Lesson 1 Finding Fossil man
We can read of things that happened 5,000 years ago in the Near East, where
people first learned to write. But there are some parts of the world where even
now people cannot write. The only way that they can preserve their history is to
recount it as sagas--legends handed down from one generation of story-tellers
to another. These legends are useful because they can tell us something about
migrations of people who lived long ago, but none could write down what they
did. Anthropologists wondered where the remote ancestors of the Polynesian
peoples now living in the Pacific Islands came from. The sagas of these people
explain that some of them came from Indonesia about 2,000 years ago.
But the first people who were like ourselves lived so long ago that even their
sagas, if they had any, are forgotten. So archaeologists have neither history nor
legends to help them to find out where the first 'modern men' came from.
Fortunately, however, ancient men made tools of stone, especially flint, because
this is easier to shape than other kinds. They may also have used wood
and skins, but these have rotted away. Stone does not decay, and so the tools of
long ago have remained when even the bones of the men who made them have
disappeared without trace.

Lesson 2 Spare that spider
Why, you may wonder, should spiders be our friends ? Because they destroy so
many insects, and insects include some of the greatest enemies of the human
race. Insects would make it impossible for us to live in the world; they would
devour all our crops and kill our flocks and herds, if it were not for the protection
we get from insect-eating animals. We owe a lot to the birds and beasts who eat
insects but all of them put together kill only a fraction of the number destroyed
by spiders. Moreover, unlike some of the other insect eaters, spiders never do
the least harm to us or our belongings.
Spiders are not insects, as many people think, nor even nearly related to them.
One can tell the difference almost at a glance for a spider always has eight legs
and an insect never more than six.
How many spiders are engaged in this work on our behalf ? One authority on
spiders made a census of the spiders in a grass field in the south of England, and
he estimated that there were more than 2,250,000 in one acre, that is something
like 6,000,000 spiders of different kinds on a football pitch. Spiders are busy for
at least half the year in killing insects. It is impossible to make more than the
wildest guess at how many they kill, but they are hungry creatures, not content
with only three meals a day. It has been estimated that the weight of all the insects
destroyed by spiders in Britain in one year would be greater than the total
weight of all the human beings in the country.
T. H. GILLESPIE Spare that Spider from The Listener

Lesson 3 Matterhorn man
Modern alpinists try to climb mountains by a route which will give them good
sport, and the more difficult it is, the more highly it is regarded. In the pioneering
days, however, this was not the case at all. The early climbers were looking for
the easiest way to the top because the summit was the prize they sought, especially
if it had never been attained before. It is true that during their explorations
they often faced difficulties and dangers of the most perilous nature, equipped
in a manner which would make a modern climber shudder at the thought, but
they did not go out of their way to court such excitement. They had a single aim,
a solitary goal--the top!
It is hard for us to realize nowadays how difficult it was for the pioneers. Except
for one or two places such as Zermatt and Chamonix, which had rapidly
become popular, Alpine villages tended to be impoverished settlements cut off
from civilization by the high mountains. Such inns as there were were generally
dirty and flea-ridden; the food simply local cheese accompanied by bread often
twelve months old, all washed down with coarse wine. Often a valley boasted no
inn at all, and climbers found shelter wherever they could--sometimes with the
local priest (who was usually as poor as his parishioners), sometimes with shepherds
or cheesemakers. Invariably the background was the same: dirt and
poverty, and very uncomfortable. For men accustomed to eating seven-course
dinners and sleeping between fine linen sheets at home, the change to the Alps
must have been very hard indeed.

Lesson 4 Seeing hands
In the Soviet Union several cases have been reported recently of people who
can read and detect colours with their fingers, and even see through solid doors
and walls. One case concerns an 'eleven-year-old schoolgirl, Vera Petrova, who
has normal vision but who can also perceive things with different parts of her
skin, and through solid walls. This ability was first noticed by her father. One
day she came into his office and happened to put her hands on the door of a
locked safe. Suddenly she asked her father why he kept so many old newspapers
locked away there, and even described the way they were done up in bundles.
Vera's curious talent was brought to the notice of a scientific research institute
in the town of UIyanovsk, near where she lives, and in April she was given a
series of tests by a special commission of the Ministry of Health of the Russian
Federal Republic. During these tests she was able to read a newspaper through
an opaque screen and, stranger still, by moving her elbow over a child's game of
Lotto she was able to describe the figures and colours printed on it; and, in another
instance, wearing stockings and slippers, to make out with her foot the
outlines and colours of a picture hidden under a carpet. Other experiments
showed that her knees and shoulders had a similar sensitivity. During all these
tests Vera was blindfold; and, indeed, except when blindfold she lacked the
ability to perceive things with her skin. lt was also found that although she
could perceive things with her fingers this ability ceased the moment her hands
were wet.

Lesson 5 Youth
People are always talking about' the problem of youth '. If there is one--which
I take leave to doubt--then it is older people who create it, not the young themselves.
Let us get down to fundamentals and agree that the young are after all
human beings--people just like their elders. There is only one difference between
an old man and a young one: the young man has a glorious future before
him and the old one has a splendid future behind him: and maybe that is where
the rub is.
When I was a teenager, I felt that I was just young and uncertain--that I was
a new boy in a huge school, and I would have been very pleased to be regarded
as something so interesting as a problem. For one thing, being a problem gives
you a certain identity, and that is one of the things the young are busily engaged
in seeking.
I find young people exciting. They have an air of freedom, and they have not a
dreary commitment to mean ambitions or love of comfort. They are not anxious
social climbers, and they have no devotion to material things. All this seems to
me to link them with life, and the origins of things. It's as if they were in some
sense cosmic beings in violent and lovely contrast with us suburban creatures.
All that is in my mind when I meet a young person. He may be conceited, ill-
mannered, presumptuous of fatuous, but I do not turn for protection to dreary
clichés about respect for elders--as if mere age were a reason for respect. I
accept that we are equals, and I will argue with him, as an equal, if I think he
is wrong.

Lesson 6 The sporting spirit
I am always amazed when I hear people saying that sport creates goodwill between
the nations, and that if only the common peoples of the world could meet
one another at football or cricket, they would have no inclination to meet on
the battlefield. Even if one didn't know from concrete examples (the 1936
Olympic Games, for instance) that international sporting contests lead to orgies
of hatred, one could deduce it from general principles.
Nearly all the sports practised nowadays are competitive. You play to win,
and the game has little meaning unless you do your utmost to win. On the village
green, where you pick up sides and no feeling of local patriotism is involved, it
is possible to play simply for the fun and exercise: but as soon as the question of
prestige arises, as soon as you feel that you and some larger unit will be disgraced
if you lose, the most savage combative instincts are aroused. Anyone who
has played even in a school football match knows this. At the international level
sport is frankly mimic warfare. But the significant thing is not the behaviour of
the players but the attitude of the spectators: and, behind the spectators, of the
nations. who work themselves into furies over these absurd contests, and seriously
believe--at any rate for short periods--that running, jumping and kicking a ball
are tests of national virtue.

Lesson 7 Bats
Not all sounds made by animals serve as language, and we have only to turn to
that extraordinary discovery of echo-location in bats to see a case in which the
voice plays a strictly utilitarian role.
To get a full appreciation of what this means we must turn first to some recent
human inventions. Everyone knows that if he shouts in the vicinity of a wall or
a mountainside, an echo will come back. The further off this solid obstruction
the longer time will elapse for the return of the echo. A sound made by tapping
on the hull of a ship will be reflected from the sea bottom, and by measuring the
time interval between the taps and the receipt of the echoes the depth of the
sea at that point can be calculated. So was born the echo-sounding apparatus,
now in general use in ships. Every solid object will reflect a sound, varying according
to the size and nature of the object. A shoal of fish will do this. So it is a
comparatively simple step from locating the sea bottom to locating a shoal of
fish. With experience, and with improved apparatus, it is now possible not only
to locate a shoal but to tell if it is herring, cod, or other well-known fish, by the
pattern of its echo.
A few years ago it was found that certain bats emit squeaks and by receiving
the echoes they could locate and steer clear of obstacles--or locate flying insects
on which they feed. This echo-location in bats is often compared with radar, the
principle of which is similar.

*Lesson 8 Trading standards
Chickens slaughtered in the United States, claim officials in Brussels, are not fit to grace European tables. No,
say the Americans: our fowl are fine, we simply clean them in a different way. These days, it is differences in
national regulations, far more than tariffs, that put sand in the wheels of trade between rich countries. It is not
just farmers who are complaining . An electric razor that meets the European Union’s safety standards must be
approved by American testers before it can be sold in the United States, and an American-made dialysis machine
needs the EU’s okay before it hits the market in Europe.
As it happens, a razor that is safe in Europe is unlikely to electrocute Americans. So, ask businesses on both
sides of the Atlantic, why have two lots of tests where one would do? Politicians agree, in principle, so America
and the EU have been trying to reach a deal which would eliminate the need to double-test many products. They
hope to finish in time for a trade summit between America and EU on May 28th. Although negotiators are
optimistic, the details are complex enough that they may be hard-pressed to get a deal at all.
Why? One difficulty is to construct the agreements. The Americans would happily reach one accord on
standards for medical devices and then hammer out different pacts covering, say, electronic goods and drug
manufacturing. The EU-following fine continental traditions?wants agreement on general principles, which
could be applied to many types of products and have extended to other countries.

Lesson 9 Royal espionage
Alfred the Great acted as his own spy, visiting Danish camps disguised as a
minstrel. In those days wandering minstrels were welcome everywhere. They
were not fighting men, and their harp was their passport. Alfred had learned
many of their ballads in his youth, and could vary his programme with acrobatic
tricks and simple conjuring.
While Alfred's little army slowly began to gather at Athelney, the king himself
set out to penetrate the camp of Guthrum, the commander of the Danish invaders.
These had settled down for the winter at Chippenham: thither Alfred
1cc . He noticed at once that discipline was slack: the Danes had the self-
confidence of conquerors, and their security precautions were casual. They lived
well, on the proceeds of raids on neighbouring regions. There they collected
women as well as food and drink, and a life of ease had made them soft.
Alfred stayed in the camp a week before he returned to Athelney. The force
there assembled was trivial compared with th
 

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