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the Wheel


									                     Intensive English as a Second Language Program
                     Level 600
                     Reading Log # 2
                     Student _________________________________________________              ( ______ /15)

Step 1 Read the article.

             Why It Took So Long to Invent the Wheel
      Natalie Wolchover, March, 2012

                                                                              Wheels     are    the
                                                                      archetype of a primitive,
                                                                      caveman-level     technology.
                                                                      But in fact, they're so
                                                                      ingenious that it took until
                                                                      3500 B.C. for someone to
                                                                      invent them. By that time — it
      was the Bronze Age — humans were already casting metal alloys, constructing canals and
      sailboats, and even designing complex musical instruments such as harps.

              The tricky thing about the wheel is not conceiving of a cylinder rolling on its edge. It's
      figuring out how to connect a stable, stationary platform to that cylinder.

             "The stroke of brilliance was the wheel-and-axle concept," said David Anthony, a
      professor of anthropology at Hartwick College and author of "The Horse, the Wheel, and
      Language" (Princeton, 2007). "But then making it was also difficult."

              To make a fixed axle with revolving wheels, Anthony explained, the ends of the axle had
      to be nearly perfectly smooth and round, as did the holes in the center of the wheels; otherwise,
      there would be too much friction for the wheels to turn. Furthermore, the axles had to fit snugly
      inside the wheels' holes, but not too snugly — they had to be free to rotate.

             The success of the whole structure was extremely sensitive to the size of the axle. While
      a narrow one would reduce the amount of friction, it would also be too weak to support a load.
      Meanwhile, a thick axle would hugely increase the amount of friction. "They solved this problem

      Adapted by Myroslav Gontaryuk from Johanna Peffer’s resources, 2012
              Intensive English as a Second Language Program
              Level 600
              Reading Log # 2
              Student _________________________________________________                 ( ______ /15)

by making the earliest wagons quite narrow, so they could have short axles, which made it
possible to have an axle that wasn't very thick," explained Anthony.

       The sensitivity of the wheel-and-axle system to all these factors meant that it could not
have been developed in phases, he said. It was an all-or-nothing structure.

        Whoever invented it must have had access to wide slabs of wood from thick-trunked
trees in order to carve large, round wheels. They also needed metal tools to chisel fine-fitted
holes and axles. And they must have had a need for hauling heavy burdens over land. According
to Anthony, "It was the carpentry that probably delayed the invention until 3500 B.C. or so,
because it was only after about 4000 B.C. that cast copper chisels and gouges became common
in the Near East."

       The invention of the wheel was so challenging that it probably happened only once, in
one place. However, from that place, it seems to have spread so rapidly across Eurasia and the
Middle East that experts cannot say for sure where it originated. The earliest images of wheeled
carts have been excavated in Poland and elsewhere in the Eurasian steppes, and this region is
overtaking Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) as the wheel's most likely birthplace. According to
Asko Parpola, an Indologist at the University of Helsinki in Finland, there are linguistic reasons to
believe the wheel originated with the Tripolye people of modern-day Ukraine. That is, the words
associated with wheels and wagons derive from the language of that culture.

        Parpola thinks miniature models of wheeled wagons, which are commonly found in the
Eurasian steppes, likely predated human-scale wagons. "It is … striking that so many models
were made in the Tripolye culture. Such models are often thought to have been children's toys,
but it seems more likely to me that they were miniature counterparts of real things," he said.
"The primacy of the miniature models is suggested by the fact that wheeled images of
animals even come from native Indian cultures of Central America, where real wheels were
never made."

        Toys or not, those popular models of old have their counterparts in today's Hot Wheels
and miniature fire trucks. Who appreciates wheeled vehicles more fully than babies and
toddlers? Their almost universal fascination with the way tiny vehicles can be rolled along the
floor, and the joy they derive from transportation in life-size ones, calls attention to the
remarkable ingenuity of the wheel.

Adapted by Myroslav Gontaryuk from Johanna Peffer’s resources, 2012
                     Intensive English as a Second Language Program
                     Level 600
                     Reading Log # 2
                     Student _________________________________________________                        ( ______ /15)

                    !!!!!!!!!!      THE ASSIGNMENT MUST BE TYPED                    !!!!!!!

Step 2 Find the words from the chart below in the article and write clear definitions of the words
       based on the CONTEXT THEY ARE USED IN.

          WORD                   FORM                                   DEFINITION

 archetype                 Noun          1. An original model or type after which other similar things are

                                         patterned; a prototype: "'Frankenstein' . . . 'Dracula' . . . 'Dr. Jekyll and

                                         Mr. Hyde' . . . the archetypes that have influenced all subsequent

                                         horror stories" (New York Times)

 conceiving                V.            2. To form or develop in the mind; devise: conceive a plan to increase


 axle                      N.            1. A supporting shaft or member on or with which a wheel or a set of

                                         wheels revolves

 snugly                    Adv.          Adv. 1. snugly - fitting closely; "the vest fit snugly"

 slab                      N.            2. An outside piece cut from a log when squaring it for lumber

 chisel                    V.            1. To shape or cut with a chisel which is a metal tool with a sharp

                                         beveled edge, used to cut and shape stone, wood, or metal

 haul                      V.            2. To transport, as with a truck or cart

 gouge                     N.            1. A chisel with a rounded, troughlike blade.

 counterpart               N.            b. One that has the same functions and characteristics as another; a

                                         corresponding person or thing: Their foreign minister is the counterpart

                                         of our secretary of state.

 ingenuity                 N.            2. Imaginative and clever design or construction: a narrative plot of

                                         great ingenuity

        Adapted by Myroslav Gontaryuk from Johanna Peffer’s resources, 2012
                    Intensive English as a Second Language Program
                    Level 600
                    Reading Log # 2
                    Student _________________________________________________               ( ______ /15)

Step 3 Write a short SUMMARY of what the article is about.

According to the article in Live Science by Natalie Wolchover, the wheel is an ingenious invention that
took many thousands of years to build. In fact, the first wheel could not be designed and produced
until about 3500 B.C. The wheel involved difficult design concepts because the axle had to fit snugly
into the wheel, and required tools such as chisels and gouges to create a smooth and fitted surface and
holes for the axles. Therefore, it was not only a complicated design and engineering concept, but
required a highly skilled carpenter with fine tools to create the necessary wheel-and-axle combination.
According to professors, the wheel originated in the Ukraine and then quickly spread around the world.
Further evidence of this is in the miniature wagon wheel models that can be found in the Eurasian
steppes which were often toys for children, but are considered to be models of the real thing.

Step 4 In about 5-10 sentences write a REACTION to the reading. What did you learn? What do you
        think about the topic? What questions do you have about the topic?

       I found this reading surprisingly interesting considering that I have no real interest in
       engineering. I didn’t realize how complicated and difficult the various aspects of designing a
       wheel were before reading this article. Everyone uses the phrase that “it’s like re-inventing the
       wheel” as if the wheel were the easiest thing to invent. This article demonstrates that
       inventing the wheel required advanced design concepts, engineering, skilled carpentry and fine
       tools to create the wheel-and-axle combination.

       I learned that the invention of the wheel happened much later than I thought and required
       thousands of years before all the elements required to make it come together were available.
       It also demonstrates that the wheel was so difficult to develop that it happened suddenly in
       one place and then spread quickly around the world. I thought before that inventing the wheel
       would have been quite simple and that each culture would have been able to individually
       create and produce the wheel on their own. I wasn’t aware that the wheel was delayed by not
       having the right tools and level of carpentry available to produce the needed result.

I wonder if there is a way for them to determine precisely where the wheel was first invented?

What types of new technology came as a result of the invention of the wheel?

      Adapted by Myroslav Gontaryuk from Johanna Peffer’s resources, 2012
                         Intensive English as a Second Language Program
                         Level 600
                         Reading Log # 2
                         Student _________________________________________________                ( ______ /15)

!!!! FOR TEACHER’S USE ONLY !!!!                                    YOU WILL BE ASSESSED AS FOLLOWS:

Step 2 contains accurate definitions of all vocabulary items.        Poor    Satisfactory    Good      Excellent
                                                                      1            2          3           4

Step 3 contains sufficient and accurate information about the        Poor    Satisfactory    Good      Excellent
article.                                                              1            2          3           4

Step 4 contains solid insights and ideas and includes a              Poor    Satisfactory    Good      Excellent
question(s).                                                          1            2          3           4

The log is typed. Wording is natural; grammar, spelling, sentence   Needs work     Satisfactory      Excellent
structures, and punctuation do not impede understanding                 1                2              3

         Adapted by Myroslav Gontaryuk from Johanna Peffer’s resources, 2012

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