TRAHK 8 TRANSCRIPT
Listen to part of a lecture in a geology class.
Now, we’ve got a few minutes before we leave for today. So I’ll just touch on an interesting subject that I think makes an important point. We’ve been covering rocks, and different types of rocks, for the last several weeks, but next week we’re going to do something a little bit different. And to get started I thought I’d mention something that shows how, uh, as a geologist, you need to know about more than just rocks and the structure of solid matter. Moving rocks. You may have heard about them.
It’s quite a mystery. Death Valley is this desert plain … a dry lakebed in California, surrounded by mountains, and on the desert floor are these huge rocks … some of them hundreds of pounds … and they move! They leave long trails behind them tracks you might say—as they move from one point to another. But nobody has been able to figure out how they’re moving because no one has ever seen it happen. Now there are a lot of theories, but all we know for sure is that people aren’t moving the rocks. There’re no footprints, no tire tracks, and no heavy machinery—like a bulldozer, uh, nothing was ever brought in to move these heavy rocks.
So what’s going on? Theory number one: wind. Some researchers think powerful, uh, windstorms might move the rocks. Most of the rocks move in the same direction as the dominant wind pattern, from southwest to northeast. But some, and this is interesting, move straight west, while some zigzag … or even move in large circles. Hmmm .. . how can that be? How ’bout wind combined with rain? The ground of this desert is made of clay. It’s a desert, so it’s dry. But when there is the occasional rain, the clay ground becomes extremely slippery. It’s hard for anyone to stand on, walk on.
So, one theory was that perhaps when the ground is slippery, high winds can then move the rocks. But five or ten years ago a team of scientists tested that theory. They experimented by flooding an area of the desert with water, and then trying to establish how much wind force would be necessary to move the rocks. They calculated that it would take winds of at least 500 miles an hour to move the rocks. And since winds that strong don’t occur anywhere on Earth, they concluded that the wind wasn’t the cause, even with slippery ground. Now, more recent research suggests that it would take winds of only 150 miles an hour, not 500, but even winds that strong don’t occur in Death Valley. So the original experiment’s conclusion that wind is not the culprit seems right.
Here’s another possibility: ice. It’s possible that rain on the desert floor could turn to thin sheets of ice when temperatures drop at night. So, if rocks, uh, become embedded in ice, um, OK, could a piece of ice with rocks in it be pushed around by the wind? Makes sense, but there’s a problem with this theory too. Rocks trapped in ice together would have moved together when the ice moved. But that doesn’t always happen. The rocks seem to take separate routes. Nevertheless, ice is probably involved, we just don’t quite know how yet. And of course there are other theories. Maybe the ground vibrates, or maybe the ground itself is shifting, tilting. Maybe the rocks are moved by a magnetic force. Uh, but sadly, all these ideas have been eliminated as possibilities. There’s just not enough evidence.
I bet you’re saying to yourself, well, why don’t scientists just set up video cameras to record what actually happens? Thing is, this is a protected wilderness area, so by law, that type of research isn’t allowed. Besides, in powerful windstorms, sensitive camera equipment would be destroyed. So why can’t researchers just live there for a while until they observe the rocks moving? Same reason.
So where are we now? Well, despite some recent progress, we still don’t have definite answers. So all this leads back to my main point. You need to know about more than just rocks as geologists. The researchers studying moving rocks, well, they combined their knowledge of rocks with knowledge of wind, ice, and such, uh, not successfully, not yet, but y’know … they wouldn’t even have been able to get started without, uh … earth science understanding. Knowledge about wind … storms … you know, meteorology. You need to understand physics. So for several weeks, like I said, we II be addressing geology from a wider perspective. I guess that’s all for today. See you next time.
TRACK 10 TRANSCRIPT
Listen to part of a discussion in a United States government class.
OK, last time we were talking about government support for the arts. Who can sum up some of the main points? Frank?
Well, I guess there wasn’t really any, you know, official government support for the arts until the twentieth century. But the first attempt the United States government made to, you know, to support the arts was the Federal Art Project.
Right. So, what can you say about the project?
Um, it was started during the Depression, um, in the 1930s, to employ out-of-work artists.
So was it successful? Janet? What do you say?
Yeah, sure, it was successful—I mean, for one thing, the project established a lot of, like, community art centers and, uh, galleries in places like rural areas where people hadn’t really had access to the arts.
Yeah, but didn’t the government end up wasting a lot of money for art that wasn’t even very good?
Uh, some people might say that, but wasn’t the primary objective of the Federal Art Project to provide jobs?
That’s true. I mean, it did provide jobs for thousands of unemployed artists.
Right, but then, when the United States became involved in the Second World War, unemployment was down, and it seemed that these programs weren t really necessary any longer.
So, moving on … we don’t actually see any governer, well, any real government involvement in the arts again until the early 1960s, when President Kennedy and other politicians started to push for major funding to support and promote the arts. It was felt by a number of politicians that, well, that the government had a responsibility to … uh, support the arts as sort of, oh what can we say, the soul, or spirit of the country. The idea was that there’d be a federal subsidy, uh, financial assistance to artists and artistic or cultural institutions. And for just those reasons, in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts was created.
So, it was through the NEA, the National Endowment for the Arts, um, that the t would develop, would be promoted throughout the nation. And then, individual states throughout the country started to establish their own state arts councils to help support the arts. There was kind of a cultural explosion—and by the mid-1970s, by 1974 I think, all 50 states had their own arts agencies, their own state arts councils that worked with the federal government, with corporations, artists, performers, you name it.
Did you just say corporations? How were they involved?
Well, you see, corporations aren’t always altruistic, they might not support the arts unless … well, unless the government made it attractive for them to do so, by offering corporations tax incentives to support the arts—that is by letting corporations pay less in taxes if they were patrons of the arts. Uh, the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., you may, maybe you’ve been there, or Lincoln Center in New York. Both of these were built with substantial financial support from corporations. And the Kennedy and Lincoln Centers aren’t the only examples—many of your cultural establishments in the United States will have a plaque somewhere acknowledging the support, the money, they’ve received from whatever corporation. Yes, Janet?
But aren’t there a lot of people who don’t think it’s the government’s role to support the arts?
Well, as a matter of fact, a lot of politicians who did not believe in government support for the arts, they wanted to do away with the agency entirely for that very reason—to get rid of governmental support—but they only succeeded in taking away about half the annual budget. And as far as the public goes .. . well, there are about as many individuals who disagree with government support as there are those who agree – in fact, with artists in particular, you have lots of artists who support—and who have benefitted from this agency, although it seems that just as many artists oppose a government agency being involved in the arts for many different reasons—reasons like they don’t want the government to control what they create. In other words … the arguments both for and against government funding of the arts are as many and, and as varied as the individual styles of the artists who hold them.