Revision Tips

Many of you who are doing exams this year will be revising or starting to think about revising. As a tutor, I am often asked, “What should I revise?” The answer is, unfortunately, everything that you have covered in the course. No one except the exam writers know what is going to be in the exams in any single year, so always make sure that you cover everything.

Barnaby Lenon, an ex-headmaster at Harrow, has recently written in a blog that GCSE students should revise their course at least three times. The same applies for A level students, but officially there is no magic number given as to how many times you should do so. Usually, however, it will be more than once. Some lucky people, the exceptions, can read something once and it will “go in”, but more will have to go through the course over and over again for it to sink it. We are all different, and this is the main point with revising – what works for one person will not work for another.

With all this in mind, there are some tips below. Remember, some will work for you, some won’t.

• Find a good place to work. Some of you will like quiet, others will like some noise. We all work best in certain places. Some students may like to work in a library, others in their room, others in a coffee shop. Find a place that works well for you and stick to it.

• What time works best for you? Some people work better early in the morning, others in the afternoon, others late at night. Again, stick to what works for you. If you are a night owl, it’s pointless to try and force yourself to get up early and study – it just won’t work as well. Use your strengths and find the best time to suit you.

• Avoid distractions. There are so many distractions today: mobile phones, television, emails and so on. It can make it hard to study. If you are reading this now but also looking at your social media feed on your phone, for example, it’s doubtful all you are reading will go in. So avoid such distractions if you can. Turn off your phone. Turn off your emails. If you find it hard to do this, give yourself a time limit, “I will revise for one hour, then spend five minutes looking at my phone.”

• With the above point also in mind, some students find it hard to sit down and study for long periods. Others prefer it. Again, you should do what suits you best. If you do find it hard to sit for long periods, give yourself a reward. One student I worked with played volleyball at national level. He found it very hard to sit down for long periods and study. Consequently he was doing hardly any revision. We came up with a plan. He would revise for 50 minutes, then go outside and play with a ball or go for a jog for ten minutes. Then he would revise for 50 minutes again and so on. This worked well for him. You may find a similar reward works for you, looking at your phone, going for a walk, making a cup of tea, watching TV, phoning a friend and so on. Decide on your time limit and give yourself a reward.

• Aim to study for no more than two and a half hours without taking a break. You are probably not revising as well as you would if you carry on revising after that time.

• Making and reading notes and using flashcards can all work well for some students. Others can make recordings of their notes and listen back to them when they are going for a walk or even when they are sleeping at night – Mind maps and memory palaces can also be useful when revising. Again, find a method that works well for you and stick to it.

• If you are reading something and it isn’t sinking in or you don’t understand it. Try a few of the following techniques…
o Read it out loud. When you do this, sometimes it seems to make more sense.
o Try and explain it to someone else – You may find that you know far more than you think you do when you explain it to another person.
o Read it in another way. There are a lot of resources online today, so if you don’t understand your notes or textbook, look online and find another explanation.

• Making a revision timetable for when you intend to revise your subject is also useful. You may be revising for more than one subject, so work out when you are going to study and make a plan for each subject.

• Practice exam papers and old TMAs under “exam conditions.”

• Try to take off a day a week. You decide which day. Take some time off from all that studying.

• Try to start revising as soon as you can. The earlier you start to revise, the more revision you will do.

Remember, you have revised before. You know what has worked well for you and what didn’t. So if you have a good way of revising, stick to it. But if your way hasn’t worked so well, why not try another option from those listed above? There is also of course a lot of advice out there online and in books. The best way to revise is the way that works for YOU! So find your best method and stick to it.

Finally, though success in them is all about your hard work and revision, I am still going to wish you this – Good luck with your exams!

On April 11, 1970, at 7.13pm (US time), Apollo 13 was launched from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. Only two days later its crew, Commander James A. Lovell Jr, Command Module Pilot, John L Swigert Jr and Lunar Module Pilot, Fred W Haise Jr (pictured above, left to right), found themselves abandoning their planned landing of the module on the Moon, however, when an oxygen tank exploded.
Blowing out the side of the Service Module, the crew were left with only the Command Module and a series of life-threatening consequences. Suddenly they only had limited power, had lost the cabin heating system, and very soon they began to run out of water and food. Meanwhile, urgent repairs were needed to the carbon dioxide removal system, which threatened to flood the module with toxic fumes.

With a calmness that can only be marvelled at, Swigert and Lovell radioed Mission Control with the well known words, “Houston, we’ve got a problem.” Mission Control, led by flight director Gene Kranz, immediately switched its prime mission from exploration to getting all three crewmen back to Earth alive. Their first move was to shut down all essential systems. Even with this done however, there were only enough resources to keep two of them alive for two days; somehow they had to make them last four days – and then for all three men.

Mission Control worked hard on ways to get the lunar module’s filter system working to ensure the astronauts didn’t die of carbon monoxide poisoning by having the crew construct a makeshift system constructed from whatever they had to hand- in this case, duct tape, hosing and the command module’s surviving canisters; adapting them for lunar module use. They then had to make sure that the module remained in the Moon’s gravitation pull, so that as they travelled around it they would gain enough momentum to be powered back to Earth. Despite suffering from the cold of their situation, and a lack of food and water, the crew still managed to jettison the Service Module and fly the Command Module back into Earth’s orbit. They survived against all odds and eventually splashed down in the Pacific on April 17th.

Once the crew were safely on Earth, investigations began into what had gone wrong. It was discovered that a heating wire inside the liquid oxygen tank had lost its insulation and that as a result it gradually overheated – leading to an explosion the crew likened to a bomb going off.

Further work led to the conclusion that the initial design of the oxygen tank had played a part in the disaster. All the previous Apollo missions had flown without any oxygen tank problems but the tank on Apollo 13 had a troublesome history. As Space.com explains, “In October 1968, the Number 2 tank eventually used on Apollo 13 was at the North American Aviation plant in Downey, California. There, technicians who were handling the tank accidentally dropped it about two inches. After testing the tank, they concluded the incident hadn’t caused any detectable damage. The dropped tank was eventually cleared for flight and installed in Apollo 13. The tank passed all of its routine pre-launch tests. But at the end of March 1970, after a practice session called the Countdown Demonstration Test, ground crews tried to empty the tank — and couldn’t. “

The technicians “fixed” the problem by turning on heaters inside the tank to warm up the remaining liquid oxygen, turning it into gas which could then be vented to safety. The thermostat inside the tank was supposed to prevent the temperature from exceeding 80 degrees Fahrenheit. However, a surge of electricity caused the thermostat to weld shut without the technicians noticing. This meant that the continual intense heat damage to the internal wiring of the tank turned it into a small bomb, which was ignited when Apollo 13’s crew turned on the cooling fans inside the service module’s two liquid-oxygen tanks.

The Apollo 13 crew were all awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for their acts of heroism. Their story has been told many times, but most famously- and most accurately – in 1994 by Commander Lovell himself, who wrote about the mission in his book, Lost Moon. Such was the popularity of the book that director Ron Howard adapted it into the award winning film, Apollo 13, in 1995.

On the 15th September 2017, a twenty year long mission by the NASA Cassini space probe came to an end when it plunged into Saturn’s upper atmosphere.

Launching in 1997, and planned for years beforehand, Cassini was intended to study as many moons as possible, in particular, those surrounding Jupiter and Saturn. One of the objects of the mission was also to learn more about the possible existence and availability of water in on the astral bodies it passed. In this regard alone, the many pictures taken by Cassini produced much revealing and exciting information.

Thanks to Cassini’s observations of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, scientists have discovered that it possesses lakes, rivers, channels, dunes, rain, clouds, mountains and possibly volcanoes, just like Earth. Another of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus, revealed sprays of icy particles erupting from its surface; jets of ice-water three times taller than the width of Enceladus itself. Further, Cassini was able to get as close as 15 miles from this moon’s surface and determine that there was a global subsurface ocean, which might have the conditions suitable for sustaining life.

One of Jupiter’s moons, Europa, also shows extensive evidence of water. Its surface is covered with a layer of frozen ice, which scientists again believe hides an ocean beneath. As a consequence, Europa is often touted as a possible abode for life. Cynthia Phillips, a Europa project scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, believes there is a lot of indirect evidence for a liquid ocean, “We’re almost certain one is there…” she told Space.com “… the mass of Europa, combined with its density… gives a figure close to one [gram per cubic centimetre] …water is the only material like that.”

The question of the amount (or existence) of water in space has long been debated, often with a view to it sustaining mankind in the future. Mars in particular has attracted a lot of speculation of this nature. Images from the so-called Red Planet have shown dried up riverbeds, lakes, and coastlines across its surface. Recent satellite images from the Aeolis Dorsa region of Mars have uncovered new evidence of the densest river deposits recorded to date. These deposits are believed to date from water that flowed on the surface over 3.5 billion years ago. The channels and ridges formed by these ancient rivers are being studied in the hope that we can better understand the two evolutionary cycles of Mars and Earth, to see if links can be made.

With Cassini’s mission generating a colossal amount of data, scientists now have the opportunity to learn more about the environment of space, the evolution of numerous planetary moons, and the amount of water those moons and their commanding planets could hold now, or may have done in the past.

Will this information lead to mankind ultimately growing food- or even living- in Space? Only time will tell.

An architect’s day revolves around creating and developing designs for buildings (or entire settlements), and then communicating those design ideas to a client before either helping them make that design a reality, or adapting it into a real build possibility.

Typical tasks in the day-to-day of an architect include:

1) Tackling design problems
Often working as a team, time will be spent tackling spacial issues, a structures appearance, and cost, to make sure a design can go ahead to their client’s satisfaction. For example, a client might want a building to cover a certain amount of space and fulfil a number of functions. It is up to the architect to design the building in such a way that it meets those requirements.

2) Making drawings and 3-D computer models
Architects spend a lot of time making visual models and drawings of what proposed buildings will look like on completion. These models are mostly produced on the computer, and can be displayed as 2-D or 3-D pictures, allowing a client to see every angle of the design.

3) Coordinating with multiple different parties
Architects are the link between the clients who want the building constructed, the builders on the site, and the planning permission and council officers who might need to be involved in a property build. They also have to meet with other specialists, such as structural engineers, to make sure the build goes to plan.

Employment in the world of architecture is both challenging and exciting. You get to see your idea develop from an idea into a practical plan and schematic, then into an actual building, street, housing estate, town or city. It can be immensely rewarding and even influential to the character of a community.

Architects have to have very good attention to detail, as every part of their designs has to be perfect, or the buildings they are working on won’t work, or will be unsafe for use. Consequently the hours can be long in the quest to meet deadlines with flawless design plans.
From designer to budget manager, to customer liaison, an architect’s day involves a wide range of rewarding and challenging tasks.

Albert Einstein was born on March 14th, 1879 in Ulm, Württemberg, Germany. He was to go on to become the most celebrated physicists of all time.

Of a secular Jewish family, Einstein attended elementary school at the Luitpold Gymnasium in Munich. Einstein never settled at school and towards the end of the 1880s, Max Talmud, a Polish medical student became Albert’s informal tutor. It was Talmud who introduced Einstein to science.

Before he could finish his schooling, Einstein’s parents moved to Italy for better jobs. However, he chose to remain in Germany to finish his studies. This despite the fact that whilst he was good at maths and science, his teachers didn’t agree he was a worthy pupil. His Munich schoolmaster said “he will never amount to anything”. Hope for us all, perhaps.

Einstein went on to Zurich technical college. He graduated with only average marks, and two years later he was employed at a patent office in Bern. He found the work easy here, and was able to spend a good deal of his time thinking more about physics!

It was during this time that he wrote a paper entitled “On the electrodynamics of moving bodies”, which would later become known as Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity. This showed that measurements of space and time were relative to motion, and this subsequently forced physicists to re-evaluate some of their most basic concepts.

As time passed, so Einstein’s fame and influence continued to grow. In 1915, he announced his most famous work, the General Theory of Relativity, which was the final culmination of an eight-year obsession with gravity. With its astonishing implications about the nature of time and space, it displaced Newtonian mechanics and shook the physics world. It suggested that space and time were one and the same and that gravity was not a force as Newton described, but rather the effect of objects bending space-time. His theory was given the weight of observational evidence when it was used to correctly predict anomalies in the orbit of Mercury; a problem that Newton’s theory of gravitation had been unable to resolve.

In 1919 the British physicist Arthur Eddington went to a small African island to observe the total eclipse of the Sun so that he could test Einstein’s theory; Einstein had predicted that gravity should bend light. The eclipse proved he was right, and our view of the Universe was changed forever. As a result of this and all his other work, Einstein was subsequently awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize.

Einstein continued to make substantial contributions to physics, including his desire to find a more complete and less complex theory for Quantum Physics. He sought to make sense of sub-atomic behaviour in a way that his general relativity theory could not.

Einstein died at the age of 76 on 18th April 1955, after suffering an abdominal internal bleed, which he refused to have treated. For all his successes, Einstein never was able to find a theory for Quantum Physics, though. He made a huge contribution to the way in which we understand the Universe, but with this failing, Perhaps some things are meant to evade the greatest of minds, though – it is a theory which still eludes physicists’ today.

Scientist and mathematician Galileo Galilei was born on February 15th, 1564, in Pisa, Italy. A pioneer of maths, physics and astronomy, Galileo’s career had long-lasting implications for the study of science.

In 1583, Galileo was first introduced to the Aristotelian view of the universe, which was a religion-based view of how the world worked. A strong Catholic, Galileo supported this view until 1604, when he developed theories on motion, falling objects, and the universal law of acceleration. He began to openly express his support of the controversial Copernican theory, which stated that the Earth and planets revolved around the sun, in direct contrast to the doctrine of Aristotle and the Church.

In July 1609, Galileo learned about a telescope which had been built by Dutch eyeglass makers. Soon he developed a telescope of his own, which he sold to Venetian merchants for spotting ships when at sea. Later that year, Galileo turned his telescope toward the heavens. In 1610 he wrote The Starry Messenger, where he revealed that the moon was not flat and smooth, but a sphere with mountains and craters. He discovered that Venus had phases like the moon, and that Jupiter had revolving moons, which didn’t go around the Earth at all.

With a mounting body of evidence that supported the Copernican theory, Galileo pushed his arguments against church beliefs further in 1613, when he published his observations of sunspots, which refuted the Aristotelian doctrine that the sun was perfect. That same year, Galileo wrote a letter to a student to explain how Copernican theory did not contradict Biblical passages, but that scripture was written from an earthly perspective, and that this implied that science provided a different, more accurate perspective.

In February 1616, a Church inquisition pronounced Galileo as heretical. He was ordered not to “hold, teach, or defend in any manner” the Copernican theory regarding the motion of the Earth. Galileo obeyed the order until 1623, when a friend, Cardinal Maffeo Barberini, was selected as Pope Urban VIII. He allowed Galileo to pursue his work on astronomy on condition it did not advocate Copernican theory.

In 1632, Galileo published the Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, a discussion among three people: one supporting Copernicus’ heliocentric theory of the universe, one arguing against it, and one who was impartial. Though Galileo claimed Dialogues was neutral, the Church disagreed. Galileo was summoned to Rome to face another inquisition, which lasted from September 1632 to July 1633. During most of this time, Galileo wasn’t imprisoned, but, in a final attempt to break him, he was threatened with torture, and he finally admitted he had supported Copernican theory. Privately, though, he continued to say he was correct. This ultimately led to his conviction for heresy and as a result he spent his remaining years under house arrest.

Despite the fact he was forbidden to do so, Galileo still went on to write Two New Sciences, a summary of his life’s work on the science of motion and strength of materials. It was another work that has helped cement his place in history as the world’s most pioneering scientist, even if he was not fully appreciated in his own time. Galileo Galilei died on January 8th, 1642.

512px-Vehicle-Assembly-Building-July-6-2005On 29th July 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), was established by the U.S Congress.

NASA was designed to be a civilian rather than a government agency, which would be responsible for the coordination of all of the USA’s planned explorations into Space. Although the American government had been interested in exploring Space, it wasn’t until the Soviet Union’s launch of its first satellite, Sputnik I on October 4th, 1957 that they decided they needed make a public statement of their intensions to compete with Russia in what was to become known as The Space Race.

The launch of Sputnik I, (a cricket ball sized satellite which orbited the earth in 98 minutes), caught Americans by surprise and sparked fears that the Soviets might also be capable of sending missiles with nuclear weapons from Europe to America.

The Soviet’s launch of Sputnik II, which was large enough to carry a dog called Laika, in November 3rd, 1957, panicked America, and in December they attempted to launch a satellite of their own, called Vanguard, but it exploded shortly after takeoff.

It wasn’t until 1958, that the Americans started to prove they were as adept at space explorations as their Soviet rivals. On January 31, 1958, they launched Explorer I, the first U.S. satellite to successfully orbit the earth. This success went a long way to encourage the US Congress to grant the creation of NASA.

With President John F. Kennedy’s declaration in May 1961, that America planned to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade, the Space Race became increasing more competitive. It took eight years, but on July 20th, 1969, NASA’s Apollo 11 mission achieved Kennedy’s goal, when astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the moon, saying, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Although space exploration has slowed in the last decade, NASA continues to make advances in space exploration, including playing a major part in the construction of the International Space Station.
In 2004, President George Bush, like Kennedy before him, challenged NASA to return to the moon by 2020 and establish “an extended human presence” there that could serve as a launching point for “human missions to Mars and to worlds beyond.”

Only time will tell if his dream will also come true.

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The steamboat Turbinia can be seen at Newcastle’s Discovery museum

For anyone interested in taking a break from the books for a bit and taking a field trip to a Science Museum, or wishing to take part in an event on any part of the subject, the following may be of interest…

 

British Science Week 2015 will take place 13 – 22 March. This is a ten-day celebration of science, technology, and engineering and features, entertaining and engaging events across the UK for people of all ages. You can find more information, including activity packs for different age groups,  through their website at http://www.britishscienceassociation.org/british-science-week  . Anyone can organise an event or activity, and the British Science Association helps organisers plan by providing what are free support resources.

The Big Bang Fair UK: Young Scientists and Engineers Fair www.thebigbangfair.co.uk/
This fantastic event is coming back to the NEC this month from 11 – 14 March 2015. Visitors can meet engineers and scientists from large multinational corporations and a range of diverse and unique UK companies.

The Summer Science Exhibition at the Royal Society London
The Royal Society’s Summer Science Exhibition is their main public event of the year and showcases the most exciting cutting-edge science and technology research and provides a unique opportunity for the public to interact with scientists.
The Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition 2015 runs from 30 June – 5 July at the Royal Society, London.

There are a great many science museums in the UK. Here are some of the best.

1) Science Museum, Birmingham includes a science garden, planetarium and an interactive show which lets children explore the human body by seeing what it’s like to shrink to the size of a living cell. thinktank.ac/

2) National Space Centre, Leicester. Here you can explore the wonders of the Universe and discover the science behind the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence, plus take a tour of the 42m high rocket tower. There is also the Sir Patrick Moore Planetarium. spacecentre.co.uk

3) Museum of the History of Science, Oxford, has an unrivalled collection of early scientific instruments in the world’s oldest surviving museum building. mhs.ox.ac.uk

4) Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), Manchester is currently showing a 3D printing exhibition. mosi.org.uk

5) The Science Museum, London contains a new nanotechnology exhibition, and the space travel exhibition is outstanding. I found the history of medical science exhibition very good. sciencemuseum.org.uk

6) Techniquest, Cardiff is currently showing an exhibition of colourful chemistry over the weekends 28 February – 22 March. techniquest.org

7) MAGNA, Rotherham has a fantastic electric arc furnace exhibition, including pyrotechnics. visitmagna.co.uk

8) Discovery Museum Newcastle www.twmuseums.org.uk/discovery.htm
This museum houses the finest collections of scientific material outside London and has important collections of maritime history.
The museum contains Charles Parsons’ ship, Turbinia, and Joseph Swan’s historic lightbulbs.
The Turbinia is my favourite museum exhibit which I saw on a school trip in 1967. She was designed by the Tyneside engineer Sir Charles Parsons in 1894 and was the world’s first ship to be powered by steam turbines. Until 1899, Turbinia was the fastest ship in the world, reaching speeds of up to 34.5 knots.

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Fox Talbot, with camera.

We have always learned a great deal from the use of texts, and of course from traditional word of mouth down the years. Where, however, would we be, without the picture? Or more specifically, the photograph? A drawing can tell us a lot, but a real image can provide us with even more – a real, genuine feel for the subject we are studying. For this reason, William Henry Fox Talbot, should be worth of a mention.

Fox Talbot was born on 11 February 1800 in Melbury, Dorset. He went to Cambridge University at the age of 17 in 1817, and in 1832 he was elected as an MP for Chippenham in Wiltshire, where he lived with his wife, Constance Mundy.

On a visit to Lake Como in Italy in 1833, Talbot was trying to draw the view before him, but his lack of success at capturing the beauty of the scenery prompted him to think about how he might create a machine that could capture the scene for him.

Once back at his home in Lacock in Wiltshire, Talbot began work on this project, using light-sensitive paper that he hoped would make sketches automatically.

Talbot was not the first inventor to have this idea. Thomas Wedgwood had already made photograms, which had successfully left lasting silhouettes of objects on paper, but these faded quickly. Then in 1839, Louis Daguerre invented the ‘daguerreotype.’ This was a system by which pictures could be captured onto silver plates.

Only three weeks after Daguerre revealed his invention, Fox Talbot reported his ‘art of photogenic drawing’ to the Royal Society. This process showed how to capture prints on thin pieces of paper that had been made light sensitive. This invention was to become the first step in the development of modern photography.

In 1841 Talbot went on to develop his photographic ideas further, when he invented the ‘calotype’ process. This involved discovering the three most essential elements required to develop pictures: developing, fixing, and printing photographs.

Talbot found that although exposing photographic paper to light produced an image, he believed it required extremely long exposure times to achieve success. Then, by accident, Talbot discovered that an image could actually be achieved after a very short exposure time, and could then be chemically fixed into a negative. This negative removed the light-sensitive nature of the print, and enabled the finished picture to be viewed in bright light.

With these new negative images, Fox Talbot could repeat the process of printing from the negative as many times as he liked. This was a major advance from the French daguerreotypes, which could only be used once.

In 1842 Talbot was awarded a medal from the Royal Society for his work in the progression of photography.

The work William Henry Fox Talbot had done on the calotype process, led to future inventors advancing the photographic process even further in the 19th and 20th centuries.

512px-Hammer365_070_295_Pen_and_Print_(4425571355)In order to obtain the best result when writing a project, report, dissertation, or an essay, a student must undertake a comprehensive reading of the subject in question.

To prove that you have used a variety of sources for your research, it is important to reference the sources you have read correctly. Whether you use online sources, books, or periodicals, or a combination of all three, footnotes or endnotes should be used to display every document you have used.

 

Footnotes

When you make a statement within your work that has been generated from reading a specific book, then you need to reference that fact. This is done by placing a small number next to the full stop that ends the sentence in question. This number is often (although not always) placed within closed brackets. The following sentence would therefore appear like this in your text;

The son of Edward II, also Edward, was dealt a challenge in the ruling of England that was more difficult than any monarch who’d come before him. (1)

Then, at the bottom of the page in which that sentence appears, you should record the full reference as below.

1. Prestwich, M., The Three Edwards: War and State in England 1272-1377 (London, 1980), pp.20-26
Should multiple references appear on the same page, then they should be listed in numerical order. For example-

1. Prestwich, M., The Three Edwards: War and State in England 1272-1377 (London, 1980), pp.20-26
2. Knight, S,. Robin Hood: A Complete Study of the English Outlaw (Oxford, 1994), pp.59-60
3. Holt, J., Robin Hood (London, 1982), pp.1-9

 

Endnotes

Some tutors prefer their students to use endnotes rather than footnotes. The process of referencing within the body of your project remains the same as with footnotes. Rather than placing your references at the foot of each page, however, they should be listed all together in numerical order at the very end of your document.

Whether you use footnotes or endnotes, the references themselves should always be set up with the author’s surname first, followed by their first name or initials. Then comes the book title (underlined), followed by the publication location and date in brackets. Last of all, you need to record the page (p.) or pages (pp.) that are specific to the reference you are making within your text.

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