Hi. Good afternoon. Thanks for coming. Today, I want to talk to you for five minutes about the printing press. OK. This is going to be tricky but I’m going to do my best. Here we go. Five four three two one go.
Many people say the printing press is the most important invention after fire and the wheel. And there are many arguments to … that agree with that. I mean, do you read? Do you read books, newspapers, magazines, textbooks, adverts, posters? Everything pretty much we have in the world around us has been made because of the printing press. Do you know anything? Do you have knowledge? That’s because of the printing press and we’re going to talk about that in a second. Continue reading →
Hi. Good afternoon everybody. Thank you for coming again. Today, I want to talk to you for five minutes about the microwave. I forgot my clock. So, I’m going to use the timer on my watch. Are you ready? Here we go. Three. Two. One. Go.
The microwave oven. I’m sure nearly all of you have used a microwave oven at some point in your life, or at least seen one on TV. What do we use microwave ovens for? We use them for heating up our food. Now, how do they work? Well, inside the box that is your microwave you have something called a magnetron. The magnetron releases microwaves … radio waves. You know the shape of a wave. Like that. A microwave, each wave is about 12.2cm wide and the waves travel at 2.45GHz. One hertz is one wave a second, basically. So, 2.45GHz, if I can calculate that right, means about 2.5 billion waves a second. 2.5 billion times a second. That’s incredible. Continue reading →
Hi. Good afternoon everybody. Thank you for coming. I’ve still got a bit of a cold. I’ve got a very stuffed up nose, so hopefully you’ll be able to hear me. And it keeps running as well, so I’ll try not to let it run too much during the talk.
Today I want to talk to you for five minutes about the elevator, although I am from England where we say lift rather than elevator, so, if I do occasionally say lift, I mean elevator, and vice versa. Hopefully you’ll understand. OK? Are you ready? Here we go. Five minutes about the elevator in three, two, one, go. Continue reading →
Hi. Good morning everybody. Thanks for coming. I hope you’re well. Today, I want to talk to you about the Statue of Liberty. I’m going to give myself ten minutes for this one. I find if I don’t time these talks, I just tend to go on and on and on. Waffle on. So, I’m going to give myself ten minutes. OK. Are you ready? Here we go. The Statue of Liberty in ten minutes. Three, two, one, go. Continue reading →
Hi. Good afternoon. It’s good to see you. Today, I want to try and talk to you for five minutes about paper. Alright, let’s see how I go. Here we go. Three. Two. One. Go.
Obviously, all of you write down some things during the day. And I’m sure you all write it down on paper. Most of you, anyway. Where does paper come from? Well, as a civilization, once we developed a system of writing, we had to write down on something, of course. In the very beginning, people chiseled shapes and words into rocks. And then, of course, you move from rocks to wood. You can carve words into wood. But, of course, wood tablets are not very portable, and once you’ve carved it, you can’t reuse them. Then we have wax tablets. Wax you can actually reuse. You can press it flat, you can write again. But, of course, wax tablets are not very portable either. Some civilizations even use gold. Gold sheets they carved … they chiseled words into the gold sheets. Now, all these ideas are fine for writing on, but they’re not very portable and most of them are not reusable. Continue reading →
Hi. Good afternoon. How are you? Thanks for coming. Today, I want to try and talk to you for five minutes about this, the common or garden pencil, and basically why we call this a pencil lead. OK. Here we go.
So, obviously we’ve had ways of drawing for thousands of years: paintings, inks, but the pencil is actually much younger than we think, well than I thought it was. I assumed the pencil was quite old, but it’s actually only about five hundred years old. The pencil was invented in about 1500. And the thing that made the invention of the pencil possible was the discovery of a large graphite deposit in a place called Grey Knots, in southern England … sorry, Northern England. Graphite is a very soft mineral. It’s very similar to coal. It’s a form of carbon and it’s very soft and it’s black, and when people discovered this graphite in the beginning, they thought it was a type of lead. They actually called it plumbago. And, even though graphite is not lead, the name kind of stuck. So, even now we say, “there’s lead in my pencil” or “I’ve broken the lead of my pencil” or “this is a pencil lead”. “Don’t suck your pencil, you’ll get lead poisoning”. Although, in fact, this is not actually lead, it’s just the name has stuck. Continue reading →
Hi. Good morning. How are you today? I hope you are having a good week. Today, I want to talk to you about football … soccer. Before that though, don’t forget, as always, if you click on the link in the description below here, you can find the script for this talk, you can find questions and you can find answers. You can practice your listening, your reading, your writing and your speaking, if you do the answers out loud.
Today, football … soccer. Where does football come from? Well, ball sports are very very natural. Humans kick naturally and there are many many round objects in the world. It is natural for us to kick round objects, so it’s quite natural that ball sports would develop. China had a sport called “cuju” from about 250 BC. Cuju basically means kick ball. Japan had one as well, Kemari, which again was a ball sport. Greece had “episkyros” in 250 AD. And Rome of course, had a game called “harpastum”. These were all played with inflated sheep or a pig’s bladder. Basically, you would take the bladder from the animal, you would fill it with air and you would seal it up. And it holds the air pretty well of course. The difference I suppose, in Asia these games were mostly ceremonial, whereas in Greece and Rome there was a large amount of violence in the games as well. They were probably more like today’s rugby than football. But, still, ball sports are very natural. Continue reading →
Hi. Good morning. How are you? I’m excellent. Thanks for coming. Today, I want to talk to you for five minutes about why English has a different word for the animal than it does for the meat. Here we go. Not sure if I can finish this in five minutes, but let’s try.
OK, most countries, they have the same word for the animal as they do for the meat. For example, cow, the meat word is cow meat. Pig – the meat word is pig meat. Something like that. But, in English, of course, we don’t. We have two different words. Cow – the meat is beef. Pig – the meat is pork. Sheep – the meat is mutton. Calf, which is a young cow, – the meat is veal. Deer – the meat is venison, and chicken – the meat is poultry. Why is that, well, basically, there’s a simple reason. Continue reading →
Good morning everybody. How are you today? I hope you’re well. It’s a beautiful sunny day here today. It’s a little bit warm. Hopefully the snow’s finally going to start melting. I’m looking forward to the spring. Right. Today, I want to talk to you for five minutes about the tie. So, OK, here we go.
A tie. Why do I wear a tie? Well, basically I wear a tie because everyone else wears one. I’ve had to wear a tie every day of the week since I was seven years old, which means I have worn a tie now for a total of thirty-three years, five or six days a week. OK, so why do we wear a tie? Well, the wearing of a piece of cloth around your neck basically started in Roman days. The Roman Legionnaires, the Roman soldiers, they used to wear a colored piece of cloth around the neck to differentiate the unit they were in. Of course, an army is broken up into smaller and smaller and smaller groups, and to tell which group you were in, the soldiers used to wear a colored piece of cloth. That was so, in a battle, you could tell who your friends were and if you got divided you could find your own group pretty easily. That continued. Continue reading →
Hi. How are you? It’s good to see you. Thanks for coming. I’m going to start a new series of five-minute talks. Some people don’t have long enough to listen to my other talks, so, I’m going to make some short talks. This is the first one. I’m going to talk to you about the horse collar. And I’m going to try and do it inside five minutes. OK. Here we go.
So, OK, you all know what a horse collar is. A horse collar is a collar made of probably leather that a horse wears. And it wears it in order to pull something; either a court … either a cart, or a plow, or some other kind of farming implement. OK? The horse collar that we know, and we have today, was invented in China in about 221 BC, during their Warring States period. Before then, horses basically pulled things by having a rope lashed around their throat and tied to whatever they were pulling. You try doing that. You try pulling something with a rope around your throat. Is it easy to do? Of course it’s not easy to do. If you have a rope around a horse’s throat you’re crushing its throat, its larynx, you’re also crushing its arteries, you’re stopping blood getting to its brain, you’re hurting the horse. No animal is going to pull anything that’s hurting it. So, it’s very very hard to make horses pull things, so they weren’t used for anything really, other than riding. In most European … in most countries … in most farming countries, people did the farming with ox. Oxen were used to pull plows and to pull carts. Oxen are quite strong, but they’re very very slow. Continue reading →
Talks in English. Improve your English and Learn Something at the same time. The long talks are between ten and twenty minutes. The short ones are five minutes. Each talk has subtitles, script, questions and answers. You can download everything as docx. MP3 also available. Your English will get better with practice.