public
ban = forbid, not allow
damage = to do physical harm to someone
duty free = sell products without paying any taxes
earn = here: to get money for the products that you sell
employee = someone who is paid to work for someone else; worker
fortunate = lucky
groceries = food and other goods that are sold at a supermarket
in possession = to have something that is yours to keep
mini-state = very small country
sales = selling a product
spokesperson = someone who has been chosen to speak for a company, country or the government
source of income = the place from which the money comes that you earn
urge = to strongly suggest that someone should do something
This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant religion. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther published his 95 theses, which criticized the Roman Catholic Church. As a result, the new religion broke away from the high church in Rome.
Luther nailed his list of criticismon the door of achurch inWittenberg, where hetaughttheology. He attacked the Church because it claimed that a sinner could reduce God’s punishment by giving money to the church. He also claimed that popes were too powerful and abused their power.
A few years later Martin Luther was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church. However, because of the printing press, which was invented at that time, his messagespread across most of Europe. The Reformationcaused widespread change in Europe. It led to wars and people leaving their home country in pursuit of religious freedom.
In England, Henry VIII broke his ties with the Roman Catholic Church and, based on Luther’s theses, founded the Anglican Church. Over the centuries Protestants have created many different branches of their religion. Many Protestants are found in Scandinavia, Germany and the United States.
About 800 million Protestants live in the world today. Even though there are still many disagreements between Protestantism and Catholicism, both churches have overcome their differences. Their relationship has improved since the 16th century.
The anniversary was celebrated throughout the Protestant world. Most ceremonies took place in Germany, the cradle of Protestantism.
abuse = to use something in the wrong way
anniversary = date on which something important happened in the past
attack = to criticise something in a strong way
based on = here: to create a new church out of Protestant ideas
cause = lead to
century = a hundred years
ceremony = important event that is performed in a traditional way
claim = to say that something is true
cradle = here: where everything began
disagreement = when two or more people do not have the same opinion
even though = while, although
excommunicate = to punish someone by no longer allowing them to be a member of the Roman Catholic Church
found – founded = create something new
however = but
invent = to make or design something new
message = news
printing press = machine that prints newspapers, books etc.. in large numbers
publish = to make something official, for everyone to see
pursuit = follow
nail = to fasten something to an object
overcome = here: not to argue anymore
reduce = make something smaller or less
Reformation = religious changes in Europe in the 16th century that led to the creation of Protestantism
sinner = a person who does not obey or follow God’s laws
spread = to move from one place to another
theology = the study of religion and religious ideas
theses = an opinion about something, often in writing
widespread= something that happens in many places at the same time
Estonia is a small Baltic state with a population of 1.3 million. Despite its size it is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world and has been creating a digital society since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
In Estonia, citizens are allowed to do most things online. Every inhabitant has a uniqueID card that they use for a number of purposes.They can file tax returns, get medical prescriptions and manage their health records online. They can pay for a parking ticket via mobile phone and don’t have to go to a registration office when a child is born. Parents can check their children’s grades and communicate with teachers. For many years Estonians have been able to vote online.
In 2014 the small Baltic country started a new digital initiative. It allows non-citizens to become digital residents for 100 euros. The government wants to bring qualified people to the country because the working population is steadily decreasing. The country desperately needs new programmers, web developers and media experts. Up to now 20 000 people from other countries have applied for digital citizenship.
Many countries, among them Finland and Japan are trying to copy Estonia’s digital society. However, authoritiespoint out that the country’s smallness is an advantage. Such a system may not work very well in larger countries with millions of people.
advanced = very modern
advantage = here: something that helps you to be successful
apply = to make a request
authorities = the people who are in charge of a government organisation or department
Baltic = region in the northeastern part of Europe
citizen = person who lives in a country and has rights there
collapse = breakdown , end
create = make
decrease = go down
desperately = very much
despite = even though
file tax returns = here: to send information on how much you have earned to the local government; it then tells you how much tax you have to pay
government = the people who rule a country
health records = information about your health
however = but
ID card = small plastic card that has information about a person
inhabitant = a person who lives in a country
initiative = a new plan
point out = to show something that is important
population = the number of people living in a country
prescription = a piece of paper on which the doctor writes down what medicine a sick person should take
purpose = what something is needed for
qualified = with special skills and talents
registration office = place where you have report to when a baby is born or someone dies
resident = a person who officially lives in a country
society = people in general and the way they live and work together
size =how large the country is
smallness = not large in size
Soviet Union = largest Communist country that existed between 1922 and 1991
Winds and storms in the Atlantic are so strong that wind-powered turbines in the Atlantic Ocean could provide the whole world with clean energy. Energy experts now claim that ocean wind farms can produce three to five times more energy than wind turbines on land. Over water wind speeds are up to 70% higher.
Winds on land create friction because of mountains and buildings. They slow down as they move inwards . In addition, turbines are built closer together, which takes some of the wind speed away .
Winds are especially strong across the northern Atlantic Ocean because of differences in water temperature. When the warm Gulf Stream moves up the North Americancoast it mixes with cold water in the northern Atlantic. This leads to higher storm activity and more winds, especially during the winter months.
Norway’s energy company Statoil has been operating floating wind turbines in the shallow North Sea for over a decade. These are connected via cable to the ocean floor. In order to make them work in the deep sea , however, they must be attached to vertical poles that have massiveweights in the water.
One of the biggest problems that face ocean wind farms is transporting energy from the deep sea to land. Energy companies , like Statoil, are looking for high-wind areas that are closer to shore.
While wind farms on land are becoming more and more common, production costs of running them are becoming lower. In the near future wind energy is expected to become one of the cheapest alternative energy sources .
Europe is the number one wind energy producer at the moment. Every year, about 12 gigawatts of energy are produced by wind power, whereas in America green energy from wind is still in its infancy. If produced more effectively, the solution to the world’s energy problems may lie in ocean wind farms.
alternative energy source = energy that does not come from fossil fuels, like, coal, oil or gas
attach = fix, connect to something
claim = to say that something is true even if you cannot prove it
coast = where land meets the sea
common = widespread, popular
connect = fix or tie to something
decade = ten years
deep sea = far away from land
Gulf Stream = warm water that flows to Europe from the Gulf of Mexico
effectively = here: to produce more with less money
especially = above all
face = deal with, manage
float = to move on water without sinking
friction = when something rubs against a surface
gigawatt = one thousand million watts
in addition = also
infancy = at the beginning
inward = here: away from the sea
massive = very big
provide = give
shallow = not deep
shore = land near the coast
speed = how fast something is
turbine = energy or motor in which pressure pushes a wheel around
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.
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
Over 2 million people voted in Sunday’s referendum on whether Catalonia should become an independent state. The government of the province has claimed that over 90% were in favour of breaking away from Spain. Before the referendum took place , Spain’s Supreme Court ruled that the vote was unconstitutional.
The Spanish government in Madrid sent thousand s of policemen and other security officers to Catalonia to stop people from voting. Police in Barcelona and other towns fired rubber bullets at protesters and tried to stop people from going to schools and other public buildings used as voting stations. Hundreds of people were injured, many of them seriously.
About 7 million people live in Spain’s northeastern province. Catalonia has its own language and culture. In the past decades it has received more and more autonomy. However, Catalonian separatists still want independence and their own country. They say that the region is a rich part of Spain and keeps pouring money into poorer parts of the country. Catalonia is highly industrialised and represents about a fifth of Spain’s GDP.
The European Union fears that Catalonia may declare independence on its own and trigger a political crisis on the Iberian peninsula. This may lead to the rise of other nationalist movements, for example in Scotland or Belgium.
autonomy = the right to have your own parliament and make some decisions on your own
claim = to say that something is true
decade = ten years
declare = to say officially
GDP = gross domestic product = the total value of all the goods and services that a country produces in one year
government = the people who rule a country
Iberian peninsula = southwestern part of Europe, made up of Spain and Portugal
independent = free
in favour of = to be for something
injure = hurt
nationalist movement = group of people who want to the region to become an independent state
pour = here: give
receive = get
referendum = when people vote in order to decide on a certain subject
represent = here: to have a share of
rubber = a soft material, usually used to make tires or boots
security officers = people who are responsible for the safety of others
separatist = person who wants to break away from his home country and become independent
Supreme Court = the highest court in a country
trigger = start
unconstitutional = not allowed by the set of rules that a country is governed by
voting station = place or building where people can vote
Scientists have discovered that one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes , Campi Flegrei, a huge caldera near Naples may erupt soon. Geologists have found evidence that magma may be building up inside the volcano, which could blow up soon.
The supervolcano is only a few miles west of Naples, Italy’s third largest city. To the east lies Mount Vesuvius, the famous volcano that destroyedPompeii and Herculaneum in a massiveeruption in 79 A.D.
The last eruption of Campi Flegrei happened in 1538 after a series of earthquakeshit the area. A catastrophic outburst, however, occurred39,000 years ago when an eruption formed today’s caldera and sent 48 cubic miles of ash and magma into the atmosphere. Geologists fear that a similar eruption could be catastrophic for the 2 million people who live in Naples and the towns around it.
In the last few decades scientists have discovered a hotspot, a zone of magma, that lies about 4 km under the town of Pozzuoli , a few miles away from the supervolcano. They think that this zone of magma has been in motion in the past years but cannot locate in which direction. At the beginning of the 1980s, the surface of the caldera rose by 2 metres but sank again shortly afterwards. This may be a sign of building pressure inside the volcano.
While geologists cannot predict when a major eruption will take place, they are sure that there is activity going on inside Campi Flegrei.
activity = here: magma that is moving
ash = soft grey powder that comes from an eruption
atmosphere = the mixture of gases that is around the Earth
caldera = a large crater at the top of a volcano; in some cases it is filled with water
cubic mile = one mile high, long and wide
decade = ten years
destroy = to damage something completely so that it no longer exists
discover = to find out something for the first time
earthquake = a sudden shaking of the Earth’s surface that often causes a lot of damage and may kill people
erupt = break out
evidence = facts that show something is true
geologist = a person who studies rocks that make up the Earth and the way they have formed
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.
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