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Listen&Learn: Stephen Hawking

7th October 2020 by Jaksyn Peacock
Stephen Hawking

Pre-listening vocabulary

  • physicist: a scientist who studies physics
  • diagnose: to identify an illness by studying a person’s symptoms
  • condition: a medical issue
  • black hole: a region of space where gravity is so strong that nothing can escape
  • speech synthesizer: a machine used to produce human speech

Listening activity

Gapfill exercise

Stephen Hawking was an English physicist. He was born in 1942 in Oxford, England. Growing up, Hawking was always very in math and science, and at age 17, he decided to pursue a degree. However, at age 21, Hawking was diagnosed with ALS, a serious condition that weakens nerves and muscles. His didn’t expect him to live more than two years after his diagnosis, but Hawking was determined to get his degree. He achieved his goal, and he is now well-known for his research on black holes. Throughout his life, he also published several books about the universe. His most book, titled A Brief History of Time, was written to help ordinary people complex scientific concepts. Hawking lived much longer than expected, but his condition worsened as his life went on. Eventually, he had to use a wheelchair to move around, and a speech synthesizer to communicate. Hawking died at the age of 76, after living a full and accomplished life.

Comprehension questions

1. After Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with ALS, his doctor told him that

Correct! Wrong!

After Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with ALS, his doctor told him that he would only have two years to live.

2. Hawking was known for his research on

Correct! Wrong!

Hawking was known for his research on black holes.

3. Hawking lived until the age of

Correct! Wrong!

Hawking lived until the age of 76.

Discussion/essay questions

  1. Stephen Hawking once had a party for time travellers. He didn’t send the invitations out until the day after the party, so that only people from the future could show up. It was an experiment that was meant to show that time travel to the past was unlikely to be possible. Do you think that time travel could ever be possible? Why or why not?

Transcript

Stephen Hawking was an English physicist. He was born in 1942 in Oxford, England. Growing up, Hawking was always very interested in math and science, and at age 17, he decided to pursue a physics degree. However, at age 21, Hawking was diagnosed with ALS, a serious condition that weakens nerves and muscles. His doctor didn’t expect him to live more than two years after his diagnosis, but Hawking was determined to get his degree. He achieved his goal, and he is now well-known for his research on black holes. Throughout his life, he also published several books about the universe. His most famous book, titled A Brief History of Time, was written to help ordinary people understand complex scientific concepts. Hawking lived much longer than expected, but his condition worsened as his life went on. Eventually, he had to use a wheelchair to move around, and a speech synthesizer to communicate. Hawking died at the age of 76, after living a full and accomplished life.

Listen&Learn: The Cat Who Helped Write a Scientific Paper

19th August 2020 by Jaksyn Peacock

Pre-listening vocabulary

  • atomic: relating to atoms
  • proofread: to check writing for mistakes before publishing it
  • unintentionally: accidentally; unknowingly
  • problematic: causing difficulties
  • credit: to name someone as the creator of something
  • co-author: one of two or more authors

Listening activity

Gapfill exercise

In 1975, a physics professor named Jack H. Hetherington wrote a paper about atomic behaviour. He was planning to submit this paper to a well-known scientific journal called the Physical Review Letters. However, when he was proofreading his work, he realized that he had unintentionally used the word “we” when writing about himself. Although this was a small , it was very problematic. The Physical Review Letters had a rule against the use of the word “we” unless the paper had multiple authors. Hetherington had written his entire paper on a typewriter, and he didn’t want to retype it all just to fix his error. Instead, he simply to credit another author. The author he chose was his cat, Chester. He changed Chester’s name to Felis Domesticus Chester Willard, shortened to F. D. C. Willard, to make it more . Hetherington’s plan worked, and his paper was published. Eventually, he admitted that the co-author was a cat, and even had Chester copies of the paper by making ink paw prints.

Comprehension questions

1. The name of the physics professor who wrote the scientific paper is

Correct! Wrong!

The name of the physics professor who wrote the scientific paper is Jack H. Hetherington.

2. Hetherington chose to credit another author because

Correct! Wrong!

Hetherington chose to credit another author because he had accidentally used the word "we" to refer to himself.

3. Chester's "signature" was

Correct! Wrong!

Chester's "signature" was a paw print.

Discussion/essay questions

  1. Hetherington’s paper is now well-known, and has been quoted by many other researchers. Do you think that his paper would have been as successful if he hadn’t had a funny story to go with it?

Transcript

In 1975, a physics professor named Jack H. Hetherington wrote a research paper about atomic behaviour. He was planning to submit this paper to a well-known scientific journal called the Physical Review Letters. However, when he was proofreading his work, he realized that he had unintentionally used the word “we” when writing about himself. Although this was a small mistake, it was very problematic. The Physical Review Letters had a rule against the use of the word “we” unless the paper had multiple authors. Hetherington had written his entire paper on a typewriter, and he didn’t want to retype it all just to fix his error. Instead, he simply decided to credit another author. The author he chose was his cat, Chester. He changed Chester’s name to Felis Domesticus Chester Willard, shortened to F. D. C. Willard, to make it more believable. Hetherington’s plan worked, and his paper was published. Eventually, he admitted that the co-author was a cat, and even had Chester sign copies of the paper by making ink paw prints.

Listen&Learn: The Mystery of Antimatter

12th August 2020 by Jaksyn Peacock

Pre-listening vocabulary

  • theory: an attempt to explain a scientific concept
  • matter: anything that has mass and occupies space
  • antimatter: material made up of antiparticles
  • subatomic particle: a particle that is smaller than an atom
  • identical: exactly the same as something else
  • electron: a type of subatomic particle with a negative electrical charge
  • Big Bang: the explosion that likely created the universe

Listening activity

Gapfill exercise

In 1928, British physicist Paul Dirac the existence of antimatter. His theory was that every type of subatomic particle had an antiparticle. He believed that an antiparticle would be almost identical to a normal particle, only with an electrical charge. This theory was proven two years later, when American physicist Carl David Anderson discovered a positively-charged electron, later named the “positron”. Today, physicists know that our is made up of both matter and antimatter. They have even successfully created antimatter atoms. However, antimatter is still one of the greatest in the universe. Scientific theory states that the Big Bang should have created equal amounts of matter and antimatter. The problem with this idea is the fact that matter and antimatter instantly destroy each other when they come into contact. This means that if the Big Bang had as much antimatter as it did matter, the universe would not exist today.

Comprehension questions

1. The physicist who predicted the existence of antimatter was

Correct! Wrong!

The physicist who predicted the existence of antimatter was Paul Dirac.

2. An antiparticle is almost identical to a particle, except for its

Correct! Wrong!

An antiparticle is almost identical to a particle, except for its charge.

3. When particles and antiparticles come into contact, they

Correct! Wrong!

When particles and antiparticles come into contact, they destroy each other.

Discussion/essay questions

  1. For years, scientists have debated the reason why our universe has more matter than antimatter. Some scientists have even suggested the idea that the Big Bang created another, parallel universe, made up mostly of antimatter. However, there isn’t a lot of evidence for this. Do you think scientists will ever know the answer to this question, or are there just some things about the universe we will never understand?

Transcript

In 1928, British physicist Paul Dirac predicted the existence of antimatter. His theory was that every type of subatomic particle had an antiparticle. He believed that an antiparticle would be almost identical to a normal particle, only with an opposite electrical charge. This theory was proven two years later, when American physicist Carl David Anderson discovered a positively-charged electron, later named the “positron”. Today, physicists know that our universe contains both matter and antimatter. They have even successfully created antimatter atoms. However, antimatter is still one of the greatest mysteries in the universe. Scientific theory states that the Big Bang should have created equal amounts of matter and antimatter. The problem with this idea is the fact that matter and antimatter instantly destroy each other when they come into contact. This means that if the Big Bang had created as much antimatter as it did matter, the universe would not exist today.

Listen&Learn: Marie Curie

24th June 2020 by Jaksyn Peacock

Pre-listening vocabulary

  • physicist: a type of scientist who studies physics
  • admit: to allow someone to enter a place
  • mineral: a solid natural substance
  • property: an attribute or quality that something has
  • radioactivity: the emission of radiation from certain elements
  • exposure: the state of coming into contact with something, especially something dangerous

Listening activity

Gapfill exercise

Marie Curie was a Polish-born French physicist, known for her of radioactive chemicals. She was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1867, the youngest of five children in her family. Growing up, Curie was smart and , and dreamed of getting a university degree. However, the University of Warsaw only admitted male students at the time. In order to get her degree, Curie moved to Paris. She studied physics at Sorbonne University, and later received another degree in math. After her , Curie went on to become a scientist. While working with a mineral known as pitchblende, Curie discovered a new chemical property, which we now know as radioactivity. She also discovered two new elements, which she called polonium and radium. Because of these scientific discoveries, Curie became the first person to ever win two Nobel Prizes. Curie died in 1934 from an caused by her exposure to radiation. However, her research has helped modern develop treatments for cancer, and she is still seen as one of the greatest scientists of all time.

Comprehension questions

1. Marie Curie was born in

Correct! Wrong!

Marie Curie was born in Warsaw, Poland.

2. Curie moved to Paris for her degree because

Correct! Wrong!

Curie moved to Paris for her degree because the University of Warsaw only admitted male students.

3. Curie was the first person to

Correct! Wrong!

Curie was the first person to win two Nobel Prizes.

Discussion/essay questions

  1. While Marie Curie’s research did help scientists develop cancer treatments, her research was also important for the invention of the atomic bomb during World War II. The atomic bomb is still a controversial subject because of the amount of deaths it caused. Do you think Curie’s discoveries had a positive impact on the world, or a negative one?

Transcript

Marie Curie was a Polish-born French physicist, known for her research of radioactive chemicals. She was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1867, the youngest of five children in her family. Growing up, Curie was smart and curious, and dreamed of getting a university degree. However, the University of Warsaw only admitted male students at the time. In order to get her degree, Curie moved to Paris. She studied physics at Sorbonne University, and later received another degree in math. After her education, Curie went on to become a scientist. While working with a mineral known as pitchblende, Curie discovered a new chemical property, which we now know as radioactivity. She also discovered two new elements, which she called polonium and radium. Because of these scientific discoveries, Curie became the first person to ever win two Nobel Prizes. Curie died in 1934 from an illness caused by her exposure to radiation. However, her research has helped modern scientists develop treatments for cancer, and she is still seen as one of the greatest scientists of all time.

Albert Einstein

11th March 2020 by Jaksyn Peacock

Pre-listening vocabulary

  • influential: important and powerful; having influence
  • fascinated: very interested in something
  • introduce: to make something known for the first time
  • achievement: something that is completed successfully
  • target: a person that a certain group wants to attack
  • physicist: a scientist that specializes in physics

Listening activity

Gapfill exercise

Albert Einstein was one of the most influential of the 20th century. He was born in Germany in 1879, and began attending school in 1885. As Einstein got older, he became fascinated with the nature of . He published his first scientific paper at the age of 16, and later went on to study at a university in Switzerland. In 1905, Einstein published four scientific papers. The papers introduced his theory of special relativity, which allowed scientists to better understand the between time and space. Einstein won the Nobel Prize in 1921 for his achievements. In the 1930s, however, Einstein became a target of the Nazi Party of Germany. He moved to the U.S. to protect himself, and continued to work as a physicist. Einstein died in 1955, but his brain is kept in the Princeton University Medical Center, and it is still by scientists today.

Comprehension questions

1. Albert Einstein was born in

Correct! Wrong!

Albert Einstein was born in Germany.

2. At university, Einstein studied

Correct! Wrong!

At university, Einstein studied physics.

3. Einstein moved to the U.S. because

Correct! Wrong!

Einstein moved to the U.S. because he had to protect himself from the Nazis.

Discussion/essay questions

  1. Some people wanted to use Einstein’s discoveries to develop weapons, such as the atomic bomb. What is your opinion on the use of new scientific discoveries to build stronger weapons?

Transcript

Albert Einstein was one of the most influential scientists of the 20th century. He was born in Germany in 1879, and he began attending school in 1885. As Einstein got older, he became fascinated with the nature of light. He wrote his first scientific paper at the age of 16, and later went on to study physics at a university in Switzerland. In 1905, Einstein published four scientific papers. The papers introduced his theory of special relativity, which allowed scientists to better understand the connection between time and space. Einstein won the Nobel Prize in 1921 for his achievements. In the 1930s, however, Einstein became a target of the Nazi Party of Germany. He moved to the U.S. to protect himself, and continued to work as a physicist. Einstein died in 1955, but his brain is still kept in the Princeton University Medical Center. Scientists still study it today.