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Lesson1 A puma at large Pumas are large, cat-like animals which are found in America. When reports came into London Zoo that a wild puma had been spotted forty-five miles south of London, they were not taken seriously. However, as the evidence began to accumulate, experts from the Zoo felt obliged to investigate, for the descriptions given by people who claimed to have seen the puma were extraordinarily similar. The hunt for the puma began in a small village where a woman picking blackberries saw 'a large cat' only five yards away from her. It immediately ran away when she saw it, and experts confirmed that a puma will not attack a human being unless it is cornered(adj.被困得走投无 路的). The search proved difficult, for the puma was often observed at one place in the morning and at another place twenty miles away in the evening. Wherever it went, it left behind it a trail of dead deer and small animals like rabbits. Paw prints were seen in a number of places and puma fur was found clinging to bushes. Several people complained of 'cat-like noises' at night and a businessman on a fishing trip saw the puma up a tree. The experts were now fully convinced that the animal was a puma, but where had it come from ? As no pumas had been reported missing from any zoo in the country, this one must have been in the possession of a private collector and somehow managed to escape. The hunt went on for several weeks, but the puma was not caught. It is disturbing to think that a dangerous wild animal is still at large in the quiet countryside. Lesson9 By now, a rocket will have set off on its 35 million mile trip to Mars and scientists must be waiting anxiously for the results. The rocket will be travelling for six months before it reaches the planet. It contains a number of scientific instruments, including a television camera. Any pictures that are taken will have to travel for three minutes before they reach the earth. If the pictures are successful, they may solve a number of problems about Mars and provide information about the markings on its surface which, nearly 100 years ago, the astronomer, Schiaparelli, thought to be canals. It will be a long time before any landing on Mars can be attempted. This will only be possible when scientists have learnt a lot more about the atmosphere that surrounds the planet. If a satellite can one day be put into orbit round Mars, scientists will be able to find out a great deal. An interesting suggestion for measuring the atmosphere around Mars has been put forward. A rubber ball containing a radio transmitter could

be dropped from a satellite so that it would fall towards the surface of the planet. The radio would signal the rate which the ball was slowed down and scientists would be able to calculate how dense the atmosphere is. It may even be possible to drop a capsule containing scientific instruments on to the planet's surface. Only when a great deal more information has been obtained, will it be possible to plan a manned trip to Mars. Lesson12 Life on a desert island Most of us have formed an unrealistic picture of life on a desert island. We sometimes imagine a desert island to be a sort of paradise where the sun always shines. Life there is simple and good. Ripe fruit falls from the trees and you never have to work. The other side of the picture is quite the opposite. Life on a desert island is wretched. You either starve to death or live like Robinson Crusoe, waiting for a boat which never comes. Perhaps there is an element of truth in both these pictures, but few of us have had the opportunity to find out. Two men who recently spent five days on a coral island wished they had stayed there longer. They were taking a badly damaged boat from the Virgin Islands to Miami to have it repaired. During the journey, their boat began to sink. They quickly loaded a small rubber dinghy with food, matches, and tins of beer and rowed for a few miles across the Caribbean until they arrived at a tiny coral island. There were hardly any trees on the island and there was no water, but this did not prove to be a problem. The men collected rain-water in the rubber dinghy. As they had brought a spear gun with them, they had plenty to eat. They caught lobster and fish every day, and, as one of them put it 'ate like kings'. When a passing tanker rescued them five days later, both men were genuinely sorry that they had to leave. Lesson15 Fifty pence worth of trouble Children always appreciate small gifts of money. Father, of course, provides a regular supply of pocket-money, but uncles and aunts are always a source of extra income. With some children, small sums go a long way. If sixpences are not exchanged for sweets, they rattle for months inside money-boxes. Only very thrifty children manage to fill up a money-box. For most of them, sixpence is a small price to pay for a satisfying bar of chocolate. My nephew, George, has a money-box but it is always empty. Very few of the sixpences I have given him have found their way there. I gave him

sixpence yesterday and advised him to save it. Instead, he bought himself sixpence worth of trouble. On his way to the sweet shop, he dropped his sixpence and it rolled along the pavement and then disappeared down a drain. George took off his jacket, rolled up his sleeves and pushed his right arm through the drain cover. He could not find his sixpence anywhere, and what is more, he could not get his arm out. A crowd of people gathered round him and a lady rubbed his arm with soap and butter, but George was firmly stuck. The fire-brigade was called and two firemen freed George using a special type of grease. George was not too upset by his experience because the lady who owns the sweet shop heard about his troubles and rewarded him with a large box of chocolates.
Lesson23 One man’s meat is another man’s poison

People become quite illogical when they try to decide what can be eaten and what cannot be eaten. If you lived in the Mediterranean, for instance, you would consider octopus a great delicacy. You would not be able to understand why some people find it repulsive. On the other hand, your stomach would turn at the idea of frying potatoes in animal fat-- the normally accepted practice in many northern countries. The sad truth is that most of us have been brought up to eat certain foods and we stick to them all our lives. No creature has received more praise and abuse than the common garden snail. Cooked in wine, snails are a great luxury in various parts of the world. There are countless people who, ever since their early years, have learned to associate snails with food. My friend, Robert, lives in a country where snails are despised. As his flat is in a large town, he has no garden of his own. For years he has been asking me to collect snails from my garden and take them to him. The idea never appealed to me very much, but one day, after a heavy shower, I happened to be walking in my garden when I noticed a huge number of snails taking a stroll on some of my prize plants. Acting on a sudden impulse, I collected several dozen, put them in a paper bag, and took them to Robert. Robert was delighted to see me and equally pleased with my little gift. I left the bag in the hall and Robert and I went into the living-room where we talked for a couple of hours. I had forgotten all about the snails when Robert suddenly said that I must stay to dinner. Snails would, of course, be the main dish. I did not fancy the idea and I reluctantly followed Robert out of the room. To our dismay, we saw that there were snails everywhere: they had escaped from the paper bag and had taken complete possession of the hall! I have never been able to look at a snail since then.

Lesson41 Illusions of Pastoral peace The quiet life of the country has never appealed to me. City born and city bred, I have always regarded the country as something you look at through a train window, or something you occasionally visit during the week-end. Most of my friends live in the city, yet they always go into raptures at the mere mention of the country. Though they extol the virtues of the peaceful life, only one of them has ever gone to live in the country and he was back in town within six months. Even he still lives under the illusion that country life is somehow superior to town life. He is forever talking about the friendly people, the clean atmosphere, the closeness to nature and the gentle pace of living. Nothing can be compared, he maintains, with the first cock crow, the twittering of birds at dawn, the sight of the rising sun glinting on the trees and pastures. This idyllic pastoral scene is only part of the picture. My friend fails to mention the long and friendless winter evenings which are interrupted only by an occasional visit to the local cinema-virtually the only form of entertainment. He says nothing about the poor selection of goods in the shops, or about those unfortunate people who have to travel from the country to the city every day to get to work. Why people are prepared to tolerate a four hour journey each day for the dubious privilege of living in the country is beyond my ken. They could be saved so much misery and expense if they chose to live in the city where they rightly belong. If you can do without the few pastoral pleasures of the country, you will find the city can provide you with the best that life can offer. You never have to travel miles to see your friends. They invariably live nearby and are always available for an informal chat or an evening's entertainment. Some of my acquaintances in the country come up to town once or twice a year to visit the theatre as a special treat. For them this is a major operation which involves considerable planning. As the play draws to its close, they wonder whether they will ever catch that last train home. The city dweller never experiences anxieties of this sort. The latest exhibitions, films, or plays are only a short bus ride away. Shopping, too, is always a pleasure. There is so much variety that you never have to make do with second best. Country people run wild when they go shopping in the city and stagger home loaded with as many of the necessities of life as they can carry. Nor is the city without its moments of beauty. There is something comforting about the warm glow shed by advertisements on cold wet winter nights. Few things could be more impressive than the peace that descends on deserted city streets at week-ends when the thousands that travel to work every

day are tucked a way in their homes in the country. It has always been a mystery to me why city dwellers, who appreciate all these things, obstinately pretend that they would prefer to live in the country. Lesson44 Speed and comfort People travelling long distances frequently have to decide whether they would prefer to go by land, sea, or air. Hardly anyone can positively enjoy sitting in a train for more than a few hours. Train compartments soon get cramped and stuffy. It is almost impossible to take your mind off the journey. Reading is only a partial solution, for the monotonous rhythm of the wheels clicking on the rails soon lulls you to sleep. During the day, sleep comes in snatches. At night, when you really wish to go to sleep, you rarely manage to do so. If you are lucky enough to get a couchette, you spend half the night staring at the small blue light in the ceiling, or fumbling to find your passport when you cross a frontier. Inevitably you arrive at your destination almost exhausted. Long car journeys are even less pleasant, for it is quite impossible even to read. On motor-ways you can, at least, travel fairly safely at high speeds, but more often than not, the greater part of the journey is spent on narrow, bumpy roads which are crowded with traffic. By comparison, trips by sea offer a great variety of civilized comforts. You can stretch your legs on the spacious decks, play games, swim, meet interesting people and enjoy good food--always assuming, of course, that the sea is calm. If it is not, and you are likely to get sea-sick, no form of transport could be worse. Even if you travel in ideal weather, sea journeys take a long time. Relatively few people are prepared to sacrifice up to a third of their holidays for the pleasure of travelling on a ship. Aeroplanes have the reputation of being dangerous and even hardened travellers are intimidated by them. They also have the grave disadvantage of being the most expensive form of transport. But nothing can match them for speed and comfort. Travelling at a height of 30,000 feet, far above the clouds, and at over 500 miles an hour is an exhilarating experience. You do not have to devise ways of taking your mind off the journey, for an aeroplane gets you to your destination rapidly. For a few hours, you settle back in a deep armchair to enjoy the flight. The real escapist can watch a free film show and sip champagne on some services. But even when such refinements are not available, there is plenty to keep you occupied. An aeroplane offers you an unusual and breathtaking view of the world. You soar effortlessly over high mountains and deep valleys. You really see the shape of the land. If the landscape is hidden from view, you can enjoy the extraordinary sight of unbroken cloud plains that stretch out for miles before you, while the

sun shines brilliantly in a clear sky. The journey is so smooth that there is nothing to prevent you from reading or sleeping. However you decide to spend your time, one thing is certain: you will arrive at your destination fresh and uncrumpled. You will not have to spend the next few days recovering from a long and arduous journey. Lesson47 Through the earth’s crust Satellites orbiting round the earth have provided scientists with a vast amount of information about conditions in outer space. By comparison, relatively little is known about the internal structure of the earth. It has proved easier to go up than to go down. The deepest hole ever to be bored on land went down 25,340 feet-- considerably less than the height of Mount Everest. Drilling a hole under the sea has proved to be even more difficult. The deepest hole bored under sea has been about 20,000 feet. Until recently, scientists have been unable to devise a drill which would be capable of cutting through hard rock at great depths. This problem has now been solved. Scientists have developed a method which sounds surprisingly simple. A new drill which is being tested at Leona Valley Ranch in Texas is driven by a turbine engine which is propelled by liquid mud pumped into it from the surface. As the diamond tip of the drill revolves, it is lubricated by mud. Scientists have been amazed to find that it can cut through the hardest rock with great ease. The drill has been designed to bore through the earth to a depth of 35,000 feet. It will enable scientists to obtain samples of the mysterious layer which lies immediately below the earth's crust. This layer is known as the Mohorovicic Discontinuity, but is commonly referred to as 'the Moho'. Before it is possible to drill this deep hole, scientists will have to overcome a number of problems. Geological tests will be carried out to find the point at which the earth's crust is thinnest. The three possible sites which are being considered are all at sea: two in the Atlantic Ocean and one in the Pacific. Once they have determinded on a site, they will have to erect a drilling vessel which will not be swept away by ocean currents. The vessel will consist of an immense platform which will rise to 70 feet above the water. It will be supported by six hollow columns which will descend to a depth of 60 feet below the ocean surface where they will be fixed to a huge float. A tall steel tower rising to a height of nearly 200 feet will rest on the platform. The drill will be stored in the tower and will have to be lowered through about 15,000 feet of water before operations can begin. Within the tower, there will be a laboratory, living

accommodation and a helicopter landing station. Keeping the platform in position at sea will give rise to further problems. To do this, scientists will have to devise methods using radar and underwater television. If, during the operations the drill has to be withdrawn, it must be possible to re-insert it. Great care will therefore have to be taken to keep the platform steady and make it strong enough to withstand hurricanes. If the project is successful, scientists will not only learn a great deal about the earth, but possibly about the nature of the universe itself.

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