viernes, 26 de mayo de 2017

How what we eat has changed

We’ve gone from roasting to processing over thousands of years. What does the future hold for our food? Watch the video above to see what we’ll be eating in decades to come.

Humanity’s relationship with food production has certainly been a fruitful one. Our constant pursuit of refining how we eat is one of the reasons there are billions of us alive today. But it’s also a key factor as to why we are greatly damaging the Earth.
It all begins with fire. As far back as 29,000 BC Central Europeans were using primitive forms of ovens, roasting pits covered by yurts. Back then, mammoth was on the menu.
As we invented tools like ploughs and mills to help turn resources from the earth into food in our bellies, we produced enough to feed houses, then villages, then towns. Human civilization established itself.
One feature of civilizations that evolved was a thing called trade, and we did a lot of it. That’s why most of today’s biggest cities are found close to rivers and trade routes.
As agricultural revolutions took place, our population exploded, our food became more resilient due to developments such as machine refrigeration and pasteurizing, invented by this guy, French chemist Louise Pasteur in 1864. We could send hundreds of thousands of men to war and feed them thanks to food storage in cans.
By the 20th century microwave ovens arrived, meaning the mammoth we cooked 30,000 years ago in a pit, could now spin around in our kitchens.
We reached a point where the scale of production needed to feed everyone was impacting the planet’s resources. By the 1990’s we were selling genetically modified tomatoes to ensure reliable crop results.
This brings us to today’s climate concerns. Current food production is responsible for a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. How will we continue to feed a vastly increasing population while reducing damage to the environment? How do we tackle our global obesity epidemic and encourage healthier diets? One thing is certain, we must look immediately for new approaches. We’ve achieved it many times before, so it shouldn’t be too hard too swallow, right?
Well, that was delicious.

jueves, 25 de mayo de 2017

Capturing the scent of a book

A smell can evoke memories of a certain time, place or experience – now scientists at University College London are documenting scents as a way of recording culturally significant artefacts. Helen Drew explains.

We read them, we learn from them, some of us even write them. Books old or new, falling apart or unread. Here at University College London's Institute of Archaeology library it’s the largest collection of conservation-related books in London. But it's not just the words written on these pages that are important. According to scientists, the smell of these books has a significance that should also be recorded.
Smells have a big impact on our everyday life: how we feel, how we think and even how we behave, so we started looking into those smells that might have cultural value to us as a society and so our first challenge was to find, identify smell that we knew people valued and the smell of old books and historic libraries appeared as a very clear case.
In this lab scientists from UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage are collecting chemicals on a tiny sensor which they then pop into a machine to separate the individual chemical compounds. These chemicals can then be used to recreate that smell in the future.
What do you think of the smell of books?
They have a rather particular smell for sure and I think it’s lovely, it's sort of musty but it's… it's really enjoyable. I love the smell of old libraries.
The smell of a book becomes associated of what you read in the book, well that can lead to all sorts of associations and sometimes the smell is enough just to remind you of what a book is.
Always when you get a new book and it's like the new smell, it's a kind of part of the experience.
At the moment smell is rarely recorded.
If you go to a gallery or to a museum, a hundred percent of the time the objects communicate with you visually, you can see the shapes, you can see the colours but you cannot touch them and you cannot smell them.
There are also … archives to recreate the potpourri from a National Trust house in the 1700s, so that when visitors walk in, they're transported back in time. The whole project isn't just about recording smells but also the emotions they evoke.
Helen Drew, BBC London news.

miércoles, 24 de mayo de 2017

Talking point: Libraries

This week's talking point is libraries. Before getting together with the members of your conversation group, go over the questions below so that ideas come to mind more easily the day you get together with your friends and you can work out vocabulary problems beforehand.
  • Are libraries a thing of the past and e-Books and other mobile devices the present and future of reading?
  • Do libraries put pressure on users to read books quickly?
  • Where do you find it easier to study, at home or in a library?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?
  • Is the Internet a much more resourceful space than a library?
  • Do libraries provide enough resources for everybody?
  • What is the importance of traditional books?
  • How would you describe the atmosphere of libraries?
  • Do you find them inspiring and encouraging to research and study?
  • What is the role of libraries in society?
To illustrate the point you can watch the video on Syracuse University Library.

    Welcome to the Syracuse University Library. We’d like to take a few minutes to introduce you to the resources and services that we have to offer at the SU library. There are five library locations on campus. Bird library is located on University Place next door to the Schine Student Center. Adjacent to Bird you will find the Belfer Audio Laboratory and archives.

    The Carnegie Building on the Quad is home to Science & technology and Mathematics libraries. The Geology library is in Heroy Hall. And you’ll find the Architecture Reading Room is Slocum Hall. The sixth storey E.S. Bird Library is considered the main library on campus. It’s home to the Learning Commons, an open active environment, where we can not only find traditional library services like the check-out desk, but you also find our Technology Assistant desk for borrowing laptops, headphones and cameras. You can get help with scanning and printing and photocopying.

    And of course there are plenty of places to study either on your own or with a group. Research assistance is available on the drop-in basis, or you can make an appointment to consult with the librarian subject specialist. The Learning Commons is also where you will also find Pages, the library café, where you can grab a cup of coffee or something to eat. The second floor is the great place to relax, read or study. You can browse the stacks. Use the reference collection or browse current periodicals. On the third floor you can get assistance with the Maps and Government Information collections.

    The Map Room houses thousands of maps and atlases. On the third floor you’ll also find the microfilm collections. As well as the Geographic and Statistical Information Center. The fourth floor is home to our fine arts collections. You’ll find a media area for viewing our film, video and DVD collections. And a listening area for LPs and CDs collections. Be sure to check out the exhibits and visit the Biblio Gallery.

    The fifth floor is a quiet floor with plenty of study tables available. Take the elevator to the sixth floor to find the Special Collections Research Center. There you can browse their exhibits. And get assistance with their collections by signing in in the Reading Room. On the sixth floor you will also find the Safire Room, a great place for quiet study. We hope you have enjoyed this brief tour of the Syracuse University Library. To learn more, visit us at

    martes, 23 de mayo de 2017

    Will fossil fuels run out

    Greg Foot, from BBC's Earth Lab, looks into the dirty world of fossil fuels. Will we run out of fossil fuels and what cost will we likely pay for their use?

    We've all heard that fossil fuels won't last forever but why. And if they are set to run out, how much is left and when will that happen. To dig to the bottom of this one, we first need a quick refresher on how the fossil fuels are created, and sadly, no, they're not mostly dead dinosaurs.
    You see, the vast majority of our fossil fuels come from the remains of plants and animals. They lived around 300 to 400 million years ago. We don't see the first dinosaurs until around about 230 million years ago, so when these plants and animals died, that very, very long time ago, they were covered in layers of earth or silt, and because of the combined actions of three things: one, the compression from the weight of all that stuff; two, the microorganisms in there decomposing the contents; and three, the heat underground that transforms them into potential fuels.
    Coal is the remnant of ancient plants while oil and natural gas mostly come from marine creatures. The natural gas being made in deeper hotter regions, where the oil gets a little bit more cooked.
    Now we dig or drill this stuff out of the ground, and because it has been accumulating for a long time, initially there was a lot, but because it takes so long to make, we're using it much, much faster than it can possibly be replaced. This means that there is effectively a fixed amount of fuel on earth and we're using it up.
    So, yes, fossil fuels are going to run out but what is left and when will that happen. Well, we can fairly easily tally up what's known as our proven resources, the supplies that we know the locations of and we think we have a good chance of getting to.
    In their statistical review of world energy, BP estimated that the world had just over 1,700 billion proven barrels of oil in 2014. That's enough to make 52 and a half years of global production. They also estimated just over 187 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. That's enough for 54 years. Then 891,531 million tons of coal, enough for a whopping 110 years of global production.
    But there's also the stuff that we know about can't reach but think we might be able to get to some day. Hard figures on that are understandably tougher to come by, but oil and gas consulting firm Rystad Energy estimates total probable global oil reserves at 2,092 billion barrels, which is enough for about 70 years if our use doesn't go up.
    The total fuel resource, the amount of fossil fuels that could be out there that we know nothing about, could, of course, be even higher, but around four years ago an idea came out that there actually is plenty of oil left, just that we haven't got around to getting it out of the ground yet. This means the numbers for the potential oil out there could, in fact, be way higher.
    We've already seen humanity use new technologies to access new fuels that we couldn't get to before. Things like new techniques to extract oil where it's all mixed up in fine grained sedimentary rocks like shale or using high-pressure fracking to extract more oil and gas from the ground. One thing stopping us using these new technologies to extract fuels is that the rising energy cost of extracting it could be just as damaging as the oil running out.
    Despite the cost of oil, the amount being extracted has actually remained constant, about 75 million barrels per day since 2005, and this means a plateau has been reached where supply cannot match demand. It's also worth pointing out that fracking is far from ideal. It's been claimed that it has been linked to earthquakes and toxic tap water.
    We've already seen how the economics of getting to the fuel can outweigh humanity's demand for it. In 2016 around 460,000 barrels a day of high cost production like fracking was shut down in the US due to the cost. But that just means surely it’s there for later, when the economics are right, right?
    Well, maybe we need to leave it there. The planet is warming due to the burning of those fossil fuels. Burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, trap heat and it causes a greenhouse effect. It's been estimated that we cannot burn more than about a third of those proven resources if we have any hope at all of meeting plans to keep the temperature rise at 2 degrees centigrade or less. Although it may feel that we don't seem to be in a particular hurry to look for alternatives, energy transitions have always taken a long time. It took over 50 years for coal to replace wood as the world's leading source of energy, and another 50 years for oil to overtake coal.
    So here's a promising thought. In the end, with so many options for renewable sources of sustainable power being developed, we might actually never have to answer this question of what happens when the oil is finally all gone.
    Right, this is where we really want to hear your opinions about this whole subject. Put your thoughts down in the comments below, subscribe to the channel if you haven't already, and then you'll get to know whenever we release a new one, and if you'd like to know if you can become a fossil, click here, it's an interesting one. See you soon.

    lunes, 22 de mayo de 2017

    Listening test: Marathon running

    Listen to Jemma talking about her experience of running marathons and choose the option A, B or C which best completes each sentence.

    1. Jemma
    A. disliked running at school.
    B. has been running on and off.
    C. is a professional runner.

    2. Jemma goes running
    A. because she lives in the country.
    B. no matter what the weather is like.
    C. to be with some other people.

    3. Jemma
    A. has run three marathons.
    B. ran the London marathon with her husband.
    C. trained for a year to run the London marathon.

    4. In the London marathon
    A. Jemma ran over Tower Bridge.
    B. Jemma’s children called out her name.
    C. there’s a festive atmosphere.

    5. When she participated in the London Marathon Jemma
    A. couldn’t really hear the spectators shouting.
    B. ran alone.
    C. was about to abandon.

    6. Jemma
    A. hit a wall when she crossed the finish line.
    B. took over four hours to complete the marathon.
    C. was too tired to feel anything when she finished the race.

    7. At the end Jemma says that she had never done (…) until yesterday.
    A. a half marathon
    B. a half marathon abroad
    C. a half marathon at home

    London's Cutty Sark during the marathon

    We're talking about running. With me is Jemma. Hi. Jemma.
    Now Jemma, you're not a professional runner but I know that you take running very seriously...
    Yes. Well, when I was at school I always enjoyed running anyway and then I stopped for a few years but then in the early 1980's there was quite a big boom of ...people to encourage people to start running again, to keep fit. So that sort of promoted me back into running again, so yeah, so I've been running, I suppose, ever since, on and off, yeah.
    What is it about running that you like as an exercise?
    I think it's to go out in the fresh air. Whether it's cold or windy or even if it's raining, it's just nice to be out in the country. You have some time just to yourself, to go out and just have that space and that sense of freedom, just go out and run for an hour or an hour and a half, it's just lovely, it's sort of my time just for me.
    ...and I know you actually have done a marathon, haven't you?
    I have, yes. Many years ago I have to say. In 1994 I actually did the London Marathon. That was my first and to date the only marathon I have ever done and it was a fabulous experience, I really enjoyed it.
    Tell me about the training that you had to do for that.
    Well, I sat on the settee at home and I watched in 1993, I watched the marathon and I said to my husband, I'd really like to do a marathon. So I applied and I was fortunate enough to be accepted so throughout that whole year I gradually increased the amount of miles I was running each week so through the year I did three half marathons, which is 13.1 miles, and that led me to being fit enough to do the London Marathon the following year.
    It must have been an amazing experience. How... do you know how many people took part that year?
    I can't remember that year. It was still quite early on in the the popularity of running. It's certainly much, much bigger now. But it was the biggest race I had ever run in, it was just a sea of people and I just remember running under Tower Bridge and past the Cutty Sark and there were bands playing and I had my name on my T-shirt so all the children would call out your name and give you sweets and things like that so the atmosphere was fantastic and the crowds in some places were about five or six people deep even, you know sort of fifteen years ago so it was, it was amazing I don't think I would ever forget that. It was fantastic.
    So do you think all those people calling out your name, that kept you going?
    Oh yes, very much so, yes, I mean it was lovely, because they would say, Go Jemma, go on, well done. And just that encouragement, when you're feeling quite tired and your legs are really feeling a bit heavy just to have people calling you by your actual name makes it much more personalized; they're not just cheering anybody, they're cheering you specifically so that made a big difference because obviously I didn't have family with me, I was just running it by myself so that was lovely, yes.
    How did you feel when you crossed the finishing line?
    Well, it was very emotional actually because it was such a sense of achievement and I was so proud of the time that I'd run it in.
    Can you remember how fast you did it?
    Oh, I was four hours twelve minutes. You never forget the time of your first marathon. So I was very pleased with that and I never hit, they have a term called hitting the wall. [Right.] where if you haven't trained properly or if you run out of energy you really find it difficult to even walk let alone run and I never felt that. I felt well throughout the whole of the run, I ran continually and didn't stop.
    Fantastic. You've just done a race recently. What was that?
    Yes, well, I was very pleased to have done the Lisbon Half Marathon, just yesterday and that was fantastic. I hadn't run a half marathon for quite a few months. I did, I'd done one at home in November and this was my first one actually abroad, that was lovely.
    Well, fantastic Jemma and long may you keep on running.
    Thank you very much.

    1B 2B 3C 4C 5B 6B 7B

    domingo, 21 de mayo de 2017

    Extensive listening: The future we're building — and boring

    Elon Musk discusses his new project digging tunnels under LA, the latest from Tesla and SpaceX and his motivation for building a future on Mars in conversation with TED's Head Curator, Chris Anderson.

    Elon Musk is the CEO and product architect of Tesla Motors and the CEO/CTO of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX).

    At SpaceX, Musk oversees the development of rockets and spacecraft for missions to Earth orbit and ultimately to other planets. In 2008, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft won the NASA contract to provide cargo transport to space. In 2012, SpaceX became the first commercial company to dock with the International Space Station and return cargo to Earth with the Dragon.

    At Tesla, Musk has overseen product development and design from the beginning, including the all-electric Tesla Roadster, Model S and Model X, and the rollout of Supercharger stations to keep the cars juiced up. (Some of the charging stations use solar energy systems from SolarCity, of which Musk is the non-executive chair.) Transitioning to a sustainable energy economy, in which electric vehicles play a pivotal role, has been one of his central interests for almost two decades. He co-founded PayPal and served as the company's chair and CEO.

    You can read a full transcript here.

    sábado, 20 de mayo de 2017

    Reading test: The ridiculous story of airline food and why so much ends up in landfill

    In this week's reading test we are going to practise the multiple choice reading comprehension type of task. To do so, we are goint to use The Guardian's article The ridiculous story of airline food and why so much ends up in landfill.

    Read the text and choose the option A, B or C which best completes each sentence.

    The ridiculous story of airline food and why so much ends up in landfill

    You probably know about the waste problem in our oceans. But how about the one in our skies? Airline passengers generated 5.2m tonnes of waste in 2016, most of which went to landfill or incineration, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates. That’s the weight of about 2.6m cars. And it’s a figure set to double over the next 15 years. Toilet waste is included in that statistic. But so are miniature wine bottles, half-eaten lunch trays, unused toothbrushes and other hallmarks of air travel.
    The airline industry has taken criticsm for its growing greenhouse gas emissions as passenger numbers rise. But could its massive waste footprint be solved without affecting the sector’s growth? A Spanish project launched last autumn by a group of companies including Iberia Airlines and Ferrovial Services is taking up this challenge. The scheme aims to recover 80% of cabin waste coming into Madrid’s Barajas airport by mid-2020 through simple measures such as using trolleys designed for waste separation, says Juan Hermira, Iberia’s lead for the project. About 2,500 cabin crew members will be trained in the basics of waste separation as part of the push, he says.
    It’s one of a handful of initiatives that suggest parts of the industry are waking up to waste. Last year, Gatwick opened an on-site waste-to-energy plant, reducing the need for lorries to transport waste elsewhere. The power produced currently goes back into the plant, but Gatwick hopes the facility will eventually help to heat the north terminal. Like Heathrow, it is also targeting a 70% recycling rate by 2020.
    America’s United Airlines has switched to compostable paper cups and last year began donating unused amenity kits to homeless and women’s shelters – it expects to divert more than 27 tonnes-worth by the end of the first year. Virgin, meanwhile, has set up a system for recycling all parts of its headsets, including ear sponges, which are used as flooring for equestrian centres.
    Despite actions like these, the mountains of airline waste continue to grow. So what more can be done? For Michael Gill, IATA’s head of environment, regulation is key. At the moment EU animal health legislation, drawn up as a reaction to diseases like foot and mouth, dictates that all catering waste arriving from outside EU borders be treated as high-risk and incinerated or buried in deep landfill. A coffee cup from the US, for example, will be treated as hazardous waste because it might have had milk in it. Donating uneaten food to charity is impossible. A more rational approach is needed, Gill says, one which identifies elements of cabin waste that actually pose a risk to health and takes into account the stringent hygiene standards airlines are already subject to. He points to a forthcoming IATA-commissioned report which concludes that dairy and honey in airline waste pose a negligible threat to animals.
    Better procedures on the ground would also help ease the classification problem, says Magda Golebiewska, group environment manager at TUI Airlines. East Midlands and Gatwick airports have started tagging rubbish bags with their origin but elsewhere it’s common practice for waste from inside and outside the EU to get thrown together and processed collectively as international catering waste, she says.
    Most important, however, is getting the cabin crew’s buy-in, says Golebiewska. This can be a challenge since the crew is already busy meeting on-board sales targets and looking after passengers, she says, but it is crucial: “How well the [waste] segregation is done really depends on how much effort they put into it.”
    The environment is not the only concern on the minds of Golebiewska and others. Cabin waste costs the industry $500m (£400m) per year, according to IATA, a figure that it says is rising faster than waste volumes thanks to growing disposal costs. Bringing this down will require airlines to take a different approach to procurement, says Matt Rance. If they can be persuaded to focus on a product’s full life cost, rather than unit price, then investing in more durable headsets or blankets and ditching disposables starts to make sense, he says.

    1. The waste airlines produce
    A. does not only refer to food.
    B. is all burnt.
    C. is twice as much as it used to be 15 years ago.

    2. The Spanish project launched last autumn
    A. contemplates the separation of waste without any human intervention.
    B. intends to separate waste on board.
    C. is trying to reduce the airlines waste by limiting the sector’s growth.

    3. In Britain
    A. Gatwick Airport is planning to open a plant to recycle waste.
    B. Heathrow Airport currently produces 70% of its power through recycled waste.
    C. they are reducing road transportation of waste in some of the main airports.

    4. In US
    A. United Airlines cups can be used as fertilizers.
    B. United Airlines donates uneaten food to homeless and women’s shelters.
    C. Virgin recycles all parts of its headsets to make floors.

    5. For Michael Gill,
    A. dairy and honey from airlines could well be used to feed animals.
    B. donating food is a sensible solution.
    C. waste from airplanes should be incinerated or buried.

    6. According to Magda Golebiewska, in EU
    A. all waste is processed equally, no matter what its origin is.
    B. airports mark waste bags with their origin.
    C. the waste from inside and outside the EU is separated.

    7. For Magda Golebiewska
    A. airlines’ ground staff have a crucial role in waste segregation.
    B. flight attendants are already doing a lot of work.
    C. pilots should be responsible for waste segregation.

    8. In the last paragraph, it is said that
    A. not using disposable products would be a good solution.
    B. the price of getting rid of waste is not going up.
    C. waste volumes are being successfully controlled.

    1A 2B 3C 4A 5A 6A 7B 8A