Listen to part of a conversation between a student and a university advisor.
M: Hello, welcome to the student assistance center. How can I help you?
W: I’m sort of anxious about how the semester is going to turn out The last one was really hard for me.
M: I don’t think you have to worry so much. It’s only the first day, after all.
W: The truth is, one of the requirements for my major is Chinese, but I’m having a lot of trouble learning it. I almost failed my Chinese class last term. I really don’t want to have to switch majors
M: Have you ever thought about studying in a different way? Your problems might just be caused by your study habits more than anything else.
W: I asked my professor about that last semester. I tried out the things that she recommended, but it didn’t help. I don’t think I’m talented at learning languages.
M: You could try the language lab. They’ve added Chinese to their program this semester.
W: What do you mean? I didn’t know there was anything like that here.
M: Well, it used to be just a room with tape players and – headphones, and they only had French, German, and Spanish. It has really been improved a lot.
W: How do you think it could help me?
M: The main thing is that it’s a good place to practice outside of class. When you’re teaming a language, you need all the practice you can get.
W: OK, but I know I’m not very diligent by myself. I need something to stimulate me to work harder, or something to make practicing easier.
M: I think you won’t have a problem with that. There are twenty-five computers there now, and they’re specialized for language learning. You can practice a lot of things that would be really difficidt otherwise, like pronunciation. You can record your own voice speaking Chinese or whatever, and then compare it to an audio file of a native speaker saying the same thing. There are many other kinds of programs as well. You can even get writing assistance.
W: That sounds pretty good, but I don’t really like working alone all that much. I’d like to practice with other people, too.
M: You can do that. The computers are networked, so you can work with other people at the language lab. You can do this in pairs or groups. The programs can be used by several people at the same time, so you can work on assignments together.
W: Do you know if any professors will use this for their classes?
M: Actually, as far as I know, all language classes will use the lab during this semester. At least, you’ll be able to do your homework online. Oh yeah, there’s also an archive of foreign media. You can watch movies and TV programs at the terminals.
W: Maybe there’s hope for me this semester after all.
Listen to part of a talk in a physical science class.
W: For the next week or so, we’re gonna be looking at so-called environmentally friendly technology; uh. technology that pollutes less, does less harm, even no harm if it’s possible, to the environment. An obvious place to start might be with the biggest polluters—industrial processes, or uh, automobiles. But instead. I’m gonna start with the microcosm -with something small, uh, that I think each one of us has in our homes to one degree or another. I’m gonna start with the personal, with our own lives.
Devices with standby power. What is standby power? Also called standby mode? It’s a feature offered by many appliances and electronic devices today. We turn the television off, but in not really off, or not completely off. It’s in standby mode, so that we can pick up the remote control and switch it back on whenever we want. Well, to read that remote control, some part of the TV’s electronics has still got to be on, always looking for that remote signal, standing by to receive that message and turn itself on. Think of all the devices you’ve got in your home that have some kind of standby mode—televisions. DVD players, stereos, computers … Do you have a coffeemaker or a microwave oven with a built-in digital dock? That’s consuming electricity even when you’re not making a fresh cup of coffee or reheating your morning coffee.
Mi: Yeah, but big deal. They couldn’t possibly be using much energy.
W: Would you be surprised if I told you that a typical microwave oven uses more electricity powering that dock than it uses heating food?
Mi: Yeah. Come on. in got to take a lot more power to heat food than run a digital clock.
W: Sure, at any given moment. If you’re heating food in the microwave, it actually takes 100 times as much power to heat the food as to run the clock. But most of the time your microwave isn’t heating food. In fact, most microwaves are on standby for more than ninety-nine percent of the time.
M2: But does it really add up to much?
W: There was a study done almost ten years ago that suggested that fwe percent of all household electrical use, five percent was consumed by devices in standby mode. But a team of scientists from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory-! mention their employer just to give you a sense of how reputable these scientists are—they researched the actual standby-power use. And in fact they found the actual use approached ten percent of electricity consumption by households. And a French study in the same year-uh, 2000-reported that the figure in France was seven percent. There’ve been other studies in other developed countries, and some have even found standby power consumption in residences to be as high as thirteen percent.
M2: You’re right, then. That could be a significant savings.
Mi: Who’s gonna give up the convenience?
W: Well, there are ways to make standby power consumption more efficient. Some electronic devices use more than twenty watts of power in standby mode. And yet, the technology exists to enable standby modes to consume around one watt of power, even less. The problem, of course, is persuading manufacturers to install them.
M2: The government should make it mandatory that they use more efficient standby modes
M1: Why jump to such an extreme solution? What about that Energy Star program? You know, when you buy something that uses electricity—a refrigerator, a television, a computer—some of them have that energy star logo on them-it means the product complies with standards for energy efficiency. I think it’s international, not just the US. They could create some standards for the standby mode feature.
M2: Yeah, but it’s voluntary, right? Industry won’t change unless it’s forced to.
M1: If the environment is so important to consumers, then they’ll buy items that are more energy efficient. The market will take care of it.
M2: Come on. Until todays class, I never knew about the problem. When the government sees a problem like this, that they can easily hande with a regulation, they should do it.
M1: Government laying down these kinds of laws just gets in the way of industry doing what rt does best —which is innovation. And also, it means consumers lose some freedom—we don’t have as much choice.
W: Well, California introduced some legislation in 2004 that set standards for energy consumption of standby modes. Already, it’s illegal to sell a television or DVD player in California that uses more than three watts of power in standby mode . . . One of the Berkeley scientists has declared that if these household gadgets used the most efficient means of powering their standby modes, that the developed nations could reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by nearly half a percent. That’s the equivalent of removing more than 18 million cars from the roads.
M1: Or you could just unplug your appliances when you’re not using them.