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Conversational topic: From the history of science

The story of man’s civilization is the story of his study of nature and the application of his knowledge in his life. Primitive man was born, lived and died with little change in his manner of living from generation to generation. The laws of nature were not studied. The use of tools, first of stone and later of metals, development of writing and counting all progressed slowly. Rapid advance was not possible until man began to gather data and check theories. Till that time most of man’s knowledge was based on the speculations of the Greeks.

A little over three centuries ago man began to use the scientific method of studying his environment. After this the development of civilization has become more rapid. The next 500 years was the age of the great philosophers of antiquity – Thales, Pythagoras, Aristotle, Archimedes and others.

In the period from the Greeks to the Renaissance few contributions were made to the development of science. First in importance among the scientific achievements of the Renaissance was the idea that the sun, rather than the earth, is the center of our system of sun, moon and the planets.

Our time is the age of scientific progress. The importance of scientific research and discoveries is growing with every year. Our scientists and engineers transform nature for the benefit of humanity. Due to the achievements of world science a lot of things are brought to life. Science has solved a lot of important problems and will solve still more in future to make our life still better.

Probably more than any other science physics has changed the conditions under which man lives. Physics deal not with man himself, but with the things he sees, feels and hears. This science deals with the laws of mechanics, heat, sound, electricity, light, etc. Modern physics also deals with electronics, atomic phenomena, photo-electricity, X-rays, energy and others.

The practical application of the developments of physics continues at an ever increasing rate. Practical physics plays, therefore, no small role. Practical applications of physics are not all made by physicists. The majority of those who apply the principles of physics are called engineers. In fact, most branches of engineering are closely related with one or more sections of physics: electrical engineering is based on fundamentals of electricity; mechanical engineering utilizes the laws of mechanics and heat; civil engineering applies the principles of mechanics, etc. The relation between physics and engineering is so close that a thorough knowledge and understanding of physical principles is important for progress of engineering.

One of the tools common to physics and engineering is mathematics. If we are to make effective use of the principles and measurements of physical science, we must have a good knowledge of mathematics. Physics and mathematics are thus the basic foundations of engineering.

Words to remember

advance [әd'va:ns] – успех, прогресс, улучшение;

antiquity [æn'tikwәti] – классическая древность, античность;

to deal with [tә di:l wið] – иметь дело с чем-либо (кем-либо);

environment [in'vairәnmәnt] – окружение, окружающая среда;

generation [dƺenә'reiʃn] – поколение;

majority [mә'dƺɔrәti] – большинство;

measurement [meƺәmәnt] – измерение;

rate [reit] – степень, процент, скорость;

to relate with [tә ri'leit wið] – устанавливать связь, определять соотношение между чем-либо);

renaissance [rә'neisns] – эпоха Возрождения, Ренессанс;

speculation [spekju'lei ʃn] – размышление, предположение;

to utilize [tә ju:tilaiz] – использовать;

X-ray [eks'rei] – рентгеновы лучи



1.Find in the text the English equivalents to the following phrases.

1) Возрастающая степень;

2) играть не малую роль;

3) изменять условия;

4) тесно связаны;

5) эффективно использовать;

6) основной фундамент;

7) достижения физики;

8) большинство отраслей инженерии;

9) век научного прогресса;

10) великие мыслители античности;

11) законы природы;

12) очевидный (быстрый) прогресс;

13) разделы физики;

14) преобразовывать природу;

15) решать проблемы;

16) на благо человечества.

2.Answer the following questions.

1) What is the story of civilization connected with?

2) When has the development of science become more rapid?

3) Can you name any great philosophers of antiquity?

4) How can you characterize the development of science in the epoch of the Renaissance?

5) What role do science and technology play in our life?

6) What does the physics deal with?

7) Who are engineers?

8) What branches of engineering are related with physics?

9) Why is mathematics usually called one of the tools common to physics and engineering?

10) What problems do people face as technologies advance?

3.What do you think? Give a reason for your opinion.

1) There were no scientific achievements in the Stone Age.

2) The actual birth of science took place when the Greek civilization began to flourish.

3) Physics has changed the conditions under which man lives more than any other science.

4) Modern engineering is closely connected with physics.

5) One can easily imagine the life today without scientific achievements.

6) The effective use of the principles and measurements of physical science needs a good knowledge of mathematics.

7) The development of science brings only progress.

8) Science and technology should be used only in peaceful purposes.

4.Ask an outstanding scientist, a Nobel Prize winner questions about his/her research work.

5.List all the problems touched upon in the text «From the history of science».

6.Comment on the following quotations.

1. «Science is wonderfully equipped to answer the question «how? » but it gets terribly confused when you ask the question «why? ». Erwin Chardaff.

2. «Science is no illusion. But it would be an illusion to suppose that we could get anywhere else what it cannot give us». Sigmund Freud.

3. «Science has radically changed the conditions of human life on earth. It has expanded our Knowledge and our power but not our capacity to use them with wisdom». J. William Fulbright.

4. «The work of science is to substitute facts for appearances and demonstrations for impressions». John Ruskin.

5. «Science is organized knowledge». Herbert Spencer.


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