Listen to part of a conversation between a student and a laboratory technician.
Student: Excuse me, but is your name Lisa Evans? Professor Kennedy said that I should speak with you before I conduct a lab.
Technician: Yes, I’m Lisa. First time in the lab?
Student: Uh, yeah. That’s right. I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to do. I wouldn’t want to, uh, blow up the lab or something.
Technician: Yeah, making things explode can really ruin your day. Let me go over some of the safety rules in the lab so that you can become acquainted with how to act properly while you’re here. This will ensure that you don’t do any harm to yourself or your lab partner… or me, for that matter.
Student Uh, right. Okay, what do I need to know?
Technician: First of all, this laboratory is a serious place. We handle lots of volatile chemicals in here, so you must treat this place with respect at all times. This means you will not joke around, nor will you run, fight, or play games while you’re in here.
Student Sure thing. I just want to do my lab experiment and get out of here. I won’t touch anything I’m not supposed to.
Technician: That’s a good point. First, be careful with what you touch. If you ingest some of these chemicals, you may wake up in the emergency room.
Technician: Exactly. Now, you need to wear proper clothes in the lab at all times. This means you must wear a lab coat. You can find them over there. You must also wear gloves. The gloves are by the door, so just grab a pair on the way in to the lab. And you also need to wear safety goggles. Those are also by the door. As soon as you enter the lab, you need to don your gear. Don’t do anything else before that.
Student: Okay, but what if I have to run to the bathroom or get a coke or something?
Technician: Good question. When that happens, you need to remove all of your protective clothing and put it into the cleaning hamper over there. Remember, chemicals may get onto your protective clothes—that’s why you wear them after all—so you shouldn’t leave the lab while you’re wearing them. What happens if you get some chemicals on someone else?
Student Yeah, that wouldn’t make me too popular around campus, would it?
Technician: Not at all.
Student: Wait a second. If I have to remove all my protective gear and put it in that hamper, what do I do when I come back in? Just put on a set of entirely new stuff?
Technician: Bingo. You catch on pretty quickly.
Student Wow. I guess that you are pretty serious about keeping the lab safe. Has, like, anyone ever gotten hurt when they were in the lab?
Technician: Incidents happen every now and then, but you don’t need to worry about that.
Student Hmm… That doesn’t sound too promising.
Technician: Look, as long as you follow the safety procedures, you’ll be fine. And that’s what I’m here for. Now, let me continue and give you the lowdown on the rest of our rules here.
Listen to part of a tecture in an American history class.
Professor: Steam travel finally became a viable means of transportation in the United States in the late eighteenth and earty nineteenth centuries Steamboats became the first vehicles to take advantage of this new form of power, and they were fundamental in igniting growth and industry in the United States along its major rivers and waterways, such as the Mississippi River. In the earty nineteenth century, steamboats became the means for commerce for a couple of reasons, class. One was speed, which I’ll talk about in a bit Second was the fact that upstream travel finally became a reality. Sure, riverboat commerce and trade existed before the steamboat, but they were completely controlled by the currents, that is. the direction of the flow of the river. Steamboats made it possible to travel both down and back up a river against the flow, a complete round-trip if you will. Because of this, the steamboat became a huge contributor to the U.S. economy by transporting supplies such as sugar and machinery from east to west as well as from north to south along the Mississippi River and its estuaries.
Also, thanks to the steamboat, numerous towns, industries, and jobs began to sprout up along the rivers, making it a very prosperous and ambitious time. I’m sure most of you have read Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi, correct? Well, his accounts are quite accurate. I might add. constdenng he was a licensed riverboat captain. These steamboats must have been something to behold on the rivers due to their size and elaborate, even luxurious, construction and appearance. They were the gems of the river, and their captains were, if you will pardon my metaphor, class, superstars. But, they truly were.
Student: Why superstars, ma’am?
Professor: Well, think about it for a second. They were the ones in control, the ones who harnessed and manipulated the massive boats and powerful steam engines. Most people were used to seeing small paddleboats or canoes. When they saw a gigantic steamboat, and, if they were lucky, its captain, I’m sure they were simply in awe of the entire scene. Now, one of the earliest superstars, as I have dubbed these steamboat captains, was Robert Fulton. He was one of the first to take a steamboat from Pittsburgh to New Orleans via the Ohio River and Mississippi in 1807.
Though the trip was successful, later ones revealed his ship’s engineering needed a lot of improvement. It was vastly underpowered and slow.
A more successful captain was Henry Shreve of the Washington, which started its runs around 1815. Shreve took his steamboat for a 1,400-mile trip, which took about three weeks. Usually, the same journey would have taken months by any other means. Their speed of travel made steamboats the most attractive and practical option for shipping as well as human travel. By the way, this same 1,400-mile trip took a mere four days forty years later, everyone. So, speed was a major reason for their popularity. Another, especially to people, was their elaborate, luxurious design and accommodations. Class, these steamboats were literally floating palaces equipped with chandeliers, saloons, dining rooms with white linen on the tables and silverware, the works. Obviously, only the wealthy could afford to pay for passage on the steamboat, and it is clear that the top ones had much in common with the most luxurious ocean liners later on such as the Titanic. Yes, class, this is the level of luxury and accommodation we are dealing with here.
What else? Let’s see, many of the ships were over two hundred and fifty, even three hundred feet long! Some of the largest ones could even cany over 1,000 passengers! They were clearly grand, large-scale affairs. But they weren’t perfect. One of the most common problems with the steamboat was fire, especially considering steamboats were made out of wood. Another one, very much associated with and usually the cause of most fires, was boiler room explosions. The popularity of the steamboat was, unfortunately, short lived. By 1854, the newly-invented railroad was beginning to gain speed. Initially, it helped steamboat trade by bringing goods and supplies from east to west and by loading steamboats for northerly and southerly trips along the rivers. But, sadly, by the 1870s, the railroad had all but replaced steamboats, and they experienced a rapid decline in favor of railroads for both supplies and passengers. Soon, railways were being laid not only east to west but also north to south, and, because the railroad was more efficient, frequent, as well as more reliable time-wise, it quickly became the dominant mode of transportation in the United States and helped the country expand even more swiftly to the west coast.