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VOA Special English在线收听、MP3下载+文本 2011-4-12

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shenlh 时间:2011-04-12 15:01  904次点击 | 0 关注

VOA Special English在线收听、MP3下载+文本 2011-4-12

Grow It Yourself: Turning Bulbs Into Beautiful Blooms

Photo: AP 
A woman picks tulips in Pulheim, Germany

This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

Bulbs are underground plant stems. They provide food for a shoot. Some bulbs produce flowers year after year. Gardening experts say tulips, daffodils and other bulbs are not very difficult to grow.

Bulbs do well in climates with a cold season. They are placed in the ground about the time of the first frost. But, with the right preparation, they can also grow well in places where the ground never freezes.

Mike Lizotte of American Meadows, an online store, says before you start, you need know whether to plant tender bulbs or hardy bulbs. If you live in a cold area, a tender bulb will need special care when the growing season is over.

MIKE LIZOTTE: "If you want that bulb to survive or come back, you would need to literally dig it out of the ground and bring it inside to a warm area because it just -- it will not survive, or it would get killed by the cold temperatures."

But Mike Lizotte says a hardy bulb can stay in the ground all year.

MIKE LIZOTTE: "A hardy bulb is one that prefers cold temperatures. So therefore it can be left in the ground, such as a daffodil or tulip."

Sandra Mason from the University of Illinois Extension service has some suggestions to get a good start on planting bulbs. First, the most important thing is to choose a place with soil that drains well.

SANDRA MASON: "How wet the soil is, that ends up being a big issue. For certain areas, if you have a lot of clay in your soil, you may find that bulbs do not last a long time for you, as in just a couple years. Or you may find they just do not do very well at all, and they actually rot in the soil."

Sandra Mason suggests planting most big bulbs like tulips or daffodils about fifteen to twenty centimeters deep. Smaller bulbs can be planted about seven to ten centimeters deep. She says she enjoys planting smaller ones like snowdrop bulbs.

SANDRA MASON: "I love planting those because you do not need to dig a very deep hole. We like those!"

Bulbs should be planted with their pointed end up, toward the surface. But some bulbs do not seem to have a pointy end. In that case, Ms. Mason says, look for an "eye" that might have a stem. But don't worry if you cannot find one.

SANDRA MASON: "The good news is, the bulbs will figure it out."

Do not use fertilizer for the first year. After that, if you do fertilize the bulbs, do not mix the fertilizer in the planting hole. It could burn the roots.

There is a trick people can use to grow bulbs in places where the ground never freezes. Keep the bulbs cold in a refrigerator for about three months, then take them out and let them get used to the warmth. Now the bulbs will be ready to develop normally, colorful blooms and all.

And that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. Share your gardening stories and get more advice at oxford.com.cn We're also on the VOA Learning English page on Facebook. I'm Bob Doughty.

 

 

Sports Doping: From the Laboratory to the Playing Field

Photo: AP 
Former baseball player Barry Bonds leaves a federal courthouse last Friday during his trial in San Francisco, California

AP German Olympic speedskating champion Claudia Pechstein competes in Erfurt, Germany, in February. She has returned to the sport after a two-year doping ban.

 

FAITH LAPIDUS: This is SCIENCE IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English. I'm Faith Lapidus.

BOB DOUGHTY: And I'm Bob Doughty. Today, we tell about sports doping – the use of drugs or other substances to improve athletic performance.

(MUSIC)

FAITH LAPIDUS: Sports have long been part of popular culture. In the United States, some athletes are as famous as movie stars or rock musicians. Their lives are described not only in the news media, but in films and literature. Sports have found their way into everyday expressions. One example is: "It's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game." That saying has been used for years to define honor in sports. But today, many people question the honor of some athletes.

BOB DOUGHTY: Barry Bonds holds the Major League Baseball record for most homeruns in a single season. He also holds the record for the most career homeruns. Last month, he went on trial in San Francisco, California. He was accused of lying to a federal grand jury about his reported use of performance-enhancing drugs. He has repeatedly denied knowingly taking such drugs.

(MUSIC)

FAITH LAPIDUS: When many Americans talk about sports doping, they think of anabolic steroids. Most sports organizations have banned the non-medical use of anabolic steroids. But some athletes continue taking them. They believe steroids help them when competing.

Steroids are used to increase muscle strength. Yet they also can damage the liver, increase cholesterol, and stop production of testosterone. And they can cause personality changes. Steroid users may become angry for no reason. Some become dependent on steroids and feel they cannot live without them. Users can become depressed and, in some cases, may even want to take their own life. Some men who use anabolic steroids develop breasts and their reproductive organs shrink. Some women develop a deeper voice and grow facial hair.

BOB DOUGHTY: Testosterone is a steroid hormone. Hormones are chemicals that help keep the body working normally. The effects of testosterone can be seen in boys when they become young men. They develop muscle power and become stronger. Testosterone is also important for other changes, like a deeper voice and the growth of hair.

Both men and women produce testosterone, but men produce much more of it. But not all males produce the same amounts. Some naturally have higher levels than others. As men grow older, their testosterone levels drop.

FAITH LAPIDUS: Some people take testosterone supplements for medical purposes. But some athletes use testosterone to strengthen their muscles and improve performance. Testosterone supplements are banned in many sports. Researchers who have studied testosterone generally agree that long-term use may increase athletic performance. But they disagree about the short-term value. Also, testosterone supplements have risks. Most doctors agree that taking large amounts of testosterone can cause an increased risk of heart disease or other health problems.

(MUSIC)

BOB DOUGHTY: Discovery of banned drugs and drug use at a major sporting event led to creation of the World Anti-Doping Agency. In nineteen ninety-eight, French police carried out a raid and found banned substances at the Tour de France.

After that, the International Olympic Committee led efforts to create an independent agency to set and enforce common anti-doping rules. WADA, as the agency is known, has representatives of the Olympic movement and officials from around the world.

FAITH LAPIDUS: "Doping" is the general term for the use of banned substances or activities to improve athletic performance. WADA says the term probably came from the Dutch word "dop." It was the name for an alcoholic drink that Zulu fighters used to improve their performance in battle.

The agency says the word "doping" began to be used for athletes in the beginning of the twentieth century. At first, it meant the illegal drugging of racehorses.

The agency notes that athletes have used substances for centuries to improve their performance. Ancient Greeks used special foods and drinks. Nineteenth-century cyclists and others used alcohol, caffeine, cocaine -- even strychnine, a strong poison. By the nineteen-twenties, sports organizations were attempting to stop the use of doping substances. But they lacked scientific ways to test for them.

BOB DOUGHTY: One method of doping is called blood doping. It is the use of substances like hormones or even blood itself to increase production of red blood cells. That way, the blood moves more oxygen to the muscles, increasing their strength. One such hormone is EPO. It is said to be most-useful to athletes in endurance sports such as cycling and distance-running. Yet doctors say hormones used for blood doping thicken the blood and increase the chances of heart disease or stroke. And the use of blood from another person can spread viruses. But doctors say even the use of a person's own blood to increase the level of red blood cells can raise the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Another substance that can improve performance is human growth hormone, or HGH. This hormone is produced naturally by the pituitary gland in the brain. Experts say higher than normal levels of the human growth hormone can cause diabetes, muscle and bone pain, high blood pressure or other disorders.

FAITH LAPIDUS: The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy provided a statement about sports doping to VOA. The office said it understands that athletes have a powerful effect on young people. The Office of National Drug Control Policy said it works closely with anti-doping agencies in the United States and other countries. And it attempts to influence sports organizations throughout the world to create policies to fight the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

BOB DOUGHTY:Sports dopers are always looking for new substances and technologies to help them pass drug tests. In March, a court based in Switzerland decided that an athlete may be punished for illegal doping even if she or he does not fail such a test. The Court of Arbitration for Sport is sport's highest court. Its ruling may influence sports doping testing around the world. The ruling was the Court's first after examining the scientific and legal strength of an athlete's "biological passport." Information in a biological passport can help catch athletes who use banned drugs but find ways to avoid testing positive for them. These athletes are known as sophisticated dopers.

(MUSIC)

FAITH LAPIDUS: David Epstein writes about sports doping for Sports Illustrated magazine.

DAVID EPSTEIN: "Right now there are plenty of methods of doping that are mostly or completely un-detectable. You can dope, and stay within the limits of testing. You know there are a lot of ways to dope that are still cutting-edge compared to the anti-doping technology that we have."

FAITH LAPIDUS: So, what is wrong with doping? That is a question many people ask -- even some health experts. These people support what has been called medically-supervised doping. They say it would reduce the dangers of doping. They say sporting events would be fairer if all the competitors were openly permitted to take part in doping. David Epstein says his readers react strongly when he writes about medically-supervised doping.

DAVID EPSTEIN: "Some saying we need to root this out, and others saying, get over it, we understand it's happening, quit kind of ruining the fun."

BOB DOUGHTY: The World Anti-Doping Agency opposes medically-supervised doping. Its medical director, Alain Garnier, has said doctors should have nothing to do with doping. Doctor Garnier says helping athletes perform better is not necessarily good for their health. He says it is wrong to say that permitting doping would create an equal playing field. To accept doping, he says, would let economic resources and scientific expertise decide athletic events. And, he says, only those with the resources and the expertise would win.

Anti-doping officials say they want to protect the integrity of sports by guaranteeing what they call a level playing field. They want to ensure that athletes who do not use banned substances have an equal chance at winning.

FAITH LAPIDUS: David Epstein says some athletes have told him they would give up years of their life if by taking drugs they could become a champion.

DAVID EPSTEIN: "I think some athletes absolutely have said they're willing to sacrifice their health down the road. I think a lot of them simply don't think that it will have a long-term effect on their health."

(MUSIC)

FAITH LAPIDUS: This SCIENCE IN THE NEWS was written by Christopher Cruise. June Simms was our producer. I'm Faith Lapidus.

BOB DOUGHTY: And I'm Bob Doughty. Join us again next week for more news about science in Special English on the Voice of America.

 

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