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AMERICAN MOSAIC -- The Empire State Building / Winners of a Student Science Competition / Music from Fountains of  Wayne - 2004-01-08

Broadcast: January 9, 2003


Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC -- a program in VOA Special English about music and American life. And we answer your questions.


This is Doug Johnson.

On our show today, we answer a question about a tall building in New York City, and play some music by a group nominated for a Grammy Award.

But first, a report about a recent student science competition.

Siemens Westinghouse Competition


The winners of the Siemens Westinghouse Competition in Math, Science and Technology were announced last month. The Siemens Foundation created the competition to improve mathematics and science studies among American high school students. The competition awards two top prizes of one-hundred-thousand dollars each to pay for college. The money goes to one individual and one team. Jim Tedder tells us about the top winners.


Seventeen-year-old Yin Li of New York City received the individual award for his work in brain research. Mister Li did research on nerve cell activity in mice that could help improve understanding of the human brain.

Experts say his project represents progress in understanding how neurons communicate. Mister Li discovered a protein that could be linked to neurons. His project explores how nerve cells work and how the strength of their connections may be ruled by the action of local proteins.

Mister Li was born in Shanghai, China and came to the United States at the age of nine. He said that he has always been interested in the brain, especially since reading a speech given by Nobel Prize-winning scientist Eric Kandel. Mister Li did his award-winning research at Mister Kandel’s laboratory at Columbia University.

The team award went to two brothers from the state of Connecticut. Eighteen-year-old Mark and sixteen-year-old Jeffrey Schneider studied the West Nile virus. They developed a model describing the spread of the virus in order to study ways to prevent and control it. Such models can help public health officials study different ways to stop the spread of viruses. The experts say the brothers’ work may help public health professionals make better decisions about the growing threat of West Nile disease.

The Schneider Brothers said they chose to study the West Nile virus as a result of personal experience with the problem in their home town of South Windsor, Connecticut. And they reportedly entered the science competition as a result of seeing the movie, “October Sky.” In the movie, high school students in the state of West Virginia learn to build rockets and win a national science contest.

Empire State Building


Our VOA listener question this week comes from Vietnam. Ngoc Lien Nguyen would like to know about the Empire State Building.

That famous building has been an important part of New York City since it was completed in nineteen-thirty-one. It reaches more than four-hundred-forty-three meters into the sky. For many years, it was the tallest building in the world. That is no longer true.

Construction of the building began on March seventeenth, nineteen-thirty. It was completed in just one year and forty-five days. It has one-hundred-three levels and six-thousand-five hundred windows. Visitors can ride in one of seventy-three elevators that take them from the bottom to very near the top of the building. Some of these elevators are very fast, reaching the eightieth floor in only forty-five seconds.

The heads of government of almost every nation in the world have visited the Empire State Building.

These important people are just a few of the millions who have ridden to the observation area near the top of the building each year. From there, visitors can seen almost all of New York City. They can see across the Hudson River into the state of New Jersey. They can see ships in the East River.

People all over the world have also seen the Empire State Building in many movies. It has played an important part in at least three American movies. One is about a giant ape that escapes and climbs the building. That movie is “King Kong.” It was made in nineteen-thirty-three.

Another movie is “An Affair to Remember,” with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. It was made in nineteen-fifty-seven. In that movie, two people in love plan to meet at the top of the Empire State Building. But the woman is injured and is not able to go to the building. The man tries to find out what happened to her.

The end of the movie “Sleepless in Seattle” also takes place at the top of the Empire State Building. It was made in nineteen-ninety-seven. It involves a man and woman played by Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. They meet for the first time at the top of the famous building in New York. So if you can not get to New York and want to see the Empire State Building, you can watch one of these movies!

Fountains of Wayne


Last month, the American music industry nominated artists for its yearly Grammy Awards. One of the groups nominated for Best New Artist is called Fountains of Wayne. Phoebe Zimmermann tells us about the group.


Fountains of Wayne is named for a store near the New Jersey home of group member Adam Schlesinger. He and Chris Collingwood started the group after they met at Williams College in Massachusetts.

Their first album was called “Fountains of Wayne.” One of the songs on that album became a hit in Great Britain. It is “Radiation Vibe.”


Fountains of Wayne was not a great success at first, and its members went on to do other things. But they re-formed and wrote more songs. These songs are on their new album, “Welcome Interstate Managers.” One of these is about a high school football player. It is called “All Kinds of Time.”


Another new song written by Schlesinger and Collingwood is about a friend’s mother. This song already has become a top ten hit. We leave you now with the Fountains of Wayne performing “Stacy’s Mom.”



This is Doug Johnson.

This program was written by Nancy Steinbach and Paul Thompson. Paul Thompson was the producer. And our engineer was Andrius Regis.

I hope you enjoyed AMERICAN MOSAIC. Join us again next week for VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.

Once again, here is the group “Fountains of Wayne” with one more song: “Hung Up On You.”