Week in Review – Elon Musk, Berlin Wall and Paris under Snow

Elon Musk launches car into space

On Tuesday earlier this week SpaceX launched the most powerful rocket in a generation. The rocket hurled an electric car into space on her maiden flight from Florida. Musk decided for his old cherry-red Tesla roadster with a space-suited mannequin in the driver´s seat. During the launch David Bowie´s classic hit “Space Odditiy” played. The maiden flight was originally planned for 2013.

The Falcon Heavy started from the Kennedy Space Center with thousands of spectators. The Falcon Heavy is 70m tall and can carry up to 64 tonnes. It could launch a fully loaded Boeing 737. Furthermore, the rocket´s immense thrust opens up new possibilities. Much bigger satellites, bigger and more capable robots and huge telescopes can be transported and send into space.

Competitors at NASA are building their own “monster” rocket but it will take a few more years to develop and it will be much more expensive. According to Elon Musk, the Falcon Heavy will cost $90 million per flight. That is about a third of the cost of the competition. Furthermore, the rocket has another special feature – reusable boosters. Usually boosters are destroyed after one use but these will detach themselves and land back on earth to be used again.

to hurl (hɜ:l) – etw schleudern, werfen
maiden flight (ˈmeɪdən flaɪt) – der Jungfernflug
space-suited (speɪs- ˈsu:tɪd) – einen Raumanzug tragend, ausgerüstet mit einem Raumanzug
mannequin (ˈmænɪkɪn) – die Schuafensterpuppe, Dummy
driver´s seat (ˈdraɪvəʳs si:t) – der Fahrersitz
spectator (spekˈteɪtəʳ) – der Besucher, Zuschauer
thrust (θrʌst) – der Stoß, Schub
capable (ˈkeɪpəbl̩) – fähig, kompetent
competitor (kəmˈpetɪtəʳ) – der/die Konkurrent/in
expensive (ɪkˈspen(t)sɪv) – teuer, kostspielig
reusable (ˌri:ˈju:zəbl̩) – wiederverwendbar
usually (ˈju:ʒəli) – gewöhnlich, normalerweise
to detach (dɪˈtætʃ) – etw abtrennen, loslösen

Berlin Wall is now longer down than it stood

Earlier this week on Tuesday the Berlin wall has been gone one day longer than it stood. It has been down for 28 years, 2 months and 27 days. The Berlin wall totally encircled West Berlin and divided the Eastern and the Western halve. It only took a few hours to completely cut off East Berlin. The Berlin wall stood from August 1961 until November 1989 and was built by the communist government of East Germany.

The wall was 155km long and 3,6m high with barbed wire on top. Along the wall were more than 300 watchtowers and 20 bunkers with thousands of soldiers, guard dogs, alarms, ditches and no-man´s land. Exact figures don’t exist but it is assumed that about 5000 people successfully crossed the wall and more than 130 people died in the attempt. The wall separated families, friends and couples.

The wall has been mostly dismantled but parts of it are still up as a reminder. Today the path of the wall is marked with cobblestones that disappear under more modern buildings and re-emerge on the other side. Checkpoint Charlie became a landmark in Berlin and can be visited as a museum today. There still remain a few differences between Ossis and Wessis – some are subtle, visible for example in the traffic-light man and others are more fundamental like the political orientation.

to encircle (ɪnˈsɜ:k) – etw einkreisen, umgeben
to divide (dɪˈvd) – etw teilen, trennen
to cut off (kʌt</span ɒf) – etw abschneiden
barbed wire (bɑ:bd ˈwəʳ) – der Stacheldraht
watchtower (wɒtəʳ) – der Wachturm
ditch (dɪ) – der Graben
to assume (əˈsju:m) – etw annehmen, voraussetzen, davon ausgehen
successful (səkˈsesfəli) – erfolgreich
attempt (əˈtem(p)t) – der Versuch
to re-emerge (ˌri:ɪˈmɜ:ʤ) – wieder hervorkommen, wieder auftauchen
landmark (lændmɑ:k) – das Wahrzeichen
subtle (ˈsʌt) – subtil, fein
traffic-light man (ˈtræfɪk-lt mæn) – das Ampelmännchen

Heavy Snowfall in Paris

Paris has seen the heaviest snowfall in 30 years stranding travellers, delaying trains and flights and bringing the bus network to a complete standstill. People posted pictures of the beautiful looking city but the snow makes it difficult for everyone who needs to get somewhere. It started to snow on Tuesday evening and it didn’t stop until Wednesday after dawn. Up to 15 cm of snow are covering the city.

Paris recorded a record number of traffic jams stretching ca. 740km in total. Many people had to sleep in their cars and others just left their cars and continued their journey on foot. More than 200 people had to spend the night at Orly airport and another 700 slept at Montparnaisse and Austerlitz stations after their trains had been cancelled. Around 46 emergency shelters were opened in the greater region of Paris for people who weren’t able to get home.

Some 2.500 emergency services staff were deployed to help people who are stranded. Several tram and commuter rail lines shut down completely.  The Eiffel Tower was closed for a second day in a row. The motorways leading to Paris are full with stranded lorries. But there was one good thing – people took to skiers and made use of the slope that leads down the steep hills from the Sacre Ceur basilica.

heavy (ˈhevi) – schwer
to strand (strænd) – stranden, liegen bleiben
to delay (dɪˈl) – etw verschieben, Verspätung haben
standstill (stændstɪl) – der Stillstand, Erliegen
dawn (dɔ:n) – die Dämmerung, Morgenröte
to cover (ˈkʌvəʳ) – etw abdecken, bedecken
traffic jam (ˈtræfɪk ʤæm) – der Stau
to continue (kənˈtɪnju) – andauern, weitergehen, fortsetzen
journey (ˈʤɜ:ni) – die Reise
emergency shelter (ɪˈmɜ:ʤən(t)si ˈʃəltəʳ) – die Notunterkunft
to deploy (dɪˈplɔɪ) – jdn einsetzen, bereitstellen
several (ˈsevəran data-original-title=””>əl) – einige, verschiedene
commuter (kəˈmju:təʳ) – der/die Pendler/in
rail line (rl ln) – die Bahnstrecke, Zuglinie
row (rəʊ) – die Reihe
lorry (ˈlɒri) – der Lastkraftwagen, Laster
slope (sləʊp) – der Hang, die Piste
steep (sti:p) – steil