Extract 1



Okay, here’s the skinny: The reason Australia has so many cute, cuddly creatures like koalas and kangaroos is that there are very few dangerous animals in Australia to bother them. Remember, at one time, the whole world was filled with marsupials like the kangaroo, but they all got eaten up by the lions and tigers and bears. Fortunately, there are no lions, tigers, or bears in Australia.

There are, however, some critters that us humans could definitely do without, especially if we decide to take a swim on one of Australia’s thousands of beaches.

I. The Sea Wasp

The Sea Wasp or the box jellyfish is one of the most deadly stinging animals in the sea. The sea wasp has a large transparent body shaped like a box or a bell, that can be as large as a bucket, and can weigh as much as five pounds. A cluster of 16 long, semi-transparent tentacles stream out from under the bell of the box jellyfish. Millions of stinging capsules cover each of the tentacles. The stinging capsules discharge lethal poison into the skin of any creature that touches them. Children who have been stung by the sea wasp have died within minutes of being stung.

II. The Portuguese Man-Of War

The Portuguese Man-Of War is another stinging jellyfish, and although it is much more widespread and common than the box jellyfish or sea wasp, it is not as deadly as the sea wasp. The Portuguese man-o-war is commonly called the blue-bottle in Australia. Actually, the Portuguese man-o-war is not a single marine animal, but consists of a large colony of smaller marine organisms. The blue-bottle gets its name from the body, which really is a large, gas- filled float. The float has a crest, that is used much as a sail to propel the colony across the water when the wind blows. Although the sting from the Portuguese man-o-war is not deadly to humans, a person who comes into contact with a Portuguese man-o-war or blue-bottle will still experience a sharp severe pain.

III. The Blue-Ringed Octopus

The Blue-Ringed Octopus is another one of the smaller, but more deadly marine animals that inhabit the coastal waters around Australia. The blue-ringed octopus is normally light in colour, with dark brown bands over its eight arms and body, with blue circles superimposed on these dark brown bands. When the octopus is disturbed or taken out of the water, the colours darken and the rings turn a brilliant electric-blue colour, and it is this colour change that gives the animal its name. The blue-ringed octopus secretes a very deadly poison, either by biting with its parrot-like beak, or by squirting the poison into the water surrounding it. The direct bite from the blue-ringed octopus is usually painless, but the deadly effects of the poison will be noticed immediately. The poison apparently interferes with the body's nervous system. The victim will immediately experience numbness of the mouth and tongue, blurring of vision, loss of touch, difficulty with speech and swallowing, and paralysis of the legs and nausea. If the victim does not receive medical treatment immediately, full paralysis may occur within minutes, followed by unconsciousness and death due to heart failure and lack of oxygen. There is no anti-venom for the poison from a blue-ringed octopus. It is usually necessary to perform continuous CPR on a victim until the effects of the venom have subsided. This may take several hours, but it may mean the difference between life or death for the victim.

IV. The Saltwater Crocodile

The adult saltwater crocodile will eat anything that comes too close to it. That includes fish, birds, and mammals of any size, including humans that venture near the water's edge. Even though the crocodile looks like it should be clumsy on land, the saltwater crocodile is extremely fast, and it is, of course, an excellent swimmer and an expert at camouflage. Crocodiles can actually outrun a horse over short distances.

V. Sharks

Many kinds of sharks live in the warm waters around Australia, like the Whale shark, the Basking shark, the Oceanic White-Tip shark, Dusky shark, Leopard shark and the Hammer shark.. However the largest and most scary, the Great White, is also the most common shark in Australian waters. The smallest shark is the Dwarf shark, and the largest is the Whale shark. As dangerous as they can be, most sharks will not attack humans unless bothered, and actually, sharks themselves don’t have an easy time of it. Dolphins attack sharks in groups to protect their young. The shark's biggest enemy is humans who attack sharks for food, sports and to protect beaches. Sharks appear to be smooth, but up close they have sharp points that are tough. A sharks' body is also streamlined so they can move quickly and easily through the water. Sharks eat other sharks, seals, fish, baby dolphins, birds and sometimes humans…mostly because they mistake them for seals.

On dry land, the danger is mostly from snakes and insects. And, as a matter of fact, Australia claims to have more species of venomous snakes than any other continent on earth, and a collection of spiders which are also among the world's most poisonous. Ugh.

I. The Red Bellied Black Snake

The Red Bellied Black Snake grows to about three feet in length. Its upper surface is glossy black and its underside is red. It is found near streams and lagoons of eastern Australia. It hunts by day, feeding on frogs, small mammals and other reptiles. Its venom is dangerous to man.

II. The Tiger snake

The Tiger snake is one of the deadliest snakes in the world, and can be found in the Australian Southwest. The body and tail can be a greenish brown, brown, olive dark brown or blackish brown with distinctive bands that are greenish, grey-white or yellowish white. The Tiger snake shelters in or under fallen rotten timber; under rocks, in deep dense matted vegetation and in empty animal burrows. It feeds on frogs, lizards, nestling birds and small mammals.

III. The Taipan

The Taipan is the most venomous snake in Australia. Male and female are both very aggressive if cornered, but for the most part, Taipans steer clear of humans. The Taipan has the longest fangs of any Australian snake, and can be up to a half-inch long.

IV. Red-Backed Spider:

Red-back Spiders are related to the Black Widow Spider. They are brownish black with an obvious orange to red stripe on the upper abdomen and an "hourglass" shaped spot on the underside of the abdomen. Females have a body about the size of a large pea and slender legs.

Red-back bites occur frequently, but only the female bite is dangerous. They can cause serious illness and have caused deaths. Because of their small jaws many bites are ineffective. Common early symptoms are pain (which can become severe), sweating (always including local sweating at bite site), muscular weakness, nausea and vomiting. An anti-venom is available. No deaths have occurred since its introduction.

V. The Tree-dwelling Funnel-web Spider

The Tree-dwelling Funnel-web Spider is the most dangerous spider in Australia, and among the most dangerous spiders in the world. They are found from northern New South Wales to southern Queensland, usually in heavily timbered areas which are rarely entered by man. Interestingly, not all creatures are affected by the poison. For example, a rabbit can be injected with a large quantity of Funnel-web spider venom without ill effect. A small dose can be lethal to humans. The male of this spider is five times more dangerous than the female.

Extract 2

This article reports on the ruins of an ancient city, discovered under the sea off the coast of Japan.

A City Submerged in the Ocean — Ruins Around Yonaguni Island in Japan

At the southern tip of Yonaguni Island in the Ryukyu Islands, approximately half a century ago, divers found ruins of man-made constructions in the ocean. The site included a square-shaped structure covered with coral, a giant platform with edges and corners, as well as streets, stairways, and an arched building. One could say that the ruins resembled an altar in the ancient city. It covered about 200 metres from west to east, and about 140 metres from north to south. Its highest point reached about 26 metres.

In 1986, local divers named this underwater city "Diving Area of Undersea Ruins." It drew a lot of attention when the news media reported it. Soon after its discovery, the University of Ryukyu formed an "Undersea Archaeological Exploration Team" (UAET), and embarked on an eight-year research project. Under the sea southeast of Shihuan Island and in the surrounding areas, more ruins were discovered, including a construction made of stone, a cave-like structure surrounded by pillars, a statue of a human head, an arch, and geometric turtle statues. The most surprising discovery was the "Hieroglyph," which was engraved into a stone wall and left behind by an ancient civilization assumed to be a highly advanced human culture.

If one looks from above, there are streets and farmland surrounding the ruins. The largest ruin was 100 metres in length, and 25 metres in height, and was built with giant rocks. According to the UAET of the University of Ryukyu, a computer-generated model showed that the place might have been an altar of a temple, where the ancients gathered and held worship ceremonies. There were two half-circle pillar caves north of the temple. Archeologists believe them to be a place for bathing prior to a ceremony. There was an arched gate east of the temple where two giant rocks overlapped each other. The top showed rectangular man-made holes in the rocks. Presumably, the rocks were shaped by machines and used as the city's cornerstones.

In addition, under the ocean, around the well-known area of "Lishenyan" off southeast Yonaguni Island, a statue of a human head several feet tall was uncovered. Facial features could still be clearly discerned. Later, near the giant human head statue, groups of hieroglyphs were found. This indicates the builders of the undersea ruins were a highly advanced civilization.

Masaaki Kimura is a professor of geology at the University of Ryukyu. He stated during a September 1999 interview that one could clearly see that they were man-made constructions. There were streets, right angle stairs with round holes in the rock which seemed designed for stone pillar insertion, etc. The discovery of the human head statue and the hieroglyphs, were especially convincing that the undersea ruins at south Yonaguni Island originated from a prehistoric civilization.

Incredible Undersea Pyramid

In addition to the findings south of Yonaguni Island, important discoveries were made to the west of the island. In 1990, divers found a giant pyramid built of rocks. This pyramid was 183 metres in width, and 27.43 metres in height. It was built of rectangular rocks, and had 5 levels. There were also several small constructions nearby resembling the giant pyramid. Such mini-pyramids consisted of stone layers, with a width of about 10 metres and a height of about 2 metres.

Geologists from the University of Ryukyu involved in this study concluded that this was a man-made construction, and not of natural origin. Otherwise, there should be a pile of stones from erosion, and yet not a single stone was found. Moreover, there were street-like remnants surrounding the pyramid, which also indicate that this was not a natural product. Geologist divers from Boston University in the United States found that the giant stairs were made of a series of one-metre high rock layers, which resembled a stair-like pyramid. Although one could hypothesize that such a structure was formed by rocks broken by water erosion, such sharp stair sections have never been found that resulted from a natural process. Archaeologists at the University of London believe that the builders had to be at least on the level of ancient civilizations such as Mesopotamia and Indian River.

According to a geology professor at Tokyo University, the area must have sunk around 10,000 years ago, that is, during the last Ice Age. However, based on modern scientific understanding, human beings were still primitives, hunting animals for food then. It is unlikely they would have been able to build such pyramid-like structures. Some people believe them to be the doings of some unknown culture. One may wonder if such an advanced and prosperous civilization really once existed. Do these undersea ruins exist only in Japan? The answer is No.

Extract 3

Lorna Doone” was written by R. D. Blackmore in 1869. The story takes place in 17th century Exmoor, in England. John Ridd, who comes from respectable farming stock, experiences tragedy when his father is murdered by the notorious Doone clan. In this extract from the book, the narrator describes his first chance encounter with the young Lorna Doone.

When I came to myself again, my hands were full of young grass and mould, and a little girl kneeling at my side was rubbing my forehead tenderly with a dock-leaf and a handkerchief.

‘Oh, I am so glad,’ she whispered softly, as I opened my eyes and looked at her; ‘now you will try to be better, won’t you?’

I had never heard so sweet a sound as came from between her bright red lips, while there she knelt and gazed at me; neither had I ever seen anything so beautiful as the large dark eyes intent upon me, full of pity and wonder. And then, my nature being slow, and perhaps, for that matter, heavy, I wandered with my hazy eyes down the black shower of her hair, as to my jaded gaze it seemed; and where it fell on the turf, among it (like an early star) was the first primrose of the season. And since that day I think of her, through all the rough storms of my life, when I see an early primrose. Perhaps she liked my countenance, and indeed I know she did, because she said so afterwards; although at the time she was too young to know what made her take to me. Not that I had any beauty, or ever pretended to have any, only a solid healthy face, which many girls have laughed at.

Thereupon I sat upright, with my little trident still in one hand, and was much afraid to speak to her, being conscious of my country-brogue, lest she should cease to like me. But she clapped her hands, and made a trifling dance around my back, and came to me on the other side, as if I were a great plaything.

‘What is your name?’ she said, as if she had every right to ask me; ‘and how did you come here, and what are these wet things in this great bag?’

‘You had better let them alone,’ I said; ‘they are loaches for my mother. But I will give you some, if you like.’

‘Dear me, how much you think of them! Why, they are only fish. But how your feet are bleeding! Oh, I must tie them up for you. And no shoes nor stockings! Is your mother very poor, poor boy?’

‘No,’ I said, being vexed at this; ‘we are rich enough to buy all this great meadow, if we chose; and here my shoes and stockings be.’

‘Why, they are quite as wet as your feet; and I cannot bear to see your feet. Oh, please to let me manage them; I will do it very softly.’

‘Oh, I don’t think much of that,’ I replied; ‘I shall put some goose-grease to them. But how you are looking at me! I never saw any one like you before. My name is John Ridd. What is your name?’

‘Lorna Doone,’ she answered, in a low voice, as if afraid of it, and hanging her head so that I could see only her forehead and eyelashes; ‘if you please, my name is Lorna Doone; and I thought you must have known it.’

Then I stood up and touched her hand, and tried to make her look at me; but she only turned away the more. Young and harmless as she was, her name alone made guilt of her. Nevertheless I could not help looking at her tenderly, and the more when her blushes turned into tears, and her tears to long, low sobs.

‘Don’t cry,’ I said, ‘whatever you do. I am sure you have never done any harm. I will give you all my fish Lorna, and catch some more for mother; only don’t be angry with me.’

She flung her little soft arms up in the passion of her tears, and looked at me so piteously, that what did I do but kiss her. It seemed to be a very odd thing, when I came to think of it, because I hated kissing so, as all honest boys must do. But she touched my heart with a sudden delight, like a cowslip-blossom (although there were none to be seen yet), and the sweetest flowers of spring.

Extract 4

This is an article which describes what sports might be like in 2050. It was written in 2004.

Sport of the future

By Tom Fordyce

What will the sports we love look like in 2050?

Manchester United fans might say that the future of football has already arrived - and he's called Wayne Rooney.

But enough of such petty banter. We're talking here about big ideas and crazy concepts - what over-paid management gurus would call blue-sky thinking.

We've come up with a few propositions, mocked up some images and then asked the experts how likely those things are to happen.


The use of the third umpire to adjudicate on run-outs and stumpings is now an accepted part of the game.

But why not extend the range of decisions that technology can clarify?

Not sure whether a batsman has nicked a delivery to the wicketkeeper? A sensor built into the edge of the bat could send an instant signal to the umpire's ear-piece if it makes contact with the ball.

Just think - no more contentious (or incorrect) decisions, no more sly appeals from behind the stumps and no more stomping back to the pavilion by disconsolate batsmen.

Is it possible? Steve Carter of Hawk-Eye, the company behind Channel 4's ball-tracking, lbw-deciding graphics, has no doubt.

"There is already a tape developed that can be wrapped round the bat in a very thin layer to give you such a signal when it meets the ball, " he says.

"The problem is that it changes the way the ball comes off the bat. And international batsmen aren't keen to try it, probably because they don't want to be given out."


Cyclops is all very well for helping line judges decide whether a serve is in or not.

But it cannot be used once a rally is in progress. And hey - why not get rid of line judges altogether?

They don't always get it right, they cost money to employ and those blazers and slacks are so last century.

By underlaying the entire court with sensors and using balls in-laid with a special conductive material, it would be possible to judge with complete accuracy whether a shot was in or out.

If it's out, a loud noise signals the fact to players, umpire and spectators.

You saw chalk dust, Mr McEnroe? Who cares?

The game's rule-makers do, that's who.

"We can't see it happening in the near future," said a spokesman for the Lawn Tennis Association.

"We would be talking about hundreds of courts and thousands of balls - and that would be a massive expense."

Ian Pearson, a futurologist with BT, foresees other problems.

"A tennis ball is hit at 100mph, and it is deforming elastically all the way through its flight, going from round to rugby ball-shaped and back again.

"So a sensor would not be able to give an exact indication of where the ball was."

Then again, changes are already in motion.

Players at the Superset tournament will be allowed to appeal to the umpire if they genuinely believe a line call is incorrect - and the umpire will use Hawk-Eye technology to examine the point.

"We can be accurate to within three millimetres," says Steve Carter. "As soon as the rally is finished, you can watch it again in real-time on Hawk-Eye."

Improvements in positioning systems in the next few years should also allow television viewers to enjoy instant interactive replays.

"You could pretend you were the ball, and see what it was like to be whacked through the air at 100mph," says Pearson.


The long jump is all very well. But the plasticine marker used to judge fouls on the take-off board has got to go.

And why should athletes jump from one small area, anyway? Surely the event should be a test of who can jump the furthest, not who can jump the furthest from one particular point.

A chip in the athlete's spikes could be used to give a perfect indication of take-off point from the runway

And replacing the out-moded sand pit would be an impact gel which retains the shape of the jumper for a few moments to allow measurement before morphing back to its original shape for the next jump.

Could it happen? Maybe.

"We are always looking at new ideas and technologies to evolve sports and make them more exciting or accessible," says Steve Chisholm of Fast Track, the company that organises the big athletics meets in the UK.

"One idea which has been considered for the sprint events, and which could happen immediately, would be to make the winner's lane light-up when they cross the line.

"Given the narrow margins of victory in the sprints, often spectators are unaware of who has crossed the line first.

"With this new initiative, a sensor linked to the photo-finish equipment would trigger immediately as the winner crossed the line. This would lead to a golden spotlight identifying the winners lane."

What else? Javelins could to be fitted with light pulses to make them easier to view as they fly through the air - or be modified so that they leave a laser-imprint in the air, highlighting their arched trajectory from point of release to the point of impact.

"These could be colour-coded to represent different athletes and would be an interesting visual way to compare performances," says Chisholm.


Cars have air-bags to protect drivers in the event of a crash. Moto GP riders often come off their bikes and injure themselves.

Put them together and what do you have? The personal airbag-suit.

Okay, so the name's not too catchy, but the concept is good. When a rider is thrown from their bike, their suit instantly inflates and cushions their impact on the tarmac.

It's an idea so good that it's almost happening already.

"A company called Dainese make a jacket called the D-Air, which might be out in 2006," says Daniel Thornton, products editor of Motorcycle News.

"It's made of three separate air-bags that inflate in 30 milliseconds - but a lot of people have questions about what happens if it inflates at the wrong time.

"Professional riders do also not want to be riding in anything too bulky or non-aerodynamic."

Ian Pearson fears that such an air-bag would actually make motorbikes less safe - because riders would think they could take more risks.

"They've always said that the way to improve safety in cars is not to keep making improvements in in-car protection, but to put a six-inch nail in the middle of the steering-wheel and dispense with seat-belts," he says.

"That way, people would drive astonishingly carefully, because they would know that if they crashed, they would be killed."