Watch and Listen

1. Watch the video and circle the correct answer.

 Volcanic activity doesn’t change / changes the ocean floor.

 Most / Some internet traffic goes through cables in the ocean.

 Internet traffic goes through cables at the top / bottom of the ocean.

 The fibre optic cables slowly / suddenly went dead.

 Scientists / Engineers looked for the problem.

 They found the cables were broken / fixed.

 It took days / weeks to find and repair the cables.

 A special kind of ship / plane helps keep the internet connected.

2. Watch again. Put the sentences (a-e) in the order you hear them (1-5).

a   Computers all over Asia crashed. ____

b   It took weeks to find and repair the cables. ____

c   Engineers looked for the problem. ____

d   Important fibre optic cables … went dead. ____

e   Many people … couldn’t use the internet. ____

3. Answer the questions.

1   What kind of activity happens in the middle of the ocean?

2   When did the important fibre optic cables go dead?

3   Where did the fibre optic cables go dead?

4   What moved at the bottom of the ocean and broke the cables?

5   What did they use to find and repair the cables?



1 changes   2 Most   3 bottom   4 suddenly   5 Engineers

6 broken   7 weeks   8 ship


a 2   b 5   c 3   d 1   e 4


1 violent volcanic activity   2 ten years ago

3 Between Taiwan and the Philippines   4 heavy rocks

5 A special ship called the Wave Sentinel


Fibre optic cables

In the middle of the ocean, deep underwater, violent volcanic activity changes the ocean floor.

Usually we don’t know anything about this – until the internet stops working.

99% of all internet traffic between continents goes through cables at the bottom of the ocean.

But sometimes there are problems. For example, ten years ago nine important fibre optic cables on the ocean floor between Taiwan and the Philippines suddenly went dead.

Computers all over Asia crashed. Engineers looked for the problem and they found that the cables were broken.

Volcanic activity caused heavy rocks to move and break the cables.

Suddenly, many people in Southeast Asia couldn’t use the internet. What would happen to business? It took weeks to find and repair the cables.

Engineers used this special ship, called the Wave Sentinel. Its job is to keep the internet connected.

Listening 1

1. Listen to the radio programme. Complete the student’s notes.

Types of 1_____________: industrial, waiter, teacher

Robots are 2_____________ now than in past, not expensive

Medical robot

Helps 3_____________ people walk after 4_____________: robotic 5_____________

Service robot

Saves time: does boring/dirty work, e.g. washing and cleaning

Elderly people can stay 6_____________ longer – important, not a 7_____________

Research robot

Assists scientists with 8_____________: robotic fish

Scientists can find out about 9_____________ quickly

2. Listen to the radio programme again. Complete the reasons in the table.



Robots weren’t used very much in the past

since they were 1__________.

Joey Abbica couldn’t walk

because of an 2__________.

People have a much better quality of life

thanks to these 3__________.

Scientists can find out about pollution quickly

due to the 4__________.



1 robots   2 cheaper   3 disabled   4 accidents   5 suit

6 in their own homes   7 luxury  

8 information collection   9 pollution (in the water)


1 always really expensive   2 accident

3 new types of robots   4 robotic fish


Host:   Welcome to University Radio, the station run by students for students. I’m Chen Hu and this is Science Today. Our subject is technological development and our guest is Professor Joanne Kent, expert in robotics. Thanks for coming in, Professor. When we think of robots, we generally think of science fiction films. Is this out of date?

Professor:   Yes, it is. Technology had developed very fast over the last ten years and robots are part of everyday life. Robots can now do many important things.

Host:   What kinds of things?

Professor:   Well, they have been used in factories for years; Japan and China have the most industrial robots in the world. But now robots are coming into our lives in other ways. In Japan, Thailand and Hong Kong, for example, there are robot waiters in restaurants and in South Korea a robot is used as an English teacher. Robots weren’t used very much in the past, since they were always really expensive. But because they have become cheaper, they are being used in new and interesting ways. One key area is the way robots can help with medical care.

Host:   Can you explain that a little more?

Professor:   Well, a good example is the robotic suit for disabled people. Robots can now assist people who can’t walk. They can help them to move again. People ‘wear’ the robot, like clothes. The robot then helps move the person’s arms or legs. For example, one man, Joey Abbica, couldn’t walk because of an accident at work three years earlier. Before the accident, Joey could surf really well. In fact, he won lots of competitions, but after the accident he couldn’t walk at all. He wasn’t even able to sit up on his own when a visitor came. And he couldn’t even feel his legs when doctors touched them. But when he put on the robotic suit, he was able to stand up and walk on his own again. He isn’t able to walk at all without the suit. Robotics changed his life.

Host:   So people have a much better quality of life, thanks to these new types of robots?

Professor:   Yes, that’s right. Service robots are also very helpful to people.

Host:   What do service robots do?

Professor:   Well, one of the reasons that service robots were invented is to save people time. They do all the jobs around the house that people find difficult, dirty or boring. For instance, robots can put clothes into a washing machine, and plates and cups into a dishwasher and they can clean your kitchen and bathroom. But for some people, service robots are really important; they’re not just a luxury. Elderly people, for example, can’t always do housework easily. They might need help from robots. The robot means they are able to stay in their own homes for longer.

Host:   So, robots can help people in their everyday life, but how do they help more generally?

Professor:   Robots are now solving modern problems, too. Have you heard of robotic fish?

Host:   I haven’t, but I assume they are robots that swim in water. What do they do?

Professor:   They were developed to help scientists with information collection. They look like fish, they swim and move like other fish, but when they are swimming, they can collect information about the amount of pollution in the water. Scientists can find out about pollution quickly, due to the robotic fish.

Host:   Well, we’ve heard of robots that clean your house, so it’s good to know they can help keep the environment clean, too. OK, we have some questions coming in, so let’s hear the first one …

Listening 2

1. Listen to the report. Complete the ‘main ideas’ column of the notes.

main ideas

additional details

Scientists looked, in particular, at how computers affect our 1__________.

They wanted to find out if computers have changed the way we remember 6__________ and knowledge.

What we think when we are asked 2__________ questions has changed due to 3__________ like GoogleTM.

In the past, people tried to think of the 7__________ to the questions.

Now people think about 8__________ to find the answer.

e.g. They think about what they might 9__________ into GoogleTM.

They type of 4__________ we remember has changed.

People now forget 10__________, especially if they know the information will be saved on a computer.

They remember the 11__________ of the fact.

Computers are not making us stupid, but they are making us 5__________.

We are spending time remembering where to 12__________ information but not on remembering the information itself.

2. Listen again. Complete the ‘additional details’ column of the notes.



1 memory   2 difficult   3 websites   4 information   5 lazy


6 information   7 answer   8 how   9 put   10 facts

11 location   12 find


News reporter:   For a long time, people have asked the same question: Do computers stop us from learning and developing? Do they make us stupid? A recent study at Columbia University in New York looked at this question, in particular how computers affect our memory. They wanted to find out if computers have changed the way we remember information.

First, the scientists did research on what happens when people are asked difficult questions. They found that what we think when we hear difficult questions has changed because of websites like GoogleTM. When people were asked difficult questions in the past, scientists believe they tried to think of the answer to the question. However, because of modern technology, the first thing people think about now is how to find the answer; they don’t try to answer it themselves. For example, they think about what they might put into GoogleTM, but in the past they thought about the question itself.

Second, scientists found that computers have changed the type of information we remember. There are advantages and disadvantages to these changes. A disadvantage is that it seems that people now forget facts, especially if they know the information will be saved in a file. On the other hand, an advantage is that they remember the location of the fact: in other words, where to find it. In one test, scientists told university students some facts and also where the facts were saved in a file. Most of the students couldn’t remember the facts, but they were able to remember the files and the location of the facts.

In conclusion, it seems that computers are not making us stupid, but they are making us lazy! Scientists believe that we are spending time remembering where and how we can find things, but we’re not trying to remember the information itself anymore.

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