IELTS Reading Sample Questions # Doubt on Science

You should spend about 20 minutes on the Questions 1-10 which are based on the reading passage, 1 below.

DOUBT ON SCIENCE

[Para 1] We live in an age when all manner of scientific knowledge—from the safety of fluoride and vaccines to the reality of climate change—faces organized and often furious opposition. Empowered by their own sources of information and their own interpretations of research, doubters have declared war on the consensus of experts. There are so many of these controversies these days, you’d think a diabolical agency had put something in the water to make people argumentative. And there’s so much talk about the trend these days—in books, articles, and academic conferences—that science doubt itself has become a pop-culture meme. In the recent movie Interstellar, set in a futuristic, downtrodden America where NASA has been forced into hiding, school textbooks say the Apollo moon landings were faked. In a sense, all this is not surprising. Our lives are permeated by science and technology as never before. For many of us, this new world is wondrous, comfortable, and rich in rewards—but also more complicated and sometimes unnerving. We now face risks we can’t easily analyze.

[Para 2] We’re asked to accept, for example, that it’s safe to eat food containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) because, the experts point out, there’s no evidence that it isn’t and no reason to believe that altering genes precisely in a lab is more dangerous than altering them wholesale through traditional breeding. But to some people the very idea of transferring genes between species conjures up mad scientists running amok—and so, two centuries after Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, they talk about Frankenfood.

[Para 3] The world crackles with real and imaginary hazards, and distinguishing the former from the latter isn’t easy. Should we be afraid that the Ebola virus, which is spread only by direct contact with bodily fluids, will mutate into an airborne superplague? The scientific consensus says that’s extremely unlikely: No virus has ever been observed to completely change its mode of transmission in humans, and there’s zero evidence that the latest strain of Ebola is any different. But type “airborne Ebola” into an Internet search engine, and you’ll enter a dystopia where this virus has almost supernatural powers, including the power to kill us all.

[Para 4]In this bewildering world we have to decide what to believe and how to act on that. In principle that’s what science is for. “Science is not a body of facts,” says geophysicist Marcia McNutt, who once headed the U.S. Geological Survey and is now editor of Science, the prestigious journal. “Science is a method for deciding whether what we choose to believe has a basis in the laws of nature or not.” But that method doesn’t come naturally to most of us. And so we run into trouble, again and again.

[Para 5]The trouble goes way back, of course. The scientific method leads us to truths that are less than self-evident, often mind-blowing, and sometimes hard to swallow. In the early 17th century, when Galileo claimed that the Earth spins on its axis and orbits the sun, he wasn’t just rejecting church doctrine. He was asking people to believe something that defied common sense—because it sure looks like the sun’s going around the Earth, and you can’t feel the Earth spinning. Galileo was put on trial and forced to recant. Two centuries later Charles Darwin escaped that fate. But his idea that all life on Earth evolved from a primordial ancestor and that we humans are distant cousins of apes, whales, and even deep-sea mollusks is still a big ask for a lot of people. So is another 19th-century notion: that carbon dioxide, an invisible gas that we all exhale all the time and that makes up less than a tenth of one percent of the atmosphere, could be affecting Earth’s climate.

[Para 6 ]Even when we intellectually accept these precepts of science, we subconsciously cling to our intuitions—what researchers call our naive beliefs. A recent study by Andrew Shtulman of Occidental College showed that even students with an advanced science education had a hitch in their mental gait when asked to affirm or deny that humans are descended from sea animals or that Earth goes around the sun. Both truths are counterintuitive. The students, even those who correctly marked “true,” were slower to answer those questions than questions about whether humans are descended from tree-dwelling creatures (also true but easier to grasp) or whether the moon goes around the Earth (also true but intuitive). Shtulman’s research indicates that as we become scientifically literate, we repress our naive beliefs but never eliminate them entirely. They lurk in our brains, chirping at us as we try to make sense of the world.

[Para 7 ]Most of us do that by relying on personal experience and anecdotes, on stories rather than statistics. We might get a prostate-specific antigen test, even though it’s no longer generally recommended, because it caught a close friend’s cancer—and we pay less attention to statistical evidence, painstakingly compiled through multiple studies, showing that the test rarely saves lives but triggers many unnecessary surgeries. Or we hear about a cluster of cancer cases in a town with a hazardous waste dump, and we assume pollution caused the cancers. Yet just because two things happened together doesn’t mean one caused the other, and just because events are clustered doesn’t mean they’re not still random.

[Para 8]We have trouble digesting randomness; our brains crave pattern and meaning. Science warns us, however, that we can deceive ourselves. To be confident there’s a causal connection between the dump and the cancers, you need statistical analysis showing that there are many more cancers than would be expected randomly, evidence that the victims were exposed to chemicals from the dump, and evidence that the chemicals really can cause cancer.

[Para 9]Even for scientists, the scientific method is a hard discipline. Like the rest of us, they’re vulnerable to what they call confirmation bias—the tendency to look for and see only evidence that confirms what they already believe. But unlike the rest of us, they submit their ideas to formal peer review before publishing them. Once their results are published, if they’re important enough, other scientists will try to reproduce them—and, being congenitally skeptical and competitive, will be very happy to announce that they don’t hold up. Scientific results are always provisional, susceptible to being overturned by some future experiment or observation. Scientists rarely proclaim an absolute truth or absolute certainty. Uncertainty is inevitable at the frontiers of knowledge.

[Para 10] Sometimes scientists fall short of the ideals of the scientific method. Especially in biomedical research, there’s a disturbing trend toward results that can’t be reproduced outside the lab that found them, a trend that has prompted a push for greater transparency about how experiments are conducted. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, worries about the “secret sauce”—specialized procedures, customized software, quirky ingredients—that researchers don’t share with their colleagues. But he still has faith in the larger enterprise.

Questions 1-7

Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage 1?

In boxes 1-7 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE                                   if the statement agrees with the information

FALSE                                 if the statement disagrees with the information

NOT GIVEN                        if there is no information on it.

  1. Mary Shelly wrote Frankenstiene.
  2. Ebola virus is likely to change its mode of transmission and will become an air borne disease.
  3. As per Charles Darwin, humans are ancestors of whales and other deep-sea mollusks. Humans tend to stick to their belief even though the scientific facts are known to them.
  4. With knowledge base increasing rapidly, there is more doubt on the facts presented by science than ever before.
  5. The human brain has been designed to smoothly accept things it is not aware of.
  6. The absolute truth lies in the words of the scientists.

Questions 8-13

Choose the correct letter,A,B,C,D.

Write the correct letter in boxes 8-13 of your answer sheet.

8. Marcia McNutt, the once head of US, Geological survey is now associated with the __________ magazine.

A.Science

B. Nat Geo

C. Time

                      D. The New York Times

9. In which of the following movie, it was depicted that NASA has been forced into hiding and Apollo moon landings were faked.

A. The Interstellar

                     B. Inception

C. Eat, Pray, Love

D. Life, as we know it.

10. “Earth spins on its axis and orbits the sun”. The statement was given by which of the following scientist. 

A. Charles Darwin

B. Galileo

C.  Marcia McNutt

D. Albert Einstein

ANSWERS

When solving the reading passage, it is best to skim through the passage and make notes along with the passage. You can even underline the important points as you read along the passage.

  1. True
  2. False
  3. True
  4. True
  5.  True
  6. Not Given
  7. False
  8. A
  9. A
  10. B
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IELTS Reading Vocabulary # Katherine Johnson

SOURCE : NASA

Being handpicked to be one of three black students to integrate West Virginia’s graduate schools is something that many people would consider one of their life’s most notable moments, but it’s just one of several breakthroughs that have marked Katherine Johnson’s long and remarkable life. Born in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia in 1918, Katherine Johnson’s intense curiosity and brilliance with numbers vaulted her ahead several grades in school. By thirteen, she was attending the high school on the campus of historically black West Virginia State College. At eighteen, she enrolled in the college itself, where she made quick work of the school’s math curriculum and found a mentor in math professor W. W. Schieffelin Claytor, the third African American to earn a PhD in Mathematics. Katherine graduated with highest honors in 1937 and took a job teaching at a black public school in Virginia.

When West Virginia decided to quietly integrate its graduate schools in 1939, West Virginia State’s president Dr. John W. Davis selected Katherine and two male students as the first black students to be offered spots at the state’s flagship school, West Virginia University. Katherine left her teaching job, and enrolled in the graduate math program. At the end of the first session, however, she decided to leave school to start a family with her husband.

She returned to teaching when her three daughters got older, but it wasn’t until 1952 that a relative told her about open positions at the all-black West Area Computing section at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics’ (NACA’s) Langley laboratory, headed by fellow West Virginian Dorothy Vaughan. Katherine and her husband, James Goble, decided to move the family to Newport News to pursue the opportunity, and Katherine began work at Langley in the summer of 1953. Just two weeks into Katherine’s tenure in the office, Dorothy Vaughan assigned her to a project in the Maneuver Loads Branch of the Flight Research Division, and Katherine’s temporary position soon became permanent. She spent the next four years analyzing data from flight test, and worked on the investigation of a plane crash caused by wake turbulence. As she was wrapping up this work her husband died of cancer in December 1956.

The 1957 launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik changed history—and Katherine Johnson’s life. In 1957, Katherine provided some of the math for the 1958 document Notes on Space Technology, a compendium of a series of 1958 lectures given by engineers in the Flight Research Division and the Pilotless Aircraft Research Division (PARD). Engineers from those groups formed the core of the Space Task Group, the NACA’s first official foray into space travel, and Katherine, who had worked with many of them since coming to Langley, “came along with the program” as the NACA became NASA later that year. She did trajectory analysis for Alan Shepard’s May 1961 mission Freedom 7, America’s first human spaceflight. In 1960, she and engineer Ted Skopinski coauthoredDetermination of Azimuth Angle at Burnout for Placing a Satellite Over a Selected Earth Position, a report laying out the equations describing an orbital spaceflight in which the landing position of the spacecraft is specified. It was the first time a woman in the Flight Research Division had received credit as an author of a research report.

In 1962, as NASA prepared for the orbital mission of John Glenn, Katherine Johnson was called upon to do the work that she would become most known for. The complexity of the orbital flight had required the construction of a worldwide communications network, linking tracking stations around the world to IBM computers in Washington, DC, Cape Canaveral, and Bermuda. The computers had been programmed with the orbital equations that would control the trajectory of the capsule in Glenn’s Friendship 7 mission, from blast off to splashdown, but the astronauts were wary of putting their lives in the care of the electronic calculating machines, which were prone to hiccups and blackouts.

As a part of the preflight checklist, Glenn asked engineers to “get the girl”—Katherine Johnson—to run the same numbers through the same equations that had been programmed into the computer, but by hand, on her desktop mechanical calculating machine.  “If she says they’re good,’” Katherine Johnson remembers the astronaut saying, “then I’m ready to go.” Glenn’s flight was a success, and marked a turning point in the competition between the United States and the Soviet Union in space.

When asked to name her greatest contribution to space exploration, Katherine Johnson talks about the calculations that helped synch Project Apollo’s Lunar Lander with the moon-orbiting Command and Service Module. She also worked on the Space Shuttle and the Earth Resources Satellite, and authored or coauthored 26 research reports. She retired in 1986, after thirty-three years at Langley. “I loved going to work every single day,” she says. In 2015, at age 97, Katherine Johnson added another extraordinary achievement to her long list: President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor.

WORDMEANING
handpickedselect carefully with a particular purpose in mind.
breakthroughsa sudden, dramatic, and important discovery or development.
remarkableworthy of attention; striking.
curiositya strong desire to know or learn something.
brillianceintense brightness of light.
vaultedprovide (a building or room) with an arched roof or roofs.
historicallywith reference to past events.
curriculumthe subjects comprising a course of study in a school or college.
mentoran experienced and trusted adviser.
enrolledofficially register as a member of an institution or a student on a course.
analyzingexamine (something) methodically and in detail, typically in order to explain and interpret it.
turbulenceviolent or unsteady movement of air or water, or of some other fluid.
compendiuma collection of concise but detailed information about a particular subject, especially in a book or other publication.
foraya sudden attack or incursion into enemy territory, especially to obtain something; a raid.
trajectorythe path followed by a projectile flying or an object moving under the action of given forces.
orbitalrelating to an orbit or orbits.
spaceflighta journey through space.
researchthe systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.
complexitythe state or quality of being intricate or complicated.
worldwideextending or reaching throughout the world.
communicationsthe imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium.
networka group or system of interconnected people or things.
hiccupsan involuntary spasm of the diaphragm and respiratory organs, with a sudden closure of the glottis and a characteristic gulping sound.
blackoutsa period when all lights must be turned out or covered to prevent them being seen by the enemy during an air raid.
authoredbe the author of (a book or piece of writing).
extraordinaryvery unusual or remarkable.
civiliana person not in the armed services or the police force.
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IELTS Reading # iPhone Successor

The below post has been taken from THE TIME. You can read the post at – THE TIME.

Apple doesn’t usually unveil its new iPhones until September, but the rumors are already circulating about what fans should expect from this year’s model. The successor to the iPhone 7, which may be called the iPhone 7s or iPhone 8, could be a more noticeable departure from the current iPhone’s design. This year’s release will also mark 10 years since the original iPhone launched in 2007.

Here’s a look at what’s been reported about Apple’s next iPhone so far.

Better screen technology

Apple may use an OLED (organic light emitting diode) screen for its next iPhone instead of an LCD display, according to reports from The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg. These types of screens offer better contrast than LCD displays, and are often brighter. The blacks in OLED screens are also deeper than those of LCD displays, making colors pop more prominently.

Apple already uses OLED display technology for the Apple Watch, while other tech giants, like Samsung, have been using variants of OLED screens in their smartphones for years. It’s unclear whether or not all new iProhone models will feature an OLED screen or if Apple will reserve them for its high-end variant, as a report from Nikkei Asian Review indicates.

Apple made several new product announcements on Thursday, most notably a new MacBook Pro laptop with a touchscreen strip above the keyboard.

A curved screen

Certain iPhone models may feature a screen that’s curved on both sides similar to Samsung’s Galaxy S7 Edge, according to Nikkei Asian Review. This rounded model will likely be more expensive than the standard edition and may be 5.5-inches or larger, says the report. If Apple indeed decides to give its next iPhone a curved screen, it will likely use an OLED display, as those types of screens are more flexible than their LCD counterparts.

Facial recognition

Apple could add facial recognition to its upcoming iPhone, according to Cowen and Company’s Timothy Arcuri. In a recent note, which Apple Insider published, Arcuri predicts Apple may place an infrared sensor next to the front-facing camera to enable the phone to recognize a user’s face. Separately, Digitimes has reported that Apple plans to add an iris scanner to its next iPhone, although it’s worth noting the website hasn’t always been accurate about future Apple products in the past. Samsung introduced a similar feature on its ill-fated Galaxy Note 7, which included an iris scanner that allowed owners to unlock their phone just by looking at it.

A new name

Apple traditionally releases its new iPhones on a tick-tock cycle, either giving them a title that includes just a number or a number paired with an “S.” For its next iPhone, however, the company may break this habit by simply calling it iPhone X, as Loup Venture’s Gene Munster predicts.

“Apple will likely break from its historical naming convention and call this iPhone something other than iPhone 7S or iPhone 8 because it will be the 10th anniversary iPhone,” Munster writes. “Like they did with the 10th version of the Mac OS, it seems logical that they’ll call the next iPhone: iPhone X.”

Three models to choose from

The introduction of a curved iPhone could mean that Apple plans to offer its next smartphone in three variants instead of two. Apple may release 4.7 and 5.5-inch iPhones with flat screens and then an additional model with a rounded display, according to Nikkei Asian Review.

A new design with no home button

Apple hasn’t significantly redesigned its iPhone since it unveiled the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in 2014. That could change in 2017. The company reportedly plans to overhaul the next iPhone with a new design that includes an edge-poto-edge glass screen and no home button, according to The Wall Street Journal.

These changes would let Apple get rid of the borders around the iPhone’s display, potentially allowing it to make the phone’s screen larger without having to increase the size of the overall device. Further changes could include a glass back similar to that of the iPhone 4 and 4s rather than the aluminum design of Apple’s more recent iPhones, says a note from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Wireless charging

Future iPhone owners may not have to plug their phones into a power cord to charge it. Apple is said to be testing wireless charging technology that could appear in iPhones as soon as 2017, according to reports from Bloomberg and Nikkei Asian Review. Wireless charging has existed in certain Android smartphones for years, but Apple could be exploring a method that makes it possible to power iPhones from a distance, Bloomberg reports. It’s unclear how close that technology is to a commercial release, however.

WORDMEANING
unveilremove a veil or covering from, in particular uncover (a new monument or work of art) as part of a public ceremony.
rumorsa currently circulating story or report of uncertain or doubtful truth.
circulatingmove continuously or freely through a closed system or area.
successora person or thing that succeeds another.
departurethe action of leaving, especially to start a journey.
reportedgive a spoken or written account of something that one has observed, heard, done, or investigated.
contrastthe state of being strikingly different from something else in juxtaposition or close association.
displaysput (something) in a prominent place in order that it may readily be seen.
prominentlywith an important role; to a large extent.
Hig-enddenoting the most expensive of a range of products.
varianta form or version of something that differs in some respect from other forms of the same thing or from a standard.
announcementsa formal public statement about a fact, occurrence, or intention.
touchscreena display device which allows the user to interact with a computer by touching areas on the screen.
roundedhaving a smooth, curved surface.
expensivecosting a lot of money.
editiona particular form or version of a published text.
flexiblecapable of bending easily without breaking.
counterpartsa person or thing that corresponds to or has the same function as another person or thing in a different place or situation.
facialof or affecting the face.
recognitionthe action or process of recognizing or being recognized, in particular:
significantlyin a sufficiently great or important way as to be worthy of attention.
redesigneddesign (something) again or in a different way.
unveiledremove a veil or covering from, in particular uncover (a new monument or work of art) as part of a public ceremony.
reportedlyaccording to what some say (used to express the speaker's belief that the information given is not necessarily true).
Edge-to-edgeto move edgeways
potentiallywith the capacity to develop or happen in the future.
almuniumthe chemical element of atomic number 13, a light silvery-grey metal.
securitiesthe state of being free from danger or threat.
power cordA power cord, line cord, or mains cable is a cable that temporarily connects an appliance to the mains electricity supply via a wall socket or extension cord.
wireless chargingWireless charging is the process of electrically charging battery-powered devices and equipment without the need for a wired electrical power connection. It enables the wireless transfer of electrical charge from a charging device or node to the recipient device.
technologythe application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry.
commercialconcerned with or engaged in commerce.

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IELTS Sample Reading # Vocabulary

The below article has been taken from TIME. Read the article and learn the meaning of the tough vocabulary words used.

GENDER STEREOTYPES

Gender stereotypes start in elementary school, a study published today in Science suggests. Though five-year-olds don’t discriminate between genders when deciding whether or not a person is brilliant, six- and seven-year-olds overwhelmingly think men are inherently smarter than women. At the same time, the children included in the study also believed that girls receive better grades in school.The reinforcement of these ideas could lead women to be less ambitious than men once it’s time to choose a career, the study claims.

In one part of the study, five-year-olds were told a story about “a really, really smart person” and then asked to guess who the person was, based on two photos. One photo showed a woman, and the other showed a man. Aside from the gender, the pictures were nearly identical, and the five-year-olds generally identified their own gender. But six- and seven year-old girls answering the same question were “significantly less likely” to chose the female photo, reports Bloomberg.

Another section of the study introduced children to two board games: one for kids who are “really, really smart” and another for kids who try “really, really hard.” Both five-year-old boys and girls were interested in playing the game for smart kids; but while the older boys continued to want to play that game, older girls preferred the game for people who tried hard.

Rebecca S. Bigler, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, told the Associated Press that one possible reason for this is exposure in early grades to history’s luminaries,who are mostly men. “We need to explain to children that laws were created specifically to prevent women from becoming great scientists, artists, composers, writers, explorers, and leaders,” Bigler said. “Children will then be … more likely to believe in their own intellectual potential.”

WordMeaning
stereotypesa widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.
elementaryrelating to the rudiments of a subject.
discriminatemake an unjust or prejudicial distinction in the treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race, sex, or age.
overwhelminglyto a very great degree or with a great majority.
reinforcement the action or process of reinforcing or strengthening.
preferred like (one thing or person) better than another or others; tend to choose.
psychology the scientific study of the human mind and its functions, especially those affecting behaviour in a given context.
luminariesa person who inspires or influences others, especially one prominent in a particular sphere.
scientistsa person who is studying or has expert knowledge of one or more of the natural or physical sciences.
composersa person who writes music, especially as a professional occupation.
explorersa person who explores a new or unfamiliar area.
intellectual a person possessing a highly developed intellect.
potentiala person possessing a highly developed intellect.
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