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BIOLOGY

He is 33. He wakes with a jolt, gasping for breath. His thick, black hair is matted with sweat. He blinks hard against the darkness, try­ing desperately to focus on his arm, his knuckles, anything to know that he is here, in the apartment over the bakery, and not back in the war, in the village, in the fire. That dream. Will it ever stop?

It is just before 4 A.M. No point in going back to sleep. He waits until his breathing subsides, then slowly rolls off the bed, trying not to wake his wife. He puts his right leg down first, out of habit, avoid­ing the inevitable stiffness of his left. Eddie begins every morning the same way. One step and one hobble.

In the bathroom, he checks his bloodshot eyes and splashes water on his face. It is always the same dream: Eddie wandering through the flames in the Philippines on his last night of war. The village huts are engulfed in fire, and there is a constant, high-pitched squealing noise. Something invisible hits Eddie's legs and he swats at it but misses, and then swats again and misses again. The flames grow more intense, roaring like an engine, and then Smitty appears, yelling for Eddie, yelling, "Come on! Come on!" Eddie tries to speak but when he opens his mouth, the high-pitched squeal emerges from his throat. Then something grabs his legs, pulling him under the muddy earth.

And then he wakes up. Sweating. Panting. Always the same. The worst part is not the sleeplessness. The worst part is the general darkness the dream leaves over him, a gray film that clouds the day. Even his happy moments feel encased, like holes jabbed in a hard sheet of ice.

He dresses quietly and goes down the stairs. The taxi is parked by the corner, its usual spot, and Eddie wipes the moisture from its windshield. He never speaks about the darkness to Marguerite. She strokes his hair and says, "What's wrong?" and he says, "Nothing, I'm just beat," and leaves it at that. How can he explain such sad­ness when she is supposed to make him happy? The truth is he can­not explain it himself. All he knows is that something stepped in front of him, blocking his way, until in time he gave up on things, he gave up studying engineering and he gave up on the idea of trav­eling. He sat down in his life. And there he remained.

This night, when Eddie returns from work, he parks the taxi by the corner. He comes slowly up the stairs. From his apartment, he hears music, a familiar song.

"You made me love you

I didn't want to do it,

I didn't want to do it. . . ."

He opens the door to see a cake on the table and a small white bag, tied with ribbon.

"Honey?" Marguerite yells from the bedroom. "Is that you?"

He lifts the white bag. Taffy. From the pier.

"Happy birthday to you... " Marguerite emerges, singing in her soft sweet voice. She looks beautiful, wearing the print dress Ed­die likes, her hair and lips done up. Eddie feels the need to inhale, as if undeserving of such a moment. He fights the darkness within him, "Leave me alone," he tells it. "Let me feel this the way I should feel it."



Marguerite finishes the song and kisses him on the lips.

"Want to fight me for the taffy?" she whispers.

He moves to kiss her again. Someone raps on the door.

"Eddie! Are you in there? Eddie?"

Mr. Nathanson, the baker, lives in the ground-level apartment behind the store. He has a telephone. When Eddie opens the door, he is standing in the doorway, wearing a bathrobe. He looks concerned.

"Eddie," he says. "Come down. There's a phone call. I think something happened to your father."

 

I AM RUBY."

It suddenly made sense to Eddie, why the woman looked familiar. He had seen a photograph, somewhere in the back of the repair shop, among the old manuals and paperwork from the park's initial ownership.

"The old entrance . . ." Eddie said.

She nodded in satisfaction. The original Ruby Pier en­trance had been something of a landmark, a giant arching structure based on a historic French temple, with fluted columns and a coved dome at the top. Just beneath that dome, under which all patrons would pass, was the painted face of a beautiful woman. This woman. Ruby.

"But that thing was destroyed a long time ago," Eddie said. "There was a big . . ."

He paused.

"Fire," the old woman said. "Yes. A very big fire." She dropped her chin, and her eyes looked down through her spectacles, as if she were reading from her lap.

"It was Independence Day, the Fourth of July—a holi­day. Emile loved holidays. 'Good for business,' he'd say. If Independence Day went well, the entire summer might go well. So Emile arranged for fireworks. He brought in a marching band. He even hired extra workers, roustabouts mostly, just for that weekend.

"But something happened the night before the celebration. It was hot, even after the sun went down, and a few of the roustabouts chose to sleep outside, behind the work sheds. They lit a fire in a metal barrel to roast their food.

"As the night went on, there was drinking and carous­ing. The workers got ahold of some of the smaller fire­works. They set them off. The wind blew. The sparks flew. Everything in those days was made of lathe and tar. . . ."

She shook her head. "The rest happened quickly. The fire spread to the midway and the food stalls and on to the animal cages. The roustabouts ran off. By the time someone came to our home to wake us, Ruby Pier was in flames. From our window we saw the horrible orange blaze. We heard the horses' hooves and the steamer engines of the fire compa­nies. People were in the street.

"I begged Emile not to go, but that was fruitless. Of course he would go. He would go to the raging fire and he would try to salvage his years of work and he would lose himself in anger and fear and when the entrance caught fire, the entrance with my name and my picture, he lost all sense of where he was, too. He was trying to throw buckets of water when a column collapsed upon him."

She put her fingers together and raised them to her lips. "In the course of one night, our lives were changed forever. Risk taker that he was, Emile had acquired only mini­mal insurance on the pier. He lost his fortune. His splendid gift to me was gone.

"In desperation, he sold the charred grounds to a businessman from Pennsylvania for far less than it was worth. That businessman kept the name, Ruby Pier, and in time, he reopened the park. But it was not ours anymore.

"Emile's spirit was as broken as his body. It took three years before he could walk on his own. We moved away, to a place outside the city, a small flat, where our lives were spent modestly, me tending to my wounded husband and silently nurturing a single wish."

She stopped.

"What wish?" Eddie said.

"That he had never built that place."

 

THE OLD WOMAN sat in silence. Eddie studied the vast jade sky. He thought about how many times he had wished this same thing, that whoever had built Ruby Pier had done something else with his money.

"I'm sorry about your husband," Eddie said, mostly because he didn't know what else to say.

The old woman smiled. "Thank you, dear. But we lived many years beyond those flames. We raised three children. Emile was sickly, in and out of the hospital. He left me a widow in my fifties. You see this face, these wrinkles?" She turned her cheeks upward. "I earned every one of them."

Eddie frowned. "I don't understand. Did we ever . . . meet? Did you ever come to the pier?"

"No," she said. "I never wanted to see the pier again. My children went there, and their children and theirs. But not me. My idea of heaven was as far from the ocean as pos­sible, back in that busy diner, when my days were simple, when Emile was courting me."

Eddie rubbed his temples. When he breathed, mist emerged.

"So why am I here?" he said. "I mean, your story, the fire, it all happened before I was born."

"Things that happen before you are born still affect you," she said. "And people who come before your time af­fect you as well.

"We move through places every day that would never have been if not for those who came before us. Our workplaces, where we spend so much time—we often think they began with our arrival. That's not true."

She tapped her fingertips together. "If not for Emile, I would have no husband. If not for our marriage, there would be no pier. If there'd been no pier, you would not have ended up working there."

Eddie scratched his head. "So you're here to tell me about work?"

"No, dear," Ruby answered, her voice softening. "I'm here to tell you why your father died."

 

THE PHONE CALL was from Eddie's mother. His father had collapsed that afternoon, on the east end of the boardwalk near the Junior Rocket Ride. He had a raging fever.

"Eddie, I'm afraid," his mother said, her voice shaking. She told him of a night, earlier in the week, when his father had come home at dawn, soaking wet. His clothes were full of sand. He was missing a shoe. She said he smelled like the ocean. Eddie bet he smelled like liquor, too.

"He was coughing," his mother explained. "It just got worse. We should have called a doctor right away. . . ." She drifted in her words. He'd gone to work that day, she said, sick as he was, with his tool belt and his ball peen hammer—same as always—but that night he'd refused to eat and in bed he'd hacked and wheezed and sweated through his un­dershirt. The next day was worse. And now, this afternoon, he'd collapsed.

"The doctor said it's pneumonia. Oh, I should have done something. I should have done something. . . ."

"What were you supposed to do?" Eddie asked. He was mad that she took this on herself. It was his father's drunken fault.

Through the phone, he heard her crying.

 

EDDIE'S FATHER USED to say he'd spent so many years by the ocean, he breathed seawater. Now, away from that ocean, in the confines of a hospital bed, his body began to wither like a beached fish. Complications developed. Congestion built in his chest. His condition went from fair to stable and from stable to serious. Friends went from saying, "He'll be home in a day," to "He'll be home in a week." In his father's absence, Eddie helped out at the pier, working evenings after his taxi job, greasing the tracks, checking the brake pads, testing the levers, even repairing broken ride parts in the shop.

What he really was doing was protecting his father's job. The owners acknowledged his efforts, then paid him half of what his father earned. He gave the money to his mother, who went to the hospital every day and slept there most nights. Eddie and Marguerite cleaned her apartment and shopped for her food.

When Eddie was a teenager, if he ever complained or seemed bored with the pier, his father would snap, "What? This ain't good enough for you?" And later, when he'd suggested Eddie take a job there after high school, Eddie almost laughed, and his father again said, "What? This ain't good enough for you?" And before Eddie went to war, when he'd talked of marrying Marguerite and becoming an engineer, his father said, "What? This ain't good enough for you?"

And now, despite all that, here he was, at the pier, do­ing his father's labor.

Finally, one night, at his mother's urging, Eddie visited the hospital. He entered the room slowly. His father, who for years had refused to speak to Eddie, now lacked the strength to even try. He watched his son with heavy-lidded eyes. Eddie, after struggling to find even one sentence to say, did the only thing he could think of to do: He held up his hands and showed his father his grease-stained fingertips.

"Don't sweat it, kid," the other maintenance workers told him. "Your old man will pull through. He's the tough­est son of a gun we've ever seen."

 

PARENTS RARELY LET go of their children, so children let go of them. They move on. They move away. The moments that used to define them—a mother's approval, a father's nod—are covered by moments of their own accomplish­ments. It is not until much later, as the skin sags and the heart weakens, that children understand; their stories, and all their accomplishments, sit atop the stories of their mothers and fathers, stones upon stones, beneath the wa­ters of their lives.

When the news came that his father had died—"slipped away," a nurse told him, as if he had gone out for milk—Eddie felt the emptiest kind of anger, the kind that circles in its cage. Like most workingmen's sons, Eddie had envisioned for his father a heroic death to counter the commonness of his life. There was nothing heroic about a drunken stupor by the beach.

The next day, he went to his parents' apartment, en­tered their bedroom, and opened all the drawers, as if he might find a piece of his father inside. He rifled through coins, a tie pin, a small bottle of apple brandy, rubber bands, electric bills, pens, and a cigarette lighter with a mermaid on the side. Finally, he found a deck of playing cards. He put it in his pocket.

THE FUNERAL WAS small and brief. In the weeks that followed, Eddie's mother lived in a daze. She spoke to her husband as if he were still there. She yelled at him to turn down the radio. She cooked enough food for two. She fluffed pillows on both sides of the bed, even though only one side had been slept in.

One night, Eddie saw her stacking dishes on the countertop.

"Let me help you," he said.

"No, no," his mother answered, "your father will put them away."

Eddie put a hand on her shoulder.

"Ma," he said, softly. "Dad's gone."

"Gone where?"

The next day, Eddie went to the dispatcher and told him he was quitting. Two weeks later, he and Marguerite moved back into the building where Eddie had grown up, Beachwood Avenue—apartment 6B—where the hallways were narrow and the kitchen window viewed the carousel and where Eddie had accepted a job that would let him keep an eye on his mother, a position he had been groomed for summer after summer: a maintenance man at Ruby Pier. Eddie never said this—not to his wife, not to his mother, not to anyone—but he cursed his father for dying and for trapping him in the very life he'd been trying to es­cape; a life that, as he heard the old man laughing from the grave, apparently now was good enough for him.

 

 

Today Is Eddie's Birthday

He is 37. His breakfast is getting cold.

"You see any salt?" Eddie asks Noel.

Noel, chewing a mouthful of sausage, slides out from the booth, leans across another table, and grabs a salt shaker.

"Here, "he mumbles. "Happy birthday."

Eddie shakes it hard. "How tough is it to keep salt on the table?"

"What are you, the manager?" Noel says.

Eddie shrugs. The morning is already hot and thick with humid­ity. This is their routine: breakfast, once a week, Saturday mornings, before the park gets crazy. Noel works in the dry cleaning business. Ed­die helped him get the contract for Ruby Pier's maintenance uniforms.

"What'dya think of this good-lookin' guy?" Noel says. He has a copy of Life magazine open to a photo of a young political candi­date. "How can this guy run for president? He's a kid!"

Eddie shrugs. "He's about our age."

"No foolin'?" Noel says. He lifts an eyebrow. "I thought you had to be older to be president."

"We are older, "Eddie mumbles.

Noel closes the magazine. His voice drops. "Hey. You hear what happened at Brighton?"

Eddie nods. He sips his coffee. He'd heard. An amusement park A gondola ride. Something snapped. A mother and her son fell 60 feet to their death.

"You know anybody up there?"Noel asks.

Eddie puts his tongue between his teeth. Every now and then he hears these stories, an accident at a park somewhere, and he shud­ders as if a wasp just flew by his ear. Not a day passes that he doesn 't worry about it happening here, at Ruby Pier, under his watch.

"Nuh-uh," he says. "I don't know no one in Brighton."

He fixes his eyes out the window, as a crowd of beachgoers emerges from the train station. They carry towels, umbrellas, wicker baskets with sandwiches wrapped in paper. Some even have the newest thing: foldable chairs, made from lightweight aluminum.

An old man walks past in a panama hat, smoking a cigar.

"Lookit that guy, "Eddie says. "I promise you, he'll drop that cigar on the boardwalk."

"Yeah?" Noel says. "So?"

"It falls in the cracks, then it starts to burn. You can smell it. The chemical they put on the wood. It starts smoking right away. Yesterday I grabbed a kid, couldn't have been more than four years old, about to put a cigar butt in his mouth."

Noel makes a face. "And?"

Eddie turns aside. "And nothing. People should be more careful, that's all."

Noel shovels a forkful of sausage into bis mouth. "You're a bar­rel of laughs. You always this much fun on your birthday?"

Eddie doesn't answer. The old darkness has taken a seat along­side him. He is used to it by now, making room for it the way you make room for a commuter on a crowded bus.

He thinks about the maintenance load today. Broken mirror in the Fun House. New fenders for the bumper cars. Glue, he reminds himself, gotta order more glue. He thinks about those poor people in Brighton. He wonders who's in charge up there.

"What time you finish today?" Noel asks.

Eddie exhales. "It's gonna be busy. Summer. Saturday. You know."

Noel lifts an eyebrow. "We can make the track by six."

Eddie thinks about Marguerite. He always thinks about Mar­guerite when Noel mentions the horse track.

"Come on. It's your birthday," Noel says.

Eddie pokes a fork at his eggs, now too cold to bother with.

'"All right," he says.

 

BIOLOGY

 

Biology is the science of living things. The word "biology" comes from two Greek words: bio - "life" and logos - "discourse" or "study". Biology includes all the facts and principles which have been derived from scientific study of living things. The special study of plants, called Botany, and animals, called Zoology, are the two great subdivisions of the science of biology. Plants and animals are called organisms, so biology may also be defined as the science of organisms.

Life exists in many places on the earth, often in spite of very difficult conditions. In the Arctic regions, the temperature may fall to 60° degrees. Some animals live under the immense pressure of the deep seas, and others live near the tops of the highest mountains. But no matter where they exist, all living things must have certain necessary conditions. Let us see what these are: living things need oxygen, living things must have the right amount of pressure, living things must have water, living things need the proper temperature, living things must have food.

Most people think: that plant are not alive in the same sense that animals are, or that there is some fundamental difference between plant and animal life. But this is not so. Plants and animals have much in common. Their more important points of resemblance are: 1) The living substance of plants and animals is organized into protoplasm. Protoplasm is the basic material of all living systems and its general properties are fundamentally the same in each system both in plants and animals. 2) The living matter is organized in both plants and animals into microscopic unite called cells. 3) Certain vital processes take place in plant bodies in the same manner as in animal bodies. These processes are respiration, digestion assimilation, growth and reproduction. 4) Both animals and plants cannot live without water, air, food, light and moderate amount of heat. They both are of different shapes, sizes and colours. In fact, the differences are not so many as the likenesses although they are more apparent, for only three are important, namely plants are not conscious, they are unable to more about, they make their own food.

 

Translate the text without a dictionary trying to guess the meaning of unfamiliar words from the context.

Biology gives us an acquaintance with the world of living things and an understanding of some of the great fundamental laws and processes of nature. There are many special fields of knowledge and many phases and principles to which elementary training in general biology is essential.

These include medicine, physiology, agriculture, horticulture, forestry, sanitation, hygiene and many others. Because, man is an organism subject to the same laws which govern all living things and^Is built according to the sane plan as other higher animals an elementary knowledge of biology gives us a basis for an understanding of our body.

 

Translate the text and write your own topic to the exam.

 

I am a student of the biological faculty.

 

I am a student of the biological faculty. Our faculty is one of the largest faculties of the University. We study different subjects: Botany, Anatomy, Microbiology and many others. Besides these subjects we study Political Economy, Philosophy and English. We study English to be able to communicate, to speak and understand foreign students, read scientific books on biology and take part in different conferences using English.

There are many departments in our faculty: botany, zoology, microbiology, physiology of man and animals, physiology of plants, genetics, soil science, conservation nature, bionics, etc. Besides there are research laboratories and museums. Every student has an opportunity to work in modern, well-equipped laboratories, where different problems of biology are under investigation.

Students are acquainted with all branches of biology. They are lectured in various subjects of natural science, namely botany, zoology, anatomy, microbiology, biophysics, biochemistry, soil science, bionics genetics.

During the first two years they attend lectures on mathematics, physics, chemistry, political subjects and foreign languages. In the third year more narrow specialization begins. They have several specialized courses and additional practical and research work in the subject they have chosen as their future speciality. Besides attending lectures they may join some scientific circle and choose a problem to work on according to their bents. All of them know that biology is the science of glorious past and great future. They do their best to acquire as much knowledge as possible.

Graduates of the biological faculty are assigned to work at laboratories, schools, research institutes. Those who hare a bent for research work may apply for a postgraduate course of study.

 

Situations to discuss:

 

1. You are the Dean of the biological faculty. Tomorrow you are to speak to the first-year students. What would you tell them? What would you wish your future students?

2. Students of various faculties meet at a tourist camp. Everybody speaks about importance of the science he studies. Prove that biology is the most vital of all the sciences.

3. You are to write a report about the work of the biologists of your faculty. You have written a little. Ring your friends up, tell them what you have already written and ask them what can be added.

 

Read the text and guess what scientist it is about.

 

A hundred years ago people believed that plants and animals had always been as they are now. They thought that all different sorts of living things, including men and women, had been put here by some mysterious power, a few thousand years ago.

He was born at Shrewsbury on February 12, 1809. As a boy he loved to walk about the countryside collecting insects, flowers and minirals. He enjoyed helping his elder brother at chemical experiments in a shed at the far end of their garden.

Because of this his school friends called him "Gas". These hobbies interested him much more than Greek and Latin, which were his main lessons at school. His father, himself a doctor, sent his son to Edinburgh University to study medicine. But a fellow disliked this work. He spent a lot of time with a zoologist friend, watching birds and other animals, and collecting insects in the surrounding countryside.

Then his father sent him to Cambridge to be trained as a clergyman. But his son didn't want to be a doctor. He wanted to be a biologist. The years went by and this man became a naturalist. In 1844 he wrote out in pencil a brief statement of hisf new theory.

In 1859 his famous book "The Origin of Species" was published. And it was followed in 1871 by another book called "The Descent of Man". He grew to be an old man, his beard snowy white, but his grey eyes still keen.

He died in 1882, and his countrymen took his body to Westminster Abby, where they buried him besides Sir Isaac Newton.

 


Date: 2014-12-22; view: 740


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