Portugal Opens World’s Longest Suspension Bridge

The world’s longest pedestrian bridge opened on Sunday in Arouca, in northern Portugal. The suspension bridge spans 516 meters across a canyon of the Paiva river. It hangs on steel cables connected to two massive towers. Tourists who walk on the bridge can watch the fast-moving river over 170 meters below them.

The mayor of Arouca hopes the new bridge will be an additional attraction to the Arouca Geopark, a region where tourists experience all kinds of outdoor adventures, including hiking , rafting, biking and other activities.

The bridge cost 2.3 million euros and was completed in 2 years. The previous record for the longest pedestrian suspension bridge was held by Randa in the Swiss Alps.

Arouca Geopark in Northern Portugal
Ricardo Oliveira, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Words

  • additional = extra
  • canyon = deep valley with very steep sides that has a river running at the bottom
  • completed = finished
  • experience = here: something great that happens to you
  • hiking = taking walks in the mountains
  • massive = very large and heavy
  • mayor = person who is the head of a city
  • pedestrian= someone who is walking
  • previous = earlier, up to now
  • rafting = travelling in a raft on a fast-moving river
  • span = distance from one side to the other
  • steel = very strong metal
  • suspension bridge = bridge that hangs from heavy steel ropes that are connected to towers

2020 US Census Shows Texas The Big Winner

The population in the United States has grown to 331 million, an increase of about 7%, over the past decade. However, it is the slowest growth rate since the Great Depression between the two world wars.

The census, taken every ten years, has an impact on the Electoral College, and, as a result, the outcome of the presidential election.

The 2020 census shows that Texas is the big winner with the largest growth rate. 29 million people live in the state, whose population increased by 16% since the 2010 count. The southern state gained 2 seats in the Electoral College. One reason for the change may be the fact that more and more high-tech companies are leaving Silicon Valley and setting up headquarters in Texas.

For the first time in history, California’s population has actually decreased. Falling birth rates and more Californians leaving the state for other destinations have led to a loss of one electoral college seat.

According to the census, more and more Americans are leaving the northeastern US and the Midwest and heading towards in the sun-belt states of the south. Apart from Texas, Florida is another winner and has gained one seat.

The results of the census could increase Republican chances of winning back the White House in 2024, as typically Democratic states like California and New York have lost Electoral College seats while Republican strongholds have gained a few.

Census sign in a yard in Ohio
Blervis, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Words

  • according to = as reported by …
  • birth rate = the number of people born for every 1,000 people in a certain place every year
  • census = the act of counting the number of people in a country
  • count = here: counting of the population
  • decade = ten years
  • decrease = to go down
  • destination = place to go to
  • Electoral College = group of people chosen by each state, who come together to elect the President of the United States
  • gain = get, receive
  • Great Depression = time after the Wall Street crash of 1929 in which banks and companies closed, and many people were out of work
  • growth rate = the speed at which something gets bigger
  • heading towards = moving in a certain direction
  • headquarters = the main building or offices that a company has
  • however = but
  • impact = influence
  • increase = to go up
  • loss = to lose something
  • outcome = results
  • population = the people who live in a country or state
  • Silicon Valley = area around San Francisco which is known as the center of the computer and high-tech industry
  • stronghold = area where you have a lot of support and many voters

35 Years After Chernobyl Disaster

35 years ago, the worst nuclear disaster in history happened at the power plant at Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union. A failed safety test caused the nuclear reactor in Block 4 to become unstable. As a result a chain reaction caused the core to explode. Fire spread out over the entire compound. Two people were killed in the explosion, over 30 workers officially died of radiation sickness. It is not known how many people died in the months and years that followed.

The Soviet authorities hid the truth about the explosion and did not warn other countries. A nuclear cloud spread across Europe for more than a week. Almost half a million people had to leave their homes.

The accident led to a worldwide debate on the safety of nuclear energy. It may have also been one of the causes of the collapse of the Soviet Union a few years later.

After the clean-up the remaining reactors at Chernobyl continued to produce electricity for some years before the whole power station was shut down by Ukrainian authorities in 2000. A sarcophagus was built around Block 4 to prevent radioactivity from escaping. In 2017 a new steel structure was built to ensure more safety. The whole site is expected to be completely decommissioned by 2065.

Today, the area is still affected by radiation. Even though there is a 30 km exclusion zone a special kind of tourism has emerged. People from all over the world are coming to see the remains of the catastrophe and observe the wildlife in the region. The Ukrainian government is planning to use the area as a site for nuclear waste.

Reactor 4 months after the disaster
IAEA Imagebank, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Words

  • affected = here: there is still dangerous radiation
  • authorities = the people who are in control of a certain part of a region
  • caused = led to
  • causes = reasons
  • chain reaction = event that produces more and more energy in an uncontrolled way
  • collapse = breakdown; if something does not exist anymore
  • compound = a set of buildings
  • core = the central part of a nuclear reactor
  • decommission = to stop using the power plant and tear it down
  • disaster = a sudden event that causes a lot of damage and kills people
  • emerge = come up, appear
  • entire = whole
  • exclusion zone = area that people are not allowed to enter because it is dangerous
  • failed = something that did not work
  • former = earlier, once
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • nuclear energy = the energy you create when you split atoms
  • nuclear waste = leftover material from nuclear reactors
  • officially = as said by the government
  • power plant = one or more buildings that produce electricity
  • prevent = stop
  • radiation sickness = illness that is caused when your body gets too much radiation
  • radioactivity = the sending out of radiation when an atom is split
  • remains = what is left
  • sarcophagus = here: a structure that is put over the reactor so that dangerous radiation cannot escape
  • shut down = to close something
  • Soviet Union = the largest communist country that existed between 1917 and 1991
  • spread = travel, move across
  • unstable = something that may suddenly change and become worse
  • wildlife = the animals that live naturally there

Chloe Zhao Becomes Second Woman To Win Best Director at Academy Awards

The 93rd Academy Awards were different from events of the past. Due to the coronavirus pandemic it was delayed for two months. Instead of its normal venue, the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, the awards took place at the city’s Union Station. Some nominees were there in person, others took part via video screen. There was no host and no audience.

The big winner of the evening was Nomadland, the story of a woman who lives in a van in the western US after the financial crash. Apart from winning the prize for the Best Movie, Nomadland’s director, China-born Chloe Zhao became only the second woman in history to win the prize for Best Director. Frances McDormand was awarded the Oscar for the Best Actress.

The biggest surprise of the evening came for British actor Sir Anthony Hopkins, who received the Oscar for Best Actor. In The Father, Hopkins plays a man suffering from dementia. He has become the oldest actor ever to win an Oscar, his second after Silence of the Lambs 29 years ago.

Another British actor, Daniel Kaluuya got an Oscar in the category Best Supporting Actor for his role as a Black Panther leader in Judas and the Black Messiah.

Chinese-born Chloe Zhao – second woman ever to win prize for best director
Vegafi, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Words

  • audience = people who watch at an event
  • Black Panther = group of African Americans in the 1960s and 70s who supported the use of violence in order to get better treatment
  • delay = when something happens later, not when it should
  • dementia = illness that affects the brain; you are not able to think clearly and forget a lot of things
  • director = someone who gives actors and other people instructions when making a film
  • due to = because of
  • financial crash = when money loses its value and people can’t buy things anymore
  • nominee = person who has been suggested for a prize
  • pandemic = a disease that affects many people all over the world
  • van = a large, box-like car that carries people or goods
  • venue = the place where an event takes place

NASA Announces First Successful Flight On Mars

The first controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet has successfully taken place. The Mars drone Ingenuity lifted off and hovered about 1 meter above the Martian surface for 40 seconds. Because of the distance between the Earth and Mars flight controllers had to wait for three hours to find out if the experiment was successful.

The drone was brought to Mars strapped under NASA’s Perseverance rover. It was positioned 65 meters away from the rover, which took pictures and recorded videos of the flight.

Because the atmosphere on Mars is thin and there is less gravity compared to Earth, Ingenuity’s rotor blades must rotate much faster to lift the craft. In addition, the drone has an on-board navigation system and software which allows it to fly on its own.

The 1.8 kg heavy drone has two cameras on board, as well as solar-powered batteries. NASA intends to use drones on future missions to Mars to find the right landing places and gather data.

During the next few weeks NASA is planning several test flights of the Ingenuity drone.

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter
Nasa, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Words

  • aircraft= a machine or object that can fly
  • atmosphere = mixture of gases around a planet
  • craft = here: drone
  • drone = an aircraft that does not have a pilot and is operated from somewhere else
  • gather data = collect information
  • gravity = the power that makes something fall to the ground
  • hover = float
  • in addition = also
  • Martian = about Mars
  • mission = trip, journey
  • position = to put in a certain place
  • rotate = to move around an object’s center
  • rotor blades = the flat parts that turn around at the top of a helicopter
  • rover = special car that is used to move on other planets
  • several = a few
  • solar = by the sun
  • strap = to use a band to fasten something to an object
  • surface = the top part of a planet

Vespa Celebrates 75th Birthday

The Vespa, one of the most iconic motorcycles in history, is celebrating its 75th anniversary. Since the first motorbike left the northern Italian production site in Pontedera, Italy over 19million scooters have been sold, almost 2 million in the past decade alone.

Over the years, the Vespa has become a symbol of freedom and culture for millions of people. Sold in 83 countries on all continents, it is a global brand that represents Italian technology.

For its 75th birthday Vespa has announced the production of a special anniversary series.

1964 Vespa
hongsta, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Words

  • anniversary = birthday
  • announce = to officially say something
  • decade = ten years
  • global brand = an object that people know all over the world
  • iconic = famous and admired

Scientists Develop New Effective Malaria Vaccine

For the first time in history scientists have made a major breakthrough in malaria treatment. In a lab in Burkina Faso scientists from Oxford University have created a vaccine that is 77% effective in treating the deadly disease. Up to now researchers have only been able to come up with a vaccine that is about 50% effective.

The experimental vaccine, given to 450 small children, showed promising results. Now scientists plan to treat 5000 children with the new drug in the last phase of the trial. If all goes well, millions of doses of the vaccine will be produced in India.

Malaria is one of the deadliest diseases on our planet. Over 200 million people suffer from the illness that is transmitted to people by mosquitos in tropical regions. It kills over 400,000 people each year, mostly children in Africa. According to the World Health Organization, malaria has turned out to be even deadlier than COVID-19 in Africa.

A malaria vaccine is very difficult to develop because its structure, compared to the coronavirus, is very complicated.

Child with malaria in Ethiopia
Rod Waddington from Kergunyah, Australia, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Words

  • according to = as said by …
  • breakthrough = an important new discovery that you work on for a long time
  • develop = create or make something new
  • effective = when something works the way it should
  • experimental = used as an experiment
  • promising = here: hopeful, very good
  • researcher = someone who studies a topic and tries to find out new facts about it
  • scientist = a person who is trained in science and often works in a lab
  • transmit = to pass on to a person or animal
  • treatment = something that is done to cure someone who is ill
  • trial = test to find out if something works or not
  • vaccine = liquid that has a weak form of a virus and can protect people from becoming ill

Earth’s Axis Shifted Because of Climate Change

Recent studies and satellite data has shown that the Earth’s axis is moving faster, due to climate change and global warming. The axis of our planet is a straight line that goes through the poles. It is not in a fixed position but normally moves slowly due to movements inside the Earth. Scientists do not completely understand how this happens.

New information now shows that the movements of the poles are going on much faster than in previous decades, mainly because of the melting of glaciers and large ice masses. This has led to more water on the surface, which pulls at the poles. The North Pole, for example, is moving slowly towards Russia. Since 1980 the poles have wandered about 4 meters.

In addition, farming has led to more and more groundwater around the world being pumped up from below. This water ends up in rivers and finally in oceans, also contributing to a change in the weight of ocean water.

Scientists say that the change in the Earth’s poles is not enough to affect our daily life, but may lead to a change in the length of daytime by a few milliseconds.

Earth’s axis runs through the poles
Silver Spoon, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Words

  • affect = change
  • contributing = leading to , making something happen
  • data = information
  • decade = a period of ten years
  • due to = because of
  • glacier = large mass of ice that moves down a mountain valley
  • in addition = also
  • previous =earlier
  • scientist = a person who is trained in science
  • surface = here: the top part of the Earth
  • wander = move
  • weight = how heavy something is

Honda To Produce Only Electric Cars By 2040

Japanese carmaker Honda has announced plans to stop the production of petrol- and diesel-powered cars by 2040. In addition, 40% of all cars produced by the company will be emissions-free, either electric or fuel-cell driven, by 2030. The company also plans to introduce electric motorcycles and scooters to the market. At the moment, Honda does not have very many electric vehicles in its production.

Honda has become a partner of American carmaker General Motors and has agreed to use GM batteries in its new electric cars. It also wants to develop driver-assisted software in order to make cars safer and prevent accidents.

Honda is one of many car producers that have promised to make cars emissions-free. Such cars will become more affordable because of cheaper batteries. They will also provide more range. Currently, only a very small part of cars sold worldwide are electric.

Carmakers are reacting to government plans which are to ban all diesel and petrol cars by a certain date in the future.

Honda electric sports car
Mj-bird, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Words

  • affordable = cheap enough for most people to be able to buy it
  • ban = forbid, not allow
  • currently = at the moment, now
  • develop = design or create something new
  • driver-assisted = here: program that helps a driver drive a car
  • emissions-free = when no gases get into the atmosphere
  • fuel-cell = machine in which oxygen and hydrogen are used to produce electricity
  • in addition = also
  • range = here: how far you can drive
  • vehicle = machine with an engine that is used to take people or products from one place to another

European Super League Collapses Two Days After Signing of Agreement

The European Super League (ESL) has collapsed only two days after the agreement had been signed by 12 European football clubs. 6 clubs from the English Premiere League as well as 3 teams each from Spain and Italy wanted to break away from the European football organization UEFA and form their own internal competition.

After a day of protest and outrage from fans and supporters the English clubs started to pull out one by one, creating a domino effect and leaving only Real Madrid and FC Barcelona in the competition.

The owners of the clubs wanted to create a league that would give them more money. During the COVID-19 pandemic top football clubs lost millions in income because spectators were not allowed into the stadiums.

The new league would offer the 12 founding clubs permanent membership where they would not have to be afraid of being relegated. Other European clubs would be permitted on a seasonal basis.

After fans protested in front of stadiums, club officials of apologized, saying that their decision to leave the traditional European football structure was a serious mistake.

Some clubs, however, have stated that they still wanted a change in the structure of European football.

Liverpool FC was one of the English clubs of the new European Super League

Words

  • agreement = here: promise to do something, made by two or more clubs
  • collapse = break apart, break down
  • founding clubs = the 12 clubs that started the league
  • income = money that a club gets from viewers, selling tickets etc..
  • internal competition = only the clubs of the league would play against each other and not let any other club into their league
  • offer = give
  • officials = the people who run a club
  • outrage = feeling of anger and shock
  • pandemic = disease that affects many people in all areas of the world
  • permanent membership = to be part of something forever
  • permit = allow
  • relegate = to move to a lower league
  • serious = very bad
  • spectators = the fans who watch the matches in a stadium