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Trees - the rings of our life

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From ancient times to the present day humanity has been closely linked with the forests. Our ancestors knew about the significance of trees as early as 2000 years ago. They occupied a special place in popular beliefs, for instance, in the Celtic Druid culture in ancient Ireland and Brittany. The Druids used to withdraw from the world for 20 years in a forest. They believed that forest was a “sacred grave” for them and they had spent their time there in meditation. Pliny the Elder, the Roman writer believed that he could invoke the past, foresee the future and determine happy and fatal days of the calendar. He related in his books that Druids had likened people and their characters to trees, an analogy which they had taken very seriously. They maintained that every human being like every tree had characteristic features, merits and drawbacks.

A tree is a philosophy. Take a tree stump and look at it attentively. Like the famous Japanese stone gardens the tree also makes you think.

Today the forest is viewed as a source of raw materials for various branches of the economy. It is sad to have to admit that man has to protect nature primarily from himself. On the other hand there is a growing trend towards preserving and renewing the forest as one of the chief nature – transforming factors in the Earth's ecological system. If used rationally, the forest will not diminish. Unlike mineral resources it permanently renews itself.

General understanding

Read the text attentively and answer the following questions.

1. When did our ancestors know about the significance of trees?

2. How did Druids treat the forest?

3. What did they do in the forest?

4. Were the Druids astrologists?

5. What could they invoke?

6. What did Druids liken people and their characters to?

7. Is a tree a philosophy? Why?

8. How is forest viewed today?

9. What does man have to protect nature from?

10. What is the trend today?





Exercise 1. Match the English words in A with their Russian equivalents in B.


A. B.

1. link 1. недостатки

2. significance 2. пень

3. feature 3. связывать

4. drawbacks 4. особенность, черта

5. stump 5. преобразовывать

6. protect 6. защищать

7. preserve 7. сохранять

8. transform 8. значение, важность

9. diminish 9. уменьшать, убавлять


Exercise 2. Find the English equivalents to the following Russian.


древний; тесно; уходить; проводить время; предвидеть; определять; сравнивать; человек; достоинства; заставлять; источник; рассматривать; признавать; в первую очередь; с другой стороны; в отличие от; постоянно.


Exercise 3. Choose the words from the text which have the similar meaning.


primitive; importance; connect; for example; go away; predict; compare; shortcomings; consider; in the first place; main; constantly.


Exercise 4. Fill in the blanks with the words from the box.




1. People have used wood for construction purposes since ________ times. 2.

The ________of wood as indispensable raw material ________ with every year. 3. Druids drew analogy between people and _________ and composed horoscopes. 4.Each species has its _______ and ________. 5. The sound ________ of western red cedar can stay in the forest for several centuries. 6. Looking at the stump left after the tree had been felled you may _________ the age of this tree. 7. Timber is a ________ material, as it can restore itself without man’s help. 8. Wood is indispensable ________ for various ________ of our economy. 9. Our aim is to _________ forests from their enemies.



Exercise 1. Find 4 sentences in the text where the "Sequence of Tenses" is observed.


Exercise 2. Put the verb of the principal sentence into the Past Indefinite Tense and make the necessary changes as in model.


Model: Hob says his friend is a woodman.

Hob said that his friend was a woodman.


1. The students wonder what people were the first to use wood. 2. The speaker stresses that the best way to preserve timber is to keep it dry. 3. Scientists come to the conclusion that the strength properties of wood depend on its structure. 4. The investigations show that wood was one of the earliest materials used for construction. 5. Students want to know if there is a more important raw material than wood. 6. The professor asks the students where they will work after graduation from the University. 7. The students want to know if wood is a homogeneous or heterogeneous material. 8. Specialists wonder how the parts of a tree apart from a stem can be used. 9. The archeologists tell us that things made of wood were used 3500 years ago. 10. The students are told that this species workability is very high.



Exercise 3. Open the brackets and choose the correct form of the verb.


1. I was sure that I (should pass; passed; will pass) the exam in wood science with a good mark.

2. He was sure that the work offered to him by the company (was; has been; is) interesting.

3. Egon Gleisinger from London pointed out in the 50-ies that the yield of sawn wood (represents; represented; had represented) only 50% of the weight of the original tree. He considered that branchwood, slabs, off-cuts (had to be turned;


4. must be turned, were turned) into many useful products.

5. The speaker stressed that tropical forests, the main oxygen producers (are shrinking; had shrinked; were shrinking) by 1 per cent a year.

6. The International Union for the Protection of Nature reported that forests (had disappeared; were disappearing; will disappear) at a rate of 20 hectares a minute.

7. Forestry Commission of Great Britain recognized that substancial areas of new forests (are established; must be established; had to be established) on sites where there (are; were; had been) no trees for generations.

Exercise 4. Read short texts, pay attention to the sentences where sequence of tenses is observed and answer the questions.


a) Roentgen found that radiation from a cathode-ray tube was able to penetrate thin matter like wood but was stopped by thicker objects such as pieces of metal and bones. Three years later in 1898 Marie and Pierre Curie discovered that radium sent out rays consisting of particles smaller than the atom. After these two discoveries physicists saw that the whole traditional concept of the structure of matter had to be completely revised. In 1905 Albert Einstein declared that matter could be converted into energy – very little matter into very great energy. And at last Rutherford and Niels Bohr developed their revolutionary theory and declared what the atom was really like.



1. What contributed to the revision of traditional concept of the structure of matter?


b) It is interesting to know that Alfred Nobel, Swedish chemist and engineer, was known for the invention of dynamite. Everything that he invented served military purposes. He understood how terrible his inventions were, but he easily forgot about them saying: ”The things which we develop are terrible indeed, but they are so interesting and so perfect technically that it makes them more attractive”.

But one morning, while looking through a French newspaper Nobel read about…his own death. The paper described his inventions as “terrible means of destruction” and he was named “a dynamite king” and “a merchant of death”. The thought that his name would always be connected with dynamite and death shook Nobel. He felt he could never be happy again. He decided to use all his money (about 2.000.000 pounds) for some noble purpose.

According to his will, prizes for the “most outstanding achievements” in physics, chemistry, medicine, physiology, literature and fight for peace are awarded every year. Nobel prizes have become the highest international scientific awards. Perhaps it's an irony of life that some of Nobel prize winners

helped to make the atom bomb.


1. What is the origin of the Nobel prize?



Speak about:

1. The place of trees in the life of our ancestors.

2. The present trend in relation to forests.


Unit 7

Conditional Sentences



1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 |

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