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Transport for Tomorrow

One thing is certain about the public transport of the future: it must be more efficient than it is today. The time is coming when it will be quicker to fly across the Atlantic to New York than to travel from home to office. The two main problems are: what vehicle shall we use and how can we plan our use of it?

There are already some modern vehicles which are not yet in common use, but which may become a usual means of transport in the future. One of these is the small electric car: we go out into the street, find an empty car, get into it, drive to our destination, get out and leave the car for the next person who comes along. In fact, there may be no need to drive these cars. With an automatic guid­ance system for cars being developed, it will be possible for us to se­lect our destination just as today we select a telephone number, and our car will move automatically to the address we want.

For long journeys in private cars one can also use an automatic guidance system. Arriving at the motorway, a driver will select the lane1 he wishes to use, switch over to automatic driving, and then relax — dream, read the newspaper, have a meal, flirt with his pas­senger — while the car does the work for Him. Unbelievable? ft is already possible. Just as in many ships and aircraft today we are piloted automatically for the greater part of the journey, so in the fu­ture we can also have this luxury in our own cars.

A decade ago, the only thing electronic on most automobiles was the radio. But at present sophisticated electronics is playing a big part in current automotive research. For example, in every gasoline-powered2 car that General Motors Corporation makes there is a small computer continuously monitoring the exhaust. The device, about the size of a pack of cigarettes, adjusts the vehi­cle carburetor fuel intake3 to get the best fuel economy. Ford cars are equipped with an electronic instrument panel that, among other things4, will calculate how far one can drive on the fuel left in the tank. It will also estimate the time of arrival at destination and tell the driver what speed he has averaged5 since turning on the ignition.

According to specialists these features made possible by micro­electronics are only the beginning/Radar may control the brakes to avoid collisions, and a display screen may show the car's position on the road. Recently a radar to be mounted on lorries and cars has been designed in the USA. The radar aerial looks like a third head­light placed directly above the bumper. Having summed up the in­formation about the speed and distance of various objects ahead, the computer detects all possible dangers and their nature. A third com­ponent in the system is a monitor on the instrument panel. The radar only observes objects ahead of the vehicle. It is automatically turned on when the speed exceeds ten miles an hour. The green light on the panel indicates that the system is on. The yellow light warns of sta­tionary objects ahead, or something moving slower than the car. The red light and buzzer warn that the speed should go down. Another red light and sound signal make the driver apply the brakes.

A Japanese company is designing a car of a new generation.
When completed, the new model will have a lot of unusual characteristics. The car's four-wheel control system will ensure movement diagonally and even sideways, like a crab, at right angles to
the longitudinal axis. This is especially important when leaving the
car in parking places. To help the driver get information while concentrating on the road, the most important data will be projected
on the wind screen. A tourist travelling in such a car will not lose
his way even in Sahara with its impassable roads: a navigation Earth
satellite will indicate the route.

A new ceramic engine has been developed in Japan. Many im­portant parts as pistons, pressure rings6, valves and some others have been made of various ceramic materials, piston rings7 made of silicon materials being in many respects better than those of steel. They withstand temperatures up to 1,000 °C. Therefore, the engine does not need a cooling system.

Text 7B

Прочитайте текст и заполните следующую таблицу:

Car design innovations since 1770

The latest car electronic systems

Their advantages

Their disadvantages

V. 2.


Используя таблицу, расскажите по-английски о наиболее важных усо­вершенствованиях в конструкции автомобиля с момента его изобретения. О каких последних достижениях в области конструирования автомобилей вы знаете? Какая информация в тексте наиболее интересна с вашей точки зре­ния и почему?

Car of Future

Ever since Nicolas Cugnot, a Frenchman, invented the first self-propelled road vehicle in 1770, there has been no shortage of companies willing to make a better automobile. Over years their ef­forts have given users the gasoline engine (дизель), the electric starter, tubeless tires (бескамерная шина), fuel-injected engines and anti-lock brakes (тормоз с антиблокировочным устройством), these are only a few innovations. What is next? Here are some examples of what the car designers are working at in the world today.

Engineers are experimenting with a state-of-art (новейший) system that enables drivers to see better after dark. This «night vi­sion» system uses infrared sensors that can detect a human figure at night more than 1,600 feet away. That's five times the distance at which conventional headlights are effective. The sensors pick up infrared rays emitted by any object that gives offbeat. An im­age-processing system scans the information from the sensors, cre­ating different images for different objects. The images are then displayed on a cathode-ray screen built in a car's instrument panel. It is like black-and-white photograph of an object ahead. And the system is passive, which means no lights are needed to illuminate the object in front of the vehicle. But the biggest problem will be re­ducing costs and the other one is the size of the sensor mechanism which is too big now.

One of the latest applications of sophisticated electronics is the wheel-computerized system that not only monitors air pressure in automobile tires but adjusts it automatically. In addition this sys­tem enables a driver to set tire pressure while seated. The system developed consists of three separate modules. The first is the in­strument panel display which houses the system's main micropro­cessor, programming buttons (кнопка включения программы) and warning signals. The second component is the detector drive module (модуль привода) which is essentially four microchips at­tached, in one unit, to the chassis. Each chip detecting pressure changes that may occur, the transistors within the module signal the third component — a programmable transducer (программи­руемый преобразователь). The transducer attached to each wheel changes the tire pressure accordingly.

However, some automobile experts think this system is too com­plicated and costly. The design has to be simple and of low cost.


Talking Instrument Panels

For a few years now some of the most advanced new automo­biles have been equipped with instrument panels that can «speak» providing instrument readings or safety warnings from special elec­tronic circuits.

In a polite female voice, the device will report on engine oil pressure, parking-brake and headlight operation, seat belt connec­tion, totalling 14 different functions. The driver can even program the Voice Warning System to announce the time or to give a low-fuel warning for any preset gas tank level. The heart of the Voice Warning System is a microprocessor-based electronic speech module madie by National Semiconductor Corp. (US). The device requires the connection of 18 wires, but it is simple enough to in­stall in a car.


Testing Times

Exam stress doesn't occur most strongly during the actual exams but in the few weeks just before them. The climax is usually the night before when last minute preparations confirm your worst fears (страх), There are, however, some simple ways of dealing with the problem.

First, one must know that the night before is too late to do any­thing. Much better to go to a dance, for a walk, to the pictures or to play a game rather than increase stress by frantic efforts to plug in gaps (затыкать пробелы) in your knowledge.

The brain is a complex bio-electrical machine which, like a computer, can be overloaded. It does not work continuously. When you study, your brain reaches its maximum efficiency about five minutes you start work, stays at it for about ten minutes and then it is down. Indeed, after thirty minutes your attention wonders (от­влекаться), your memory shuts off, and boredom (скука) sets in.

For this reason, the best way to study is in half-hour sessions with gaps in between of about the same length. It even helps to change subjects and not keep at the same one since it reduces the boredom factor.,

Study stress was experienced by Isaac Newton, the greatest mathematical genius, and by Einstein. Newton had a depression af­ter his efforts on gravity.

Einstein had no such difficulty: he would break off and go sailing play violin —* not very well, he said, but it was very comforting. The lesson here is clear. To avoid exam stress, you have to tell that what you are doing is fun (забава) and the best way to do this is to treat revision as a game. If you stimulate your brain with short, snappy (энергичный) sessions, you will be surprised how quick and sharp you are. A laugh with friends or a walk through the coun­try is really giving your mind the recreation it needs.

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