Scientists have long wondered how spiders can use the webbing they make to fly

Scientists have long wondered how spiders can use the webbing they make to flyScientists have long wondered how spiders can use the webbing they make to fly.

The 19th century English naturalist Charles Darwin commented on their behavior when very small spiders landed on his ship, the HMS Beagle. He noted that they were following lines of smooth silk. He thought the creatures might have been using warm air to take to the sky. However, new research shows a totally different cause may be involved.

Erica Morley and Daniel Robert are with the School of Bristol in Britain. They were interested in exploring another explanation for the spiders’ ability. They thought spiders might sense and use electrostatic fields in the air.

But some observers suggested electrostatic fields might be the reason the many draglines some spiders use to float never get tangled.

Kimberley Sheldon is a biologist with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in the United States. She said that although “these spiders will have 5 or 6 draglines, those strands of silk do not get entangled. So, we’ve known for a while that electrostatics probably [are] at least interacting with the spider, with the silk lines themselves to keep them from getting tangled.”

Sheldon was not involved in the latest study.

Morley and Robert created a box with a grounded metal plate on the bottom and a plate on the top. It was designed so they could send an electrical current through the box. They placed spiders inside the box and turned on the electricity, then watched as the spiders reacted to the electric field.

When the electric field was on, the spiders lifted their abdomens into the air and started raising up on the very ends of their legs.

When the spiders did balloon and rise into the air, turning off the electric current caused them to drop.

Sheldon compares this to someone taking a balloon and rubbing it against their clothing. “If you hold the balloon [near your head], your hair stands on end. That’s kind of what’s happening with the spider silk.”

Clearly the spiders were able to sense the local electrostatic field and react by releasing silk, but Morley and Robert wanted to know how.

Morley noted that as a sensory biologist, she was interested in understanding what sensory system spiders might use to sense electric fields.

“We know that they have very sensitive hairs that are displaced by air movements or even sound. So, I thought that it’s possible that they might be using these same hairs to detect electric fields,” she said.

This was exactly what she observed. The small hairs along the spiders’ legs react not only to physical experiences like air movement, but also to the electric field. In nature, it makes sense for spiders to sense both the electrostatic field around them as well as wind conditions. Spiders probably use both when taking off and moving through the sky.

Mathematician Longhua Zhao is with Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. She has made computer models of how spiders balloon.

“They definitely play very important roles; however, we don’t know at this point, which is the dominant factor,” she added.

Lead researcher Morley pointed out that spiders are not the only creatures to balloon. “Caterpillars and spider mites, which are arachnids but not spiders, balloon as well,” she noted.

Arachnids have eight legs and a body made of two parts.

Invertebrates have no back bone.

Morley hopes other researchers will follow up her study to see if these other creatures react in much the same way as spiders.

I’m Pete Musto.

This story is used for Learning English

Do you know how swimming can change your life?

Do you know how swimming can change your life


Whether outdoors or indoors, swimming is a fun way to stay in shape. And one of the great things about swimming is diving. For a very short time, a diver flies through the air like a bird. Then they land in the cool water below, usually with their hands and head leading the way.

But jumping into a body of water headfirst is just one meaning of the word “dive.”

“To dive into something” can also mean to start working on a project with lots of energy but not, perhaps, a lot of planning.

Let’s say two friends are really excited to dive into a new business together. They are so excited that they open their business without a clear idea of how to market their company or even who will buy their product. So, it was not a big surprise when the company went under a few months later. Friends told them that they had a good idea, but they simply dove in too quickly.

Adding the word “headfirst” adds importance. If you dive into something headfirst, you are even more excited and even less prepared!

For example, a man I know really wanted to learn basic home repair. He was very excited to begin on a home project. So, he dove in headfirst, knocking down walls and tearing out the floors. Unfortunately, he didn’t know enough to rebuild his house. He ended up hiring a construction team for that.

“To dive into something” can also mean you are simply really excited to do it. Planning is not an issue or problem. And sometimes we add the word “right.” This makes it sound more conversational.

For example, the children must have been very hungry after learning swimming all day. They dove right into the pizza the minute it was served!

But now, let’s go back to the diving that relates to swimming. Sometimes divers dive off a mountain cliff. They are called cliff divers.

Some dive off the side of a pool. Others dive off a diving board. Diving boards are springy. They are made of a material that can bend. Diving boards are a kind of springboard. They are a board that springs you into the air!

In addition to diving, a springboard is useful in other situations. A springboard can be something that helps you start an activity or process. We can also call this a jumping off point, just as when you jump off a diving board.

For example, when preparing for this program, I often take note of the expressions my friends use. So, for me, these conversations are often springboards to new stories for this show.

The term “springboard” can also mean a point of departure.

Let’s hear two co-workers use it this way.

A: Boy, Emanuel did not stay long at his job here, did he?

B: No. But I’m not surprised. I knew he’d move quickly from this job to the next.

A: How did you know that?

B: On his first day, he told me that this job was only a springboard to a better position.

A: I see. Well, at least he was honest.

Okay. So, besides cliff diving and diving off a diving board, there is another kind of diving — scuba diving.

Scuba diving is an underwater activity. You swim underwater while wearing special equipment, including a tank, or container, filled with compressed air. Scuba is an acronym. It is short for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.

With tanks of air on their backs, scuba divers are able to dive deep into the sea. On a deep sea dive, you might see some very strange sea creatures!

On land, a deep dive is when you explore an issue in great detail. Oftentimes, the media coverage of some issues is too shallow, meaning it doesn’t explain enough. But sometimes a news agency is able to do a deep dive on issues that people really care about.

You could say that on Words and Their Stories we dive deeper into the English language. Hopefully, this program will make you want to dive right into your English studies!

I’m Anna Matteo.

What would like to dive into? Let us know in the Comments Section.

Anna Matteo wrote this story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor. The song at the end is Donovan singing “Atlantis.”

English Course in Hong Kong – Cross Cultural Difference

English Course in Hong Kong - Cross Cultural Difference

Melanie: Well, I was born and raised in Lindsay, Ontario a few hours north of


Maura: So how did you end up in Montreal then?

Melanie: Well after finishing high school in Lindsay, I moved out west to Kelowna,

British Columbia where I did a college diploma in aviation and I taught

flying around British Columbia for a few years before heading back to Ontario

to Ottawa to do a degree in language, and English literature. That

took me to France on an exchange with the University of Ottawa, where I

met my partner Christophe. Living in France was an excellent experience, a

great way learn about the culture and practice the language but tough to get

visas sometimes so I had to come back to Canada. Christophe and I decided

to both come to Montreal where we can both work and live in our first


Maura: OK, cool. So what were you doing in France?

Melanie: I went originally on an exchange with the university. So I took classes at one

of the universities in Lyon, France. There I studied with native speakers in

the literature classes there and I also at the same time taught English in a

high school.

Maura: Oh, that’s pretty cool. So how did you learn French? Just at university?

Melanie: No, in Lindsay, where I’m from. It’s funny, it’s a small town, no native French

speakers, and yet there’s a French immersion program. It started the year

before I went into school, luckily, so when I started kindergarten at the age of

5, I started in French immersion, where I spoke only French from the first day

of school. So we were all native English speakers but learning French


Maura: That’s pretty cool. I’m always jealous of people who have that experience

because for me growing up, I was surrounding by people speaking English

and I went to English school and I took some French classes because no

matter, really, where you are in English-speaking Canada you have to take

French classes but it’s not an immersion program so I didn’t really learn as


Melanie: Yeah, it was a really great program. We learn French from native French

speakers that came to the town to teach. We learned a lot about the

language and the French culture as well, which is really great ‘cause the

small town wasn’t very diverse. We spoke only French from kindergarten all

the way up until grade 4, was the first time we are learning English. We had

about 45 minutes a day in English and then it progressed. Every year we

added a little bit more English until high school we had about 3 classes in

French, 3 classes in English.

“Passage to China” to Introduce Dynamic Chinese Culture to the World

Learn English in Hong Kong – Different Vocations

Learn English in Hong Kong - Different Vocations

Ricardo: How was your Mandarin lesson in Hong Kong?

Maura: It was great, I am learning how to say holidays in the course.

Ricardo: Did you take a lot of vacations when you were younger?

Maura: Yeah, every summer, at least, we went away somewhere, I think.

Ricardo: Really?

Maura: But you’ll have to wait. I’ll talk about it later.

Ricardo: Alright.

Maura: So the first thing we’re going to talk about is different types of vacations.

Ricardo: Different types of vacations.

Maura: Yeah, so the first kind of vacation – and this is a really new term – is called a staycation.

Ricardo: A staycation. I’ve never heard of that before. What is that… a staycation?

Maura: It’s a vacation where the people stay at home. So they take time off from work, but they don’t travel anywhere, they just stay at home and relax and take care of things.

Ricardo: That could be fun and it’s also a good way to save money too.?

Learning English – Please do not work during holidays

Learning English Hong Kong – Buying a house is a big issue

Maura: Yes, say hi. So, today we’re going to do a Chatterbox episode, and that’s where Harp and I chat about all kinds of different stuff. And today we’re going to be chatting about buying a home. Now, if you’ve been a Culips listener for a while, you may remember that Harp talked about looking to buy because she was looking to buy a condo and she has purchased a condo. So, Harp, you’re gonna tell us a little bit about the whole process you’ve gone through, right?

Harp: Yes, exactly. We’ll break it down into sections and I’ll talk about looking for the condo, the actual buying process, and finally renovating and moving in.

Maura: Right. And even if you’re not learning English as a second language, this could be an educational podcast if you’ve never bought a home.

Harp: Yeah, because it is quite a stressful process and there’s lots you need to know.

Maura: And I’m sure you’re learning as you go.

Have you ever bought any house in Hong Kong?

Harp: Definitely.

Maura: OK, so first, let’s talk about buying a home. So, I know that you were interested in looking for condos. So how did you go about looking for a place to buy?

Harp: Well, for me, in the beginning I was looking at condos all around Montreal. I was so open to the areas, but really, it’s just exhausting. So I had to narrow my search down and I decided where I wanted to live. And in Canada, there are a lot of really good websites where you can search houses that are on sale, or condos that are on sale. So I was working with a real estate agent for a little bit and then on my own a little bit as well. And I would find listings and then they would have pictures and they would have the dimensions of the condo and the price and all that information and we would schedule a visit and I would go see them.

Maura: One little thing I wanna point out is that, often, we call a place where someone lives a house. It might be a house, but it might be an apartment or a condo. I don’t know why we do this, but any place, any home that someone has, sometimes we just call it a house. So, if we start calling Harp’s condo a house, it’s not because it turned into a house, but it’s just because it’s the place where Harp lives and it’s just a habit to naturally call it a house.

Harp: Good point.

Maura: So, Harp, when you were looking around, what kind of things were you looking for in a home?

Harp: Well, I had my basics. I wanted two bedrooms. I was really hoping for an open concept. I really, really wanted something that had the Montreal charm, you know, the stained glass windows, the old moldings, nice wood floors. But in end, I didn’t get it.

Mandarin class HK – Excuse me, are you renting your house?

全球生活成本排行榜出爐 第一名你知道是哪個地方?



漢密爾頓的常住人口有1010人,是百慕達第二大城 。






Business Mandarin – The cost of new housing in China rose

Learn English Hong Kong – Coffee or Tea?

Learn English Hong Kong - Coffee or Tea

Today’s English lesson, we report on caffeine and two popular drinks: tea and coffee. We tell about a study that found black tea is better for your health than coffee. We also tell about a separate finding that coffee drinkers may have a lower risk of oral cancer than other people. And we examine how climate change may affect one of the most popular kinds of coffee.

For years, caffeine has been the “drug” of choice in many cultures. Caffeine has been considered socially acceptable because it is found in drinks like tea or coffee. People who consume a lot of caffeine-based drinks may think they are addicted — depending heavily on the substance. But if they stop using such drinks, they will experience only mild symptoms of withdrawal for a few days.

The real addiction may be emotional. Many people claim they cannot start their day unless they get their “fix,” which is, in many cases, a cup or two of coffee. Some people drink coffee throughout the day. Even young people who may not touch tea or coffee are still putting caffeine into their bodies when they have energy drinks, which have high amounts of caffeine.

Caffeine is a bitter substance found in coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate, kola nuts, and some medicines. It has many effects on the body, including helping to activate the central nervous system. This can make you more awake and give you increased energy.

America’s National Institutes of Health says drinking two to four cups of coffee a day is not harmful for most people. But it warns that too much caffeine can make you restless, irritable and worried. It may also cause headaches, abnormal heartbeats and other problems. The NIH says women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should limit their consumption of caffeine. And it says caffeine may affect how the body reacts to some drugs and vitamins. It suggests talking with a doctor if you have questions.

Would you like a drink of coffee or tea? A mathematical study showed that tea — especially black tea — might be the best choice. The study showed that few people have Type 2 diabetes in countries where people drink a lot of tea.

Diabetes is a life-threatening condition that reduces the ability of the body to turn glucose — or sugar — into energy. It is a growing problem around the world. The number of people with diabetes is expected to rise sharply, to 438 million, over the next 20 years.

A team of researchers studied the amount of black tea sold in 50 countries. It compared the sales records with information from the World Health Organization about diseases in those nations. People in Ireland were the top tea-drinkers. On average, each person there drank more than two kilograms of black tea a year. People in China, Morocco and Mexico drank the least tea.

The study showed a link between black tea sales and rates of diabetes, but not with any other health condition. Organizers of the study say the link does not necessarily prove that black tea prevents diabetes. But they say earlier research had suggested that some parts of black tea have a possible link to good health.

People have been drinking tea for many centuries. It is one of the world’s most widely-consumed hot drinks.

Coffee is one of the world’s most popular drinks — perhaps the most popular. Results of a large American study may help to make it even more popular. The study showed that drinking coffee might help reduce the risk of oral or pharyngeal cancer, a deadly form of cancer.

A course said that 970,000 American men and women who took part in the 30-year-long Cancer Prevention Study. One of the questions was about their use of coffee.

The researchers were with the American Cancer Society. They found that people who drank about four cups of coffee a day reduced their risk of oral/pharyngeal cancer by 49 percent compared to those who had little or no coffee.

Oral cancer and cancer of the pharynx, or upper part of the throat, are aggressive forms of cancer. And they are difficult to treat. Oral and pharyngeal cancers are rare in the United States. But they are among the top 10 forms of cancer worldwide.

Janet Hildebrand is an epidemiologist and population expert with the American Cancer Society. She led the study. She says the less coffee someone drank, the higher their risk of cancer. And the more coffee someone drank, the lower their risk of cancer.

“So it went down a little bit with each cup. And the lowest risk found was found for…four, five, six cups per day.”

The researchers found only a small health benefit in drinking two decaffeinated cups of coffee per day. And they found that tea drinkers did not have a reduced risk of cancer even though tea — especially green tea — is known to help human health in other ways.

Janet Hildebrand says coffee is thought to have substances that benefit the human body.

“Two compounds for example have been studied for their anti-cancer properties, and they have been found to possibly help regulate cell replication and to, sort of, prevent proliferation.”

Ms. Hildebrand says she and other researchers would like to know whether coffee drinking helps people who already have oral and pharyngeal cancers.

The study describing how coffee consumption can reduce the risk of oral and pharyngeal cancer was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Scientists in England and Ethiopia are warning that coffee could be a victim of rising temperatures in Earth’s atmosphere.

About 70 percent of all commercially-grown coffee is Arabica coffee. Although Arabica coffee is grown on plantations around the world, it only grows naturally in the highlands of southern Ethiopia. It is very sensitive to climate changes. But the wild plants have a genetic diversity that growers use to improve the cultivated crop — which does not react well to climate change.

The scientists work at London’s Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and the Environment and Coffee Forest Forum in Ethiopia. They have finished the first computer model of the influence of climate change on wild Arabica. The model shows problems for coffee plants for the rest of this century. The scientists predict Arabica could disappear in at least one area within ten years because of climate change, deforestation, habitat loss or agriculture pressure.

Because Arabica is the only coffee grown in Ethiopia, the local industry could be badly hurt by climate change. It could lead to a loss of farm land, require stronger government action, and even cause crop failure.

The findings were published in the journal PLoS ONE. The scientists say they hope the study will lead to new ways to help Arabica survive in the wild.

Finally, a company in Thailand is producing some of the world’s most costly coffee with help from elephants. The coffee is called Black Ivory. It is grown in an area called the Golden Triangle. It is made from coffee beans that are fed to elephants. The partially-eaten beans are then gathered from the elephant’s solid waste and roasted.

The Canadian man who developed the Black Ivory coffee says enzymes in the elephant’s stomach break down proteins that make coffee taste bitter. The result, he says, is coffee with what he calls a unique, earthy taste.

Using elephants — and people to search through elephant waste for the beans — is a costly process, so the coffee can be pricey. It costs about $1,100 per kilogram. That is almost $50 per cup!

The Black Ivory Coffee company says it takes 33 kilograms of raw beans to produce one kilogram of usable beans.

The company says eight percent of its sales go to the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, which watches and helps improve the health of elephants in the area.

14 people lose weight to teach you how to get rid of fat

Learn English in Hong Kong – Going out to eat

Learn English in Hong Kong - Going out to eat
Maura: Because Harp and I love to eat and we love going to restaurants, so this episode is a pleasure for us.

Harp: Definitely. So today we’re going to be talking about eating out. We’re going to start with talking about the restaurant experience.

Maura: And then we’re going to talk about making choices and deciding what to order at a Chinese restaurant.

Harp: And then we’re gonna talk about types of Mandarin Oriental restaurants and our favourites.

Maura: Mmm. You know, I’m sure by the end of this episode, I’m gonna be really hungry.

Harp: I’m sure as well. Maura: Even though I just ate dinner, but I’ll be hungry again. Harp: That’s what happens when we talk about food.

Maura: That’s it. So, let’s get started with the restaurant experience.

Harp: All right. Well, I guess it starts when you walk in and you’re waiting to be seated.

Maura: Right. Now sometimes when you walk in, it’s not even clear if you should wait to be seated or you should seat yourself. Sometimes there’s a sign that says “Wait to be seated” or “Seat yourself,” but sometimes you’re kind of standing there and you’re not sure what to do.

Harp: Yeah. Usually if I don’t know, I wait for someone to tell me what to do.

Maura: Right. And usually if you’re standing around, someone will tell you to have a seat. So, it’s your best bet to just hang out at the entrance for a few minutes if you’re not sure.

Harp: Yes, exactly.

Maura: And if it is a place where you should wait to be seated, then someone will come over and ask you how many people are in your party, so how many people are going to be sitting with you for your meal.

Harp: Yeah, and sometimes if it’s really busy, you have to wait and they’ll tell you how long it’s going to be.

Maura: Right. And sometimes, if it’s really not busy, they’ll give you an option of where to sit. So you could sit at a table near the window or maybe there’s a booth that’s available, and people like booths.

Harp: I definitely like sitting in a booth. It’s more comfortable and relaxing.

Maura: And it feels a little bit more private because you’re kind of closed off a little bit and you have your own space.

Harp: Exactly. Sometimes those restaurant chairs are not comfortable.

Eat these 10 things to make you healthy in Spring Season

Mandarin Course for Beginner – Buying a house

mandarin course for Beginner - buying a house

Todd: Michael, this is a beautiful home, do you want to buy a house in Hong Kong?


Mike: Yeah, we’ve lived here for about twelve years and it’s too big for us now.


Todd: Really. It’s pretty big.


Mike: Well, yeah, I mean, it’s got four bedrooms and it’s got this big living room area and dining room area, and I’ve got two kids and both of them are in college now, so they don’t live here anymore. (Oh) So my wife and I are thinking about, you know, moving to a smaller house in Hong Kong.


Todd: Oh, that makes sense. Well, so where are you going to move?


Mike: Well, this area is called Walnut Creek, it’s in the East Bay of San Francisco, and we want to move into an area that’s in the Berkeley Hills. It’s called Orinda. 迈克:这里是旧金山东湾的核桃溪,我们想搬到伯克利山的奥林达去。

Todd: Oh, yeah. That’s nice.


Mike: Oh, it’s very nice. I mean it’s a little more inconvenient, and it’s not as convenient as here (Yeah) but it’s a little more, there’s more privacy, and there’s more nature, you know more like old established trees and hills, and a little quieter, and so all those things appeal to us, so we’re looking. It’s not easy to find a right place but we’re, actually today we’re gonna meet a realtor, and we’re going to be looking at some houses that are available and see if you like any of them.


Todd: You know, actually, I’ve been thinking about getting a house. I’m kind of getting up there in age. What is the process of buying a house? Like how do you go about it?


Mike: Well the first step to find a place is you, generally you have to work with a realtor, somebody who has access to homes that are for sale, and then you sort of look through the listings and you find ones that you like, that you can afford, and then you visit with the realtor, and say you find a house that you like, like there is one that we’re going to visit today that we think we like and we’re going to check it out again. After we visit we make an offer sheet, we draw an offer sheet, that says how much we’re willing to pay for the house, and the owner looks over the offer sheet. They never meet us directly, they meet only through their (the realtor) the realtors talk to each other. The buyer and the seller never actually talk to each other directly, and in this case, the house is going to have multiple offers. Many people will want this house.


Todd: OK.


Mike: So they’re not going to look at the offers until next week, and say five or ten people bid on it, they’re probably going to take the one, the person who offers the most money for it, so it’s competitive.


Todd: That is a tough situation.


Mike: Yeah, so sometimes you’ll find a house that you love, and you can afford, but somebody outbids you. Somebody bids more for the house than you do and you lose it, and you have to keep looking so it can take weeks of months.


Todd: Wow, well.


Mike: To find the house you want.


Todd: Sounds tough. Good luck.


Mike: Thanks a lot.


Mandarin class HK – Excuse me, are you renting your house?

What kind of life do you want to live on?

English: If you live to be 100, I hope I live to be 100 minus 1 day, so I never have to live without you.

Chinese: 假如你的寿命是100年,那我希望自己活到100岁的前一天,因为那样我的生命中每天都有你。

If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.


Promise me you’ll never forget me because if I thought you would I’d never leave.


If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together…there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart…I’ll always be with you.


You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.


If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.


A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.


Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.


Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.


Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.


To the uneducated, an A is just three sticks.


You can’t help respecting anybody who can spell TUESDAY, even if he doesn’t spell it right; but spelling isn’t everything. There are days when spelling Tuesday simply doesn’t count.


Before beginning a hunt, it is wise to ask someone what you are looking for before you begin looking for it.


I used to believe in forever, but “forever” is too good to be true.


真正有意义的生活 A meaningful life