Simple English Listening

Joining The World's Conversation, Recent Human Evolution, The Landmine Detecting Rat (Pre-int)

October 11, 2020 Tristan Palumbo
Simple English Listening
Joining The World's Conversation, Recent Human Evolution, The Landmine Detecting Rat (Pre-int)
Show Notes Transcript

Join us every Sunday. Topics: joining the world's conversation, how human beings have evolved in the last 300 years and we talk about a rat that can find landmines.

Lots of new vocabulary including: hectic, weekly, evolution, landmines, increasing, artery, wisdom teeth, dystopian, utopian.

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Here, I speak in SIMPLE English about interesting topics. The best way to learn is to listen to as much English as possible which is ONE level above your level. This way you pick up maximum amounts of new language and pronunciation naturally. 




Hello my friends,

Welcome to a new weekly series on this podcast. 

On this channel, we speak about different topics in simpler English.

Today, I'll introduce you to this new weekly series. Weekly, which means we'll be doing this podcast once per week! Every Sunday.

I'll also share some thoughts with you about joining the world's conversation in English and we'll discuss two stories. One is about how human beings are evolving right now, meaning, how human beings are physically changing right now. For the second, we'll look at a story about how a rat has an amazing ability to find mines. 'Mines' are explosive devices. It's a bomb where, if you step on it - 'kaboom', it explodes.

Oh yea, please subscribe to this podcast on your app because it helps the channel grow.

So I decided that I don't release enough English-learning materials for you. Right now, I'm able to release only one video and podcast every two or three weeks, whenever I can! Sometimes, it's every 3 and a half weeks! So, it can be a long time.

Rather, I really want to be regular part of your English-learning experience but I've got a full-time job at an international school, which can be very hectic ('hectic' means very very busy, lots of rushing around), also I have my beloved rock'n'roll band which takes practicing, learning and writing new songs, performing on the weekends. I play guitar and sing there. I absolutely love it! It helps me feel free but it means I don't have as much free time as I'd like.

So, I've decided to make a weekly release ('weekly', meaning once every week). A weekly release. And, this is what I'll try: I'll release a full video on Youtube with the subtitles, with pictures, videos, definitions explaining new vocabulary, the editing, well edited, fancy editing etc.. that'll be every three weeks!

Now, every other week where I don't release a video, I'll release a simple podcast like this!

So, from now on there will be a weekly release. This will be every Sunday before 5pm.  Every Sunday! And, once every three weeks I'll release a full Youtube video about some interesting topic so let's try that for a little while. 

Also, if you want to read the transcript, it is available on the Simple English Listening podcast website so you can read with me, if you like. The transcript, being, all of the words. I'll include a link to the transcript in the description and on the Facebook page post for this podcast. So look at the Facebook page 'Simple English Listening' and in the post where I promote and advertise this podcast, you see it.. I'll pin it to the top of the page and I'll try and put it in your description, depending on what podcast app you use, you'll have access to it.

If you want to maximize your learning, you should try to listen to this podcast more than once. This way, you'll pick up more language naturally.

OK, how these podcasts will be structured, they will be shaped like this: 

I'll first give you some updates of my life and what I've been doing and thinking that week and then I'll read two or three interesting articles online, these can be news articles, articles about lifestyle, traveling, science, nature etc.. all kinds of topics.

I'll summarize these articles and simplify them for you. So, I'll tell you the most important information in them and also, I'll use simpler language. So, they should be perfect for pre-intermediate learners.

To update you on me, I've just returned from Da Nang, which is a beautiful city in the middle of Vietnam. I was there for four days because my school had a break. Now, I'm back at work for a 13-week grind, 13 weeks of high-intensity work until the winter holidays in mid-January. Actually, I'll tell you more about Da Nang next week. I've got something else to chat to you about this week.

OK my next thought: I've been thinking about recently - in knowing English, you are able to access other cultures, you are able to have cross-culture communication and join the world's conversation and what I mean by that is: say if you live in a smaller country and you only speak the language of that one country - let's use where I live in Vietnam as an example. Many Vietnamese people only speak Vietnamese. They only speak to other Vietnamese people. They only receive information through the Vietnamese cultural filter, through the Vietnamese eye, the Vietnamese perspective, told through the eyes of a Vietnamese person. It is always the Vietnamese version of that information. You can never know what anyone says directly in another language besides Vietnamese. This means, a person cannot experience other cultures and ways of thinking directly.

And that's Vietnamese - a country of 94 million people! So, it's a big country, but what if you're from the smaller countries around Vietnam for example, such as Cambodia or Laos. Laos as a population of just 7 million people. 

So if you only speak Laotian, you can only ever receive information from the tiny, the very small amount of people that speak that language and this very limited amount of information is filtered through the lens, through the perspective of a Laotian person, Laotian language, Laotian culture. 

Why this is important? This is important because a person is the information they receive. All of our thoughts, all of our decisions and ideas about culture, and our personal philosophies and beliefs are all based, are all because of the information we have received throughout our life. Are all because of the things we've read and we've heard about.

And if we have only the information of a very small population available to us, this can limit our thinking.

The more people speak a language, the more information you have available. Of course, in Arabic, Chinese, Spanish and English, you have much more information available from a larger, a wider range of cultures. 

Another thing, if you understand English then you have access to the information of 55% of the internet! 55% of all the information on the internet is in English. You then have access to all these for example, TED talks, all these lovely Youtube videos, that can help you learn new skills. Master Classes, the information from big media companies such as the BBC. You can then learn so much more, because if you know English, you will suddenly have all of this wonderful information and knowledge - you have access to it. So, that's something I've been thinking about. 

OK, so, the first story we'll discuss comes from the Guardian, a British newspaper. Scientists in Australia have found that more and more babies are being born with no wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth are the teeth that appear at the very back of your mouth when you are an adult, usually between 17 and 25 years old. Also, an increasing amount of people ('increasing' meaning, more and more people) are being born with an extra artery in their arm. An 'artery' is a big vein in your body. 'Veins' are what carry the blood around your body. An 'artery' is a big vein.  

And that's not it. As well as having no wisdom teeth and an extra artery in the forearm, people's faces are becoming shorter and our mouths and getting smaller, so there is less room, less space for teeth. 

The reason they believe this is happening is because now we can cook with fire (which of course softens food) and we can process food. So, we no longer need these big teeth for breaking down raw meat and hard plants and vegetables.

And that's not it - more people are being born with extra bones in their arms and legs. 

The extra artery in the forearm - people started noticing it in the 18th century. About 10 percent of people back then, born in the mid-1880s had the extra artery but nowadays, about 30% of people have this extra artery so it's gone up 20%. If this continues, most of the world's population will have the extra artery in their forearm by the year 2100.

The scientists say that human beings are evolving (are physically changing because of their environment) faster now than at any point in the last 250 years.

And that's it isn't it? Everything is changing all the time. Our bodies, the world, our societies, our languages, our countries, the whole universe. The minute we try to hold onto something, it starts changing in front of our eyes.. I love the quote, 'the only constant in life, is change'. 'The only constant in life, is change', meaning, the only thing that will always be there, is change. 

Have you ever seen the movie 'Waterworld' with the actor Kevin Costner? It is a movie about a dystopian future. 'Dystopian' is a wonderful adjective. It is the opposite of utopian. A 'utopia' means, a perfect world, everything works correctly and there is peace and no violence and it's full of love. A 'dystopia' is the opposite - a dystopian world has completely gone wrong. There, the the world is destroyed in some way, life is very difficult and there is violence etc.. That's a 'dystopia', the opposite of 'utopia' where it's perfect and.. a 'dystopia' is where the world's destroyed.

Many sci-fi movies that predict, that guess the future are movies that show a dytopian world. Where for example, the world becomes a wasteland, completely dried up like in Mad Max, or global warming has cooked the Earth, or there are natural disasters, or robots or AI have taken over. It makes a good movie!

In Waterworld, the polar ice caps, so the Artic and Antartica have both melted and the whole world is covered in water. And the protagonist, (the 'protagonist' meaning, the main character - protagonist) the hero has evolved gills, has evolved fish gills on his neck! 'Gills' are the lines, the slits of the neck of a fish that let water in and out and they take the oxygen from the water. So, he can breathe underwater and everyone is like 'woooh' he is the future, he can breathe underwater. And, the movie suggests that one day human beings return to the sea.

Anyways, let's move onto the next article.

This one is about a rat. So, an animal, a rat that can find mines. Mines are explosive devices, they are bombs that are hidden underground. If you step on them, they explode. 

This rat was given a gold medal for his bravery, the highest award an animal can receive and was the first rat to receive this award, a gold medal. I imagine the award is usually given to, I'd imagine dogs and horses but, first time to a rat!

But I wonder if the rat actually knows how dangerous his job is! Well, pfff who knows?

But check this out, the rat has cleared more than 141,000 square meters of land. This is the same as 20 football pitches. 20 football pitches of land are now safe, safe because of this rat.

He is pretty big - his species (his type) is a giant African pouched rat so, not quite as big as Master Splinter from teenage mutant ninja turtles but, quite big nonetheless. Of course, landmines are a serious problem in many countries and people still get injured and killed by them many years later.  This rat, more specifically, he's discovered 39 landmines and 28 other unexploded devices in Cambodia, which of course had a conflict  - a civil war - in the 1970s. In that civil war between 4-6million landmines were laid down under the earth.

In the news article there's a cute picture of the rat wearing a small rat-sized gold-medal. He was trained by the charity APOPO.

Why are they using rats? So rats are actually, good problem-solvers, they are highly intelligent. Also, they'll do very repetitive tasks for food rewards better than other animals. Because they are so small, it's safer for them to walk through landmine fields than say, dogs because perhaps they can stand on the mine but the weight of the rat isn't enough for the mine to explode, perhaps.

How they find the mines, according to the article, they can smell a chemical in the mines. They then run to the mine and scratch the top of the mine which then alerts the human handlers of the location of the mine.

And what's really amazing is the speed in which they can do it. So this rat, Magawa, is his name, this rat can search an area the same size as a tennis court in just 30 minutes. So, the same size land as a whole tennis court in just 30 minutes. It takes a human being with a metal detector up to four days to do the same amount of land. So, the rat takes 30 minutes, the human takes four days. This rat makes the world safer for the Cambodian people and perhaps in other parts of the world they'll do this too.

OK, please subscribe to all the Simple English Listening channels you can, on your podcast app, whether it's Itunes, Amazon, Google Podcasts or the Youtube channel and Facebook page, please subscribe to them too. It really helps me and helps this channel grow. So see you next week, have a most awesome week and see you next Sunday for our weekly simple English, informative, fun chat. OK, see you guys!