EXPLORATIONS #1895 -- National Geographic Update

By Jerilyn Watson

This is ___________.And this is ___________with the VOA Special English program EXPLORATIONS. Today we tell about the world's largest nonprofit scientific and educational organization -- the National Geographic Society in Washington, D. C.

Millions of people around the world depend on the National Geographic Society for information.

Each year, thousands of visitors tour the society's Explorers Hall in central Washington, D. C. Exhibits and modern technology in this museum help them learn about the Earth and its environment.

The National Geographic Society produces maps, books, and magazines that are popular around the world. It produces films and television shows. It makes computer programs and videos for schools. The society's Committee for Research and Exploration gives money to scientists working in subjects from archaeology to zoology.

The National Geographic Society supports the teaching of geography -- the study of the Earth. It helps train teachers in geography. It offers computer users the latest information about the activities of researchers and explorers on its Internet website.The National Geographic Society began in Eighteen-Eighty-Eight when thirty-three men gathered at a social club in Washington. The group included scientists, explorers, military officers and teachers.

Most of them had traveled widely. They were excited about new discoveries. And they believed in the importance of geography-- the study of the Earth.The men believed travel helps people understand their world and other cultures. So they formed the National Geographic Society. Anyone interested in gaining knowledge about the world could pay to become a member.

Nine months later the first effort to communicate this information was published and sent to members. It was the official record of the society. The record is now a popular magazine called "National Geographic." Today, millions of people around the world read the magazine.

((BRIDGE MUSIC))Through the years, the society has added new ways to spread information to the public. It continues to expand through television programs, books, maps, and movies. And in June, Nineteen-Ninety-Six, the society opened its website. At first, however, the website was not open for long. So many computer users tried to use the site it crashed. Officials say they launched the website several times before finally succeeding.

The National Geographic website presents late developments in science and exploration. One recent story was called "Eye in the Sky."It explains growing evidence that Earth's atmosphere is getting warmer. The information came from a scientific committee report.The National Geographic website offers a number of ways to receive information. Visitors can search for publications or use the society library. They can visit the museum or listen to a talk. They can question a society official or look at the newest book, magazine or travel publication. Students often search the site for information on subjects from Afghanistan to zoo animals.

School officials can order teaching materials from the National Geographic Society website. One such teaching aid, for example, is a video called "Dinosaurs on Earth, Then and Now." This video for schoolchildren tells what Earth was like when dinosaurs lived on the planet. In the video, experts explain how some modern animals are like the dinosaurs.The National Geographic also has provided money to make possible some of the most important explorations and scientific research in modern times. For example, the society helped Robert E. Peary reach the North Pole in Nineteen-Oh-Nine. It helped Jane Goodall provide revolutionary information about chimpanzees. It helped ocean expert Robert Ballard find the wreckage of the ship Titanic, which sank in the North Atlantic Ocean in Nineteen-Twelve.

Mizz Goodall and Mr. Ballard are among six people who were honored earlier this week (Monday, April 10) at a dinner at the society. The six have been given the titles of Explorers-in-Residence.A recent successful exploration team supported by the National Geographic found a mysterious waterfall in the Tsangpo Gorge in southern Tibet. It had been the subject of unconfirmed stories since the Nineteenth Century. British scientist Francis Kingdon-Ward had investigated the area in Nineteen-Twenty-Four. He decided that the waterfall did not exist.

In Nineteen-Ninety-Eight, a team led by American writer Ian Baker found the thirty-meter-high waterfall. The team made the discovery in an unexplored area in the Upper Tsangpo Gorge. This gorge is the deepest canyon in the world.

Team member Ken Storm Junior was on his fifth search of the area. Mr. Storm says, "It shows that if you are told something is not there, you have to keep looking."The National Geographic Society is considered one of the world's most dependable providers of information. But in the fall of Nineteen-Ninety-Nine, the society made a scientific mistake.

In October, the National Geographic Society announced a new discovery. The discovery was the ancient remains of a rare creature. Scientists called the creature the missing link between ancient dinosaurs and modern birds. The scientists said the fossil showed that some meat-eating dinosaurs had feathers for flying.

Later, however, the National Geographic Society said the fossil evidence was not true.The scientists decided that someone placed the bird-like body of the fossil on the tail of a completely different dinosaur. The fossil came from the northeastern province of Liaoning in China. Local farmers there have been finding many dinosaur fossils, showing evidence of feathers. The National Geographic scientific team had not found the fossil so it could not be sure of the fossil's history.

((BRIDGE MUSIC))The National Geographic Society is famous for education and exploration. But perhaps the society is best known internationally for National Geographic Magazine. The pictures in the magazine are some of the finest in the world.

In the late Eighteen-Nineties, Gilbert Grosvenor became head of the magazine. He decided it should publish pictures as well as words. So National Geographic photographers began travelling throughout the world with their cameras. The first photographs in the magazine showed life in Russia, Tibet, Korea and China. Soon National Geographic Magazine became famous for its pictures. In the days before television, the magazine was one of the few ways non-travelers could see the world and its people. During the years, reports and photographs about almost every place on Earth have appeared in National Geographic Magazine.The magazine for April, Two-Thousand is a good example of the different kinds of subjects included each month. One report is about great white sharks. It contains pictures that show surprising details of the sharks. A river in Arizona and caves in Central America are the subjects of two other reports. Another tells about natural, herbal medicines. Still another reports on the unsure future of a water animal in Australia -- the duck-billed platypus.

The magazine also includes progress reports about research supported by National Geographic. The researchers work on projects around the world. One team, for example, has been measuring the height of Mount Everest. Another is studying the coral rock formations around the island of Fiji in the South Pacific Ocean.The National Geographic publishes three other magazines. One is the National Geographic Traveler, for adults. Another is National Geographic World, for children. Still another is a new publication, National Geographic Adventure.

Over the years, the National Geographic Society has added to the ways it communicates information. Yet the society's goal remains the same. It works to increase knowledge and help people understand the nature of the world we all share.

Would you like to explore the world without leaving home? You can by using a computer. The National Geographic Society's electronic address is nationalgeographic dot com.

This Special English program was written by Jerilyn Watson and Marilyn Christiano. This is _____________.And this is ____________. Join us again next week for another Explorations program on the VOICE OF AMERICA.

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