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Gas Industry

There is now a process which makes it easier to transport gas over longer distances. It’s called liquefied natural gas. Put simply, gas can now be frozen into liquid form and transported to distant countries in refrigerated tankers. When the LNG is delivered it is heated and converted back into gas form. Then it is supplied to customers using local pipelines.

Having said that, there are two main risks associated with LNG: financial and political. Firstly, the cost of producing and shipping LNG today is still higher than transporting oil, although rapid innovations are reducing the costs. For instance, bigger tankers can now be used. What’s more, the energy industry is expected to invest a massive $100 billion in LNG over the next ten years despite the high capital costs.

Secondly, Russia and the former Soviet Union hold the world’s largest natural gas reserves. Some analysts are therefore concerned that Russia will have a high level of control over the global LNG market within the next decade.

So, as we can see there are political and financial risks associated with the LNG business. Yet, the potential profits are enormous for energy firms with the capital to develop LNG projects. And many experts believe that gas will be the dominant fuel for at least another 50 years.


This is the VOA Special English Technology Report.

Silicon Valley in Northern California is home 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 Montain View. It reopened last month after nineteen million dollars worth of improvements. The project took nearly two years. One of the additions is permanent exhibit called “Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing”. Alex Bochannek is a curator 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 1800. Because this is a daily-use device made from wood, few of them have survived.

Mr. Bochannek says people have the chance to handle some of the objects in the exhibit. He says one of the more popular items is a portable computer from 1981.

Alex Bochanek: We think of portable computers today as laptops. But Osborne One was about the size of sewing machine and weighed 24 pounds. So, just been able to pick one of those up will help our visitors to understand how difficult portability was about 30 years ago.



Home Robots

A Japanese company started selling a futuristic home robot on September 16. The meter-high humanoid may make housework a thing of the past – for the rich. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries put its internet-linked Wakamaru robot on sale at a price of $150,000. Just 100 of these home helps will initially be available. The robot is the idea of Japanese designer Toshiyuki Kita. He said his creation was “designed in the shape of a human being so that it is not considered simply a machine” and that it has an “independent personality”.

The robot has an impressive number of features. It is capable of recognizing up to ten individuals by name and has a vocabulary of 10,000 words. It can also navigate its way around the house. The Wakamaru website* explains three major functions that will help the lives of the robot’s users: It can live with the family and provide daily schedules; it can speak with the family and be a friend; and it has its own role of looking after the house when no one is home. However, the price needs to come down to make it affordable by all.



Well, to begin with, I can’t even open my window most of the time. What with all those cars and factories releasing poisonous chemicals into the air, it’s enough to choke you. It’s dreadful! And when the chemicals mix with the water in the clouds it comes back as polluted rain, causing all sorts of problems! Yeah, I really worry about the damage it’s doing, especially to the environment.

I just dread to think what will happen when there’s no coal or oil left! At the moment more than 80% of our energy needs rely on them. Once they’ve run out, goodness only knows what will happen! I suppose we could be like people from some other countries and use alternative forms of energy. After all they are cheaper and more environmentally friendly, I suppose. Still, I can’t help worrying about it.

It was just something I never thought of in the past. Nowadays, it’s on everybody’s mind. I mean, who knows what we’re eating? We could be poisoned with all those insecticides and pesticides that farmers spray on all the fruit and vegetables. I insist on everything I eat being thoroughly washed I drive my wife crazy but you just can’t be too careful, can you?



Interviewer: Excuse me. Good afternoon. May name is Jonathan Adams and I’m from Green World magazine. We are conducting a survey about recycling. Would each of you like to share your views on the matter?

Speaker 1, 2, 3: Yes, of course/ Sure / Alright.

Interviewer: Thank you. Um, the first question is “Do you recycle most of your household waste?

Speaker 1 (woman): Well to be perfectly honest, I don’t recycle at all. I can’t be bothered.

Interviewer: And you, sir?

Speaker 2 (man): Well, not really. I only recycle paper. The recycling center for glass and aluminium is too far away from my house.

Interviewer: And what about you, miss?

Speaker 3 (teenage girl): At home we recycle just about everything. We’ve learned to become quite environmentally aware – thanks to our community.

Interviewer: Thanks. Now question 2 “Do you think recycling is too expensive and time consuming?”

Speaker 1 (woman): Yes, I do. I think it’s a waste of time without really helping the environment. I mean, a lot of recycled products are quite expensive, anyway.

Speaker 2 (man): Oh, I don’t agree. Recycling is quick and cheap, not to mention the fact that it saves a lot of energy, too.

Speaker 3 (teenager girl): I absolutely agree. Not only does it save energy, but it also reduces a lot of waste safely.


The Moment of Force

Now what I thought I might do today… What we are going to talk of is the extension of a force. We’re going to talk about the moment of a force.

If I apply a force to something, then I find that that force will turn or at least it will try to turn a particular object. It will turn, revolve. So that turning tendency is called a moment, the turning moment of the force. And if I want to measure that turning moment, the turning moment will depend on the size of the force itself. The bigger the force is the bigger the turning effect. But equally the further away the force is from the pivot. … If you can think of a spanner … If you have a short spanner and you try to loosen a bolt or a nut, it might be extremely difficult but if you got a longer spanner you would get what we would call leverage and you would get a bigger leverage. You would get a bigger turning moment.

So the turning moment, the moment depends on the force itself … and the distance … and the distance. It is the force multiplied by the distance. But what you have to remember is that it is the perpendicular distance that we’re going to measure. In fact – I’m not going to ask you take it down – we would say that the moment of the force is the product of the force and the perpendicular distance between the line of action of the force and the fulcrum, the turning point.

Moment is equal to force times distance. This, incidentally, you have in your notes. Something simple to illustrate. If we take the drawing of a spanner … The drawing of a spanner there. We apply a force at the end there, your pivot or the turning point, or as we call the fulcrum, is in the center there. Now the moment of that force is that force (F1) multiplied by the perpendicular distance (D1).

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