49.

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When a Computer Error Is a Fatal Mistake

Life without computers has become (1). They are designed to look after so many boring but essential things that we have become dependent on them. But (2) the demands placed on computers grow, so does the number of incidents involving computer errors. It is only a matter of time before a computer-made catastrophe occurs. As early as 1889, a word entered the language that was to become all too familiar to computer scientists: a «bug», meaning a mistake. For decades bugs and «debugging» were taken to be part of every computer engineer’s (3). Of course, more often than not errors are (4) annoying, but sometimes they can come close to causing tragedies. On the Picadilly line in London’s Underground a driver who was going south along a track got confused while moving his empty train through a cross-over point. He started to head north straight at a south bound train full of people. The computerized signalling system (5} to warn him of impending disaster and it was only his quick human reactions that prevented a crash.

#1. 1) elementary; 2) unimaginable; 3) tireless; 4) trivial.

#2. 1) however; 2) no sooner; 3) in the meantime; 4) as.

#3. 1) job; 2) tragedy; 3) necessity; 4) action.

#4. 1) not; 2) not only; 3) just; 4) absolutely.

#5. 1) managed; 2) signalled; 3) failed; 4) succeeded.

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