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2.2 Going up: using scientific notation for large numbers

Think again about the value for the total volume of water stored on Earth: 1460 000 000 km3.

When dealing with large numbers such as one thousand four hundred and sixty million (1460 000 000), it is tedious to write the number in words or to keep writing all of those zeros. Worse still, it is very easy to lose some of the zeros or add extra ones by mistake. Fortunately, large numbers can be referred to without having to write out all of the zeros. The powers of ten not
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1 The power of water

The ways in which human activities interact with the water cycle can have devastating consequences for all forms of life. These range from the very large scale – for example, the effects of the movement of large volumes of water in a tsunami – to the molecular scale and the ability of water to dissolve solids, such as agricultural fertilisers (Figure 1).

Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit you should be able to:

  • read data presented in tables;

  • use scientific notation to express both large and small quantities;

  • appreciate why chemists use different models to represent molecules;

  • identify the number and type(s) of atom present in a molecule from its chemical formula;

  • identify the reactants and products of a reaction in a chemical equation;

  • read and write using chemical
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5 Questions and answers

Question 1

Define each of the following: grammar, phonology, syntax, semantics, noun, verb, subject, object.

Answer

Grammar: The set of unconscious rules or pr
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4 Conclusions

Activity 3

Read back over Section 3. Make two columns on a piece of pap
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3.6 Summary of Section 3

Sound waves received by the ear are turned into neural activity by a complex mechanism involving the eardrum, the bones in the middle ear, and the hair cells within the cochlea. The auditory nerve carries the signal from the ears to the brainstem, from where it passes via the thalamus to the auditory areas of the cerebral cortex. In the cortex, speech sounds are extracted from the incoming signal. There are neural circuits in the auditory cortex that are specialised for speech and language as
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3.4 Specialisation within language areas: brain scanning

Is there any evidence from the undamaged brain that the view derived from aphasia is indeed correct? The most useful methodologies here use either PET or functional MRI (fMRI) scanning to establish which parts of the brain are active in particular tasks. The difficulty is that a standard linguistic task, such as understanding a sentence's meaning, involves phonology and syntax and semantics, and thus is not helpful when trying to tease out which of these subtasks happens in which areas.


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3.1 Speech perception

Now that we have examined the processes involved in understanding a sentence in some detail, we will turn to the issue of how the brain achieves the task. We will begin with the initial capture and analysis of the speech signal.

Vibrations in the air are channelled by the structure of the external ear into the ear canal (Author(s): The Open University

2.5 From phoneme to sentence structure: the syntactic problem

In the vervet monkey system, calls stand by themselves. Thus there is no syntax. Syntax can be thought of as working like road traffic rules do. It doesn't much matter which side of the road you drive on, as long as there is some clear convention. Similarly in (13), it is necessary to understand the difference between (13a) and (13b) without ambiguity, by having some rule or other about which noun phrase comes first. England may differ from most of the rest of the world in terms of the side o
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2.4 From phoneme to meaning: the semantic problem

For a vervet monkey, once an alarm call has been assigned to the correct phonological class – leopard, snake or eagle – then the task is straightforward indeed. Each of these sound patterns is connected in long-term memory to some ‘prototype’ of the predator in question, including what it looks like, what it does and so on. The eagle call always means eagle, whatever the context. The activation of the brain trace for the eagle call invariably activates the
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2.3 From ear to phoneme: the phonological problem

The phonological problem is the problem of knowing which units (words, calls) are being uttered. The speech signal is a pattern of sound, and sound consists of patterns of minute vibrations in the air. Sounds vary in their frequency distribution. The sound of a flute playing is relatively harmonic. This means that the energy of the sound is concentrated at certain frequencies of vibration. A plot of the energy of a sound against the frequency at which that energy occurs is called a spe
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2.2 Generativity and duality of patterning

Let us now reconsider the sentence you heard in the imaginary scenario at the beginning of this unit. Here it is again.

  • (1)  My dad's tutor's no joker, and he told me the TMA's going to hit home with a bang.

Activity 2

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Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit you should be able to:

  • recognise definitions and applications of each of the terms printed in bold in the text;

  • understand and apply basic grammatical terminology;

  • describe briefly the different types of sounds used in speech in both acoustic and articulatory terms;

  • outline the key features of human language as compared to the vocalisations of other species;

  • describe the complex psychologi
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12.8 More revision questions

Question 12

  • (a) If two tones are broadcast through headphones at an intensity of 100 dB SPL, which will sound louder, a 100 Hz tone or a 1000 Hz tone? Why?

  • (b) How loud must a 100 Hz t
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12.7 Summary of Section 12

For precise localisation of a sound source, binaural cues are required.

Two types of binaural cue are used to localise non-continuous sounds in the horizontal plane: interaural time differences, which are most efficient for low-frequency sounds (20–1500 Hz) and interaural intensity cues, which are important for high-frequency sounds (1500–20 000 Hz). The frequency responses in the superior olive reflect these differences. The medial superior olive includes neurons that are responsiv
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12.5 Localisation of sound in the vertical plane

Much of our ability to localise sound in the vertical plane is due to the shape of the outer ear, in particular the pinna. The pinnae provide a monaural cue to localisation. The bumps and ridges on the pinnae produce reflections, and delays between the direct path and the reflected path make vertical localisation possible. Vertical localisation is seriously impaired if the convolutions of the pinnae are covered.


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6.3 Summary of Sections 4 to 6

Hair cells do not have axons and therefore do not generate action potentials.

The nerve that communicates with or innervates the hair cells along the basilar membrane is known as the vestibulocochlear nerve or VIIIth cranial nerve. The cochlear portion of the nerve contains afferent fibres that carry information in the form of action potentials from the organ of Corti to the brain, and efferent fibres that bring information from the cerebral cortex to the periphery.

Most of the af
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3.2 Penguins

Penguins (order Sphenisciformes) are an ancient and distinctive group of flightless, short-legged birds that evolved in the Southern Hemisphere, probably around New Zealand, about 65 Ma ago in the late Cretaceous, although the oldest known fossils date from about 45 Ma ago.

At a maximum body mass of more than 40 kg, the emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri;Figure 10a) is the largest living penguin (some fossil species were much bigger) and is found further south than any other v
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2.2 Migration for breeding

Birds do not hibernate, but like reindeer, many species undergo daily or seasonal changes in energy expenditure and appetite, and many of the endocrine changes that are an integral part of true hibernation in other groups. The fact that the preliminary stages of hibernation are widespread among vertebrates may help to explain why true hibernation has evolved several times in distantly related taxa. Instead of hibernating, some species of birds migrate to and from breeding areas, where they ar
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4.2.2 Catalyst performance

Figure 3 shows the difference in the emission levels for CO, VOC and NOx for a vehicle, with and without a three-way catalytic converter. It is evident that the catalytic converter reduces the emissions of all three classes of pollutants quite dramatically over a wide range of speeds. Before we discuss the data in any detail, a few words about how they were obtained are in order.

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