Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Water Horse: Cryptids, Loch Ness Monster

Talking about the mystery that involves the Loch Ness Monster is a common moment in English classes because of its far fetched story.  I edited this scene to make the context more appealing to those who know little about the monsters origin.

In cryptozoology , a cryptid (from the Greek "κρύπτω" (krypto) meaning "hide") is a creature or plant whose existence has been suggested but is unrecognized by scientific consensus and often regarded as highly unlikely.

 Source for the next activity: : Great Site - http://www.smashinglists.com/10-most-famous-cryptids

I. Match some famous cryptids with their description:

1. Mothman

2. Giant Anaconda

3. Yeti

4. Chupacabra

5. Loch Ness Monster

6. Lycanthrope

7. Mermaid

8. Dragons

9. Sasquatch

( ) Bigfoot is an ape-like creature that inhabits forests, mainly in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. Bigfoot is usually described as a large, hairy, bipedal humanoid.

( ) A female human head and torso and the tail of a fish. They have been discussed since at least 5000 BC. Their origins are believed to be from the Great Queen Atargatis, who loved a mortal shepherd and unintentionally killed him. Ashamed, she jumped into a lake to take the form of a fish, but the waters would not conceal her divine beauty. Thereafter, she took the form of a human above the waist, fish below.

( ) The most frequent speculation is that the creature represents a line of long-surviving plesiosaurs. It is similar to other supposed monsters in Scotland and elsewhere, though its description varies. Popular interest and belief in the animal has fluctuated since it was brought to the world’s attention in 1933. It is regarded by scientists as a modern-day myth, and explain sightings as wishful thinking.

( ) The Abominable Snowman mythological humanoid creature  said to inhabit the Himalayan region of Pakistan and Nepal. The scientific community largely regards the it as a legend, yet it remains one of the most famous creatures of cryptozoology. It is tall, bipedal creature covered with long white hair and wore no clothes. He had an interesting feature of changing his hair colour in sunlight to fox red.

( ) They are usually shown in modern times with a body like a huge lizard, or a snake with two pairs of lizard-type legs, and able to emit fire from their mouths.

()  It is a legendary cryptid rumored to inhabit parts of the Americas. It is associated more recently with sightings of an allegedly unknown animal in Puerto Rico (where these sightings were first reported), Mexico, and the United States, especially in the latter’s Latin American communities. The name comes from the animal’s reported habit of attacking and drinking the blood of livestock, especially goats. is a reptile-like being, appearing to have greenish-gray skin and sharp spines.

( )  Reports date back as far as the discovery of South America when sightings of this cryptid upwards of 50 meters (150 feet) began to circulate amongst colonists and the topic has been a subject of debate ever since among cryptozoologists and zoologists.

( ) It is a creature reportedly seen in the Point Pleasant area of West Virginia from November 12, 1966, to December 1967. Most observers describe the it as a man-sized creature with large reflective red eyes and large wings. The creature was sometimes reported as having no head, with its eyes set into its chest. It has an unusual shriek that can be heard from a mile away.

( ) A werewolf  is a cryptid  with the ability to shape shift into a wolf or an anthropomorphic wolf-like creature, either purposely, by being bitten or scratched by another werewolf, or after being placed under a curse. This transformation is often associated with the appearance of the full moon. Werewolves are often attributed super-human strength and senses, far beyond those of both wolves or men.

Answer key: 9, 7, 5, 3, 8, 4, 2, 1, 6


 II. Talk to a friend:

1. Do you know any other cryptids or mythological creatures from your cultures that people claim to have seen it?

2. Why do people believe in cryptids?

3. What do you know about the Loch Ness Monster?

4. Why do people visit Loch Ness so often? Do these people believe it actually exists?

III. Watch the movie segment and discuss the questions that follow.


 1. How does the segment explain the origin of the Loch Ness Monster?

2. How different is this animal if compared to the description in exercise I?

3. How far fetched is this story?

4. Read the facts below believers claim to be true about the monster. What can be true about these facts?

The first recorded sighting of the Loch Ness Monster was in 565 AD by St Columba. In fact St Columba saw the monster twice in that year. The monster was first seen in the River Ness before becoming more closely associated with the loch. The next reference to the monster was in 1933 when Mr and Mrs Spicer reported seeing a large animal crossing the road in front of their car. It is a type of carnivorous aquatic, usually marine, reptile, and cannot be a mammal as it does not have to breathe air. If it needed to surface in order to breath air it would most probably have been seen by many before now.  In 1976 an attempt was made to lure Nessie to the surface of the water by throwing bacon out of a hot air balloon on to the loch below. For reasons unknown she did not appear.

5. Is it fair that people who live in that region make money out of this imaginary cryptid? Why?

6. Why do so many people visit Loch Ness every year? 

Monday, April 22, 2013

The 5th Element: Space Tourism

Space tourism is space travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. A number of companies have sprung up in recent years, hoping to create a space tourism industry. Orbital space tourism opportunities have been limited and expensive, with only the Russian Space Agency providing transport to date.

Read the text below and discuss the questions It was taken form the awesome site Howstuffworks. Check it out. It is worth visiting. :

The space tourism industry is officially open for business, and tickets are going for a mere $20 million for a one-week stay in space. Despite reluctance from NASA, Russia made American businessman Dennis Tito the world's first space tourist. Tito flew into space aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket that arrived at the International Space Station on April 30, 2001. The second space tourist, South African businessman Mark Shuttleworth, took off aboard the Russian Soyuz on April 25, 2002, also bound for the ISS. Greg Olsen, an American businessman, became tourist number three to the ISS on October 1, 2005.
On September 18, 2006, Anousheh Ansari, a telecommunications entrepreneur, became the first female space tourist and the fourth space tourist overall. She was also the first person of Iranian descent to make it into space. Charles Simonyi, a software architect, became the fifth space tourist on April 7, 2007.
These trips are the beginning of what could be a lucrative 21st century industry. There are already several space tourism companies planning to build suborbital vehicles and orbital cities within the next two decades. These companies have invested millions, believing that the space tourism industry is on the verge of taking off.

1. What's your opinion about space tourism?

2. How do you think space tourism will be in the future?

3. Would you like to take a space trip? Why (not)?

4. Watch the movie segment below and decide if you think this kind of trip will be possible? If so, when will it take place?

5. How similar/different is it from our conventional tourism?

6. What's your opinion about this kind of trip?


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Chernobyl Diaries: Extreme Tourism

I don't recommend this movie, which is a thriller, but it is not as bad as it looks. There are no violent scenes displayed, but it is scary enough. This scene, though, is just fine for adult audiences.

I. Read the definition of extreme tourism below and explain it in your own words:

Extreme tourism (also often referred to as shock tourism, although both concepts do not appear strictly similar) is a niche in the tourism industry involving travel to dangerous places or participation in dangerous events. Extreme tourism overlaps with extreme sports. The two share the main attraction, "adrenaline rush" caused by an element of risk, and differing mostly in the degree of engagement.
While traditional tourism requires significant investments in hotels, roads, etc., extreme tourism requires much less to jump-start a business. In addition to traditional travel-based tourism destinations, various exotic attractions are suggested, such as ice diving  in the White Sea, or travelling across the Chernobyl zone.
Additionally, extreme tourism includes visiting "dangerous" destinations, such as Somalia, Iraq and others.



II. Discuss these questions in pairs:

1. Have you ever gone on a extreme tourist adventure? Talk about it.

2. What's your opinion about it? Would you like to do it?

3. What are the advantages and disadvantages of such tours?

4. Where can you go on extreme tourism sites in your country?

5. Should there be any special requirement for one to join one of those tours (age, health condition, etc)?

III. Read some extreme tourist destinations below. They were collected from specialized extreme tour companies. Which ones would you like to take and which ones you wouldn't? Justify your answers.

  • Bungee Jumping into an Active Volcano - Chile.

  • Swimming in Shark Infested Waters - Florida, USA.

  • Volcano watching - Philippines.

  • Volcano Helicopter Tours - Hawaii, USA.

  • War Tourism in Israel or Syria. 

  • Crossing the Sinai desert in Egypt.

IV. Rank these travel destinations from the most interesting to the least attractive. 1 should be the most interesting.

V. Watch the segment from the movie Chernobyl Diaries and discuss the questions:

1. Where did this group of tourist decide to go? Why did they decide to do it?

2. Would you like to go on such a trip? Why?

3. How would you describe the destination?

4. What drawbacks, if any, do you think they might face there?

5. How safe is this trip?

6. Should this kind of trip be allowed to regular tourists? Explain it.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Splice & Jurassic Park: Transgenesis, Genetical Engineering, Gene Modification

Transgenesis: Transgenesis is the process of introducing an exogenous gene – called a transgene – into a living organism so that the organism will exhibit a new property and transmit that property to its offspring. (Wikipedia)

I. Read the article below and discuss the questions that follow: Taken from:

Spider Goats:
I never would have believed it unless I had read it myself. Scientists have successfully genetically altered a goats embryo with the DNA of a spider. These genetically altered goats produced (mutated) in a laboratory are presently producing milk that is being used to make bullet-proof vests. The fibers contained in the spider goat's milk are twice as strong as Kevlar!!! Can you imagine?
Though it may seem like a noble invention to save people's lives, the implications of such monstrosities is greatly disturbing. What else can scientists create? Let your imagination run wild and you'll be convinced as I am that the end of the world cannot be far away. If you are wondering if scientists are tampering with human embryos, the answer is horrifyingly "yes." Mankind is savage! Do you think that AIDS just happened, never having existed before until the 1980's? Think again! AIDS is the creation of the U.S. military. A weapon designed to curb the earth's population. If I'm scaring you...GOOD! We need to be scared, scared enough to fall on our knees and beg God to bring revival to churches across America.
What else are scientist's messing with? Will we see people with six legs like an insect? Will we see people that can climb trees like a cat? Will we see men with armor-plated skin like the armadillo? Will we see people that glow in the dark like fireflies? Don't laugh, the frightening possibilities are endless. What genetic monstrosities will the military try to develop? I saw a movie called "The Island of Dr. Moreau" when I was a child about a mad scientist who lived on an abandoned island and had successfully produced multitudes of mutated half animal/half human creatures. I never thought I'd live to see the day when that would become a frightening reality.

1) Summarize the text in your own words.

2) Are we blurring the lines between species by creating transgenic combinations?

3) What ethical, social, and legal controls or reviews should be placed on such research?

4) Are we inflicting pain and suffering on sentient creatures when we create certain types of chimeras?

5) Will transgenic interventions in humans create physical or behavioral traits that may or may not be readily distinguished from what is usually perceived to be “human”?

6) What unintended personal, social, and cultural consequences could result?

7) Will these interventions redefine what it means to be “normal”?

8) Who will have access to these technologies? 9) What is the future of such experiments.

 II. Watch the segment below from the movie Splice and decide whether this scene will be feasible in the future


1. What were the main objectives of the research?

 2. What were the drawbacks?

 3. What should happen to the scientists?

 4. Was this a worth trying experiment?

5. Is Genetic Engineering a good resource in such cases?

 III. Watch the segment from the movie Jurassic Park and discuss the questions.


 1. Do you agree with this kind of experiment? Why (not)?

 2. Is is a good idea to bring extinct animals back to the environment? Explain it.

 3. What are the moral issues involved in such experiment? What are the possible consequences?

 4. What sorts of regulations do you think still need to be implemented in order for this procedure to be totally accepted by society?