Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ancient Viruses on Six Minute English

Hello everybody. First, let me apologise for a long silence. But now I am back at work and in Rome, and ready to share another Six Minute English quiz with you.

It's that time of year again: all sorts of viruses are waiting to get us. You may already have had flu (influenza) or a cold. Both conditions are caused by viruses. In Britain, the ugly Winter Vomiting Virus was making news headlines over Christmas. This virus causes a very unpleasant condition, indicated by its name, which is unfortunately found in many hospitals.

So let's find out more about viruses. (Computer viruses are another story). On today's Six Minute English we will hear William and Helen talking about ancient viruses. Read the questions and then listen to the programme.

Question 1 (Official): How many genes do human beings have?
a) between 10,000 and 25,000 b) between 100,000 and 250,000 or c) between 1 million and 2.5 million.

For these questions, insert a word, number or phrase which completes the sentence according to the programme:

2. Research was conducted on ____ different mammals, including ____, _____, _____ and ______. (Four different mammals.)

3. Viruses which we carry now infected our common ancestors at least ____________ years ago.

4. Some viruses are good, and one example has helped to ______ the _______ _______.

5. By studying ancient viruses, scientists can learn more about _________ and ________ .

Now listen to the programme. Write your answers on the Tag Board, or in a comment. And I encourage as many readers as possible to participate. It makes us all feel part of a learning community. Last time just two people took part. But the time before, on "The Island that Got Lost", we had six participants. On of them was a student from a class last year. This was really encouraging, and hope it will happen again.

Don't forget that for more community activities, you can write for our Students' Magazine. It's called "English Actually". Come and join us!

More very soon,

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

End of the World: The Answers (at last)

Dear all,
First of all, let me wish all our readers a very happy New Year 2013. And I hope you all enjoyed Christmas, if you celebrate it.

Now for the answers to that apocalyptic Quiz regarding the end of the world:

1) It's (b) the winter solstice.

2) For the Mayans, December 21 2012 marks the end of a 5000 - year cycle.

3) Professor Pedro Yac from Guatemala hopes that people will use 21 December to think about "what is important in life".

4) He says: "We should stop planting fear".

5) According to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll, nearly ten per cent of the people surveyed believe that the end of the world is nigh. (imminent).

6) Richard Henson says that we are witnessing the end of an era that began 3114 years before Christ.

Many thanks to all those of you who did the quiz, and especially to Tommaso for going so far as to post your answers.

I'll be resuming normal service when I return to Rome next week. Meanwhile, enjoy what remains of your holiday!

Kind regards from