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AMERICAN MOSAIC - July 27, 2001 - 2001-07-31


Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.


This is Doug Johnson. On our program today ...

We play some music by India Arie ...

answer a question about people paying to take trips in space ...

and, tell about a recent international mathematics competition.

International Mathematics Olympiad


Earlier this month, almost five-hundred young people from eighty-three countries took part in a special contest near Washington, D-C. They were competing in the forty-second yearly International Mathematical Olympiad. Shep O’Neal has more.


The International Mathematical Olympiad is the top mathematics competition in the world. This was the first year since Nineteen-Eighty-One that the competition was held in the United States. It was held at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Last year the contest was held in South Korea.

Each country sent a team of teen-age students. During the competition, the students worked alone for nine hours over two days to solve six mathematics problems. They presented their solutions in writing, like reports written by research mathematics experts.

Those experts judged the papers during the next several days. During the judging, the young people visited Washington, D.C. and its museums. They also experienced American life and culture.

The six mathematics problems include algebra, calculus and geometry. They are too difficult to describe here. They are too difficult for many people to understand.

The students taking part in the competition understood them, however. The team from China won the competition. The United States and Russia tied for second place. South Korea was fourth. No third place award was given.

The students were also judged individually and received medals for their performances. One of the members of the United States team became the first four-time gold medalist at the Math Olympiad. Eighteen-year-old Reid Barton answered every question correctly each year for the past four years.

Reid lives in Arlington, Massachusetts. He does not attend a high school. Instead he is taught at home. He will attend college at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Reid will not be able to attend another International Mathematical Olympiad. But many other young people who love mathematics are already preparing for the contest next year. It will be held in Glasgow, Scotland.

Space Tourism


Our VOA listener question this week comes from Russia. Denis Vladimirovich Efimov asks if people will pay to take trips to space in the future.

It has already happened. In April, American businessman Dennis Tito travelled to the International Space Station. He paid the Russian space agency twenty-million dollars for eight days in space.

However, the American space agency did not support Mister Tito’s trip. NASA officials said a non-professional space traveller should not visit the space station while it is being built. But Russian officials said the money Mister Tito was paying for the trip would help their space program.

The two space agencies finally agreed on terms for the businessman’s visit. NASA barred Mister Tito from entering the American part of the space station alone. And Russia made him promise to pay if he damaged anything. Mister Tito flew with two Russian cosmonauts on the Soyuz spacecraft. The cosmonauts were transporting equipment to the space station. Mister Tito’s duties on the flight were minor. His trip was for pleasure.

Mister Tito returned to Earth safely on May sixth. He described his trip as the deepest experience of his life -- a dream come true. And he says he plans to support the idea of space travel for pleasure.

He will not be alone. The head of Russia’s space agency has expressed his support for the idea. He says Mister Tito’s trip has opened up a new period of space exploration that includes pleasure flights. Another Russian space official described the international space station as “open for business.”

Reports say Russian officials are considering offers from other private individuals looking for a ride into space. Film director James Cameron is among those interested. The director of the film “Titanic” is among a small group of people who are able to pay the high price for a flight in space.

When will the average person be able to take such a trip? Maybe sooner than you think. The German television production company Brainpool is creating a show in which people compete to win a space flight. Brainpool says it has an agreement to use Soyuz spacecrafts for flights that could begin as early as next year.

India Arie


India Arie (ar-EE) has been writing songs for five years. Her first album was released in March. It is called “Acoustic Soul.” Shirley Griffith tells us more.


The songs on “Acoustic Soul” include messages about loving yourself. The song “Video” is about being happy with what you look like.

((CUT 1 – “Video”))

India Arie (ar-EE) is twenty-five years old. She began playing guitar while in college. In Nineteen-Ninety-Eight, she performed with other female singers on the Lilith Fair tour. Major record companies became interested in her music.

Critics praise her singing. They say the songs on “Acoustic Soul” show how non-electric instruments can add feeling to a song. Listen for guitar, cello and piano on this song, “Ready for Love.”

((Cut 2 – “Ready for Love”))

India Arie calls her music soul music because it comes from the heart. She says the message of music has the power to heal. We leave you now with another song from her new album. This one is called “Brown Skin.”

((CUT 3 – “Brown Skin”))


This is Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today. And I hope you will join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC—VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.

This AMERICAN MOSAIC program was written by Lawan Davis, Nancy Steinbach and Caty Weaver. Our studio engineer was Tom Verba. And our producer was Paul Thompson.