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Reading comprehension 1
The story of the Bicycle
As people try to use less energy, and find alternatives to cars, more and more people are buying, and riding, bicycles. But where did the bicycle come from? Who invented this “velocipede”?
You may be surprised to learn that the humble bicycle was invented several years later than the railway locomotive! But the two-wheeler has come a long way since the day it was invented by a Scottish blacksmith, Kirkpatrick MacMillan, back (it is said) in 1839.
MacMillan developed his bike from an older wheeled vehicle, called a “hobby horse”. This was a wooden horse with two wheels. The rider sat on the horse, and pushed the vehicle along with his feet. It was not a very fast or safe vehicle, since it had no steering and no brakes.
MacMillan, nicknamed Mad Pate, modified the hobby horse, by adding a system of articulated bars. The rider could push the bars back and forwards with his feet, and make the back wheel go round. He could also steer the bike, as the front wheel could be turned.
To demonstrate his invention, he cycled 60 miles to Glasgow! It must have been a terrible journey, on the roads of the day! Pate’s bike did not have rubber tyres or springs.
Mad Pate was not recognised in his time, but other people became interested in bicycles. Twenty-five years later, a Frenchman called Pierre Lallemant designed and patented the first bicycle with rotary pedals; and in 1876, H.J.Lawson added another basic feature, “chain-drive”.
Other features, such as rubber tyres and gears, have appeared since then; but the basic bicycle has not changed.
Since then the bicycle has had a magnificent fortune. Today, it is probably the most common form of transport in the world, especially in the Third World; and non-polluting and easy to ride, it has a big future as the town vehicle of tomorrow. Thanks Pate!
Read the article and say whether these statements are true or false:
1. The railway locomotive was invented before the bicycle.
2. The first bicycle was built in Scotland.
3. The bicycle was developed from a wooden horse.
4. The first bicycle was very difficult to steer.
5. Pate preferred not to have rubber tyres for his bike.
6. The pedals on Pate’s bike went round and round.
7. A Frenchman designed the first bike with rotary pedals.
8. Bicycles are very useful in the Third World.
9. The bicycle has little future in Europe.
Reading comprehension 2
The Effects of Stress
There is a famous expression in English: “Stop the world, I want to get off!” This expression refers to a feeling of panic, or stress, that makes a person want to stop whatever they are doing, try to relax, and become calm again. ‘Stress’ means pressure or tension. It is one of the most common causes of health problems in modern life. Too much stress results in physical, emotional, and mental health problems.
There are numerous physical effects of stress. Stress can affect the heart. It can increase the pulse rate, make the heart miss beats, and can cause high blood pressure. Stress can affect the respiratory system. It can lead to asthma. It can cause a person to breathe too fast, resulting in a loss of important carbon dioxide. Stress can affect the stomach. It can cause stomach aches and problems digesting food. These are only a few examples of the wide range of illnesses and symptoms resulting from stress.
Emotions are also easily affected by stress. People suffering from stress often feel anxious. They may have panic attacks. They may feel tired all the time. When people are under stress, they often overreact to little problems. For example, a n
ormally gentle parent under a lot of stress at work may yell at a child for dropping a glass of juice. Stress can make people angry, moody, or nervous.
Long-term stress can lead to a variety of serious mental illnesses. Depression, an extreme feeling of sadness and hopelessness, can be the result of continued and increasing stress. Alcoholism and other addictions often develop as a result of overuse of alcohol or drugs to try to relieve stress. Eating disorders, such as anorexia, are sometimes caused by stress and are often made worse by stress. If stress is allowed to continue, then one’s mental health is put at risk.
It is obvious that stress is a serious problem. It attacks the body. It affects the emotions. Untreated, it may eventually result in mental illness. Stress has a great influence on the health and well-being of our bodies, our feelings, and our minds. So, reduce stress: stop the world and rest for a while.
Answer the questions.
1. Which of the following is NOT a common problem caused by stress?
a) physical problems
b) anecdotal problems
c) mental problems
d) emotional problems
2. According to the essay, which of the following parts of the body does not have physical problems caused by stress?
a) the arms
b) the stomach
c) the lungs
d) the heart
3. All of the following choices show how stress can affect the emotions, except ——
a) It can make people feel nervous.
b) It can cause panic attacks.
c) It can make people feel elated.
d) It can make people feel angry.
4. Which of the following can result from long-term stress?
d) b, c
5. Choose the best answer to explain how alcoholism is caused by stress.
a) Alcohol is used to relieve stress
b) Alcohol is popular
c) Alcohol is a chemical
d) Alcohol is similar to medicine
6. Which of the following is not caused by long-term stress?
7. Which one is NOT correct?
Stress can affect the respiratory system by __________.
a) causing stomach problems
b) causing asthma
c) a loss of carbon dioxide
d) causing breathing problems
8. Symptoms of emotional stress include __________.
a) feeling joyous
b) feeling hungry
c) feeling thirsty
d) feeling tired
Reading comprehension 3
The Causes of Floods
Floods are second only to fire as the most common of all natural disasters. They occur almost everywhere in the world, resulting in widespread damage and even death. Consequently, scientists have long tried to perfect their ability to predict floods. So far, the best that scientists can do is to recognize the potential for flooding in certain conditions. There are a number of conditions, from deep snow on the ground to human error, that cause flooding.
When deep snow melts it creates a large amount of water. Although deep snow alone rarely causes floods, when it occurs together with heavy rain and sudden warmer weather it can lead to serious flooding. If there is a fast snow melt on top of frozen or very wet ground, flooding is more likely to occur than when the ground is not frozen. Frozen ground or ground that is very wet and already saturated with water cannot absorb the additional water created by the melting snow. Melting snow also contributes to high water levels in rivers and streams. Whenever rivers are already at their full capacity of water, heavy rains will result in the rivers overflowing and flooding the surrounding land.
Rivers that are covered in ice can also lead to flooding. When ice begins to melt, the surface of the ice cracks and breaks into large pieces. These pieces of ice move and float down the river. They can form a dam in the river, causing the water behind the dam to rise and flood the land upstream. If the dam breaks suddenly, then the large amount of water held behind the dam can flood the areas downstream too.
Broken ice dams are not the only dam problems that can cause flooding. When a large human-made dam breaks or fails to hold the water collected behind it, the results can be devastating. Dams contain such huge amounts of water behind them that when sudden breaks occur, the destructive force of the water is like a