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LESSON THIRTY-THREE HERE!
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In today’s lesson, entitled Earth Impact, you will be listening to a passage about the Chelyabinsk Meteor incident. You will also learn why astronomers are keeping a close eye on some space objects that may be on a future collision course with our planet. 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.
Listen and Learn
Lesson Thirty-Three PASSAGE ONLY track:
On February 15, 2013, the people of Chelyabinsk, Russia, were scared out of their wits by a spectacular sight. A fiery 20-meter-wide space rock traveling at a speed of 12 miles per second screamed across the sky and began to break up right before their astonished eyes. It then exploded at an altitude of about 28 miles, causing a shockwave powerful enough to shatter windows, collapse roofs, and literally knock people off their feet. At its most brilliant, the meteor fireball, the largest known natural object to enter Earth’s atmosphere in more than 100 years, glowed 30 times brighter than the sun. An international team of scientists rushed to Chelyabinsk to chart the extent of the destruction. They found that the shockwave had left a trail of damage 55 miles on either side of the meteor’s aerial path. Fortunately, the Chelyabinsk meteor didn’t cause any fatalities, but nearly 1,500 people did sustain injuries worthy of medical attention.
But what made this incident so utterly frightening was the fact that the meteor came out of nowhere, completely unannounced, so to speak. At the time, scientists and astronomers had been focusing their attention on another larger space visitor—the 30-meter-wide Duende asteroid—that was expected to pass just 27,700 kilometers from Earth’s surface on the very same day, a record-setting close approach for an object of this size. But the sneaky arrival of the Chelyabinsk meteor and the violence of its impact caught scientists off guard and served as a wake-up call. “If humanity does not want to go the way of the dinosaurs,” said University of California Professor Qing-Zhu Yin, “we need to study an event like this in detail.”
Every day, Earth is hit by falling space debris of all kinds—naturally occurring objects like asteroids, or man-made space junk like worn-out satellites and bits and pieces of rockets. Astronomers at the European Space Agency’s Near Earth Object Coordination Center in Frascati, Italy, monitor the skies round the clock and keep a record of objects that show even the slightest risk of striking our planet in the next century. The list currently contains 524 objects, and is steadily growing. Most of these objects are small and pose very little threat. They will burn up harmlessly as they enter Earth’s atmosphere and shoot across the sky virtually unnoticed.
That’s not to say that astronomers don’t have bigger things to worry about. Take, for example, the 600-meter-wide “Halloween Asteroid” that passed by Earth at a distance of just over 480,000 kilometers on October 31, 2015. Scientists must keep a constant eye on such near-Earth objects so that their orbits can be more precisely measured and a future impact with Earth ruled out. (Or, heaven forbid, prepared for!)
One asteroid in particular has astronomers working overtime. The 470-meter-wide 2009FD is an asteroid with an orbit that puts it on a possible future collision course with Earth. It shot by us at the end of October 2015, missing Earth by sixteen times the distance to the moon. But studies show that 2009FD will come much closer in the late 22nd century. In fact, the approach on March 29, 2185, is predicted as having a 1-in-385 chance of ramming right into our planet. Needless to say, an impact with an asteroid of this magnitude would wreak devastation over a huge area.
To put your mind at ease, 2009FD is only a fraction of the size of the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Mankind, it seems, is in no immediate danger of being wiped out. Not for the foreseeable future, anyway.
LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS
Listen to Listen and Learn Lesson Thirty-Three LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS track:
Today’s listening comprehension questions will be MULTIPLE CHOICE or TRUE-FALSE and based on FACTUAL CONTENT and LOGICAL INFERENCE. Listen to each question carefully and mark your answer. Feel free to pause the recording if you need a moment or two to think about the question.
1. Choose the best answer.
Why were the people of Chelyabinsk, Russia, scared out of their wits on February 15, 2013?
a) A 20-meter-wide meteorite landed in their city and shattered windows and collapsed roofs.
b) A fiery 20-meter-wide meteor traveling at a speed of 12 miles per second was seen screaming across the sky.
c) A fiery 12-meter-wide space rock exploded at an altitude of about 20 miles above their city.
d) A 28-mile-wide meteor traveling at a speed of 20 miles per second was seen screaming across the sky.
2. Decide if this statement is true or false.
The shockwave from the meteor’s explosion was powerful enough to knock some people off their feet.
3. Decide if this statement is true or false.
Space rocks the size of the Chelyabinsk meteor enter the Earth’s atmosphere quite regularly.
4. Choose the best answer.
Why did the Chelyabinsk meteor catch scientists off guard?
a) At the time the Chelyabinsk meteor entered Earth’s atmosphere, no scientists or astronomers were on duty at the Russian Space Center.
b) The meteor appeared during the day, which made it difficult for the scientists to detect.
c) Scientists and astronomers had been focusing their attention on another larger space visitor—the 30-meter-wide Duende asteroid.
d) Scientists had been focusing their attention on the 30-meter-wide Duende asteroid, which had entered the Earth’s atmosphere at almost the same time.
5. Choose the answer that best completes this sentence.
Every day, Earth is hit by_________________.
a) falling space debris, including man-made space junk like worn-out satellites and pieces of rockets
b) 20-meter-wide asteroids
c) at least 524 falling space objects
d) chunks of passing comets and asteroids big enough to cause death and destruction
6. Decide if this statement is true or false.
The European Space Agency’s Near Earth Object Coordination Center’s main task is to keep a record of objects that show even the slightest risk of striking Earth in the next century.
7. Choose the answer that best completes this sentence.
Most of the near-Earth objects the Near Earth Object Coordination Center is currently tracking _____________________.
a) are large enough to cause destruction to large areas of land
b) are man-made space junk
c) will come dangerously close to wiping out mankind
d) will burn up harmlessly as they enter Earth’s atmosphere
8. Decide if this statement is true or false.
The 600-meter-wide “Halloween Asteroid” passed by Earth at a distance of just over 48,000 kilometers on October 31, 2015.
9. Choose the best answer to this question.
According to the passage, when is the 470-meter-wide 2009FD expected to pass by Earth again?
a) It will loop around Earth again in about one hundred years.
b) It will pass Earth 16 times between now and the end of the 22nd
c) It will pass Earth again towards the end of the 22nd
d) It will not just pass Earth; it will collide with it in 2185.
10. Decide if this statement is true or false.
The 2009FD asteroid is nearly the same size as the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS and ANSWERS HERE!
You may also download the lesson in PDF format to keep for your reference.
KA WORDCAST: Listen and Learn! Lesson THIRTY-THREE
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.
It then exploded at an altitude of about 28 miles, causing a shockwave powerful enough to shatter windows, COLLAPSE roofs, and literally knock people off their feet.
COLLAPSE is a verb with many everyday uses. In the sentence above, COLLAPSE means to fall down or to fall suddenly, often after breaking apart. Synonyms include cave in, fall in, give way, crumble, and fall to pieces.
Last winter, during one of the heaviest snow storms the UK has had in decades, a section of our roof COLLAPSED under the weight of the snow.
More than a dozen students were injured when the bleachers in the school gymnasium suddenly gave way and COLLAPSED.
Firefighters had to abandon their efforts to put out the warehouse fire because the roof was in danger of COLLAPSING.
The chocolate soufflé I made for dessert last night COLLAPSED in the middle and looked a bit strange, but it still tasted delicious.
When a person COLLAPSES, he or she suddenly falls down and quite often becomes unconscious because of some medical or physical problem. Faint, pass out, black out, and lose consciousness are some good substitutes.
Every year, several London Marathon runners COLLAPSE from exhaustion the moment they cross the finish line.
Jeannie’s grandmother COLLAPSED while walking her dog this morning and had to be taken to the emergency room.
COLLAPSE can also mean to fold up something such as a table or chair so that it takes up less space. COLLAPSIBLE is the adjective form and is used to describe something that can be folded to make it smaller, as in the third example below.
As a safety precaution, only sixth graders are allowed to COLLAPSE the lunchroom tables and put them away.
Most travel cots on the market these days COLLAPSE down so they can be stored under a bed.
The principal’s new bicycle is COLLAPSIBLE, so she brings it into the school with her every morning and puts it behind her desk.
COLLAPSE is also used informally to mean to sit or lie down, especially after a long, tiring day, as in:
Ronnie came home after dress rehearsal last night and COLLAPSED on the sofa, too tired to even eat his dinner.
COLLAPSE also has a more figurative usage. It means to fail suddenly and completely. Break down, fall through, go wrong, and disintegrate are some near equivalents.
The peace talks between the two warring nations COLLAPSED, and the cease-fire abruptly ended.
As a noun, COLLAPSE refers to the sudden failure or sudden fall of something, as in:
When the President took office earlier this year, the country’s economy was on the verge of COLLAPSE.
An international team of scientists rushed to Chelyabinsk to CHART the extent of the destruction.
In the sentence above, CHART is a verb that means to make a map of an area or to plot a course on a map. Map out is the closest synonym.
From 1804 to 1806, American explorers Lewis and Clark CHARTED much of America, from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean.
Before we set out on our hiking trip in the Cascades, Renee CHARTED a route on a foldout map, just in case we weren’t able to receive GPS signals while we were out in the wilderness.
As a verb, CHART also means to record or follow the development or progress of something, as in:
The new reading scheme allows us to CHART each child’s progress throughout the school year.
This year’s exhibition at the Hoquiam Museum CHARTS the history of the people who settled the area nearly 300 years ago.
You can also CHART a course of action. In other words, CHART means to make a plan.
The school’s academic advisor is helping me CHART my course of study so that I can graduate in three years instead of four.
Our son Oscar has been CHARTING his path towards Harvard since he was in the third grade.
As a noun, a CHART is a page or sheet of information in the form of lists, diagrams, tables, and so on.
Hermione’s doctor took one look at her CHART and told her that she needed to stay in the hospital overnight for observation.
When our daughter Anna has filled what we call her “Best-Behavior CHART” with 25 star stickers, we take her to a zoo, amusement park, or museum.
As you can see on this CHART, our school’s standardized test scores have been rising rapidly since the implementation of the new curriculum.
At the time, scientists and astronomers had been focusing their attention on another larger space visitor—the 30-meter-wide Deunde asteroid—that was expected to pass just 27,700 kilometers from Earth’s surface on the very same day, a record-setting close APPROACH for an object of this size.
In the passage, APPROACH is a noun that refers to the action of coming nearer to someone or something in distance or time. This usage is based on the verb APPROACH, which means to come nearer someone or something in distance, time, quality, or quantity. Look at how APPROACH is used as both a noun and a verb.
In August 1989, NASA’s spacecraft Voyager 2 made its closest APPROACH to the planet Neptune.
Denise hadn’t heard Tommy’s APPROACH and jumped when the door suddenly opened.
We’d been walking along the deserted highway for at least an hour before we finally heard a car APPROACHING.
When driving, you should never attempt to pass another car when you are APPROACHING a hill or a sharp bend in the road.
Winter is fast APPROACHING, which means I’ll have to go out and buy my kids some new jackets.
Sad to say, the author’s latest novel doesn’t even APPROACH the greatness of the novels he wrote when he was in his prime.
An APPROACH is also a way to deal with a particular person, problem, or task. The corresponding verb means to start to deal with a particular situation or problem. Synonyms for the noun usage include method, technique, attitude, process, and style. Synonyms for the verb include set about, begin, and commence. Look at the following examples.
Although my sister Lucy and I have very different APPROACHES to child rearing, we are both good mothers in our own way.
How you APPROACH a particular problem could mean the difference between resolving it and making it worse.
By the way, the adjective APPROACHABLE is often used to talk about teachers or other people in positions of authority. It means easy to talk to, as in:
Don’t be nervous. Mr. Peters is very APPROACHABLE, and I’m sure he’ll be happy to help you out.
Every day, Earth is hit by falling space DEBRIS of all kinds—naturally occurring objects like asteroids, or man-made space junk like worn-out satellites and bits and pieces of rockets.
DEBRIS is a noun that means scattered pieces of rock, metal, brick, and so on that are left after something is destroyed or used up. Fragments, rubble, wreckage, and junk are some synonyms.
Emergency teams at the crash site are still searching through the DEBRIS for any signs of survivors.
New evidence suggests that a piece of aluminum DEBRIS found on a remote island in the South Pacific came from the missing aircraft.
NASA recently confirmed that there are more than 20,000 pieces of DEBRIS larger than a softball currently orbiting Earth.
DEBRIS also refers to scattered pieces of rubbish or garbage.
It took street cleaners all morning to clear away the DEBRIS and litter from yesterday’s Thanksgiving Day parade.
After cleaning up our back yard last weekend, we hauled more than twelve huge bags of grass, leaves, weeds, and other garden DEBRIS to the dump.
Astronomers at the European Space Agency’s Near Earth Object Coordination Center in Frascati, Italy, monitor the skies round the clock and keep a record of objects that show even the slightest risk of STRIKING our planet in the next century.
The verb STRIKE has many uses. Today, we will look at only the most common. In the sentence above, STRIKE means to collide or come into forcible contact with something else. Synonyms include crash into, hit, and slam or smash into.
A speeding car STRUCK Stuart’s brother while he was crossing the street in the middle of the night.
Apparently, about 100 lightening bolts STRIKE the earth every second.
At 11:40 p.m. on Sunday, April 14, 1914, the Titanic STRUCK an iceberg and sank into the icy cold waters of the North Atlantic.
I can still vividly remember watching the plane as it STRUCK the second building of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
In everyday usage, STRIKE means to hit, slap, smack, punch, or swat something using your hand, weapon, or other implement, as in:
Unlike today, teachers used to be allowed to STRIKE students with canes and other implements whenever a child behaved badly.
Christopher was taken into custody after he STRUCK a police officer with his umbrella.
STRIKE also means to accidentally hit or bump a part of your body against something.
Little Brandon fell and STRUCK his head against the edge of the fireplace, requiring ten stitches.
Apart from the little scar I got when I STRUCK my knee against a metal table, I don’t have any other distinguishing marks.
And more figuratively and colloquially, STRIKE can also mean to “hit” one’s mind suddenly, as in:
The idea for Velcro STRUCK the inventor when he saw some cockleburs sticking to his pet dog.
It STRUCK me that I hadn’t been to the dentist in over a year, so I hurried up and made an appointment.
Most of these objects are small and pose very little threat. They will burn up harmlessly as they enter Earth’s atmosphere and shoot across the sky VIRTUALLY unnoticed.
VIRTUALLY is a very useful sub-modifier that means nearly or almost. In effect, effectively, more or less, practically, and just about are some good substitutes.
This year’s SAT results are VIRTUALLY the same as last year’s, which is great considering that both juniors and seniors performed very well.
We’ve VIRTUALLY had no communication with our daughter’s teacher all year, so I have no idea how Elena is doing in class.
People say that it is VIRTUALLY impossible to win the lottery, but somebody wins, and that somebody might as well be me.
VIRTUALLY every department store offers next-day delivery these days, which makes on-line Christmas shopping even more convenient.
For nearly 400 years, from 27 B.C. until the fourth century, the Roman Empire ruled over VIRTUALLY the entire civilized world.