The First Airplane

[History ★★★]

wrightbrothers-b

(P1) Orville and Wilbur Wright, commonly known as the Wright brothers, are the inventors of the airplane. On December 17, 1903, the two American brothers flew the first airplane. Their story is very interesting.

(P2) The Wright brothers grew up in a large family in the city of Dayton, Ohio. One day, their father brought home a toy helicopter, which he gave to Orville and Wilbur. The two boys played with it until it broke. Afterward, they built their own toy helicopter. Both men later affirmed that it made them interested in flying.

(P3) When they grew up, Wilbur and Orville started a newspaper and a bicycle repair shop.  They used the money to build a flying machine. The Wright brothers’ design was based on kites and hang gliders. It wasn’t flawless but kites and hang gliders were the only reliable flying models available at the time. After many tests, they figured out that their flying machine needed a complex control system. They worked to improve the design and in 1903, the brothers built the “Wright Flyer I”. On December 17th, the brothers took their flying machine to a small town called Kitty Hawk. It took off and climbed to an altitude of 37 meters. The flight was only 12 seconds and the Flyer I’s speed was only about 11 kilometers per hour (km/h).

(P4) After their first successful flight, the brothers kept trying to improve the flying machine. There were many reporters from different newspapers who wanted to talk to the brothers and photograph them. Wilbur and Orville were unhappy with the attention and they were worried that other people might try to steal their airplane blueprints. They secretly tested their airplane and took their own photographs of the test flights. Because of this secrecy, many newspapers did not believe the Wright brothers’ success. Finally, the Wright brothers demonstrated their flying machine both in France and for the United States’ Army and they became famous around the world.

WORDS: 325

SOURCE: http://dreamreader.net/lesson/the-first-airplane/

VOCABULARY: interesting, affirmed, hang gliders, flawless, blueprints

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. What were you interested in when you were growing up?
  3. Would you like to invent something? Why or why not?
  4. What memories do you have as a child growing up?

READING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS:

  1. The Wright brothers were born and raised in __________________.
  2. What toy made the brothers fascinated in flying?
  3. How high did their first flying plane climb to?
  4. Soon after the first flight, the brothers tested their machines hidden from the public. (T or F)
  5. Even though the media didn’t see the actual airplane tests, they still had confidence in the Wright brothers. (T or F)

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES:

What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • grew up in a large family (P2)
  • flying machine (P3)
  • based on (P3)
  • took off and climb to (P3)

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Image source: Photo Credit: NASA http://dreamreader.net/lesson/the-first-airplane/

THE SEARCH FOR QUEEN NEFERTITI

[HISTORY★★★]

THE SEARCH FOR QUEEN NEFERTITI

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(P1) The search for a secret CHAMBER behind King Tutankhamun’s TOMB had a fresh development, as Egypt’s ANTIQUITIES minister said INFRARED SCANS have revealed fresh EVIDENCE of an empty space behind the 3,000-year-old tomb.

(P2) The space is believed by some to be the lost BURIAL site of Queen Nefertiti, thought to be the ancient king’s STEPMOTHER, who died in the 14th century B.C. Confirmation of this THEORY would be the most significant Egyptian ARCHAEOLOGICAL find so far this century.

(P3) An ANALYSIS of infrared scans done last November has revealed the presence of empty spaces behind two walls in King Tut’s chamber, Egypt’s antiquities minister Mamdouh el-Damaty said at a PRESS CONFERENCE in Cairo.

(P4) In order to avoid disturbing the contents of King Tut’s chamber, the antiquities ministry worked with researchers from Cairo University and the HIP Institute, a French institute using technology to study and preserve cultural HERITAGE, to scan the chamber.

(P5) The effort uses infrared scans that can effectively look through the tomb’s walls because different materials return different FREQUENCIES of light when hit with an infrared beam.

(P6) The first scan took 24 hours.

(P7) The researchers are most INTRIGUED by cold spots revealed by the scans, which could be DRAFTY and indicate a previously undiscovered empty space such as a hallway or a room contained within the tomb.

(P8) The scans in November follow claims by British EGYPTOLOGIST Nicholas Reeves, who said HIGH-RESOLUTION images of the tombs provided hints of hidden doors to unexplored chambers.

(P9) Next up is a more advanced scan that is set to be conducted at the end of March with an international team of researchers who hope to confirm whether the empty spaces are in fact chambers. At that point, Damaty said he can discuss the possibility of how and when a team could explore the rooms.

(P10) While he says he’s 90 percent certain that chambers are there, “I never start the next step until I’m 100 percent,” he said.

(P11) Dr. Reeves, who is leading the investigation, believes that the young king’s MAUSOLEUM was originally occupied by Nefertiti.

(P12) The find could also be a BOON to Egypt’s tourism industry, an important part of the Egyptian economy that has suffered in recent years.

(P13) The discovery of Nefertiti herself — known for her REGAL beauty — would provide VALUABLE information about what remains a mysterious period of Egyptian history.

(P14) “It can be the discovery of the century,” said Damaty, the antiquities minister. “It’s very important for Egyptian history and the world.”

WORDS: 421

SOURCE: http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2016/0317/Evidence-mounts-in-search-for-King-Tut-s-roommate-Queen-Nefertiti

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. Is there any actual evidence yet of Queen Nefertiti’s tomb being discovered, or is this story mostly WISHFUL THINKING?
  3. Why is the Egyptian government trying to make an announcement before anything has actually been found?
  4. Should the news media report “non-stories” like this, or should they not allow themselves to be MANIPULATED?
  5. Are you interested in history? What countries and time periods are you most interested in?

EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:

What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Press conference
  • High-resolution
  • Wishful thinking

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BATTLE OVER RIGHTS TO THE WORLD’S RICHEST SHIPWRECK

[HISTORY ★★★]

BATTLE OVER RIGHTS TO THE WORLD’S RICHEST SHIPWRECK

Shipwreck Debris

(P1) The discovery of the “HOLY GRAIL of SHIPWRECKS” off the coast of Colombia has provoked a three-way fight over ownership of the gold, emeralds, and other treasures on the OCEAN FLOOR.

(P2) In a tale that mixes 18th-century BUCCANEERING with 21st-century COURTROOM DRAMA, the San José, a Spanish GALLEON carrying one of the richest CARGOS in NAVAL history, was sunk by British war-ships in 1708 and is now once again at the heart of a conflict.

(P3) Colombia, Spain, and a US SALVAGE company have made competing claims to the chests of PIECES OF EIGHT, silver coins, and jewels, which are estimated to be worth between US$1bn (£662m) and US$17bn.

San Jose

(P4) The San José was the FLAGSHIP of an ARMADA carrying treasure from Spain’s colonies in South America to the court of King Philip V. On 8 June 1708, it was attacked off the coast of Cartagena by a British SQUADRON led by Admiral Charles Wager, who wanted to steal the gold. But before the San José could be boarded, it exploded and sank with the loss of all but 11 of its 600 crew and passengers.

(P5) Ever since, finding the ship has been the fantasy of treasure hunters, adventurers, and novelists.

(P6) In the 1980s, the hunt was led by Sea Search Armada – a US-based salvage company – which described the galleons as being filled with gold from the mines of Potosi, Peru, PEARLS from Panama, and EMERALDS, AMETHYSTS, and DIAMONDS from the ANDES.

(P7) The discovery – 16 miles off Cartagena at a depth of about 300m – was confirmed on 27 November by an international team.

(P8) Announcing the find last week, the Colombian president, Juan Manuel Santos, said this is “one of the greatest findings of underwater HERITAGE in the history of humanity”. He promised to build a museum in Cartagena to exhibit the treasure, which also includes CERAMICS, BRASS CANNON, and the personal wealth of the VICEROY of Peru.

(P9) But Colombia’s ownership is CONTESTED on two fronts. Sea Search Armada claims it first located the area of the wreck in 1981 and signed a deal with the Colombian government in which it was promised a 35% share of the treasure. After this was OVERTURNED by the country’s PARLIAMENT, the company fought a battle in US and Colombian courts ASSERTING its claim.

(P10) Colombia’s minister of culture, Mariana Garcés Córdoba, claimed last week that his government had won all legal challenges. But Sea Search Armada insist the issue remains UNRESOLVED.

(P11) The Spanish government is considering whether to STAKE A CLAIM. The Spanish culture secretary, José María Lasalle, speaking in Havana on Saturday, reminded Colombia of Spain’s “clear position” in defence of its “sunken wealth”. He said Spain was examining the information provided by Colombia before deciding “what action to take in defence of what we consider to be our sunken wealth”.

(P12) As a PRECEDENT, he reminded Colombia of the case of the Spanish frigate Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, which was sunk by the British off the Algarve in southern Portugal in 1804. In 2007, the wreck was discovered by a salvage company, Odyssey Marine Exploration, which recovered more than 500,000 silver and gold coins, about 17 tonnes in total. There then began a three-sided DISPUTE between Odyssey, Spain, and Peru, the latter claiming the treasure had been PLUNDERED from the Incas.

(P13) In 2012, a US court ruled that, as the Mercedes was a warship on a STATE-SPONSORED mission and Peru was then just a colony, Spain was the RIGHTFUL owner of the treasure, which was put on display in Madrid in 2014 in an exhibition titled the Last Voyage of the Frigate Mercedes.

(P14) Given the far greater LOOT on the San José, an even more PROTRACTED legal WRANGLE may be LOOMING.

WORDS: 624

SOURCE: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/06/holy-grail-of-shipwrecks-in-three-way-court-battle

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. Which of the three CLAIMANTS do you think will win this treasure?
  3. Which of the three claimants do you think deserves to win this treasure?
  4. Do you enjoy reading books or seeing films about history?
  5. Does your country have a great SEAFARING tradition?

EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:

What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Holy grail
  • Ocean floor
  • Courtroom drama
  • Stake a claim
  • State-sponsored

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