Aug 7, 2015

Using Head in Soccer May Be Dangerous for Children


Soccer is not a violent game. But players can hit the ball with their head and collide with other players, the ground and goal posts.
Catherine McGill is a neuropsychologist at the Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C. She examines many children who have suffered concussions. Concussions are the most common brain injury, while playing soccer. She says concussions from soccer and other youth sports are increasing.
One, we are getting better, and I say ‘we’ meaning parents, coaches and medical providers alike, are getting better at recognizing and responding to that injury, and that’s a huge testament to media paying more attention to this and leagues paying more attention to the safety of their players. Also, kids are getting bigger, faster, stronger across the sports, and so more injuries may be occurring simply because of that, and more kids are playing sports, and they’re playing more frequently.”
Catherine McGill spoke at a recent conference on ways to make soccer safer for young players. The meeting was held recently in Washington, D.C. Later, she spoke to VOA about her efforts. She says researchers are examining the effects of soccer-related head injuries. They want to know if repeated hits to the head can cause chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. CTE is a brain disorder than worsens as a person ages.
She says parents often ask doctors about the use of the head by soccer players to purposely change the direction of the ball. In the sport this move is known as a “header.”
“We’re often asked by parents, you know, what’s the age, what age do they startheading’ or should there be ‘heading’ at all? And, the answer is this is a very individual decision. The age for one child may be very different for an age of another child, right?”
I’m Anna Matteo.
How are young athletes in your country protected from head injuries? We want to hear from you. Write your thoughts in the comments section.
VOA’s Mike Richman reported this story from Washington. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

collide – v. to hit something or each other with strong force; to crash together or to crash into something
concussion – n. an injury to the brain that is caused by receiving a powerful hit to the head
testament – n. proof or evidence that something exists or is true; informalcompliment, or good result from attention being paid
league – n. a group of sports teams that play against each other
frequently – adj. happening often


May 3, 2015

S.O.S. – In Other Words, Help!

Now, the VOA Learning English programWords and Their Stories.
Different people have different ways of saying things – their own specialexpressionsEach week we tell about some popular Americanexpressions.                                                                      
What you are listening to is a call for help. It is the Morse code distresssignal S.O.S. For yearstelegraph operators used Morse code tocommunicate across the country and around the world.
skilled operator could send and receive 30 or 40 words a minute. In thelanguage of Morse code, the letter “S” is three short dots and the letter “O” is three longer dashesPut them together and you have S.O.S.
These sounds represent the international call for help because they areeasy to recognizeNow, it is simply known as S.O.S.

The short video above was cut from an official United States Army instructional video.
But many people think that S.O.S. stands for “Save Our Ship” or “Save OurSouls.” It does not. S.O.S. has come to mean that because of how we use it – when we need to be saved, as when a ship is sinking.
S.O.S. is an example of a newif somewhat unofficialword in the Englishlanguage. We call it a backronym. A backronym is a combination of twowordsbackward and acronym.
An acronym is an abbreviation, a shorter version of a long word orexpression. For example, the word “scuba” is an acronym. It stands for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus. But scuba is so much easier tosay!
Backronyms, on the other hand, are built in the opposite wayThey aremade by creating a phrase or expression for an already existing word oracronym.
For example, the United States Department of Justice recently gave newmeaning to its Amber Alert programNowAmber officially stands for "America's MissingBroadcast Emergency Response.” But the programwas originally named for Amber Hagerman, a nine-year-old girl who waskidnapped and murdered in Texas in 1996.
Sometimesbackronyms come from outdated languageWriting “CC” at theend of a document once meant "carbon copy.” Before computers and email,people would often make a carbon copy of a letter they sent on officialbusinessThese days we often send electronic copies of letters by email, not carbon copiesSo, “CC” is now a backronym that means “courtesycopy” 
Americans often use backronyms as jokes. For exampleNASA, the agencynamed a treadmill on the International Space Station afterthe television personality Stephen Colbert. The agency created the nameCombined Operational Load-Bearing External Resistance Treadmill” tospell out the name COLBERT.
Who says scientists lack a sense of humor?
Do not worry if you have never heard of backronymsMany Americans havenot either. The earliest known use of "backronymappeared in TheWashington Post in 1983.
The newspaper asked readers to send in a new wordEditors pickedMeredith G. Williams as the winner with her word, “backronym,” spelled withor without a “k.” She defined backronym, as the "same as an acronym,except that the words were chosen to fit the letters."
And that brings us to the end of this Words and Their Stories program.
I’m Anna Matteo
Hmmm, “ANNA” could be a backronym for “Another Newscaster NamedAnna.”


Apr 25, 2015

Looking to Webb Telescope on Hubble 25th Anniversary

Before the Hubble Space Telescopepeople saw the field of astronomydifferently than they do todayAmerican spacecraft did provide detailedpictures of Jupiter and Saturnplanets in our own solar system. But deepspace, the place where nebulae and galaxies existremained mostlycolorless -- until the Hubble Space Telescope. It has provided detailed andoften colorful images of once unimaginable objects.
Friday marks 25 years since Hubble left the ground. It was launched on theAmerican space agency’s Space Shuttle Discovery. The agencyalsoknown as NASAsays the telescope can no longer be repaired in space. But a new space telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, is beingbuilt and testedPlans call for it to be launched from French Guiana inOctober of 2018.
The Hubble and the Webb telescopes have much in commonScientistsdesigned both to operate in the vacuum of outer space. In other words,they can work in an environment without airBoth telescopes use mirrorsto collect and redirect light to make pictures, and radio signals to send theseimages back to earth. And both are powered by sunlight.
HoweverNASA officials say the James Webb Space Telescope is differentfrom HubbleMatt Greenhouse is a project scientist for the Webb telescope.
“The Webb, as we call it, is the successor to Hubble Space Telescope, and it is designed to do science that the Hubble can’t do by virtue of its design.One of the biggest differences between the Webb and the Hubble is that theWebb is designed to be an infrared telescope to see these very primordialobjectsthese objects that are among the oldest objects in the universe.”
To examine these distant objectsWebb will not look at visible light – thelight we seeInstead, it will look at infrared lightwhich is given off by hotobjectsAfter its launch, the Webb telescope will enter an orbit 1.5 millionkilometers above earth’s atmosphere. That is much farther than Hubble’sorbit and will give the Webb telescope a better ability to see infrared light,says MrGreenhouse.
With infrared radiation we can peer through clouds of dust in space thatobscure regions where stars are being born around us today.”
The Webb telescope’s mirror is also more than six times larger thanHubble’s. This means it will be able to create images with more detail andshow objects that are father away and not as bright. The mirror is made oflightweight beryllium and covered with gold. The huge device comes inpieces so that it can fit inside the Ariane 5 rocket that will carry the Webbtelescope into space.
MrGreenhouse says the instruments must be kept extremely cold so thatthey can observe infrared light.
“…more than minus 200 degree Celsiuswhich is what we call a cryogenictemperature. The reason for that is because anything above absolute zeroemits infrared lightIf we didn’t cool the telescope, it would be blinded by itsown infrared emission.”
New technologies combined with the larger mirror mean that the Webbtelescope is more than 100 times more powerful than Hubble.
The Webb is being put together at the Goddard Space Flight Center inGreenbeltMarylandMatt Greenhouse says scientists are performing tests.They want to avoid the problems that the Hubble Space Telescope hadwhen it started.
Shortly after its launch on April 24th, 1990, NASA scientists found thatHubble’s mirror was too flat -- by about the width of a human hair. Not a lot, but enough to cause problemsSpace shuttle astronauts repaired thetelescope in 1993. But this timeMatt Greenhouse saysmission scientistslearned from the experience.
One of the big things that we learned from the Hubble is the Hubble didn’tdo something called an end-to-end optical testwhere we take the entireobservatory and shine light through it the way it will be done in space andmake sure everything works.”
That will be important because the Webb telescope is not designed to berepaired in space like Hubble.
MrGreenhouse says scientists are performing tests on the Webbtelescope’s optical systems. He hopes that the Webb will bring newdiscoveries as Hubble did before it.
  • This undated image provided by the University of Utah shows the Andromeda galaxy, made by the Hubble Space Telescope.
Jennifer Wiseman is a senior project scientist with Hubble. She notes that itprovided new information about the birth and development of stars. Shesays the telescope showed that the universe is expanding and suggestedthe age of the universe at 13.8 billion years. She says it also helped provethe existence of black holes in some galaxies.
Hubble was capable of looking at the fast motions of gas around the centerof another galaxy and to discern that that fast motion, that fast rotation ofgascould only be held in place if there were something very massive in the core.  It had to be a super massive black hole.”
After 25 years in spaceHubble not only remains in orbit but is working well.Astronomers hope that both telescopes can be operating at the same timeso they can work together.
Jennifer Wiseman says Hubble’s accomplishments are clear.
“I think that it causes at its best all of humanity to pause for a momentlookup and think about who we are and how we are all citizens of this onemagnificent planet in a very magnificent universe.”
The new Webb space telescope is an international projectNASA, theEuropean Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency have workedtogether to build it at an estimated cost of over $8 billion dollars.
I’m Mario Ritter.
This story was based on from reports by VOA’s Rosanne SkirbleMarioRitter wrote it for Learning EnglishGeorge Grow was the editor.


Jan 18, 2015

Tips for Writing: ‘They Say, I Say’

For VOA Learning English, this is the EducationReport.
Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein are the writers of a best-selling book about college writing. The book iscalled They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. The book has had a major effecton the way writing is taught in the United States. It is a required book at more than 1,000 universities. Thegoal of this short book is to take the mystery out ofacademic writingGerald Graff says studentssometimes make writing harder than it needs to be.
Somebody needs to explain to students that, difficultas it might be, it’s not as hard as you’re making it.”
"They Say, I Say" second edition cover"They Say, I Say" second edition cover
English learners often think that academic writing isall about spellinggrammar, and organizationAuthorCathy Birkenstein says almost anyone can put asentence together. The difficult part is learning to readand think critically.
These concerns of English language learners aren’talways that different from advanced languagelearnersThese are basic questionsreally not just ofhow to write…but they’re really how to thinkacademically, and how to structure an argument, andhow to really be interesting.”
The two experts say that good academic writingfollows a simple design called “They Say, I Say.” Apaper should begin with what others have alreadysaid about the subject, or “they say.” Thenstudentwriters present their own opinions, or “I say.” Acollege paper should show the writer entering adebate among experts.
“A lot of people think writing can’t be reduced to aformulaWell in fact it canAll effective academicwriting at least comes down to the basic formula of “they say, I say”…Although most people argue[blank], I argue [blank].”
MrGraff agrees.
Most published journalism and scholarship followsthis basic form.”
Cathy Birkenstein says the form is common in otherkinds of writing as well.
“I think whether you’re writing on Facebook and whether you’re sending anemailwhether you’re writing a poem or a novel, and whether you’respeaking Vietnamese or French or Englishyou really have to kind of playthis underlying ‘they say, I say’ game of responding to what other peopleare saying and giving them a sense of what you think in response to whatthey’re saying. And if you don’t do that, and use some form a template thatGerry and I suggest, or your own version of it, I don’t people are going toreally understand what you’re saying or care about what you’re saying.”
Good academic writing starts with readingGerald Graff and CathyBirkenstein have some suggestions for getting started.
Start with what others are saying and play off that. Resist the temptationto give your own opinion until you’ve sketched out the conversation, thedialog that’s going on.”
MsBirkenstein says students should explain an expert’s idea first.
“I think if you’re not sure what to write aboutsummarize a good authorfindout who that author is responding to, and figure out the debate or conflictthere and figure out where you stand too.”
An expanded third edition of “They Say I Say” will be released on Februaryfirst.
I’m Adam Brock.
To see some examples of academic writing forms from these expertsvisitour blogConfessions of an English Learner.

Adam Brock wrote this story for Learning EnglishCaty Weaver was theeditor.


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