Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Information Age, Part Two: "The Internet". From Voice of America.



VOICE ONE:

I'm Barbara Klein.

VOICE TWO:

And I'm Steve Ember with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English. Today we present the second part of our series about communications. We tell how computers are linking people around the world.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

Last week, we told about the early history of the communication of information. We described how the telegraph was the first important device that could move information quickly from one place to another. And we discussed early radio and television broadcasts and the beginning of satellite communications.

In the early nineteen seventies, the American Department of Defense began developing a new project. It began linking major research universities across the United States.

VOICE TWO:

Professors at many American universities do research work for the United States government. The Department of Defense wanted to link the universities together to help the professors cooperate in their work. Department of Defense officials decided to try to link these universities by computer.

The old Internet

The officials believed the computer would make it easier for researchers to send large amounts of information from research center to research center. They believed they could link computers at these universities by telephone.They were right. It became very easy to send information from one university to another. University researchers working on the same project could share large amounts of information very quickly. They no longer had to wait several days for the mail to bring a copy of the research reports.

VOICE ONE:

This is how the system works. The computer is linked to a telephone by a device called a modem. The modem changes computer information into electronic messages that are sounds. These messages pass through the telephone equipment to the modem at the other end of the telephone line. This receiving modem changes the sound messages back into information the computer can use.

The first modern electronic communication device, the telegraph, sent only one letter of the alphabet at a time. A computer can send thousands of words within seconds.

VOICE TWO:

The link between universities quickly grew to include most research centers and colleges in the United States. These links became a major network. Two or more computers that are linked together form a small network. They may be linked by a wire from one computer to another, or by telephone. A network can grow to almost any size.

For example, let us start with two computers in the same room at a university. A wire links them to each other. In another part of the university, two other computers also are linked using the same method. Then the four are connected with modems and a telephone line used only by computers. This represents a small local network of four computers.

College Network: Laptops Linked
Now, suppose this local network is linked by its modem through telephone lines to another university that has four computers. Then you have a network of eight computers. The other university can be anywhere, even thousands of kilometers away. These computers can now send any kind of information that can be received by a computer - messages, reports, drawings, pictures, sound recordings. And, the information is exchanged immediately.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

Since it began, this system of computer networks has had several different names. It is now called the Internet. In nineteen eighty-one, this communication system linked two hundred thirteen computers. Only nine years later, it linked more than three hundred fifty thousand computers. Today, experts say more than one billion people around the world are linked by computers to the Internet. And, they say, this number will continue to grow.

Almost every major university in the world is part of the Internet. So are smaller colleges and many public and private schools. Magazines, newspapers, libraries, businesses, government agencies, and people in their homes also are part of the Internet.

VOICE TWO:

Computer experts began to greatly expand the Internet system in the last years of the nineteen eighties. This expansion was called the World Wide Web. It permits computer users to easily search for information using software called a browser.

How fast is the World Wide Web part of the Internet system? Here is an example. A computer user in London, England is seeking information about volcanoes in the American state of Hawaii. She types in the words "Hawaii" and "volcano" in a search engine, such as Google.

The computer produces a list within seconds. She chooses to examine information from the National Park Service's headquarters at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The Park Service computer in Hawaii provides information about the huge volcanoes there, and how they were formed. It also has other useful information.

The researcher in London looks at the information on her computer. Then she prints a copy of it. Within seconds she has a copy of the National Park information including pictures. It has taken her less than five minutes to complete this research.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

Who pays for the Internet? That is not easy to explain. Each network, small or large, pays for itself. Networks decide how much their members will pay for their part of the cost of the local service connecting time. Then all of the large networks decide how much each will pay to be part of the larger network that covers a major area of the country. The area network in turn pays the national network for the service it needs.

Each person who has a computer at home pays a company that lets the computer connect to the Internet. These companies are called Internet service providers.

ISP's charge about twenty dollars a month for a slow dial-up connection to the Internet. A computer user with a high-speed wireless connection pays at least forty dollars a month. Wireless connections generally link computers to the Internet with a special technological device called a router.

VOICE TWO:

The United States used to have the largest number of Internet users in the world. However, in April, the USA Today newspaper reported that China now has the largest number of people using the Internet. Estimates from a Chinese research group said more than two hundred twenty million people in China were using the Internet as of February. That is about seventeen percent of the Chinese population.

The newspaper said the United States had two hundred sixteen million Internet users at the end of last year. That is seventy-one percent of the population. The Internet World Statistics Web site notes several other countries where more than sixty percent of the people use the Internet. They include Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia and South Korea.

Studies have shown that people use the Internet for communication and for research. Much of that research leads to buying products on the Internet. More people than ever are now using the computer for e-commerce – to buy and sell products electronically.

VOICE ONE:

Some governments, private groups and individuals have criticized the Internet. Some governments do not trust the Internet because they say it is difficult to control the information that is placed there. Some government officials say extremist groups place harmful information on the Internet. They say dangerous political information should be banned. Other groups say it is difficult to protect children from sexual information and pictures placed on the Internet. They say this kind of information should be banned.

An annoying "Pop up" ad
Other critics say that it is becoming extremely difficult to know if you can trust the information that is found on the Internet. They wonder if the information is correct. Still other critics say the Internet is no longer a free exchange of information and ideas. They say it has become a big business that sells products, services and information. They want the Internet to be used only for research and education.

Next week we will examine some new technologies that have developed with the help of the Internet. Many of these technologies are being used in education.

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

This program was written by Paul Thompson. It was produced by Mario Ritter. I'm Steve Ember.

VOICE ONE:

And I'm Barbara Klein. Our programs are online with pictures, transcripts and MP3s at voaspecialenglish.com. Join us again next week for EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.

COMPREHENSION CEHCK

1. A __________________ is computer software that allows a computer user to search the internet for information.
a: browser
b: modem
c: network
d: router

2. Internet Service Providers or ISPs are companies that ____________________________ .
a: provide lists of resources for types of information
b: connects a computer to the Internet for a monthly fee
c: are part of the Defense Department
d: are affiliated with major universities

3. One newspaper said that at the end of 2008, the US had _________ Internet users.
a: 220,000
b:
26,000,000
c: 216, 000,000
d: 140, 000

4. Most people would agree that __________________ shouldn't be banned from the Internet.
a: sexually explicit information
b: dangerous political information
c: posts presented by hateful extremist groups
d: advertising for books and DVD's

5. The first device that could move information quickly from one place to another was the _____________________ .
a: router
b: telegraph
c: modem
d: Internet

6. In the 1970s, _________________ wanted to link universities together to help professors cooperate in their work.
a: advertisers
b: Harvard University
c: The US Department of Defense
d: The US House of Representatives

7. The computer is linked to the telephone by a device called a __________________ .
a: browser
b: mouse pad
c: modem
d: software

8. The following software is not a browser: __________________________ .
a: Fire Fox
b: Internet Explorer
c: Microsoft Word
d: Google Chrome

9. Computers that are in the same room in a university can be connected by a _________________
a: wire
b: network
c: modem
d: television set

10. A message sent by way of a bird, carrying information in its beak, is likely to arrive at its destination ____________________ the same message sent by email.
a: faster than
b: slower than
c: at the same time as
d: with more words than

This film, by Euro-IX is an excellent visual representation of the Internet. It has
subtitles, so you can follow it more easily.





The Information Age, Part One


Saturday, October 17, 2009

VOA presents Margaret Mead: A Famous Anthropologist




ANNOUNCER:

Welcome to People in America from VOA Special English. Today, Sarah Long and Rich Kleinfeldt tell about one of the most influential social scientists of the last century -- the anthropologist Margaret Mead.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

People around the world mourned when Margaret Mead died in nineteen seventy-eight. The president of the United States at the time, Jimmy Carter, honored the social scientist with America's highest award for civilians. Another honor came from a village in New Guinea. The people there planted a coconut tree in her memory. Margaret Mead would have liked that. As a young woman, she had studied the life and traditions of the village.

Miz Mead received such honors because she added greatly to public knowledge of cultures and traditions in developing areas. Many people consider her the most famous social-science researcher of the Twentieth Century. Yet some experts say her research was not scientific. They say she depended too much on observation and local stories. They say she did not spend enough time on comparative studies. They believe her fame resulted as much from her colorful personality as from her research.

VOICE TWO:

Margaret Mead was often the object of heated dispute. She shared her strong opinions about social issues. She denounced the spread of nuclear bombs. She spoke against racial injustice. She strongly supported women's rights. Throughout her life she enjoyed taking a risk. Miz Mead began her studies of cultures in an unusual way for a woman of her time. She chose to perform her research in the developing world.

She went to an island village in the Pacific Ocean. She went alone. The year was nineteen twenty-five. At that time, young American women did not travel far away from home by themselves. They did not ask personal questions of strangers. They did not observe births and deaths unless they were involved in medical work. Margaret Mead did all those things.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

Margaret Mead was born in December, nineteen-oh-one, in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her parents were educators. Few women attended college in those days. However, Miz Mead began her studies in nineteen nineteen at De Pauw University in the middle western town of Greencastle, Indiana. She soon decided that living in a small town did not improve one's mind. So she moved to New York City to study at Barnard College. There she studied English and psychology. She graduated in nineteen twenty-three.

VOICE TWO:

Margaret next decided to study anthropology at Columbia University in New York. She wanted to examine the activities and traditions of different societies. She sought to add to knowledge of human civilization. At the same time, she got married. Her husband, Luther Cressman, planned to be a clergyman. Together, they began the life of graduate students.

VOICE ONE:

Miz Mead studied with two famous anthropologists: Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict. Mister Boas believed that the environment people grow up in -- not family genes -- was the cause of most cultural differences among people. This belief also influenced his young student. Mister Boas was not pleased when Margaret Mead asked to do research in Samoa. He was concerned for her safety. Still, he let her go. Franz Boas told her to learn about the ways in which the young women of Samoa were raised.

VOICE TWO:

Margaret's husband went to Europe to continue his studies. She went -- alone -- to Samoa, in the Pacific Ocean. She worked among the people of Tau Island. The people spoke a difficult language. Their language had never been written. Luckily, she learned languages easily.

VOICE ONE:

Miz Mead investigated the life of Samoan girls. She was not much older than the girls she questioned. She said their life was free of the anger and rebellion found among young people in other societies. She also said Samoan girls had sexual relations with anyone they wanted. She said their society did not urge them to love just one man. And she said their society did not condemn sex before marriage.

Margaret Mead said she reached these beliefs after nine months of observation on Samoa. They helped make her book about Samoa one of the best-selling books of the time. Miz Mead was just twenty-five years old when this happened.

VOICE TWO:

Several social scientists later disputed her findings. In a recent book, Derek Freeman says Miz Mead made her observations from just a few talks with two friendly young women. He says they wanted to tell interesting stories to a foreign visitor. However, he says their stories were not necessarily true. Mister Freeman says Samoan society valued a young woman who had not had sexual relations. He says Tau Island men refused to marry women who had had sex.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

After nine months among the Samoans, Miz Mead returned to the United States. She met a psychology student from New Zealand, Reo Fortune, on the long trip home. Her marriage to Luther Cressman ended. She married Mister Fortune in nineteen twenty-seven. Miz Mead and her second husband went to New Guinea to work together. It would be the first of seven trips that she would make to the area in the next forty-seven years.

The two observed the people of Manus Island, one of the Admiralty Islands, near mainland New Guinea. They thought the people were pleasant. After a while, though, she and her husband had no more tobacco to trade. Then the people of Manus Island stopped giving them fish.

VOICE TWO:

Later the two studied the Mundugumor people of New Guinea. Miz Mead reported that both the men and women were expected to be aggressive. Only a few years before, tribe members had given up head-hunting. Traditionally they had cut off the heads of their enemies. Mundugumor parents also seemed to be cruel to their children. They carried their babies in stiff baskets. They did not answer the needs of the babies when they cried. Instead, they hit the baskets with sticks until the babies stopped crying.

VOICE ONE:

Not long after the New Guinea trip ended, Margaret Mead's marriage to Reo Fortune also ended. In nineteen thirty-six, she married for the third time. Her new husband was Gregory Bateson, a British biologist. Mister Bateson and Miz Mead decided to work together on the island of Bali, near Java in Indonesia. The people of Bali proudly shared their rich culture and traditions with the visitors. Miz Mead observed and recorded their activities. Mister Bateson took photographs. The Batesons had a daughter. They seemed like a fine team. Yet their marriage ended in the late nineteen forties.

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

As time went on, Margaret Mead's fame continued to grow. Her books sold very well. She also wrote for popular magazines. She appeared on radio and television programs. She spoke before many groups. Americans loved to hear about her work in faraway places. Miz Mead continued to go to those places and report about the people who lived there.

VOICE ONE:

After her trips, Margaret Mead always returned to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. She worked there more than fifty years. She examined the research of others. She guided and advised a number of anthropology students. Miz Mead worked in an office filled with ceremonial baskets and other objects from her studies and travels. People said she ruled the museum like a queen. They said Margaret Mead knew what she wanted from the work of others and knew how to get it.

VOICE TWO:

Other scientists paid her a high honor when she was seventy-two years old. They elected her president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. A few years later, she developed cancer. But she continued to travel, speak and study almost to the end of her life. One friend said: "Margaret Mead was not going to let a little thing like death stop her." Margaret Mead died more than twenty years ago. Yet people continue to discuss and debate her studies of people and cultures around the world.

(MUSIC)

ANNOUNCER:

This program was written by Jerilyn Watson and produced by Paul Thompson. The announcers were Sarah Long and Rich Kleinfeldt. I'm Faith Lapidus. Listen again next week for People in America, from VOA Special English.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Grand Canyon - A True Wonder of The World, From Voice of America


VOICE ONE:

I'm Steve Ember.

VOICE TWO:

And I'm Barbara Klein with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.

Today, we take you to one of the most popular and beautiful places in the United States. It is the Grand Canyon in the southwestern state of Arizona.

(MUSIC: "Canyon Lullaby")

VOICE ONE:

The canyons of America's Southwest are deep, ancient openings in the earth. They look as if they formed as the earth split apart. But the canyons did not split. They were cut by rivers.

The rivers carried dirt and pieces of stone that slowly ate away at the surrounding rock. For millions of years, the rivers turned and pushed. They cut deeper and deeper into the earth. They left a pathway of great rocky openings in the earth that extend for hundreds of kilometers.

VOICE TWO:

The Grand Canyon in Arizona is one of the largest and most beautiful of all canyons. It extends four hundred fifty kilometers.

The surrounding area does not make you suspect the existence of such a great opening in the earth. You come upon the canyon suddenly, when you reach its edge. Then you are looking at a land like nothing else in the world.

VOICE ONE:

Walls of rock fall away sharply at your feet. In some places, the canyon walls are more than a kilometer deep. Far below is the dark, turning line of the Colorado River.

On the other side, sunshine lights up the naked rock walls in red, orange, and gold. The bright colors are the result of minerals in the rocks. Their appearance changes endlessly -- with the light, the time of year, and the weather. At sunset, when the sun has moved across the sky, the canyon walls give up their fiery reds and golds. They take on quieter colors of blue, purple, and green.

VOICE TWO:

Hundreds of rocky points rise from the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Some are very tall. Yet all are below the level of an observer on the edge, looking over.

Looking at the Grand Canyon is like looking back in time. Forty million years ago, the Colorado River began cutting through the area. At the same time, the surrounding land was pushed up by forces deep within the Earth. Rain, snow, ice, wind, and plant roots rubbed away at the top of the new canyon. Below, the flowing river continued to uncover more and more levels of ancient rock.

Some of Earth's oldest rocks are seen here. There are many levels of granite, schist, limestone, and sandstone.

VOICE ONE:

The Grand Canyon has several weather environments. The top is often much different from the bottom. On some winter days, for example, you may find cold winds and snow at the top. But at the bottom, you may find warm winds and flowers.

Several kinds of plants and animals are found in the canyon and nowhere else on Earth. Because the canyon's environments are so different, these species did not spread beyond the canyon, or even far within it.

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

Native American Indians occupied the Grand Canyon three thousand years ago. Evidence of their existence has been found in more than two thousand five hundred places so far. Bones, hair, feathers, even the remains of plants have been found in deep, dry caves high in the rock walls.

The Hopi, the Paiute, the Navajo and other Native American tribes have all been in the area for at least seven centuries. However, much of what we know today about the Grand Canyon was recorded by John Wesley Powell. In eighteen sixty-nine, he became the first white American to explore much of the canyon.

VOICE ONE:

John Wesley Powell and his group traveled in four boats. They knew very little about getting over the rapid, rocky waters of the Colorado River. In many areas of fast-flowing water, a boat could be turned over by a wave as high as a house.

Soon after starting, Powell's group lost some of its food and equipment. Then three members of the group left. As they walked up and out of the canyon, they were killed by Indians. The rest of the group was lucky to survive. Starving and tired, they reached the end of the canyon. They had traveled on the Colorado River for more than three months. John Wesley Powell's reports and maps from the trip made him famous. They also greatly increased interest in the Grand Canyon. But visitors did not begin to go to there in large numbers until nineteen-oh-one. That was when a railroad reached the area.

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

Today, the Grand Canyon is known as one of the seven wonders of the natural world. About five million people visit the canyon each year. Most visitors walk along paths part way down into the canyon. It takes several hours to walk to the bottom. It takes two times as long to get back up. Some visitors ride mules to the bottom and back. The mules are strong animals that look like horses. They are known for their ability to walk slowly and safely on the paths.

America's National Park Service is responsible for protecting the Grand Canyon from the effects of so many visitors. All waste material must be carried out of the canyon. All rocks, historical objects, plants, and wildlife must be left untouched. As the National Park Service tells visitors: "Take only photographs. Leave only footprints. "

VOICE ONE:

There are several other ways to visit the Grand Canyon. Hundreds of thousands of people see the canyon by air each year. They pay a helicopter or airplane pilot to fly them above and around the canyon.

About twenty thousand people a year see the Grand Canyon from the Colorado River itself. They ride boats over the rapid, rocky water. These trips last from one week to three weeks.

VOICE TWO:

Visitors can see the Grand Canyon in still another way. A huge glass walkway, called the Skywalk, extends twenty-one meters from the edge of the Grand Canyon. The Skywalk is suspended more than one thousand two hundred meters above the bottom of the canyon. It is shaped like a giant horseshoe. Visitors pay twenty-five dollars each to walk beyond the canyon walls, surrounded by the canyon, while standing at the edge of the glass bridge.

The Hualapai Indian Tribe built the Skywalk at a cost of more than forty million dollars. The tribe owns almost four hundred thousand hectares of land in the canyon. The Hualapai built the Skywalk to gain money by getting more people to visit its reservation. The tribe says the area, called Grand Canyon West, will include a large visitors' center, restaurants, and possibly hotels in the future.

Some people say the Skywalk is an engineering wonder. However, other people have criticized the Skywalk and future development. They say it harms a national treasure and reduces the enjoyment of nature in the Grand Canyon.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

Many writers have tried to describe the wonder of the Grand Canyon. They use words like mysterious, overpowering, strange. Yet writers recognize that it is impossible to put human meaning in such a place. The Grand Canyon exists in its own space and time.

Some visitors say they feel so small when measured against the canyon's great size. One writer who has spent a lot of time in the Grand Canyon finds it a peaceful place. He says the almost overpowering silence and deepness of the Grand Canyon shakes people -- at least briefly -- out of their self-importance. He says it makes us remember our place in the natural world.

VOICE TWO:

We close our program with music from a record called "Canyon Lullaby" written by Paul Winter. Mister Winter said it was his first attempt to translate the spirit of the canyon into sound.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

This program was written by Shelley Gollust. It was produced by Mario Ritter. I'm Steve Ember.

VOICE TWO:

And I'm Barbara Klein. You can find scripts and download audio at our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com. Join us again next week for EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.

COMPREHENSION CHECK

1.  The Grand Canyon and other canyons in the American Southwest were formed___________________.
a:  by earthquakes
b: by meteors
c: by the hand of God
d: when rivers cut into the earth

 Some of the oldest rocks are found in the Grand
Canyon, including______________________..
a: ice, snow, and wind.
b: gold, silver, and iron.
c: uranium, sapphire, and shale
d: granite, limestone, and sandstone,

3. Native Americans began to live in the Grand Canyon area ______________________.
a: three billion years ago
b: twenty-three million years ago
c: one hundred years ago
d: in the sixteenth century

4. The first European American to see the wonders of the Grand Canyon was ______________________.
a: Kit Carson
b: John Wesley Powell
c: Wyatt Earp
d: John C. Fremont

5. The railroad began bringing tourists to the Grand Canyon___________________.
a: in 1901
b: in 1492
c: in 1849
d: in 1960

6. The National Park Service tells visitors to Grand  Canyon to______________________.
a:  fire when ready
b: talk quietly, but carry a big stick
c: take only photographs and leave only footprints
d: trust half of what you see

7. One way to experience the Grand Canyon is by ________________.
a: using a skateboard
b: using a parachute
c: flying in a helicopter
d: staying home

8. The Indian tribe that built The Skywalk is ______________________ .
a: The Comanche Tribe
b: The Hopi Tribe
c: the Hualapi Tribe
d: The Sioux Tribe

9. The Grand Canyon is _______________________ .
a: an example of 17th Century French architecture
b: a natural wonder of the world
c: the easiest way to get from Arizona to California
d: an attractive river in Colorado

10. Another possible title for this story could be "______________" .
a: Some Information About the Grand Canyon
b: John Wesley Powell, Explorer
c: Indigenous Tribes of the American Southwest
d: The Skywalk