In many ways, the automobile has been one of the most important inventions of the modern age. People have been able to travel much more freely, and across much greater distances, than was possible in the past. The automobile, which most people refer to as the “car,” has also had some harmful consequences, such as pollution and accidents. However, it is clear that life has changed profoundly as a result of the car.
Modern cars are very complicated, but the basic idea of how a car works can be described briefly. When the keys are turned in the ignition of the car, this creates a spark that ignites some gasoline vapour inside a cylinder. Then, the rapid expansion of this vapour pushes against a part called a piston. The movement of the piston then causes a turning motion in a shaft that is connected to the wheels. The wheels turn, and the car moves.
The invention of the car, and the engines used by cars, happened gradually in the late nineteenth century, mainly in France and Germany. In the early twentieth century, an American engineer named Henry Ford developed a new way of making cars. Instead of having one worker produce an entire car, he had each worker perform one part of the production of many different cars. This system was very efficient and allowed the mass production of cars. The first car to be produced in large numbers was called the “Model T.”
The Model T Ford and other cars that were soon produced in large numbers were cheap enough that many people could afford to buy them. Many new roads were built and paved throughout North America to allow cars to be driven from town to town. People were able to travel much more easily and to visit places that had previously been difficult to reach.
Some problems also came with the widespread use of cars. One of these problems was air pollution, because car engines burn gasoline, which produces poisonous exhaust fumes. Gradually, new laws and new technology have led to reductions in the air pollution that is caused by cars. Moreover, cars today are much more “fuel efficient” than they were in the past, requiring less gasoline to travel a given distance. However, this pollution is still a problem because of the many millions of cars that are used each day.
Another problem has been car accidents, which have caused many thousands of deaths each year. During the 1960s, some journalists brought attention to the unsafe features of many cars. As a result, the safety of cars has been greatly improved. In addition, the use of seat belts is now required by law. However, car accidents continue to be a serious problem.
The future is likely to bring many interesting new changes to the car. Improvements in the safety of cars, in fuel efficiency, and in the cleanliness of car emissions are continuing to be made. Also, the increasing use of the car in economically developing countries will probably have important effects upon people’s lives around the world.
without anyone stopping or limiting something
*the country’s first freely elected president
*EU members are allowed to travel freely between member states.
talk/speak/write etc freely
*In France he could write freely, without fear of arrest.
*We went outside so that we could talk freely without being overheard.
*The high level of unemployment has produced harmful social consequences. | The safety procedures had been ignored, with disastrous consequences. | You made the wrong decision, and now you must take the consequences. (=accept the bad things that happen as a result) | As a/In consequence of your laziness and rudeness, I am forced to dismiss you.
*profoundly disturbing news
to (cause to) start to burn such as a gas or chemical
The petrol tank suddenly ignited.
The candle ignited the plastic and started a small fire.
vapour British English vapor American English
a gaslike form of a liquid, such as mist or steam, often caused by a sudden change of temperature:
A cloud is a mass of vapor in the sky. | Strange vapors rose from the dark lake
when something increases in size, range, amount etc
ￚsee also expand
The rapid expansion of cities can cause social and economic problems.
an expansion in student numbers
a thin long piece of metal in an engine or machine that turns and passes on power or movement to another part of the machine
a drive shaft
a liquid obtained from petroleum, used mainly for producing power in the engines of cars, trucks etc
British Equivalent: petrol
to cover a path, road, area etc with a hard level surface such as blocks of stone or concrete
The city centre streets are paved with dark local stone.
a paved courtyard
to cover (a path, area, etc.) with a hard level surface, esp. of PAVING STONEs: a paved courtyard | country boys who thought the streets of Hollywood were paved with gold (=that Hollywood was a place of wealth and success)
that street was paved with triangular stones
a paved road
heavy strong-smelling air given off from smoke, gas, fresh paint, etc., that causes an unpleasant sensation when breathed in: She felt sick from breathing in paint fumes. | The air in the railroad car was thick with tobacco fumes. | Gas fumes from car engines poison the air.
car fumes are lethal
the fumes in the well affected him and he fainted
this machine filters out the noxious fumes
a fuel-efficient engine or vehicle burns fuel in a more effective way than usual, so that it loses less fuel
something that is likely will probably happen or is probably true
Snow showers are likely tomorrow. likely outcome/effects/consequences etc What are the likely effects of the law going to be?the most likely cause of the problem
likely to do/be something
Children who live in the country’s rural areas are very likely to be poor.
more/less/most/least likely Young drivers are far more likely to have accidents than older drivers.It is more than likely (=almost certain) the votes will have to be counted again.It could have been an accident, but that was hardly likely (=not very likely) .He could offer no likely explanation when I asked him.
the practice of keeping yourself or the things around you clean
a high standard of cleanliness
a gas or other substance that is sent into the air
Britain has agreed to cut emissions of nitrogen oxide from power stations.