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BBC 6 minute English-Women in space

BBC 6 minute English-Women in space

BBC 6 minute English-Women in space


Transcript of the podcast

Note: This is not a word for word transcript

Neil: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I’m Neil

Rob: And hello. I’m Rob

Neil: So Rob, you are a man who enjoys travel. What’s the furthest journey you’ve ever made

Rob: Well, I have been to the other side of the world. I’ve been to Australia, New Zealand – so from London that’s a very long way

Neil: And how was it

Rob: Well, it was pretty boring really and quite cramped on the aeroplane – but I loved it when I got there

Neil: So how would you feel about a journey of 56 million kilometres that took around nine months

Rob: Right. I’d have to travel Business Class, I think – lots of movies and a very comfortable seat

Neil: Well, that’s how long it would take to get to the planet Mars and this programme is all about the women who want to be the first to set foot on the red planet. First, though, today’s question, which is about the size of Mars. Is it

a) Bigger than Earth

b) About the same size as Earth, or

c) Smaller than Earth

Rob: I’m pretty sure I know this. It’s bigger than Earth, much bigger I think

Neil: Well, we’ll find out if you’re right at the end of the programme. It’s been 40 years since NASA first recruited women to be astronauts. Today, a third of the people who work at NASA are women

Rob: Yes, and 2016 was the first year that there were an equal number of women and men joining as astronaut trainees

Neil: Equality is slowly coming but only men have had the opportunity to walk on the Moon, although that was over 45 years ago. Karen Nyberg is one of NASA’s current astronauts. In a recent BBC News feature she talked about her hopes. When did she join the astronaut programme

Karen Nyberg, NASA Astronaut

When I was selected as an astronaut in the year 2000 I thought that that might be a realistic possibility, that we would be the ones, the next to go to the Moon. So it’s unfortunate that we weren’t

Neil: When did she become an astronaut

Rob: Well, she said that she was selected in 2000. ‘Selected’ means chosen

Neil: At that time, when she was selected, she thought going to the Moon would be a realistic possibility. So she thought that it wasn’t just a dream, but something that could happen. There was a good chance it would happen

Rob: However, she was disappointed because that opportunity didn’t arrive at that time. She describes that as being unfortunate. In this sense ‘unfortunate’ means unlucky. If you use this adjective it means you are disappointed about something, but you do perhaps understand the reason for it

Neil: So far, a woman hasn’t had the opportunity to step on the Moon. These days Mars is the big target for space travel. There are many problems to overcome, but could it, should it be a woman who is the first person to take that step

Rob: Absolutely, why not? On a mission to Mars there would be need for many different kinds of specialists. We tend to think of astronauts as spaceship pilots, but really I think they are much more like scientists, carrying out different experiments

Neil: If we are going to set up a base on Mars, one thing that would be very important is to try to find a way of growing food. For that you need people with skills in those areas. One person with those skills is Gioia Massa, a Life Science project manager for NASA. Now you would think that being a top scientist she would be brilliant at all areas or aspects of the job, but she told BBC News that it wasn’t always the case. What two aspects does she mention she wasn’t good at

Gioia Massa, Life Science project manager for NASA

There certainly were aspects where I was challenged, you know. I wasn’t as great in math as some of my colleagues, my handwriting is terrible. So there are things that are not my strength. But then I fell in love with plants and plants were my strength, I really learned and focused on that

Neil: So Rob, what did she have problems with

Rob: Well, she said that she wasn’t good at math. ‘Math’ is a North American English word for what in British English, we call maths. Both words mean mathematics, so ‘math’ in American English, ‘maths’ in British English

Neil: She also said that her handwriting is terrible

Rob: Mind you, if her handwriting was really terrible, maybe nobody would be able to read her bad maths

Neil: Good point! So handwriting and maths aren’t or weren’t her strengths. They are not what she is good at. What are her strengths

Rob: Well, the thing she is good at, her real strengths are working with plants, so that’s what she concentrated on

Neil: Right. Well, let’s see if one of your strengths is the knowledge of the planets. Today’s quiz question was: Is Mars

a) Bigger than Earth

b) About the same size as Earth

c) Smaller than Earth

What did you say Rob

Rob: I said that it was bigger, much bigger

Neil: And the answer, I’m afraid to say, is that Mars is smaller than Earth, much smaller in fact

Rob: Oh, well, I guess I won’t be selected to be an astronaut any time soon

Neil: Before we blast off out of here, let’s review the vocabulary we covered today. The first word was the one you just mentioned, ‘selected’, meaning chosen

Rob: Then we had the phrase, ‘a realistic possibility’ to describe something that has a good chance of happening, unlike my astronaut application

Neil: Well, if you did become an astronaut, that would be unfortunate, our next word, for me at least

Rob: Unfortunate, you mean disappointing for you

Neil: Well, if you were up in space I wouldn’t have the pleasure of your company

Rob: Hashtag blushing. Our next word was ‘aspects’meaning parts of something and then the Americanisation, math

Neil: Which we call maths, or mathematics in British English. And finally we had ‘strengths’. And maths certainly isn’t one of my strengths – it’s not something I’m good at

Rob: But one of your strengths is saying nice things about people

Neil: Hashtag double blush. Well, time for us to go – not to Mars, but to lunch! Just time to say you can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, and of course on our website bbclearningenglish.com! Thank you for joining us and goodbye

Rob: Bye bye

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