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Занимательные статьи на английском языке. How clever are dolphins?

Dolphins do have fairly large brains.

There are many stories, ancient and modern, about dolphins saving sailors from drowning. Ever since the film Flipper, we have all seen how clever they are at learning how to do tricks. However, the truth is that dolphins are no more intelligent than rats, which can also be trained to do tricks. The stories about them rescuing people are true, but they automatically rescue anything which is about the same size as themselves. Sometimes they kill sharks and then immediately try to rescue them.

Why are horseshoes believed to be lucky?

Iп 1700, Henri Misson, a Frenchman visiting Britain, asked villagers why they had horseshoes nailed above their doors. They said that it was to keep witches away. Horseshoes are made of iron and the strength of the iron was thought to protect from evil. Still today they are thought to bring good luck and many brides carry silver ones at their wedding. The position of the horseshoe is very important. It must point upwards like a cup so that the luck cannot fall out.

Why do they drive on the left in Britain and on the right in other countries

The reason for this goes back to the days when people travelled by horse. Most people are right-handed, and thus the left is the natural side to ride on if you are on horseback and need your right hand to hold a sword in case of trouble. So why didn't the rest of the world do the same? Because of Napoleon Bonaparte. He insisted that his armies marched on the right, and as he marched through Europe, he imposed this rule wherever he went. In the twentieth century Adolf Hitler did the same. Signs reading 'Rechts fahren' were put up whenever he took over a country.

The question suggests that only the British drive on the left, but in fact, out of 178 countries in the world, there are about 50 that drive on the left, including Japan. However, most of them are former British colonies.

Why do women live longer than men?

Women generally live about six years longer than men. Evidence suggests that boys are the weaker sex at birth, which means that more die in infancy. Also women do not have as much heart disease as men. In terms of lifestyle, men smoke more than women and thus more die of smoking-related diseases. They drink more and are more aggressive in behaviour, particularly when driving cars, so they are more likely to die in accidents. Also, they generally have more dangerous occupations, such as building work.

Historically, women died in childbirth and men in wars. Hence nuns and philosophers often lived to great ages. Now, childbearing is less risky and there are fewer wars. The country with the highest life expectancy is Japan, where the average age for men is 76 and for women 82.

Morimoto, the oldest living man in the world (1877)

What man-made things on Earth can be seen from space?

'When men first flew in space, they were amazed to discover that the only man-made object visible from orbit was the Great Wall of China.' This is a nice idea, but it's not true. The Great Wall is mostly grey stone in a grey landscape and, in fact, is very difficult to see even from an airplane flying at a mere 15 kilometers above. What can be seen when orbiting the Earth (from about 200 kilometers up) are the fires of African desert people, and the lights of fishing boats off Japan; 15 kilometers above. Also, a very long wire fence in Western Australia which marks farmland on one side and desert on the other.

How many new words enter the English language every year?

Unfortunately no list is kept. In France there is the Academie Francaise which approves new words but in England there are only dictionaries. The most authoritative of these is the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) which has 20 volumes, but this does not make rules about the language. It simply records the development of English worldwide as best it can. It accepts about 4000 new words (or new meanings) every year. The OED has readers in all English-speaking parts of the world, who record repeated uses of new words, including numerous technical terms. Some words take a surprisingly long time to enter the OED. For example 'acid rain' was first used in 1859, but its usage was rare for over 100 years and it didn't appear in the dictionary until the 1980s

The Least Successful Mugging.

In 1978 Sussex police launched a hunt for a six-foot, dark-haired youth of about 20 who failed to mug a five-foot, 74-year-old grandmother.

The youth sprang upon Mrs. Ethel West while she was walking through Chichester Cathedral cloisters. The result should have been a foregone conclusion. Surprisingly, however, when Mrs. West grabbed the mugger's wrist, he cried, 'Oh God! Oh no! Stop!'

Encouraged by these pleas, she put him in an arm lock at which the mugger cried, 'Oh no, Oh Christ!' and ran away. 'If I hadn't been carrying my shopping, I would really have put him on his back', said Mrs. West who took a course in judo when younger.

'Before my husband died I used to practice throwing him at Christmas', she explained.

The Worst Bank Robbers.

In August 1975 three men were on their way in to rob the Royal Bank of Scotland at Rothesay, when they got stuck in the revolving doors. They had to be helped free by the staff and, after thanking everyone, sheepishly left the building.

A few minutes later they returned and announced their intention of robbing the bank, but none of the staff believed them. When, at first, they demanded f5,000, the head cashier laughed at them, convinced that it was a practical joke.

Considerably disheartened by this, the gang leader reduced his demand first to f500 then to f50 and ultimately to 50 pence.

By this stage the cashier could barely control herself for laughter.

Then one of the men jumped over the counter and fell awkwardly on the floor, clutching at his ankle. The other two made their getaway, but got trapped in the revolving doors for a second time, desperately pushing the wrong way.

The Least Successful Bank Robber.

Not wishing to attract attention to himself, a bank robber in 1969 at Portland, Oregon, wrote all his instructions on a piece of paper rather than shout.

'This is a hold-up and I've got a gun', he wrote and then held the paper up for the cashier to read.

The bemused bank official waited while he wrote out, 'Put all the money in a paper bag'.

This message was pushed through the grille. The cashier read it and then wrote on the bottom, 'I don't have a paper bag', and passed it back.

The robber fled.

The Least Alert Burglar.

A Parisian villain broke into a house at the village of Lachelle in 1964. Once inside he began to feel decidedly puckish and so went in search of the icebox. There he found his favourite cheese which it would have been a shame not to try. He then found some Bath Oliver biscuits and three bottles of champagne.

After a while he began to feel sleepy and decided that he would lie down and digest his meal in comfort. He was arrested next morning fast asleep upstairs in the spare bedroom.

The Worst Hijacker.

We shall never know the identity of the man who in 1976 made the most unsuccessful hijack attempt ever. On a flight across America, he rose from his seat, drew a gun and took the stewardess hostage.

'Take me to Detroit', he said.
'We're already going to Detroit', she replied.
'Oh : good', he said, and sat down again.