The Ugly Nature of the Earth’s Twin Sister



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The Ugly Nature of the Earth’s Twin Sister



 

Venus wouldn't be a comfortable planet to live on: it is hot enough to melt lead , the air is thick enough to swim in, and there are never-ending electrical storms. Venus is closer to the Sun than the Earth is, and the sunlight reaching Venus is twice as powerful as that reaching the Earth. However, it has also been found that Venus might not be too hot to support life, and even to picture it as the home of some mysterious fair-haired Venusians .

Unfortunately, this attractive idea does not stand up to close examination. Instead of spinning anti-clockwise like most other planets, Venus revolves clockwise, and it turns so slowly that the Sun rises in the west and sets in the east 59 days later. This means that during the long Venusian "day" the temperature has time to reach 450 degrees Centigrade easily hot enough to melt tin or lead. Moreover, the polar axis is almost vertical, so there are no seasons.

But the real shock comes when we consider the at­mosphere. Normally, you expect that the closer a planet is to the Sun, the less atmosphere it will be able to re­tain. Venus, however, has an atmosphere about 100 times as dense as ours. The air is much too thick to run in and you would rather have to swim and not to walk in it. On the other hand, the atmosphere is so thick, that you could fly through it without any problem. The winds are very slow; the Russian spacecraft Venera 10 mea­sured on landing a maximum air flow of seven miles per hour, yet the atmosphere is so dense that a seven mile per hour wind could be strong enough to knock down a tall building.

Most of Venus is permanently covered in clouds of sulphur and sulphuric acid, and these clouds absorb so much of the Sun's light that on the surface of the planet there is no more than a dark reddish gloom. The Russian spacecraft Venera 9 and 10 found that there was enough light to take TV pictures. This light, however, came not from the Sun, but from flashes of lightning given off by continual electric storms.

All in all, then, Venus turns out to be a dramatic though extremely inhospitable place, and, along with Mars, Jupiter and Saturn has to be added to the list of planets that are quite incapable of supporting human life.

 

(from “Digest”)

Mayflower

 

If you go to New Plymouth, a small town in the United States of America, you will see there a rock which reaches the sea. Many thousands of people from different parts of the United States and from many other countries in the world come to this small town and they always go to see the Rock. They take off their hats, stand there and think about the brave men and women who, more than three hundred years ago, were standing on this Rock and looking at the country where they had come to begin a new life.

They had built a small village there, and American people say that out of this small village grew a big country — the Unit­ed States of America.

It was in 1620, in the time of King James the First. English people did not like their king and they called him 'The Foolish King of England'. Many of them even left England and went to live in other countries.

In November, 1620 a small ship, the Mayflower, left England. There were about one hundred people aboard the ship, but even for this hundred the ship was too small. For seven long weeks the Mayflower was in the waves and storms of the Atlantic Ocean and at last the people saw land. It was America.

It was already autumn. It was raining and a cold wind was blowing. Sixteen men left the Mayflower and went ashore. In the evening they came back to the ship and brought some maize with them. They found the maize in the sand on the beach where the Indians had left it. Nobody in Europe had seen maize then, but when the people on board the Mayflower tried it they liked it very much.

Next day was Sunday and everybody on the Mayflower had a rest. On Monday some men went ashore again and this time they took some women with them. The women had to wash the clothes. Since that time Monday has been a wash-day in Amer­ica.

During the next five weeks the men from the Mayflower left the ship every day. Sometimes they did not come back for many days; they were looking for a good place to live. The weather was very cold, more and more men fell ill, but at last they found a good place. There was a good harbour for ships there, some fields and forests near it and even a small river. The people began to build a village there.

By January, 1621 there were already two streets in this vil­lage, and they called it 'New Plymouth'.

It was winter now. The people were tired and cold. They did not have enough to eat. More and more of them fell ill. There was a time when only seven men were quite well. Many people died. Sometimes two or three died in a day. When the houses were ready, the life of the people became easier; they had warm houses where they could live.

One day the people of the village suddenly saw a tall Indian who was walking along the street. They were frightened very much, but this Indian came up to them, smiled and said, "Hallo, Yankee! Hallo, Yankee!"

This Indian could speak English a little. He had learnt the language from the sailors of a ship which had come to this part of America a few years before. He called all Englishmen 'Yan­kee', because he could not say the word 'Englishman'.

Few days later this Indian came to the village again together with some other Indians. They came as friends and helped the white men very much. But white men forgot about this help very quickly; a few years later when many people from Europe came to America, they began to take the land away from the Indians and to kill them.

All the Indians who came to the village of New Plymouth called the Englishmen 'Yankee', and since that time 'Yankee' has been the name of a white man in America.

At last spring came. The people of New Plymouth began to plant corn, and the Indians showed them how to plant maize.

In autumn the crops were very good and the people of New Plymouth wanted to make a holiday dinner. They asked the Indians to this dinner, and the Indians brought some wild tur­keys as a present. The turkey was an American bird. Very few people in Europe had ever heard about it, but when they ate it at this dinner they liked it very much. The people of New Plymouth called their holiday 'Thanksgiving Day'. Since that time Thanksgiving Day has been a great holiday in the United States of America, and since that day Americans have always had turkeys for the Thanksgiving Day.

( from “English in two years” by G. Rogova )

Last Word

 

Everybody has to die some day, but no-body likes to think about it. Even so, at some time in their most people manage to think about the question for long enough to make a will. If you've already made yours, it's probably just a few pages of writing leaving everything to your family. That's the kind of will that the majority of people make. However there are plenty of ways to make your will more interesting if you want to.

To begin with, you don't have to write it on paper. One man wrote his on an envelope, an­other on a door, and a third on an egg. It doesn't have to be a few pages either. You could copy Mrs Frederick Cook, who died in 1925; her will, longer than many novels, was more than 95,000 words long. If you haven't got time for that, however, you could take Herr Tausch as an example. His will, written in Czech in 1967, was just two words: 'Vse zene' (All to wife).

For some people, the most important part of their will is the part that says how they want to be buried. Mrs. Sandra West, a rich widow from Texas USA, decided that she wanted to be buried with her favourite things. When she died in 1977, her brother-in-law .discovered that he would inherit $2.8 million -but only if he buried her in her favourite car. If he buried her any other way, he'd only get $10,000. It wasn't easy for Mrs. West's brother-in-law, but two months af­ter she died he got the permission he needed. Mrs. West was buried in her blue Ferrari, and her brother-in-law became a rich man.

In 1973 dentist Philip Grundy from Leicestershire, England, left most of his money - 180,000 - to the nurse who worked for him. Lucky woman, you might think. There was a catch however; the money was hers after five years if in that time she didn't wear any kind of makeup or jewellery or go out with men. It is not known whether the nurse managed to wait for the five years to get the money.

Finally, let's hope that your will is not like that of Dr Everett Wagner, who lived in Ken­tucky USA 100 years ago. His family, who had not been to see him for years, suddenly began to visit him when he became ill; what was worse, each person suggested to Dr Wagner that they would like 'something to remember him by* when he died. Greatly annoyed with them, Dr Wagner wrote a will that would do this. To each of his four brothers he left one of his legs or arms; his nephew got his nose, and his two nieces each got an ear. His teeth and gums went to his cousins. He left $1,000 to pay for cutting up his body, and the rest of his money - $12,000, which was quite a large amount for those times - he left to the poor.

 

(By Christopher Wood )



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