Фрагмент учебного пособия «A First Look on Science: Focus on Things that Changed the World – Research Laboratories»

Разделы: Иностранные языки

Unit 4

Do you know English proverb “One wit is good, but two are better”?

Do you agree to it?

How do you prefer to work: on your own or to cooperate? Why?


Until the 1900’s most inventions were produced by individual inventors who worked alone and relied largely on their own knowledge and skill. Today the individual inventor has largely been replaced by groups of scientists and technicians working together in government, industrial, and university research laboratories. No individual inventor could possibility possess all the scientific and technical knowledge that such a research laboratory team has. The availability of so much knowledge greatly increases each team member’s capacity to invent. Research laboratories also provide complex equipment that few people would be able to afford as individuals.

The invention of the transistor, one of the most important electronic devices ever developed, is an example of how research laboratories work. In the late 1900’, the Bell system, which then operated most of the telephones in the United States, expected an increase in telephone usage. The system asked its associated research organization, the Bell Telephone Laboratories, to find a way to handle the increase. Scientists and engineers at the Bell laboratory in Murray Hill, N.J. were assigned to solve the problem. They decided that the solution lay in creating a device that would improve the operation of telephone switching equipment. This equipment controls the number of calls that can be placed at one time.

A crucial part of the switching equipment was the vacuum tube. Personnel at the Bell laboratory decided to try to create a device more efficient than this tube. The Bell’s scientists knew the mathematical equations and the principles of physics that related to the problem. The company’s engineers understood the materials that could be used to make the device. Combining their knowledge these specialists invented the transistor in 1947. The transistor is lighter, smaller, and more durable than the vacuum tube. It also starts to work the instant it is turned on and operates on much less power than the vacuum tube does. So by pooling their abilities specialists greatly increase the chances of creating useful inventions.


I. Skim  through the text. Mark all the words you don’t know. Translate the sentences with these words into Russian.

II. Wright the correct word in the blanks:

  1. A research laboratory _______________ possesses a lot of scientific and technical knowledge.
  2. The invention of the _________________ is an example of how research laboratories work.
  3. The Bell System expected an ___________ in telephone usage.
  4. Scientists and technicians were __________ the problem.
  5. It was necessary to find the way ______________ the increase.
  6. The transistor is lighter, smaller, and more ___________________.
  7. Today, there are various ________________ laboratories to produce inventions.
  8. Individual inventors can’t ___________________ expensive equipment.
  9. Research laboratories provide complex _____________________.
  10. Unit the 1900’s, most inventions were produced by __________ inventors.


A. Skimming

I. Say:

a) What information is new to you?

b) What old facts you know are mentioned in the text?

II. Entitle each paragraph of the text.

B. Scanning

I. Match the two halves:

1. Until the 1900’s many inventors relied largely on
2. A research laboratory team possesses
3. Research laboratories can provide
4. Transistor is
5. Today, research laboratories have replaced
6. The specialists invented the transistor
7. The transistor operates on
8. The transistor starts to work
9. Each team member’s capacity to invent
10. A research laboratory team consists of

1. individual inventor
2. scientists and technicians working together
3. combining their knowledge and skills
4. much less power than the vacuum tube
5. increases greatly
6. the instant it is turned on
7. complex equipment
8. their own knowledge and skill
9. much scientific and technical knowledge
10. the most important electronic device ever developed


I. Compose 5 statements on the text. They may be true or false. Ask your classmates to approve or disapprove them. Approve or disapprove their statements.

II. Retell the text using the following words and word-combinations:

Individual inventors, to be replaced by, scientists and technicians, research laboratories, to combine one’s knowledge and skills, to increase one’s capacity, to provide complex equipment, to invent the transistor, to operate the telephone, to find the way to handle the increase, to be assigned to solve the problem, to improve the operation of telephone switching equipment, the vacuum tube, mathematical equations, the principles of physics, to combine one’s knowledge and skills, to turn on, to operate on much less power, to pool one’s abilities.

III. Discuss with your classmates:

1. Why could most inventions be produced by individual inventors until the 1990’s?

2. Is the research laboratory the only way out? Why yes? Or why no?

3.What advantages does a research laboratory team have?


I. Compose 10 questions on the text.

Ask your classmates to answer them. Answer their questions.


Choose any invention produced by a group of scientists and technicians. Find out everything you can about the way they worked. Report the facts you’ve learnt in class.