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Bob Dylan is 80

Bob Dylan, one of America’s pop and folk music legends, has turned 80. The 10-times Grammy winner recorded over 35 studio albums and sold 125 million records in a career spanning more than 60 years.

Dylan was born as Robert Zimmermann in Duluth, Minnesota on May 25, 1941. During his early life he was strongly influenced and inspired by folk music performers of the 50s and 60s, such as Woodie Guthrie and Hank Williams.

Dylan came to be a great singer and songwriter. In the troublesome 1960s he wrote songs about the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement. His greatest hits include The Times They Are A’Changing about the generation gap between the young and old, Blowin’ in the Wind, a protest song about peace, war and freedom and Like A Rolling Stone, a story about a once successful young woman who lost the meaning of life.

In 2016 Dylan received the Nobel Prize for Literature for creating poetic lyrics in his songs. Last December he sold his complete catalog of over 600 songs to Universal Music Publishing for more than 300 million dollars.

Bob Dylan performing at a rock festival in Spain in 2010
Alberto Cabello from Vitoria Gasteiz, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Words

  • Civil Rights movement = time between the 1950s and 1960s in which African Americans fought for the same rights as white people
  • Grammy = prize given to pop groups and singers
  • influence = the way something changes you
  • inspire = to make someone feel something in a certain way
  • lyrics = the words of a song
  • receive = get
  • spanning = period of time between two dates
  • troublesome = causing problems; difficult times

Microsoft Ends Internet Explorer in 2022

Microsoft is saying good-bye to the Internet Explorer. The company has announced that from June 2022 on it will no longer pack the legendary browser with its Windows operating system.

The software company has been trying to replace the Internet Explorer for some years. In 2015, it introduced the IE’s successor Edge. It is faster, more secure and can display modern websites better.

The Internet Explorer was first released over 25 years ago with the Windows 95 operating system. At the time it was a revolutionary browser that proved to be a strong competitor to Netscape’s Navigator. By the beginning of the new millennium, the browser’s market share rose to 95 %.

As time went on, the Internet Explorer became slower and more unreliable. Users started looking for alternatives and found them in Mozilla Firefox and Google’s Chrome browser. Today Chrome, is the most popular browser with a market share of 70%. Only 4% of Windows users are surfing the web with the Internet Explorer.

Even though Microsoft is shutting down the browser, Edge will still have a special mode for diehard IE fans.

Words

  • announce = to say something officially; in public
  • competitor = alternative
  • diehard = here: those who want to use the old browser no matter how good new ones are
  • display = show
  • even though = while
  • introduce = start
  • legendary = very famous and popular for a long time
  • market share = the percentage of sales that a product has around the world
  • millennium = the year 2000; the beginning of the next thousand years
  • pack = here: to put software into the operating system
  • release = to make available for people to use
  • replace = here: to develop something else instead
  • revolutionary = completely new and different
  • rise – rose = to go up
  • secure = safe
  • shut down = close; not develop anymore
  • successor = here: a browser that has taken the IE’s place
  • unreliable = here: it doesn’t always work the way it should

China’s Population Growth Slows Down

China has recorded the slowest growth rate of its population since the 1950s. The most populous country in the world grew only 5.4% in the last ten years. Experts say that the population will be leveling off or maybe even shrinking in the next decade.

Currently, 1.41 billion people live in China, only slightly more than in the second most populous country, India. In 2020, only 12 million babies were born, compared to 15 million a year earlier. On average, every Chinese woman gives birth to 1.3 children.

One of the main reasons for China’s declining birth rate is the country’s one-child policy, which has been in effect for decades. It was introduced at the end of the 1970s in an attempt to stop the country’s exploding population. Today, however, the government is encouraging families to have more than one child.

The country’s low birth rate and high proportion of elderly people will cause problems in the near future. Chinese authorities are afraid there will not be enough young workers for the booming economy. In addition, almost 20% of the population is over 60, resulting in higher health care costs and more money the government needs to pay for pensions.

Chinese family with one child in a park in Beijing
Daniel Case, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Words

  • attempt = try
  • authorities = the people who are in power in an organization and can make decisions
  • billion = a thousand million = 1,000,000,000
  • birth rate = the number of babies born for every 1,000 people per year
  • booming = growing very strongly
  • currently = at the moment, right now
  • decade = ten years
  • decline = go down
  • elderly = older
  • encourage = to get someone to do something
  • exploding = here: growing fast and out of control
  • growth rate = here: how fast a country’s population grows
  • health care = the services that a country uses to keep its population healthy
  • however = but
  • in addition = also
  • in effect = to be law
  • introduce = start
  • level off = stay the same; not grow anymore
  • most populous = with the most people
  • near future = soon
  • on average = here: if you count all the women in the country
  • pension = the money a worker gets from the government when he is too old to work
  • policy = the government’s way of doing something
  • proportion = part of the whole
  • record = to write down information and keep it for later generations
  • resulting in = leading to
  • shrink = go down
  • slightly = a little

Cyberattack Shuts Down US Pipeline

An international hacker group has attacked the computer systems of an important US fuel pipeline. The cyberattack forced operators to shut down most of the systems of the pipeline. It is the largest attack on existing infrastructure in US history.

Colonial Pipeline pumps 2.5 million barrels of fuel from the Houston to the eastern coast every day. It supplies the major population centers and airports.

According to the FBI, the relatively new hacker group DarkSide is responsible for the attack. It is reported to be Russian-operated but has no connections to the Russian government. Days after the attack, Colonial Pipeline confirmed that it had paid $4.4 million in ransom money to unlock the pipeline. As a result of the attack, panic-buying led to gas shortages in many areas of the eastern coast.

Ransomware attacks have been increasing steadily for some time. 2020 was the worst year in the history of cyberattacks.

Authorities are concerned about how vulnerable American infrastructure is. Especially since the pandemic started, more and more workers have been working from home, making it easier for hackers to get into the systems.

Words

  • according to = as said by …
  • attack = here: to put bad code into a computer system, so that it doesn’t work anymore
  • authorities = people who are in charge of an organization
  • barrel = unit to measure oil = 159 liters
  • concerned = worried
  • confirm = to say that something is true
  • connection = link, tie
  • cyberattack = to use the Internet to get into a computer system and damage it
  • force = to make someone do something
  • fuel = here: gasoline or diesel
  • increase = to go up
  • infrastructure = important systems that a country needs, like, roads, railways, bridges, pipelines etc…
  • major = important
  • panic-buying = when people buy more things, because they think there won’t be enough in the future
  • pandemic = disease that affects people in many parts of the world
  • population centers = cities and areas in which many people live
  • ransom money = money that is paid to a hacker group to make the computer systems work again
  • ransomware = software that someone puts into your computer so that it doesn’t work the way it should; the attacker demands money to unlock it
  • responsible = here: to carry out
  • shortage = not enough of something
  • shut down = stop from working
  • supply = to bring from one place to another
  • unlock = to make something work again
  • vulnerable = weak; can easily be damaged

South Carolina Allows Execution By Firing Squad

South Carolina has become the fourth U.S. state to allow an alternative method of execution. Death row inmates can now choose to be killed by a firing squad.

Many states have had problems getting drugs used for lethal injection, which is the standard form of execution in most states. Many manufacturers do not want their products used in executions. Now, South Carolina has passed a law making the electric chair the primary execution method if drugs for lethal injection are not available. Alternatively, inmates can opt for being executed by a firing squad. South Carolina has not carried out an execution since 2011.

The electric chair has been a controversial topic for many years, as those opposed to the death penalty say that it is an inhumane way of killing people.

The firing squad is currently allowed as a form of execution in three other states. Since 1970, three such executions have taken place. On a global scale, eight countries execute people by firing squad, including China, Iran and North Korea.

Although widespread discussion about capital punishment in the United States still going on, public support for the death penalty has gradually decreased. At the moment, the death penalty is allowed in 24 states.

Capital Punishment By States Since 1970
States in black have abolished the death penalty in the year shown on the map
Fluffy89502, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Words

  • alternative method = a different way
  • although = while
  • available = here: can be used or bought
  • capital punishment = when the state or government kills someone who has committed a crime
  • carry out = to do something that needs to be planned
  • controversial = much discussed with many opinions
  • currently = now, at the moment
  • death row inmate = prisoner who is waiting to be executed by a state or the government
  • decrease = go down
  • drugs = here: substance used for lethal injections
  • execution = if a state or the government kills a person as a form of punishment
  • firing squad =group of people who punish someone by shooting and killing them
  • global scale = around the world
  • gradually = slowly
  • including = also
  • inhumane = cruel and not acceptable
  • lethal injection = killing someone by putting a mixture of deadly drugs into their body
  • manufacturer = here: producer of drugs
  • opposed to = against
  • opt for = choose
  • primary = main
  • public support = here: all the people who agree with something
  • widespread = here: among many people

London City Airport Operates By Remote Control

London’s City Airport has become the first major commercial airport in the world to become fully remote controlled. Normally, air controllers sit at the top of a tower at the airport. At City Airport they are operating take-offs and landings from 70 miles away. It is the first time remote-control technology is used at a commercial airport.

Air traffic controllers can see everything that happens from 14 cameras that sit atop a 50-m high tower. The cameras record everything that happens on the runways and can be set to pan around and zoom in on certain areas. Controllers also receive weather and aircraft information on their screens .

The technology was developed by a Swedish company and has been tested at Swedish airports. Several backup systems provide security in case the something goes wrong with the main computers. British authorities claim that the new technology is safe and will make operating an airport more efficient.

Aerial view of London City Airport
Ercan KarakaƟ (GFDL or GFDL), via Wikimedia Commons

Words

  • aircraft = airplane
  • air traffic controller = someone whose job it is to give instructions to pilots by radio
  • atop = on top of
  • authorities = the people or organizations in control of something
  • backup systems = computers that start working when the main computers are damaged or don’t work the way they should
  • claim = to say that something is true
  • commercial = used by businesses, not military or private
  • develop = make something new for the first time
  • efficient = to work in a better way
  • fully = completely
  • major = important
  • pan around = to move around and follow an object
  • provide = give
  • receive = get
  • remote-controlled = operating or working on something from a distance
  • security = things that are done to protect something
  • set = here: instructed, programmed
  • several = here: a few

SpaceX Lands First Successful Starship Flight

SpaceX, a private American space company, has successfully launched and landed its Starship spacecraft from a launch site in Texas. In the three previous attempts the rocket exploded during the landing phase.

The 50-metre tall reusable rocket rose to an altitude of almost 10 km over the Gulf of Mexico, then turned and descended in an upright position back to its launch pad. A small fire after touchdown was quickly put out.

The Starship rocket has three engines and can carry 100 tons of cargo into space. It is scheduled to bring NASA astronauts to the moon in the next few years. The rocket is also part of a more powerful system that will one day bring astronauts to Mars.

The successful mission came on the 60th anniversary of the first American, Alan Shepard, to travel into space.

SpaceX is owned by Elon Musk, an American entrepreneur, who plans to set up an American colony on Mars.

Artist’s drawing of Starship to bring astronauts to the moon
Steve Jurvetson, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Words

  • altitude = how high something goes up
  • anniversary = date on which something important happened years ago
  • attempts = to try to make something work
  • cargo = machines, instruments and other objects
  • descend = to come down
  • entrepreneur = businessman
  • successfully = if something works the way it should
  • launch = here: to send a rocket into space
  • launch pad = place from where a rocket is sent into space
  • launch site = place from where a rocket is sent into space
  • mission = here: flight
  • owned = belongs to
  • previous = earlier
  • reusable = something that you can use over and over again
  • schedule = plan
  • set up = create
  • upright position = vertical; standing up

IBM Creates New Powerful Computer Chip

IBM has created a new computer chip that will improve performance by 50%. 50 billion transistors can be placed on a 2nm chip the size of a fingernail. Up to now IBM, has produced 7nm chips. More transistors, the basic parts of computer chips, lead to better performance.

In addition, the new chip uses up to 75% less energy. This will increase the battery life of cell phones dramatically. The chip is also expected to boost performance in huge datacenters that need a lot of power. Faster graphic cards and speedier object detection on cameras are other effects of the new chip. Artificial intelligence, which relies heavily on computing power, would profit massively from a new generation of chips.

Even though computer experts are excited about the new development, it will take a few years before the new chip can be mass-produced. This comes at a time when a shortage of computer chips has hit major manufacturing areas, including the automobile industry and smartphone production.

For years IBM has been concentrating on chip development and sold its chip production in 2014.

Words

  • artificial intelligence = the way computers do intelligent things that people can do, like thinking and making decisions
  • boost = increase, make better
  • concentrate = focus on
  • datacenter = large building with many computers
  • development = making a new product
  • effects= results
  • even though= while
  • heavily = a lot
  • hit = affect
  • huge = very large
  • improve = to make better
  • increase = improve, to make better
  • in addition = also
  • manufacturing = production
  • mass-produced = to make something cheaply in large numbers
  • object detection = the way you find and identify an object or person
  • performance = how well something works
  • rely on = need
  • shortage = not enough
  • speedier = faster
  • transistor = a very small object that controls the flow of electricity

China Launches First Module of Space Station

China has successfully launched the first module of its space station, called Tianhe or Heavenly Harmony, from the island of Hainan. The module contains the living quarters for crew members.

After 10 missions to deliver parts to low Earth orbit, China’s space station is expected to be fully operational by 2022. It will be used for scientific and medical experiments. 12 astronauts are currently training to live in space for a longer period of time.

China’s space station will not be as large as the International Space Station ISS, but similar to the Russian Mir space station which was in operation between 1986 and 2001.

The construction of its own space station is seen as a further step in China’s ambitious billion-dollar space program. The first satellite was launched in 1970 and the first manned mission was carried out in 2003. Recently a lunar probe has brought back the first samples from the moon since the 1970s.

Illustration of the Chinese Space Station and its modules
Saggittarius A, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Words

  • ambitious = if you really want to be successful in doing something
  • currently = at the moment
  • deliver = bring
  • further = another
  • launch = here: to start a rocket into space
  • living quarters = rooms where the astronauts live
  • lunar probe= unmanned spaceship that landed on the moon
  • manned mission = space flight where people are on board
  • module = part
  • operational = working and ready to be used
  • orbit = to move around a planet
  • recently = a short time ago
  • samples = here : rocks from the moon
  • satellite = object that is sent to space and moves around the Earth, moon or other planet
  • similar = like