Looking for alien life

[Science ★★]

37_stephen_hawking_2008_nasa

(P1) “In your estimation, what’s the probability of finding intelligent alien life in the next 20 years and why?” – “The probability is low. Probably.”

(P2) Physicist Stephen Hawking announced plans to look for alien life. We know that there are billions of habitable planets in our galaxy alone, and there are at least a hundred billion galaxies in space.

(P3) Hawking hopes to send out thousands of small spacecraft into our nearest star system. The system is Alpha Centauri and it is 25 trillion miles away. The spacecraft will be able to travel at 20% of the speed of light. That is more than a thousand times faster than current spacecraft, but it will still take 20 years for the spacecraft to get to the star system.

(P4) After the long journey, the spacecraft will take pictures. It will take 4 years for the pictures to get back to Earth. The project could take years to develop and there are many chances it may not work.

WORDS: 162

SOURCE: http://www.newsinlevels.com/products/looking-for-alien-life-level-2/

VOCABULARY: estimation, probability, physicist, habitable, galaxy, journey, develop

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly, summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Do you believe in aliens? Why or why not?
  3. If you saw an alien, what would you do?
  4. Is Mr. Hawking’s idea a good or bad one? Explain why?
  5. Would you like to travel to another planet? Why or why not?

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES:

What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • Alien life (P1)
  • Send out (P3)
  • Speed of light (P3)
  • Get back (P4)

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