Week116

[Animlas ★] Elephant paints pictures

[Science ★] House on Mars

[Culture ★★] Eight people on a motorbike

[Language ★★] English Learning Tips for Beginners

[Food ★★] Sushi

[Business ★★★] Elon Musk Makes Surprising Claim About New Tesla Solar Roof

[Travel ★★★] It’s Known as Dracula’s Castle, to Its Owner’s Dismay

[Language ★★★] Different American Accents

[Lifestyle ★★★★] 4 REASONS DINING OUT IS JUST AS BAD AS FAST FOOD

[Science ★★★★] Discovery opens door to new Alzheimer’s treatments

Discovery opens door to new Alzheimer’s treatments

[Science ★★★★]

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These are neurons in culture dishes. The colors highlight the human tau protein in green, a structural component in red and the DNA inside the cell nucleus in blue.
Credit: UNSW/Lars Ittner

(P1) Australian researchers have shed new light on the nerve cell processes that lead to Alzheimer’s disease (AD), overturning previously held ideas of how the disease develops and opening the door to new treatment options that could halt or slow its progression.

(P2) The study is published in the journal Science.

(P3) Studying human brain tissue, the UNSW and Neuroscience Research Australia research team identified a protein, kinase p38γ, which is lost as AD progresses. When they reintroduced the protein into the brains of mice, it was shown to have a protective effect against memory deficits associated with the disease.

(P4) “This study has completely changed our understanding of what happens in the brain during the development of Alzheimer’s disease,” said lead author UNSW Professor Lars Ittner.

(P5) Two of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s are the presence of protein plaques (made up of amyloid-beta) and tangles (made up of tau protein) in the brain. The accumulation of these plaques and tangles is associated with cell death, brain atrophy, and memory loss.

(P6) The research team has revealed that a crucial step in the process that leads to tangles has been misunderstood. Previously, scientists believed the plaque-forming protein, amyloid-beta, caused a modification, called phosphorylation, to the tau protein resulting in cell death and, ultimately, Alzheimer’s disease. Increased phosphorylation of tau eventually leads to its accumulation as tangles.

(P7) Results from the new study suggest that the phosphorylation of tau initially has a protective effect on neurons and that amyloid-beta assaults the protective functionality until it is progressively lost. This is the stage at which toxicity levels cause the destruction of neurons and results in the cognitive deficits associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

(P8) “Amyloid-beta induces toxicity in the neurons but the first step in tau phosphorylation is actually to decrease this toxicity,” said Professor Ittner.

(P9) “This is a completely new mindset; that the reason tau becomes modified is actually to protect from damage.”

(P10) The study used different mice models and human brain tissue from the Sydney Brain Bank to identify a protein called kinase p38γ, which assisted the protective phosphorylation of tau and interfered with the toxicity created by amyloid-beta.

(P12) “We used mice to screen for a very specific toxicity that we knew from previous work is involved in the progression of the disease,” said Professor Ittner.

(P13) “We set out to find mediators of this progression, which led us quickly to our surprising discovery. It was the opposite of what we expected. It was only when we changed our view of the process involved in the development of AD that these results started to make sense.”

(P14) Studying human brain tissue, Professor Ittner and his team identified that p38γ is lost as AD progresses. However, a small amount does remain in the brain.

(P15) “We found that p38γ, which initially offers protection, fades away early in the brains of people with AD, suggesting a loss of protection,” he said.

(P16) “Part of our study involved reintroducing p38γ and increasing its activity. We saw that, in mice, it could prevent memory deficits from happening, so it has true therapeutic potential. If we can stimulate that activity, we may be able to delay or even halt the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.”

(P17) The next step for the researchers will be to develop their patented discoveries into a novel treatment for humans, subject to new funding.

WORDS: 551

SOURCE: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161117151205.htm

VOCABULARY: deficits, hallmarks, tangles, tau protein, atrophy, amyloid-beta, phosphorylation, mediators

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 think there will ever be a cure for AD? Why or why not?
  3. In your opinion, should more money be spent on researching a cure for AD? Why or why not? If yes, where should the money come from?
  4. Do you think animals should be used in lab research to find cures for diseases? Why or why not?

READING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS:

  1. After more studies, researchers have changed their mind about the AD cycle of advancement. (T or F)
  2. What species is being used in this research to help find a cure for AD?
  3. Amyloid-beta doesn’t generate poison in the neurons. (T or F)
  4. According to Professor Ittner, p38y provides protection in the ___________, but ___________ in patients with AD.
  5. The money to fund the discoverer of a new treatment is still pending for researchers. (T or F)

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES:

What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • have shed new light (P1)
  • is associated with cell death (P5)
  • until it’s progressively lost (P7)
  • a completely new mindset (P9)
  • fades away early (P15)
  • subject to new funding (P17)

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Image source: by Credit: UNSW/Lars Ittner https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161117151205.htm

4 REASONS DINING OUT IS JUST AS BAD AS FAST FOOD

[Lifestyle ★★★★]

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(P1) You know that even with new low-cal options fast-food joints are usually a big health no-no. But chances are you never suspected your favorite sit-down spot could be doing you in as well.  A new study shows that dine-in restaurants can be just as bad as their faster counterparts.

(P2) According to research, both fast food and dine-in restaurants serve up more cholesterol and trans fat than what you make at home. Fast food customers got an average of 3.5 more grams of trans fat a day, while restaurant eaters took in an extra 2.5 grams. That may not sound like much, but we’re talking about something so bad that the FDA has just outlawed it. So even just a little bit can be serious. What’s more, people who regularly dine out consume an average of 200 calories and 58 mg of cholesterol more a day than their home-cooking counterparts.

(P3) Of course, we don’t expect you to become a master chef and whip up breakfast, lunch, and dinner at home every single day. Going out with friends gives your social life a boost, and that can be important for lowering stress and avoiding mental health problems. Here are four reasons restaurant food is bad for you.

1. Fatty cuts and blends

(P4) When you go to the grocery store, you’re likely to choose a nice lean blend of ground beef to make your burger patties. Ideally, you can get a burger that’s 95% lean beef with just two grams of saturated fat.

(P5) On the other hand, chefs prioritize flavor over health, and higher fat content is an easy way to boost taste. A restaurant burger might have as much as 30% fat or more. That means less protein and more calories between those sugary white-bread buns. The same rule applies to various cuts of steak and other proteins tucked into wraps or salads.

2. Cooking in grease

(P6) You know those big fryers full of bubbling grease behind the registers at your favorite fast food joint? They should pretty much speak for themselves. But even if your food isn’t being prepared in a simmering bath of fat and empty calories, it might still be cooked in melted butter (as opposed to a healthy oil like olive or coconut).

3. Rich sauces

(P7) We love a thick, creamy sauce just as much as the next guy, especially when we can control how much of it goes on our food. At home, you use just enough to get some flavor onto your food, and then up the game with herbs and spices. But at a restaurant, things are often smothered in sauce. It’s delicious but dangerous.

(P8) McDonald’s ranch dip has 110 calories and 12g of total fat. A restaurant-made aioli may sound like a healthier option but can be almost as dangerous (calorie- and fat-wise) as it’s non-gourmet counterpart.

4. Hidden salt and sugar

(P9) Hidden sugars appear in many condiments like pasta sauce, BBQ sauce, and ketchup. That ranch dip we mentioned, 410 mg of sodium and 6g of sugar. Dried fruits often used as a salad topping, can also pack in extra sugar without doing much to curb your appetite for sweetness. Sugar and sodium also appear in basic carbs like that breadbasket they stick right in front of you as you wait hungrily for your meal. These little things, often thrown into chef-made meals to up their complexity, can add up to a lot of sugar and sodium.

WORDS: 574

SOURCE: http://www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/what-to-eat/4-reasons-dining-out-just-bad-fast-food

VOCABULARY: outlawed, whip up, vats, smothered, pack in

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 eat out at restaurants frequently? Why or why not?
  3. In your opinion, do eat-in restaurants cook healthier foods or not? Why?
  4. Do you read the nutrition labels on the containers of food you buy at the supermarket? Why or why not?

READING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS:

  1. According to the article, restaurants can equally be as bad healthwise as fast food restaurants. (T or F).
  2. Eating out with good company will not lower stress. (T or F)
  3. According to the article, butter is overused in restaurants to cook food. (T or F)
  4. Aioli made in a restaurant is a truly healthy option. (T or F)
  5. Only a few condiments have high sugar content. (T or F)

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES:

What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • your favorite sit-down spot could be doing you in as well (P1)
  • home-cooking counterparts (P2)
  • cuts of steak (P5)
  • simmering bath of fat (P6)
  • just as much as the next guy (P7)
  • curb your appetite (P9)

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Image source: by “unknown” http://cdn-mf1.heartyhosting.com/sites/mensfitness.com/files/styles/wide_videos/public/_main_dining.jpg?itok=O4NM_EaF

Different American Accents

[Language ★★★]

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(P1) Many English learners and teachers often point out the  “American accent”. The problem here is that there really isn’t one single American accent but many. Researchers don’t agree on exactly how many different accents there are but it could be anywhere from 20 to over 100!

(P2) The dialect spoken by TV announcers and actors in the USA is often called “General American English”. People who speak general American English pronounce words like “hot” and “not” with what is called an unrounded vowel. So these words sound like “haht” and “naht”.

(P3) On the east coast of the USA, in places like New England, there is a small difference here. The “r” in some words is often not enunciated. The first syllable in words like “parking” are often pronounced as “pah-king” with a strong “a” sound like “cat” or “man”.

(P4) New York City has a peculiar dialect by itself. Much like the New England accent, the “r” is sometimes not pronounced but the “a” sounds are not as strong. A word like “carnival” would probably sound like “caw-na-val”.

(P5) As we move down into the southern states, the american accent becomes quite different. The final “r” on words is usually dropped. So when someone says “summer day” in the south, it can often come out as “summah day”. In some words, a vowel can be said with two or even three different sounds. For example, in general, American English, the “a” in “cat” is pronounced with only one sound. Southerners, however, might pronounce the “a” in cat as “kei-yat”.

(P6) There are many many other accents and dialects in American English. One accent is not any better or worse than the others. However, it’s useful for tourists who visit America to understand the accent where they are planning to visit. Don’t be surprised if you hear more than one of these accents or even a medley of them during your stay.

WORDS: 314

SOURCE: http://dreamreader.net/lesson/american-accents/

VOCABULARY: point out, unrounded, enunciated, peculiar, southerners

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. Does your country have different dialects and accents? If yes, can you explain them?
  3. Why do you think there are so many different accents in the USA?
  4. Do you prefer one English accent over another? Why or why not?

READING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS:

  1. How many different american accents are there?
  2. The accent used by ___________ and ____________ is mostly a general American accent.
  3. People who are from the New England States generally don’t pronounce the ____ in words.
  4. The New York City and New England dialects are not alike in some ways, especially when pronouncing r. (T or F)
  5. It’s helpful for tourists visiting the USA to know which accent is used where. (T or F)

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES:

What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • the problem here (P1)
  • could be anywhere from 20 to 100 (P1)
  • what is called (P2)
  • by itself (P4)
  • not any better or worse (P6)

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Image source: by “unknown” http://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/kufm/files/styles/x_large/public/201506/american-flag-_pd_.jpg

It’s Known as Dracula’s Castle, to Its Owner’s Dismay

[Travel ★★★]

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(P1) Just about everyone associates Bran Castle with Dracula, except its owner. For Archduke Dominic Habsburg, the Romanian fortress is the former home of his grandparents, Queen Marie and King Ferdinand I, who made it “a happy place of light and flowers.” Today, however, few know anything about the castle except that it served as inspiration for Dracula’s lair in Bram Stoker’s 1897 vampire tale and might’ve once held Vlad the Impaler. Habsburg, 79, who lives in New York, blames the Romanian government, reports the Wall Street Journal. After the fall of communism in 1989, the government played up the castle’s links to Dracula to boost tourism and portrayed its former royal inhabitants “as the mean exploiters of the poor,” Habsburg says.

(P2) In reality, the townspeople loved Queen Marie, who was Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, so much that they gave her the 14th-century fortress in 1920, Habsburg says. Since he and his sisters inherited the castle in 2006, they’ve tried to rid it of its sinister feel by adding furnishings and teaching visitors about its history as a royal residence. Soon, “the queen’s tea house, where she used to receive international visitors,” will become a restaurant, Habsburg says. Yet he knows Bran Castle’s ties to Dracula aren’t going anywhere. Most of the 800,000 tourists who visit the castle each year, and pass through a parking-lot souvenir area selling everything from plastic fangs to Dracula salad dressing, “come for Dracula,” he says, “but they leave with the queen.”

WORDS: 245

SOURCE: http://www.newser.com/story/234068/its-known-as-draculas-castle-to-its-owners-dismay.html

VOCABULARY: fortress, lair, inhabitants, exploiters, inherited, sinister, fangs

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. have you ever visited Romania? If yes, describe your trip. If no, would you like to go there? Why or why not?
  3. Are there fortresses in your country? If so, where?
  4. Have you ever watched a movie about Dracula? If yes, did you like it? If no, would you go see one? Why or why not?

READING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS:

  1. What’s the royal title given to Mr. Habsburg?
  2. What’s the name of the fortress and who owned it before Mr. Habsburg?
  3. The former king and the queen of the castle were actually ruthless and took advantage of the less fortunate people. (T or F)
  4. Habsburg and his siblings are the current owners of the fortress. (T or F)
  5. Nowadays, the castle is a huge _____________ attraction.

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES:

What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • the fall of communism (P1)
  • to rid it (P2)
  • Yet he knows Bran Castle’s ties to Dracula (P2)
  • “come for Dracula,” he says, “but they leave with the queen” (P2)

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Image source: by AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru http://www.newser.com/story/234068/its-known-as-draculas-castle-to-its-owners-dismay.html

Elon Musk Makes Surprising Claim About New Tesla Solar Roof

[Business ★★★]

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(P1) Tesla CEO Elon Musk says his company’s new solar roof will actually cost less for homeowners to install than a regular roof, Bloomberg reports. “So the basic proposition will be: Would you like a roof that looks better than a normal roof, lasts twice as long, costs less and, by the way, generates electricity?” Musk says. “Why would you get anything else?” According to Business Insider, Musk made the surprising pronouncement after 85% of Tesla shareholders approved a $2 billion merger with solar-energy specialist SolarCity on Thursday. Musk wants solar roofs to be “as appealing as electric cars,” Fortune reports.

(P2) Musk first unveiled Tesla’s new solar shingles last month but didn’t specify a cost. They’re made of tempered glass and specially designed solar film and, according to Bloomberg, are “virtually indistinguishable from high-end roofing products.” And therein lies the catch: When Musk says they’ll cost less than a traditional roof, he’s talking about the fancy terra-cotta and slate roofs on which they were modeled, not asphalt roofs, which can be 20 times cheaper. Still, Bloomberg states the Tesla solar roof “could be a real turning point in the evolution of solar power.”

WORDS: 193

SOURCE: http://www.newser.com/story/234242/elon-musk-makes-surprising-claim-about-new-tesla-solar-roof.html

VOCABULARY: proposition, pronouncement, unveiled, shingles, tempered, indistinguishable, therein

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 think electric cars will ever be more popular than gas/petrol powered cars? Why or why not?
  3. Would you buy and install Tesla’s solar shingles on your house? Why or why not?
  4. Do you think the merger between Tesla and Solar City makes business sense? Why or why not?

READING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS:

  1. According to the CEO of Tesla, what will be cheaper than a normal roof?
  2. Which 2 companies joined together in a $2 billion deal?
  3. What product to Tesla reveal to the public last month?
  4. The other 2 types of roofing material mentioned in the article are ____________ and ______________.
  5. Asphalt roofs are well above 20 times less expensive than higher end roofs. (T or F)

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES:

What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • homeowners to install (P1)
  • solar-energy specialist (P1)
  • high-end roofing products (P2)
  • and therein lies the catch (P2)
  • turning point (P2)

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Image source: by AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File http://www.newser.com/story/234242/elon-musk-makes-surprising-claim-about-new-tesla-solar-roof.html

Sushi

[Food ★★]

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(P1) Sushi is a traditional food from Japan. It is popular in countries all over the world. Sushi restaurants have become very popular in many Asian, North American, and European cities.

(P2) Sushi is made with rice. It is mixed with vinegar, salt, and sugar. Sushi also contains raw or cooked seafood or vegetables. Sometimes sushi is wrapped in seaweed called nori.

(P3) There are many different kinds of sushi. The most popular sushi in Japan is nigirizushi. This kind of sushi has a piece of fish on top of some rice. Another kind of sushi is makizushi. This is rice rolled around fish or vegetables and wrapped in seaweed. In the USA, makizushi has become the most popular kind of sushi.

(P4) In Japan, Sushi is traditionally served in counter-style restaurants, but there are also many “conveyor-belt shops”. These are called kaiten zushi. In this kind of shop, plates of sushi are put on a moving belt. People can take the sushi they want as it passes. The color of the plate shows the price of the sushi. This type of restaurant is also popular in other countries.

WORDS: 185

SOURCE: http://dreamreader.net/lesson/sushi/

VOCABULARY: vinegar, wrapped, rolled, counter-style, conveyor-belt

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 like to eat sushi? If yes, which type do you like? If no, why not?
  3. Why do you think sushi is popular all over the world?
  4. Do you have counter-style restaurants and conveyor-belt shops in your country?

READING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS:

  1. According to the article, where does sushi come from?
  2. Sushi is not popular in most cities in Europe. (T or F)
  3. What’s the most popular type of sushi in the country of Japan?
  4. Describe makizushi sushi.
  5. According to the article, how do customers know the price in a kaiten zushi restaurant?

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES:

What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • contains raw or cooked seafood or vegetables (P1)
  • a piece of fish (P3)
  • wrapped in seaweed (P4)
  • as it passes (P5)

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Image source: by “unknown” http://rexeats.com/images/sushi-354628.jpg