KA WORDCAST: Listen and Learn LESSON FIFTEEN: Elon Musk: Watch This Space

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LESSON FIFTEEN HERE!

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In today’s lesson, entitled Elon Musk: Watch This Space, you will be listening to a passage about one of the most innovative and visionary businessmen of the 21st century.   Listen carefully to the passage and then answer the questions that follow.  It’s always a good idea to take notes as you listen, but remember: don’t let your note-taking distract you from your listening. 

Elon Musk: Watch This Space

Listen and Learn

Lesson Fifteen PASSAGE ONLY track:

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Much of today’s technological world is the legacy of four household names synonymous with “innovation” and “invention”: Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell, and the Wright Brothers. Their ingenious contributions to electronics, transportation, and communication transformed modern life, laying the groundwork for many of the services and gadgets we simply can’t live without today.  

But another name is about to join this elite list of pioneers—Elon Musk.  Musk is the co-founder of PayPal, the revolutionary worldwide online payment service.  But his real claim to fame is as the inspiration behind Tesla Motors, maker of the Tesla, the world’s first all-electric vehicle.  Esquire magazine named the South African-born Musk one of the 75 most influential people of the 21st century.  He belongs to a new class of high-tech entrepreneur who look to use their wealth to make science fiction a reality.  A “thrillionaire,” so to speak.

By the time Musk was 32, he was already off-the-charts rich.  Having just sold PayPal for $180 million, he could easily have banked the money, rested on his laurels, and retired for good.  But that was not an option for the indefatigable Musk.  Instead, he set his sights on changing the world.  His ambition? To curb global warming by promoting the sustainable use of energy.

To this end, in 2003, he co-founded Tesla Motors, with the primary goal of producing an all-electric “smart vehicle.”   Other carmakers had a similar idea, but at the time, they were more focused on developing hybrids, vehicles that run on both gas and electricity.  Not Tesla.  Musk’s company poured all of its energy and resources into improving the lithium-ion battery used to power electric vehicles.  The first Tesla Roadster appeared in 2008, and it was a revelation.  It could travel 200 miles on a single charge—a distance that far exceeded consumer and industry expectations. Tesla’s latest model, the Model S, boasts a range of 240 miles.  What’s more, unlike fuel-powered cars that lose their efficiency over time, a Tesla just keeps on getting smarter, faster, and better thanks to its continual over-the-air software updates.

But cars aren’t the only thing up Musk’s sleeve.  Tesla recently introduced the Powerwall home battery unit that stores solar energy and serves as a back-up system during power outages.  The epoch-making device will give people living in remote areas access to a clean, renewable household power source, relegating today’s gas-operated, toxic-exhaust-emitting home generators to the dustbin.

In 2013, Musk unveiled his latest endeavor—the Hyperloop—a new form of high-speed transportation that could theoretically send people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in thirty minutes by way of highly pressurized tubes.  The concept may seem improbably futuristic, but such ideas are what Musk is all about.   Preliminary testing of the Hyperloop may begin as early as 2016. Musk is also the founder of SpaceX, a private company that manufactures and launches advanced, reusable spacecraft for NASA.   Established in 2002, the company’s ultimate goal is to revolutionize space-travel technology to make space tourism and the colonization of distant planets more than just a sci-fi dream.   When it comes to Elon Musk, you’ll definitely want to watch this space.

 

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LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS

 Listen to Listen and Learn Lesson Fifteen LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS  track:

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Today’s listening comprehension questions will be SHORT ANSWER and based on FACTUAL CONTENT and LOGICAL INFERENCE.  Listen to each question carefully and write your answer.  For the best results, always try to listen to the question without looking at the written questions on the website.  Feel free to pause the recording if you need a moment or two to think about the question.

 

1.         In the passage, who are mentioned as four household names synonymous with “innovation” and “invention?”

           

 

2.         In which fields of technology did the four household-name inventors make their contributions?   

           

 

3.         What revolutionary worldwide online payment service did Tesla CEO Elon Musk co-found? 

           

 

4.         Who named Musk one of the 75 most influential people of the 21st century?

           

 

5.         What could Elon Musk have done after he sold PayPal for $180 million, and why didn’t he do it?

           

 

6.         What was Musk’s primary goal when he co-founded Tesla Motors in 2003?

           

 

7.         While other carmakers were focused on producing hybrid vehicles, what did Tesla pour all of its energy and resources into?

           

 

8.         Unlike fuel-powered cars that lose efficiency over time, a Tesla gets smarter, faster, and better.  How is this achieved?

 

 

9.         In 2013, Musk introduced his latest endeavor—the Hyperloop.  What is it?

           

 

10.      SpaceX is a private company that manufactures and launches advanced spacecraft for NASA.  What is the company’s ultimate goal?

           

 

 

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Now that you have completed today’s listening comprehension exercise, it’s time to check your answers and see how well you did.  The correct answers will follow immediately after the closing jingle, so stay tuned.  Answers are also available on the KA Wordcast website as a separate track.   You can also download the lesson in PDF format and keep it for your reference.    And be sure to listen to the Key Vocabulary bonus track.   This will improve your understanding of the passage itself and give you a bigger, better active vocabulary.

LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS and ANSWERS HERE!:

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You may also download the lesson in PDF format to keep for your reference.

PDF DOWNLOAD:KA WORDCAST Listen and Learn Lesson Fifteen ELON MUSK WATCH THIS SPACE

 

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KA WORDCAST:  Listen and Learn!  Lesson FIFTEEN

KEY VOCABULARY WORDS

Be sure to listen to the Key Vocabulary bonus track.   This will help you improve your understanding of the passage itself and give your vocabulary a big boost.

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Howard Hughes: Aviation PIONEER

1.  PIONEER

But another name is about to join this elite list of PIONEERS—Elon Musk. 

As used here, PIONEER is a person who is the first to study and develop a particular area of knowledge, culture, science, or other field, especially one that other people continue to develop and explore.  Innovator, groundbreaker, and trailblazer are some good synonyms.

“Many of our bright, young pupils,” the headmaster said proudly during the graduation ceremony, “will become future PIONEERS in the fields of science and computers.”

“The Aviator” is a 2003 biopic about Howard Hughes, an aviation PIONEER and Hollywood producer and director. 

American scientist Robert Goddard was a PIONEER in rocket technology who launched the world’s first liquid-fuelled rocket in 1926. 

Last night, many of today’s most popular musicians held a concert to pay homage to Stevie Wonder, an R&B music PIONEER. 

American PIONEERS move out “West.”

PIONEER also refers to the first person or group of people who travel to, explore, and/or settle in a new country or area.    Some synonyms include settler and colonist.

Before PIONEERS settled Saltspring Island off the coast of British Columbia in 1859, it was inhabited by several Salishan tribes.

Early PIONEERS to America left Europe believing that the New World would provide them with a bright future and religious freedom.    

PIONEER is also used as a verb to mean to develop or be the first to use something new.

British crime writer Ruth Rendell, who PIONEERED the psychological thriller genre, published her first novel From Doon with Death in 1964.

South African doctor Christiaan Barnard is usually credited with PIONEERING heart-transplant surgery.

 

Thomas Cromwell was one of the most INFLUENTIAL figures in British history.

2.  INFLUENTIAL

Esquire magazine named the South African-born Musk one of the 75 most INFLUENTIAL people of the 21st century.

The adjective INFLUENTIAL is based on INFLUENCE, which is both a noun and a verb.   As a noun, INFLUENCE refers to the ability that a person or thing has to make others think or behave in a certain way, as in these examples:

When choosing your friends, you should think about what kind of INFLUENCE they will have on you. 

Catherine has grown so independent that her parents no longer have any real INFLUENCE over her decisions or how she lives her life.

As a verb, to INFLUENCE means to affect how others feel or think, especially by setting an example for them to follow.

These days, movie stars and sports celebrities generally have a lot of INFLUENCE over what young people think, wear, like, and do. 

You have to decide for yourself whether art school is the right choice for you, Trisha, so don’t let my opinion INFLUENCE your decision.

The adjective INFLUENTIAL, then, means having a great deal of INFLUENCE over someone or something, especially in a particular field or area.  Prominent, important, significant, and noteworthy are some near synonyms.

As an INFLUENTIAL faculty member, Mr. Resendez was able to convince the principal to buy new instruments for the music department.

With the financial support of several INFLUENTIAL investors, Dr. Williams can now continue his artificial intelligence research. 

Thomas Cromwell, an English lawyer and statesman who served under King Henry VIII, was one of the most INFLUENTIAL figures in British history.

 

Don’t EXCEED the speed limit!

3.  EXCEED

It could travel 200 miles on a single charge—a distance that far EXCEEDED consumer and industry expectations.

EXCEED means to be greater or more than a particular number or amount, or to surpass or be better than someone or something else.

If you EXCEED the speed limit in a school zone, your fine is usually doubled. 

What we spent on costumes for this production EXCEEDED the budget, which means that we have don’t have much money left for the set and props. 

Incredibly, the combined wealth of the world’s four richest people EXCEEDS the gross domestic product of the 48 least developed countries. 

Tristan’s final test scores in English and math far EXCEEDED the expectations of his teachers and parents. 

 These days, Russia far EXCEEDS Saudi Arabia and the United States in oil production, accounting for 14% of the world’s output.  

 

The Gremlin was low in overall EFFICIENCY and ugly to boot.

4.  EFFICIENCY

What’s more, unlike fuel-powered cars that lose their EFFICIENCY over time, a Tesla just keeps on getting smarter, faster, and better thanks to its continual over-the-air software updates.

EFFICIENCY is a noun that means the quality or property of being able to work or perform with a minimum of waste, expense, or unnecessary effort.   A car or machine with high EFFICIENCY runs well, while one with low EFFICIENCY is likely to have frequent technical and mechanical problems.

Most American cars built during in the 1960s and 1970s were low in overall EFFICIENCY, and they were ugly to boot. 

You can improve your car’s fuel EFFICIENCY simply by making sure that your tires have good tread and are properly inflated.

One of the quickest ways to improve your computer’s EFFICIENCY and performance is to erase unnecessary files. 

We’ll need to look at automating some of the procedures on the factory floor as a way to improve overall EFFICIENCY and productivity.

EFFICIENCY can also refer to the way people do things.

Our last boss never handled claims very well, but I’m impressed by the EFFICIENCY with which our new manager, Mrs. Eagan, handles customer complaints. 

Sally Wilcox is a model of EFFICIENCY.   She has fine-tuned her study methods and habits so that she doesn’t waste any time or energy at all.

A device or system that is EFFICIENT achieves maximum productivity with minimum wasted energy or expense.  A person who is EFFICIENT is well organized and competent.  The nearest synonym is productive.    EFFICIENTLY is the adverb form of EFFICIENT.

Olivia is a very EFFICIENT worker, quite possibly the most productive in our department.

At Minute Print, we offer fast, friendly, EFFICIENT service for all your printing and binding needs. 

Can anyone recommend an EFFICIENT, honest plumber who’ll be willing to come out on a Sunday and not charge an arm and a leg?

My daughter’s friend’s birthday party was really EFFICIENTLY organized.   Everything went off without a hitch, and everyone had a great time.

 

Elon Musk’s latest ENDEAVOR: The Hyperloop

5.  ENDEAVOR

In 2013, Musk unveiled his latest ENDEAVOR—the Hyperloop—a new form of high-speed transportation that could theoretically send people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in thirty minutes by way of highly pressurized tubes. 

Here, ENDEAVOR is a noun that refers to an attempt to do or accomplish something, usually something major, new, or seemingly impossible.  Effort and venture are the closest equivalents.

Have you heard about Denny’s latest ENDEAVOR?  He wants to start a healthy-alternative school lunch catering business. 

Harriet has tried selling cosmetics, dietary supplements, and greeting cards, but not one of her business ENDEAVORS has been successful. 

The public bombarded the television network with complaints in an ENDEAVOR to get program producers to bring back a recently cancelled program. 

As a verb, ENDEAVOR means to try very hard to accomplish something.  Attempt and to make every effort can be used in place of ENDEAVOR.

When you rely on public transportation, delays are sometimes unavoidable, but please ENDEAVOR to arrive at school on time every day.

“I’m not very experienced,” the young teacher told her new colleagues, “but I will ENDEAVOR to do my very best to uphold the reputation of this fine school.”

If you agree to chair the committee, Claire, we will ENDEAVOR to provide you with all the support you need. 

PRELIMINARY testing of the Hyperloop may begin as early as 2016.

6.  PRELIMINARY

PRELIMINARY testing of the Hyperloop may begin as early as 2016.

PRELIMINARY is an adjective that means done in preparation for something that is fuller or more important.  Initial, experimental, trial, and preparatory are some useful synonyms.

After a few PRELIMINARY remarks about the contest rules, the spelling-bee master started the first round. 

The plan to build a new school gymnasium is still in its PRELIMINARY discussion stage, but if we can get the necessary funding, it should get the go-ahead from the school board. 

The polls do not close for three more hours, but PRELIMINARY results show that the Green Party candidate will most likely win the seat.   

Archeologists’ PRELIMINARY findings indicate that the burial site recently dug up by construction workers in Hampton dates back a thousand years or more.

 

 

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PDF DOWNLOAD: KA WORDCAST Listen and Learn Lesson Fifteen KEY VOCABULARY