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Scientist Randy Pausch Gives His 'Last Lecture' on Reaching Childhood Dreams


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Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.

I'm Doug Johnson.

Today, we play music by three rock groups…

Answer a question about a beloved university professor who died last month…

And report on a Hall of Fame for Americans from New Jersey.

The New Jersey Hall of Fame

What do scientist Albert Einstein, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, actress Meryl Streep and musician Bruce Springsteen have in common? Faith Lapidus has the answer.

They are among the fifteen people who were chosen as the first members of the New Jersey Hall of Fame.  These people were either born or lived in the eastern state of New Jersey.  They were recognized for their influence on the state, the nation or the world.

Albert Einstein is considered the most important scientist of the twentieth century because of his theories about physics and mathematics.  Born in Germany, he made New Jersey his home.  Buzz Aldrin was the second human to walk on the moon. Meryl Streep has received more Academy Award nominations than any actor.

New Jersey is one of several American states that have established a Hall of Fame to honor its citizens, both living and dead. Thomas Edison was another famous citizen of New Jersey. He invented many of the devices we use every day, including the electric light bulb. Harriet Tubman helped free many African American slaves through a system known as the Underground Railroad. She used Cape May, New Jersey as her base.

General Norman Schwarzkopf was also chosen for the state's Hall of Fame. He was one of America's top military leaders.  Yogi Berra was one of the best baseball players in history.  He played for the New York Yankees and still lives in New Jersey.

We do not have time to tell you about all of the New Jersey Hall of Famers.  But two of America's most popular singers were from that state. Frank Sinatra became famous in the nineteen forties. He was a major influence in American popular music for many years.  Bruce Springsteen is a hero to many Americans. He expresses his love for New Jersey and America in his songs. One of his most famous songs is "Born In the U.S.A."

Randy Pausch's "Last Lecture"

Our VOA listener question this week comes from China. Alex wants to know about Randy Pausch, who died July twenty-fifth of pancreatic cancer at the age of forty-seven.

Professor Pausch became famous around the world for a talk he gave to his students at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  He gave the talk last September, after doctors told him he had only a few months left to live. He called it his "last lecture."

Randy Pausch was famous in his field of computer science. He taught videogame and virtual reality technology.  He had helped develop a well known educational software tool called Alice. It lets students create three-dimensional computer animations.

But Randy Pausch's last lecture was not about that subject.  His talk was called "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams." Wall Street Journal reporter Jeffrey Zaslow reported on the talk.  The newspaper's Web site broadcast a video of it on the Internet.  Millions of people have seen it.

Professor Pausch spoke to about four hundred students. He said you have to play the cards you are dealt in life.  How you play those cards is your only choice.  In other words, he could not change the deadly cancer, but only how he lived his remaining days.

For the next hour or so, Professor Pausch talked about his childhood dreams.  They included experiencing zero gravity. He told how he had reached this goal as an adult.

Some of his students won a NASA competition to use the space agency's astronaut weightlessness training equipment.  NASA told Mr. Pausch that as a professor he could not take part.  So he thought up a new plan to get around the problem.  He got a press pass and experienced zero gravity as a reporter. Mr. Pausch told the story to demonstrate the barriers that people may find in the way of their dreams.

Randy Pausch also told his students that helping other people fulfill their childhood dreams was even more fun than reaching his own. He called on his fellow professors and students to go on without him and do great things.

Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow wrote a book together called "The Last Lecture."  It became a best seller. It has been translated into thirty languages.  Mr. Pausch also raised money and awareness for pancreatic cancer research.

Randy Pausch left behind a wife and three very young children.  He said the last lecture was meant to be a "message in a bottle that would one day wash up on the beach for my children."

Three Popular Rock Groups

Today we play music by three popular rock groups. Nine Inch Nails, the Foxboro Hot Tubs and Elvis Costello have recently released new albums. One album is free. Another will seem very familiar. And, the last record we play is named after the inventor of a popular kind of noodles. Barbara Klein has more.

(MUSIC: "Discipline")

That was the song "Discipline" from Nine Inch Nails' latest album, "The Slip."

Nine Inch Nails has been making industrial rock music since the late nineteen eighties. Trent Reznor is the main force behind the band. He writes, performs and produces the band's material. He has criticized the music industry and the record company that used to represent him. Nine Inch Nails' latest album is available free of charge on the band's Web site. The Web site states that the album is a way to thank fans for their continued support. And the band hopes people will remix the songs to create new versions.

(MUSIC: "27th Ave. Shuffle")

That was the song "27th Ave. Shuffle" by the Foxboro Hot Tubs. It may remind you of music by the band Green Day. That is because this is music by Green Day. Billie Joe Armstong, Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool of Green Day created this band as a side project. The new band's album is called "Stop, Drop and Roll." This is not the first time the members of Green Day have taken on a new identity. In two thousand three they performed as a band called The Network.

Elvis Costello recently released his new album "Momofuku," recorded with his band, the Imposters. It was named in honor of Momofuku Ando. He invented the world's first pre-cooked instant noodles. Costello chose this name because he recorded the album in only one week — almost instantly. "Momofuku" was first released on a vinyl record, then later as a CD. We leave you with Elvis Costello singing "Drum & Bone."

I'm Doug Johnson.  I hope you enjoyed our program today.

It was written by Elizabeth Stern, Caty Weaver and Dana Demange, who was also the producer.  To read the text of this program and download audio, go to our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.


"American Mosaic" in VOA Special English
www.manythings.org/voa/america

Source: Scientist Randy Pausch Gives His 'Last Lecture' on Reaching Childhood Dreams
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