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91 For Lots of People, Getting Older Means Getting Happier

10 agosto, 2020
Old age may not sound exciting. But recent findings offer good news for older people and for people __________ about getting older. Researchers found that people become happier and experience less worry after they __________ the age of fifty. In fact, they say by the age of eighty-five, people are happier with their life than they were when they were eighteen years old. The findings came from a __________ of more than three hundred forty thousand adults in the United States. The Gallup Organization questioned them by telephone in two thousand eight. At that time, the people were between the ages of eighteen and eighty-five. The researchers asked questions about __________ like happiness, sadness and worry. They also asked about mental or emotional stress. Arthur Stone in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Stony Brook University in New York led the study. His team found that levels of stress were __________ among adults between the ages of twenty-two and twenty-five. The findings showed that stress levels dropped __________ after people reached their fifties. Happiness was highest among the youngest adults and those in their early seventies. The people __________ likely to report feeling negative emotions were those in their seventies and eighties. The study also showed that men and women have similar emotional __________ as they grow older. However, women at all ages reported more sadness, stress and worry than men. The findings appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers say they do not know why happiness increases as people get older. One theory is that, as people grow older, they grow more __________ for what they have and have better control of their emotions. They also spend less time thinking about bad experiences. Professor Stone says the emotional patterns could be __________ to changes in how people see the world, or maybe even changes in brain __________. The researchers also considered possible influences like having young children, being unemployed or being single. But they found that influences like these did not affect the levels of happiness and well-being related to age.

90 A Victory for Computers as Watson Wins ‘Jeopardy!’

9 agosto, 2020
An IBM supercomputer named Watson has won the latest battle of man versus machine. Watson won the first ever “Jeopardy!” quiz show competition __________ a computer as a player. The show was broadcast on American television February sixteenth. The supercomputer __________ former “Jeopardy!” champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter during the three-day competition. The two men had been the show’s most __________ players until then. The IBM computer proved to be more knowledgeable in every category, including the arts, popular culture and science. The human contestants spoke about their __________ after the show. SOUND: «I think that we both got a taste of what it might have been like to play against us.» Roger Norton is __________ of the School of Computer Science and Mathematics at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. The school held a Watson watch party on the final day of the “Jeopardy!” competition. They compared it to a Super Bowl for the information technology industry. Roger Norton says everyone was amazed by Watson’s performance. ROGER NORTON: “It was very impressive in a number of ways. One is its ability to understand natural language.” In «Jeopardy!” players are given information in the form of an answer. They must give an answer in the form of a question. Roger Norton says the very __________ of the game makes Watson’s performance even more extraordinary. ROGER NORTON: “The __________ that’s in those answers is very, very difficult for humans to understand, never mind a computer to understand. And then to be able to take that, try to understand it, then go off and search its vast amount of data that it has and do the appropriate analytics and come up with not only an answer but also a __________ level associated with that answer – very, very impressive.” Watson was given the answer clues by electronic texts. It then searched through some fifteen trillion bytes of information stored in its database. That is equal to about two hundred million pages of text. The machine is able to perform up to eighty trillion operations per second. And its ability to understand language is more advanced than any other computer ever __________. This opens the door to a whole new world of computer applications. From business and investment, to medicine and healthcare, the possibilities are __________. Watson is now going to medical school. It is part of an agreement among IBM, Columbia University Medical Center in New York City and the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine. The researchers will help IBM identify the best way that Watson can be used to help the healthcare industry.

89 2000 Years of Computing History at a Museum in California

8 agosto, 2020
Silicon Valley in Northern California is home to many of the world’s largest technology companies. These include Apple, Google, Oracle, Intel, Cisco Systems and Hewlett-Packard. The valley is also home to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. It reopened last month after nineteen million dollars ____________ of improvements. The project took nearly two years. One of the additions is a permanent exhibit called «Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing.» Alex Bochannek is a ____________ at the museum. Mr. Bochannek says the new exhibit tells the story of more than one thousand historical objects. ALEX BOCHANNEK: «Some of the oldest items are actually not computers. They are devices that helped people calculate. And the first object people see walking into the exhibit is an abacus from the eighteen hundreds. Because the abacus is a daily-use device made from ____________, few of them have survived.” Mr. Bochannek says people have the chance to ____________ some of the objects in the exhibit. He says one of the more popular items is a portable computer from nineteen eighty-one. ALEX BOCHANNEK: “We think of portable computers today as laptops. But the Osborne One was about the size of a ____________ machine and weighed twenty-four pounds. So, just being able to pick one of those up will help our visitors understand how difficult portability was about thirty years ago.” Visitors to the Computer History Museum can also see parts of one of the earliest ____________ electronic computing devices. The ENIAC or Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer was designed during World War Two. There are also pieces from the guidance computer that was used during the Apollo space missions. Mr. Bochannek says the «Revolution» exhibit is about more than the history of modern computing. He says it tells a much larger story about how these ____________ have affected society and culture, especially in recent years. ALEX BOCHANNEK: «The revolution to most people is that computers today are ____________. They’re everywhere. If you are crossing at a traffic light, there probably is a computer controlling that traffic light. It’s not just the laptop or your smartphone that has a computer in it, but they surround us, and in some cases are even inside us. Like the cardiac ____________, one of which we show on the exhibition as well.» The Computer History Museum plans to ____________ an online version of the exhibit in March. The museum has one hundred thousand items in its complete collection. Only two percent of them are currently on display. But officials say seventy-five percent of the items will be viewable online.

88 Fish Farms May Soon Supply More Than Half the World’s Catch

7 agosto, 2020
Traditional fisheries may no longer be the world’s most important __________ of fish. A new United Nations report shows that fish farming or aquaculture may soon lead fish production. The Food and Agriculture Organization says aquaculture is growing by a rate of __________ percent a year. Aquaculture now produces forty-six percent of the world’s supply of fish. That represents a forty-three percent increase from two thousand six. The report also said aquaculture earned more money in two thousand eight than traditional fisheries. The FAO headquarters in Rome published the document, «State of the World’s Fisheries and Aquaculture.» In aquaculture, fish are raised in __________ or small bodies of water called ponds. They also are raised in __________ or nets in oceans, lakes and rivers. The report says increased aquaculture has helped people around the world eat record amounts of fish. The FAO says each person ate an average of almost seventeen kilograms of fish last year. But the FAO says the current yearly wild-fish harvest of ninety million tons shows no improvement. Decreasing numbers of fish and stronger catch limits have reduced the possibilities for catching wild fish. The FAO report says about thirty-two percent of world supplies are overfished, depleted or recovering. It said these supplies of fish need to be urgently rebuilt. Some scientists have criticized aquaculture. They say the nets and cages permit fish diseases and pests to __________. Some aquaculture critics doubt that aquaculture can keep growing at the current rate. But Wally Stevens of the trade group Global Aquaculture Alliance says the industry must continue developing to __________ growing populations. Mr. Stevens says a one hundred percent increase in fish farming over ten years is necessary to keep providing for people at the current level. He notes that aquaculture creates jobs and __________, especially for people in coastal areas of China. The FAO reports that China remains the world’s largest fish-producing nation. China produces more than sixty percent of the world’s farmed fish.

87 Testing New Ways to Recognize What Makes a Good Teacher

6 agosto, 2020
In recent years, Bill Gates has given financial support to ___________ American education. Late last year, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation launched the Measures of Effective Teaching project. The project tests new ways to recognize what makes a good teacher. Its ___________ is to help educators and policymakers identify and support good teaching. The study is being carried out in public school systems in seven American cities. Thousands of teachers ___________ to take part. They agreed to have their classes recorded on video, but only for observation by expert researchers. Last spring, the project collected digital videos of thirteen thousand lessons in the classrooms ___________ by the teachers. They were in grades four through nine. Researchers also collected information from students. They asked students to report their opinions of each teacher’s classroom. Students were also tested in mathematics, English and ___________. Officials recently released early results of the project study. The report says teachers’ past success in ___________ student scores on state tests is one of the strongest signs of their ability to do so again. This is known as a teacher’s “value-added.” The teachers with the highest value-added scores on state tests also help students understand math or show reading ___________. The results also say students know effective teaching when they experience it. The students gave comments on ___________ or not their teachers cared about them. They also gave opinions on how much teachers controlled or managed student ___________ in the classroom. The report found that classrooms where students reported positive experiences were more likely to show greater learning ___________. Another finding shows that combining different sources of information helps administrators provide better comments and suggestions to teachers. In many cases, administrators had been ___________ their comments on student test scores only. The Measures of Effective Teaching project continues through twenty twelve when final results will be released. Researchers plan to test a new measure that examines what a teacher knows about how to teach a subject. Experts say these findings could also help create better ___________ and development for teachers.

86 A Traditional Thanksgiving Meal, With Modern Shortcuts

5 agosto, 2020
Thanksgiving Day is America’s version of a _________ festival. The holiday is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. This Thursday, millions of Americans will join family and friends to give thanks and eat a meal with a history that is _________ old. Early European settlers in North America _________ other ceremonies where they gave thanks. But what Americans often consider the first Thanksgiving took place in Plymouth Colony. Today we call it Massachusetts. Those settlers are known as the Pilgrims. They held a three-day celebration in the _________ of sixteen twenty-one. They celebrated the harvest with members of a local Indian tribe. The best known food that Americans traditionally eat on Thanksgiving is turkey. The nation’s turkey producers are expected to _________ two hundred forty-two million birds this year. The government says that is two percent fewer than last year. Last year’s turkey production had a value of about three and a half billion dollars. Thanksgiving turkeys are traditionally served with a bread mixture that some Americans call stuffing. Others call it _________. Side dishes include cranberries, sweet potatoes and green _________ or other vegetables. The meal traditionally ends with a dessert of pumpkin pie or pecan pie. Some Thanksgiving foods have changed over time. For example, most turkeys these days are _________ with larger breasts to provide more white meat. Corn — known in much of the world as maize — has also changed. It tastes much sweeter than the starchier corn of the past. The way Americans prepare for Thanksgiving has also changed. Economist John Anderson of the American Farm Bureau Federation says people look for ways to save time, though not everyone does. JOHN ANDERSON: «There are a lot of us who have grandmothers who would not even think of using a store-bought pie _________. And that is kind of the least of the shortcuts that we use.» He says shortcuts like buying prepared foods for the holiday are part of a bigger _________ in America. JOHN ANDERSON: «If you think about our food in general, not just Thanksgiving dinner, but food products in general, there has been a tremendous move over the last twenty or thirty years toward more _________ products.» Some people might not have the time or the desire to prepare a big meal, or the space for a lot of guests. Whatever the reason, John Anderson notes that more people go to a restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner than in the past. Charity groups and religious organizations will also be _________ this Thursday, serving Thanksgiving meals to the needy. The weak economy has increased the number of Americans receiving government assistance to buy food.

85 Unwrapping the Genetic Secrets of a Chocolate Bar

4 agosto, 2020
Cacao or cocoa trees grow in hot, rainy areas of Africa, Asia and Central and South America. Their beans are used to make cocoa _________________, cocoa butter and of course chocolate. There are five to six million growers, maybe more. Many are poor family farmers with only a few _______________. West Africa produces more than half of all cocoa beans. Ivory Coast leads the world in production, followed by its _______________ Ghana. The trees are usually in their _______________ year when they start to grow the pods that contain the beans. The trees produce the most pods when they are ten, but they are still productive long after that. Workers use large knives to cut the lower pods and long _______________ to remove pods from high on the tree. Later they break open the pods to remove the beans. A half-gram of chocolate requires about four hundred beans. The World Cocoa Foundation says an average pod contains twenty to fifty beans. And experts say growers can lose perhaps one _______________ of their harvest to diseases and insects. But now scientists have genetic maps of two kinds of cocoa trees. These genomes are mostly complete and could _______________ scientists to new ways to increase production and prevent disease. Mapping genes is the first step to understanding an organism. Next comes learning the job of each gene. The American food company Mars took the lead in paying for _______________ the genes of the Forastero cocoa tree. The Forastero provides eighty to ninety percent of the world’s cocoa beans. Mars depends on those beans for its M&Ms and other chocolate _______________. The company’s research partners included several universities and the United States Department of Agriculture. The average West African cocoa farmer produces about four hundred kilos of beans per hectare. But Howard-Yana Shapiro, head of plant science and external research at Mars, thinks that science could greatly _______________ the yield. HOWARD-YANA SHAPIRO: «There’s a yield potential of maybe four thousand kilos, ten _______________ what the average is in West Africa.» A competitor of Mars, Hershey’s, supported the gene _______________ of the Criollo, a far less common cacao tree. Cirad, a French government research center, led scientists from six countries in creating that genome. We’ll talk more about the cocoa industry next week, when we look at efforts to help child _______________ in Ivory Coast and Ghana.

84 Turning Images Into Sensations to Assist the Blind

3 agosto, 2020
Years ago, scientists began to learn that certain parts of the brain had certain __________. For example, one part was responsible for breathing; another dealt with the sense of smell. Scientists thought our brains could not change. But then they discovered that the brain could sometimes __________ itself when conditions required. Josef Rauschecker is a professor of physiology and biophysics at Georgetown University in Washington. He wondered if this ability to change could explain the idea that other senses in blind people improve to balance their __________ of vision. JOSEF RAUSCHECKER: «The stories about [the] disproportionate number of blind musicians, for example. Just think of Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, so many. Andrea Bocelli, if you prefer __________ music.» The visual cortex is the part of the brain that processes sight. But earlier research by Professor Rauschecker and other scientists found that it can also do other jobs. The research showed that the brains of blind people can use the visual cortex to __________ sound and touch. But the visual cortex is divided into separate parts, or modules. Each module normally performs different jobs related to vision. JOSEF RAUSCHECKER: «Now the question is: Do blind people have that same or similar __________ organization, that these modules actually stay put and just get rededicated to touch and hearing? And the answer is yes.» Professor Rauschecker and researchers from Finland and Belgium found this answer using an fMRI scanner. That means functional magnetic resonance __________. The machine recorded brain activity as twelve blind people and twelve sighted people performed tasks involving sound and touch. For example, they would try to decide which direction sounds were coming from, or which finger was feeling __________ vibrations. Professor Rauschecker says large parts of the visual cortex became active during the sound and touch tests, but only in the blind people. He says this study and earlier research has led to an experimental device designed to help the blind. It can process images taken by a __________ into sensations that could be used by a blind person wearing it. JOSEF RAUSCHECKER: «So what we’re hoping to do is build this device that would transform basically visual information into auditory information and then __________ this amazing reservoir of the blind brain to process sounds and tactile information.» The study is in the journal Neuron.

83 Imported Foods Raise Obesity, Health Issues for Pacific Islanders

2 agosto, 2020
The World Health Organization says obesity rates are rising in Pacific island countries. So, too, are health problems linked to being overweight. The WHO says a major reason for the _____________ obesity rates is an increase in imported foods. It says many Pacific islanders have replaced their traditional diets of vegetables and fruits with imported processed foods. Dr. Temu Waqanivalu is with the World Health Organization’s South Pacific office in Suva, Fiji. He says many of the imported products _____________ nutritional value. But they are widely available, he says, and often cost less than healthier foods. TEMU WAQANIVALU: «In some of the places, you’d be amazed to see how a bottle of Coke is cheaper than a bottle of _____________. I think that represents the kind of off-environment we’ve created that doesn’t really encourage or make lifestyle _____________ an easy choice for the population.» Dr. Waqanivalu says the increase in imported foods is only part of the problem. He says problems with agriculture production limit the _____________ of healthier foods. And a lack of physical activity among many Pacific islanders only adds to the obesity problem. The WHO says more than fifty percent of the population is overweight in at least ten Pacific island countries. The rate is as high as eighty percent among women in the territory of American Samoa. Fiji had the _____________ obesity rate at thirty percent. In all, almost ten million people live in Pacific island countries. The WHO estimates that about forty percent of them have health _____________ related to diet and nutrition. Diabetes rates are among the highest in the world. Forty-seven percent of the people in American Samoa have diabetes. So do forty-four percent of the people in Tokelau, a territory of New Zealand. By comparison, the diabetes rate is thirteen percent in the United States, a country that has its own problems with rising obesity. Officials also note an increase in nutritional problems like anemia and not enough vitamin _____________ in the diets of Pacific islanders. Dr. Waqanivalu says treating conditions related to obesity and diet puts pressure on limited health resources and _____________. Earlier this year, leaders of island nations met in Vanuatu for the first-ever Pacific Food Summit. Dr. Waqanivalu says the issues are finally getting the attention they _____________.

82 Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’

1 agosto, 2020
Millions of high school students have ____________ «To Kill a Mockingbird.» The novel by Harper Lee offers moral ____________  about racial justice and respect. It tells the story of a young girl named Scout and her father, Atticus Finch, a ____________ . He defends a black man wrongfully accused of raping a white woman. In the end, an all-white jury sentences Tom Robinson to death. The book is set in the American South in the nineteen thirties. But it was published fifty years ago, on July eleventh, nineteen sixty. It came out as the civil rights movement in the United States was gaining ____________ . Laws and customs in the South, however, still kept blacks and whites mostly separated. A mockingbird is a kind of gray ____________ . The book gets its title from something Atticus Finch was told in his childhood when his father gave him a gun. Gregory Peck won an Academy Award for the nineteen sixty-two film version. ATTICUS FINCH: «I remember when my daddy first gave me that gun, he told me that I should never ____________  at anything in the house, and that I could shoot all the blue jays I wanted, if I could hit them. But remember, it was a ____________  to kill a mockingbird.» Killing them is a sin, he explains, because they don’t ____________  anyone, they just make music. And that is the moral of the story, says Melinda Byrd-Murphy, head of the Alabama Center for Literary Arts. She has read the book four times. MELINDA BYRD-MURPHY: «I think if anything, this story talks about ____________  and the universality of humans and how there’s goodness in people and you just have to get to know one another.» Ms. Byrd-Murphy is a native of Harper Lee’s hometown of Monroeville. The author, who published only the one novel, is still alive but rarely speaks ____________ . Some people say «To Kill a Mockingbird» treats racism in a way that is simplistic, even offensive to blacks, and out of date in today’s America. Still, it has been ____________  into more than forty languages and has sold over forty million copies. It won a Pulitzer Prize and is often ____________  reading in high school. The story ____________  in a town that Harper Lee called Maycomb. But she based the characters on real people she knew growing up. Since then, Monroeville has changed a lot. A number of African-Americans serve in the local government. The ____________ , made famous by the book, is now a museum. A small shop and a fast-food restaurant called Mel’s Dairy Dream have replaced Harper Lee’s ____________  home. But in Monroeville and around the country, fans of «To Kill a Mockingbird» are celebrating its fiftieth anniversary. Events include readings, discussions and movie ____________ .

81 In Kenya, Low-Cost Crop Insurance for Small Farmers

31 julio, 2020
Weather does not discriminate between large and small farms. If it rains too much or too little, crop insurance can pay for __________. Yet insurance usually costs too much for a farmer with as little as a hectare or two of land. But now a program called Kilimo Salama, or __________ farming, offers low-cost insurance in parts of Kenya. The program is offered by the Syngenta Foundation, established by the Swiss agricultural-chemical maker Syngenta. Farmers register at businesses taking part in the program and receive a policy number through their __________. Every time the farmers buy seeds, fertilizer or other inputs, they pay an extra five percent in addition to the price. This extra cost is the insurance premium. The farmers are paid back for the inputs if their crops fail because of __________ or flood. The program is designed for __________ and wheat farmers like Josephat Langat. He owns a two-hectare farm near Eldoret in western Kenya. JOSEPHAT LANGAT: «In a case where we do not have a lot of rainfall, it means we are going to lose all the crops. But this insurance policy is going to __________ the farm inputs that we use in the farms, so that is going to give us the __________ of going back to the farms again if the rains do not come.» He buys his agricultural inputs at Maraba Investments in Eldoret. About two hundred farmers signed up for the insurance __________ the first two weeks that it was being offered there. Beatrice Kemboi is a director of the business. BEATRICE KEMBOI: «When a farmer elects to join the insurance, we sell the product on __________ so that the premium is reduced, so that he doesn’t feel it, so that it __________ him and I’ve also sold the product.» Beatrice Kemboi says every day she and her workers register from five to ten farmers in the program. When farmers buy their inputs, the store worker uses a mobile phone camera to scan __________ symbols that match the product. A text message confirming the policy number and sale is then sent automatically. The program also uses solar-powered weather stations to record local __________ amounts. The data is sent to the UAP Insurance Company. When there is crop failure because of a drought or flood, farmers receive a text message. It tells them to receive __________ from the business where they purchased their inputs.
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