Introduction

Learn 10 new words in the context of our story today about water — An Uncommon Common Liquid.


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The Moche of Ancient Peru | Word Power

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An Uncommon Common Liquid

The search for a universal solvent has puzzled scientists and inspired science fiction writers for generations. A magical liquid that can dissolve all known substances will probably never be found or created. And, as an old joke goes, the chemist who invents it will have a difficult time finding a container to hold it! In any event, such nearly mythical topics are seldom broached in cerebral scientific discussions.

Even though there is little scientific interest in finding a universal solvent, we have something very close to such a solvent all around us. It is the most plentiful and commonplace of all liquids — water. Rivulets of this colorless, odorless liquid have cut canyons in the earth. Water’s actions annually erode thousands of acres of land, dissolving and redistributing vital topsoil.

For all its power however, water is a deceptively simple compound. Each molecule of water consists of two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen. Scientific studies have ascertained that the hydrogen atoms are positioned on roughly the same side of the oxygen atom. This configuration gives water a very interesting property. Because the positive hydrogen atoms are on one side of the molecule and the negative oxygen atom is on the other, water molecules tend to adhere to one another. You can see evidence of this tendency if you place a drop of water on a smooth, flat surface. If you look closely, you will see that it does not spread out. Instead it appears as a slightly flattened mound held together by a tight “skin.” This skin, sometimes called surface tension, also exists on large bodies of water, such as lakes and ponds. Have you ever seen an insect walk across the surface of a pond? It can do that because the tension on the surface of the water is strong enough to support it.

While surface tension serves the spider well, it can pose a problem for us. Because water tends to stick to itself, it does not readily enter the tiny recesses found in the fibers of fabrics. Soaps and detergents are needed to break down the surface tension, allowing the molecules of water to penetrate the tight spaces between the threads in your clothes.

Water possesses another most unusual characteristic. It is one of a very few substances that exists as a solid, a liquid, and a gas within normal temperature ranges. You see it as a solid in the form of ice and snow, as a liquid when it comes from the tap, and as a gas in the form of steam when you cook. This quality of water is of no small importance. The snow that falls in the mountains, where the air is rarefied, melts into water that runs into streams and rivers. Eventually the water evaporates into a gas that condenses back into snow or rain, and the cycle continues. This constant recycling of the Earth’s water supply is essential to all life. Although water may not be a universal solvent, we depend on its unusual properties every day.

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[00:00:00] Welcome to a new episode from English Plus Podcast. This is the first episode in our long-waited season 6. I know that we have not been adding any new episodes for about a month, but we’ve been hard at work to plan and create new content that we hope is going to be the best we have created yet in English Plus Podcast.

[00:00:23] Season 6 is so different from everything we have done so far. There’s going to be a lot more discussion-style episodes rather than just informational, which will put learning in context and make the episodes a lot more enjoyable to listen to. We’re expanding the range of topics we’re going to cover with our Let’s Talk episode series. We have Let’s Talk topics, Let’s Talk Business, Let’s Talk Science and Let’s Talk Literature. And we’re adding our casual Friday episode, where we get to tell you about what we’re doing and planning to do, answer your questions, and much more. And we also have our Short Introductions episodes and our Stories Plus episodes, so a lot of interesting content coming your way in season . I am not going to talk a lot about the content of these new episodes. Tune in on Friday and hear about all that in detail in our Casual Friday episode.

[00:01:21] Also, let me tell you about another big change coming to English Plus in season 6. With Season 6, we have launched English Plus Premium, where you can subscribe to listen to all our episodes. We’re not turning all of English Plus into a subscriber-only podcast. We’re still going to produce free episodes, but every other episode we release is going to be premium, so basically you can listen to exactly half of our episodes for free, and if you want the full package, you can subscribe and have access to all our daily episodes. We will also talk about English Plus Premium in more detail on Friday, so tune in to learn more about that.

[00:02:00] And now without further ado, let’s start our episode, our Word Power episode for today, in which we will talk about a very important uncommon common liquid.

[00:02:11] Remember that there’s a lot to learn on our website englishpluspodcast.com, so when you finish listening to this episode, go there and browse the content of our website, and I bet you will find something to your liking. Something you will both benefit from and enjoy.

[00:02:27] And now back to our Word Power episode. We’re going to change the way we do that as well. As I told you at the beginning, everything is going to be a little more conversational and discussion based to help you remember what we talk about better and at the same time make the episodes a little more enjoyable. For this reason, I’m not going to be the only voice you will hear in English Plus, there will be many other voices sharing the podcast with me, but we will all work towards one common goal, and that is to take your English and knowledge to the next level. Remember, Never Stop Learning with English Plus. That’s what we believe in, and that’s what we hope you believe in with us as well.

[00:03:04] Allow me to introduce Stephanie, who is going to co-host this episode with me. Welcome to the show Stephanie.

[00:03:10] Thank you Danny. I’m glad to be here, and I hope we can create enjoyable and beneficial episodes together to make English Plus better than ever.

[00:03:19] I hope so, too. Now let me start by introducing our topic for today’s Word Power episode. It’s about an uncommon common liquid. What liquid are we talking about today, Steph.

[00:03:31] Well, it’s obviously water. I guess that’s not the hard part to guess what liquid we’re going to talk about today, but the tricky part is knowing why we are calling it, an uncommon common liquid.

[00:03:42] That’s right!

[00:03:43] Water is an “uncommon common liquid” because although it is abundant and found in many places on Earth, its chemical and physical properties make it unique among liquids, and essential for life. Its high specific heat, high surface tension, and ability to dissolve many substances set it apart from other liquids.

[00:04:01] Absolutely! Well, that’s what we’re going to learn more about in this short text about water. But before we start, let me tell you about the ten keywords we are going to learn in today’s Word Power episode, so you can try and guess their meaning on your own as you hear them in the text, but don’t you worry; we’ll talk about all these words and explain their meaning in context after we listen to the text.

[00:04:27] The words for today are: broach, cerebral, rivulet, erode, ascertain, configuration, property, adhere, recess and rarefied.

[00:04:40] Are you ready to learn ten new words in the context of our story for today about water as an uncommon common liquid. Let’s begin by listening to the text and then Stephanie and I will discuss it together.

[00:05:04] The search for a universal solvent has puzzled scientists and inspired science fiction writers for generations. A magical liquid that can dissolve all known substances will probably never be found or created. And, as an old joke goes, the chemist who invents it will have a difficult time finding a container to hold it! In any event, such nearly mythical topics are seldom in scientific discussions.

[00:05:31] Even though there is little scientific interest in finding a universal solvent, we have something very close to such a solvent all around us. It is the most plentiful and commonplace of all liquids — water. of this colorless, odorless liquid have cut canyons in the earth. Water’s actions annually thousands of acres of land, dissolving and redistributing vital topsoil.

[00:05:55] For all its power however, water is a deceptively simple compound. Each molecule of water consists of two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen. Scientific studies have that the hydrogen atoms are positioned on roughly the same side of the oxygen atom. This gives water a very interesting . Because the positive hydrogen atoms are on one side of the molecule and the negative oxygen atom is on the other, water molecules tend to to one another. You can see evidence of this tendency if you place a drop of water on a smooth, flat surface. If you look closely, you will see that it does not spread out. Instead it appears as a slightly flattened mound held together by a tight “skin.” This skin, sometimes called surface tension, also exists on large bodies of water, such as lakes and ponds. Have you ever seen an insect walk across the surface of a pond? It can do that because the tension on the surface of the water is strong enough to support it.

[00:06:58] While surface tension serves the spider well, it can pose a problem for us. Because water tends to stick to itself, it does not readily enter the tiny found in the fibers of fabrics. Soaps and detergents are needed to break down the surface tension, allowing the molecules of water to penetrate the tight spaces between the threads in your clothes.

[00:07:19] Water possesses another most unusual characteristic. It is one of a very few substances that exists as a solid, a liquid, and a gas within normal temperature ranges. You see it as a solid in the form of ice and snow, as a liquid when it comes from the tap, and as a gas in the form of steam when you cook. This quality of water is of no small importance. The snow that falls in the mountains, where the air is , melts into water that runs into streams and rivers. Eventually the water evaporates into a gas that condenses back into snow or rain, and the cycle continues. This constant recycling of the Earth’s water supply is essential to all life. Although water may not be a universal solvent, we depend on its unusual properties every day.

[00:08:19] So, that was our story about this uncommon common liquid. Could you tell us in a nutshell what the text was about, Steph?

[00:08:26] Absolutely! The author is discussing how water, a seemingly common liquid, is actually unique and plays a crucial role in our lives and the environment. The author mentions that water has the ability to dissolve and redistribute soil, has a high surface tension, and can exist as a solid, liquid, and gas. The author also mentions that this constant recycling of water is essential to all life.

[00:08:52] Now before we start discussing the keywords in our text, let’s talk a little more about water. We have already established that water is that kind of magical liquid that we almost always take for granted because it is still an abundant resource on our planet, but I’m not so sure how long we can still say that. Anyway, based on the great importance of water, do you think we are doing enough to preserve this resource?

[00:09:17] No, unfortunately it does not seem that we are doing enough to preserve this valuable resource. Despite being essential for all life, water is facing many challenges such as pollution, over-extraction, and mismanagement of water resources. Climate change is also causing changes in precipitation patterns and exacerbating water scarcity in many regions. Additionally, many communities around the world lack access to clean drinking water, which has serious health and economic consequences.

[00:09:48] Efforts to conserve and protect water resources, such as improving water management practices, reducing water waste, and protecting water sources from pollution, are crucial in preserving this vital resource for future generations.

[00:10:02] What do you think will happen if we lose this most valuable resource?

[00:10:07] If we lose access to clean, fresh water, the consequences could be severe. The loss of this vital resource would impact nearly every aspect of daily life and the global economy. Some of the potential consequences include:

[00:10:22] Lack of access to clean water can lead to the spread of waterborne diseases and health problems, particularly among vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly.

[00:10:33] Agriculture is heavily dependent on water, and a shortage of water for irrigation could lead to decreased crop yields and food shortages.

[00:10:44] Many industries, including energy production, manufacturing, and tourism, rely on water, and a shortage of water could have serious economic consequences.

[00:10:55] Competition for water resources can lead to conflict between communities, countries, and regions.

[00:11:02] Freshwater ecosystems, such as rivers and wetlands, play important roles in supporting biodiversity and providing valuable ecosystem services. The loss of these ecosystems could have far-reaching impacts on the natural world.

[00:11:18] Overall, it is crucial that we take action to preserve and protect water resources to ensure that they are available for future generations.

[00:11:27] So, we know that governments have a big responsibility when it comes to preserving water, but let’s focus more on ourselves as individuals. What can we as individuals do to help preserve this most valuable resource?

[00:11:41] As individuals, there are several things we can do to help preserve and protect water resources:

[00:11:48] Simple acts such as turning off the tap while brushing your teeth, fixing leaks, and taking shorter showers can help conserve water.

[00:11:58] Avoid using water unnecessarily, such as for irrigation during rain, or for cleaning the driveway when it’s not needed.

[00:12:07] Use water-saving devices, such as low-flow showerheads and toilets, and support their adoption in homes, schools, and businesses.

[00:12:16] Don’t pour chemicals or waste down the drain, and dispose of hazardous materials properly.

[00:12:23] Support government policies and initiatives that aim to conserve and protect water resources.

[00:12:32] Spread the word about the importance of water conservation and encourage others to take action.

[00:12:41] Consider supporting organizations that work to preserve and protect water resources, either through donations or volunteer work.

[00:12:48] By taking these steps, we can play a role in preserving this valuable resource and ensuring that it is available for future generations.

[00:12:56] That’s great! Now let’s focus on some keywords from our text, and let’s try and understand the meaning of those keywords in context. Let’s begin with our very first word, broach. What does ‘broach’ mean in the context of our story about an uncommon common liquid?

[00:13:15] In the context of the story, “broach” means “to bring up or raise [a subject] for discussion or consideration.” The sentence “such nearly mythical topics are seldom broached in cerebral scientific discussions” means that topics like a universal solvent, which is almost mythical, are not often discussed in serious scientific discussions.

[00:13:36] How can we use this word in other contexts?

[00:13:40] “Broach” can be used in a variety of other contexts to mean “to bring up [a subject] for discussion or consideration.” For example, one might say “Let’s broach the topic of work-life balance at the next meeting.” Or “I was hesitant to broach the subject of my concerns about the project, but I knew it was important to get them out in the open.” In both of these examples, “broach” means to bring up a topic for discussion.

[00:14:05] Great! So that was about our very first keyword, ‘broach’. Now let’s talk about the second keyword, cerebral. What does ‘cerebral’ mean in the context of our text?

[00:14:16] In the context of the text, “cerebral” refers to the type or level of mental activity or thought. It is used to describe scientific discussions that are characterized by being intellectual or intellectual in nature. In other words, “cerebral” means intellectual or involving a lot of thought and study. For example, one might say “The conference was filled with cerebral discussions on topics like quantum physics and artificial intelligence.” In this example, “cerebral” means that the discussions were intellectual in nature.

[00:14:48] Can we use ‘cerebral’ in other contexts?

[00:14:51] Yes, “cerebral” can be used in other contexts as well. For example:

[00:14:57] “The novel is a cerebral examination of the human condition.”

[00:15:01] “The movie was a visual treat, but lacked the cerebral depth that the book had.”

[00:15:06] “The play was a cerebral experience, making the audience think about life and existence.”

[00:15:12] In these examples, “cerebral” refers to something that is intellectually or thought-provoking, demanding mental effort and engagement.

[00:15:19] Wonderful! Now let’s talk about ‘rivulet’. What does ‘rivulet’ mean in our context?

[00:15:28] In the context of the text, “rivulet” means a small stream of water, typically one of many that flow together to form a larger stream or river.

[00:15:36] Do we ever use ‘rivulet’ in other meanings or in other contexts?

[00:15:41] Yes, “rivulet” can be used in other contexts to mean a small stream or flow of any fluid or material. For example, a “rivulet of blood” or a “rivulet of sweat.” The word can also be used to refer to a thin line or streak of a different color or material.

[00:15:58] Alright! Now what about our next keyword, ‘erode,’ what does it mean in our context?

[00:16:05] In the context of the text, “erode” refers to the action of water causing gradual destruction, wear, or removal of the earth, land, or soil through dissolving and redistributing.

[00:16:17] Can you give me some examples of how we can use ‘erode’ in a sentence?

[00:16:21] Yes, sure! Here are a few examples of using the word “erode” in different sentences:

[00:16:27] The constant exposure to sunlight has caused the paint on the wall to erode.

[00:16:32] The ocean currents are slowly eroding the shoreline.

[00:16:35] The company’s profits have been steadily eroding for the past few quarters.

[00:16:40] Over time, the trust between the two friends has been eroding.

[00:16:44] The repeated use of the hiking trail has caused it to erode and become difficult to navigate.

[00:16:49] So, we can use ‘erode’ in a variety of contexts.

[00:16:52] Yes, that’s correct. “Erode” is a versatile word with various meanings and applications.

[00:16:59] And now, what about the word, ‘ascertain’? what does that mean in our context?

[00:17:07] In the context of our text, “ascertain” means to find out or determine something with certainty. It refers to gaining knowledge or understanding about a specific situation.

[00:17:18] Do we use this word in other contexts as well?

[00:17:21] Yes, “ascertain” can be used in many other contexts to mean the act of finding out or determining the truth or accuracy of something through investigation, examination, or research.

[00:17:32] Can you give me some examples?

[00:17:34] Yes, some examples of using “ascertain” in other contexts include:

[00:17:38] To ascertain the cause of the accident, the police conducted a thorough investigation.

[00:17:43] The company wanted to ascertain their customer satisfaction levels, so they conducted a survey.

[00:17:49] She wanted to ascertain the truth about the rumors, so she asked the person directly.

[00:17:54] Interesting! Now let’s talk about our next word, ‘configuration’? What does it mean in our context?

[00:18:05] In the context of our text, the word “configuration” refers to the arrangement or pattern in which something is organized or built. For example, the configuration of a river system can refer to the way the river branches out and how it flows.

[00:18:20] Can we use “configuration” in other contexts?

[00:18:23] Yes, the word “configuration” can be used in many other contexts. It refers to the arrangement or pattern of something, and is commonly used to describe the physical or structural arrangement of things such as machines, buildings, computer systems, or networks. For example, “The configuration of the new computer system is much more efficient than the old one.” or “The configuration of the city’s streets is confusing and difficult to navigate.”

[00:18:50] Now, let’s talk about the word “property”. What does it mean in the context of our story about the uncommon common liquid?

[00:18:59] In the context of our story, “property” refers to a characteristic or feature of water, such as its physical or chemical attributes. For example, the text mentions that water has the property of being a universal solvent, which allows it to dissolve many substances.

[00:19:16] Are there any other common meanings for the word “property”?

[00:19:20] Yes, the word “property” can have several meanings. Some common uses of “property” are:

[00:19:26] A piece of land or building that is owned or occupied by a person.

[00:19:31] A quality or attribute of something that belongs to it or is inherent in it.

[00:19:35] A right or power that someone has over something.

[00:19:38] Something that is owned or possessed, especially something of value.

[00:19:42] A characteristic that distinguishes a substance or thing from others.

[00:19:46] Can you give me some examples of how to use the word “property” in those other meanings?

[00:19:52] Sure, here are some examples of using the word “property” in different meanings:

[00:19:57] “She inherited a large property from her grandparents.”

[00:20:01] “The property of this metal is that it is a good conductor of electricity.”

[00:20:07] “The car is my personal property and I have the right to sell it.”

[00:20:12] “Her confident demeanor was a property of her leadership skills.”

[00:20:15] Excellent! Now what about the word “adhere”, what does it mean in the context of our story?

[00:20:24] In the context of the story about the uncommon common liquid, “adhere” means “to stick to or remain attached to a surface”.

[00:20:31] I’m sure we can use “adhere” in other contexts as well. Can you give me some examples of that?

[00:20:36] Yes, “adhere” can be used in a variety of contexts. Some examples include:

[00:20:42] The sticker wouldn’t adhere to the wall, so I had to use tape.

[00:20:45] She adheres to a strict vegan diet.

[00:20:48] The rulebook must be adhered to by all participants.

[00:20:51] Alright! Now what about the word, “recess”? What does it mean in the context of our story?

[00:20:59] In the context of our story, “recess” refers to a small depression or cavity, typically in a surface.

[00:21:06] And can we use, “recess” in other contexts?

[00:21:09] Yes, the word “recess” has other meanings and can be used in a variety of contexts. For example:

[00:21:16] A break or pause in a process, activity, or game.

[00:21:20] A covered or partially enclosed area within a larger structure, such as a courtyard, cloister, or chapel.

[00:21:27] A concave surface or indentation in a structure.

[00:21:30] A legislative period during which Congress or a parliamentary body is not in session.

[00:21:35] Very well, now we are left with one last keyword to talk about, and that is “rarefied”. What does it mean in the context of our text?

[00:21:47] In the context of our text, “rarefied” means made less dense or having fewer things or less material.

[00:21:54] And do we use this word in other contexts?

[00:21:56] Yes, “rarefied” can be used in other contexts with a similar meaning. It can refer to a situation or environment that is made up of refined, sophisticated, or elevated elements, or to a substance that has had the majority of its impurities removed to make it purer.

[00:22:13] Thank you very much for helping me discuss our text and explain some of the keywords in it.

[00:22:18] You’re welcome! It was a pleasure talking about water as an uncommon common liquid. I hope our listeners found the episode useful.

[00:22:26] I hope so, too. And now we come to the end of our Word Power episode. I hope you like the changes we’ve made to the structure of the episode. Don’t forget that you can find a lot of learning opportunities on our website englishpluspodcast.com, so take some time and go check it out. This is your host, Danny. I would like to thank you very much for listening to English Plus Podcast. I will see you next time.

<a href="https://englishpluspodcast.com/author/dannyballanowner/" target="_self">Danny Ballan</a>

Danny Ballan

Author

Danny is a podcaster, teacher, and writer. He worked in educational technology for over a decade. He creates daily podcasts, online courses, educational videos, educational games, and he also writes poetry, novels and music.

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