BEST IELTS Acdemic Reading Test 14
Academic Reading Test 14
Academic Reading Test 14
Reading Passage 1
In Praise of Amateurs
Despite the specialization of scientific research, amateurs still have an important role to play
During the scientific revolution of the 17th century, scientists were largely men of private means who pursued their interest in natural philosophy for their own edification. Only in the past century or two has it become possible to make a living from investigating the workings of nature. Modern science was, in other words, built on the work of amateurs. Today, science is an increasingly specialized and compartmentalized subject, the domain of experts who know more and more about less and less. Perhaps surprisingly, however, amateurs – even those without private means – are still important.
A recent poll carried out at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science by astronomer Dr Richard Fienberg found that, in addition to his field of astronomy, amateurs are actively involved in such field as acoustics, horticulture, ornithology, meteorology, hydrology and palaeontology. Far from being crackpots, amateur scientists are often in close touch with professionals, some of whom rely heavily on their co-operation.
Admittedly, some fields are more open to amateurs than others. Anything that requires expensive equipment is clearly a no-go area. And some kinds of research can be dangerous; most amateur chemists, jokes Dr Fienberg, are either locked up or have blown themselves to bits. But amateurs can make valuable contributions in fields from rocketry to palaeontology and the rise of the internet has made it easier than before to collect data and distribute results.
Exactly which field of study has benefited most from the contributions of amateurs is a matter of some dispute. Dr Fienberg makes a strong case for astronomy. There is, he points out, a long tradition of collaboration between amateur and professional sky watchers. Numerous comets, asteroids and even the planet Uranus were discovered by amateurs. Today, in addition to comet and asteroid spotting, amateurs continue to do valuable work observing the brightness of variable stars and detecting novae- ‘new’ stars in the Milky Way and supernovae in other galaxies. Amateur observers are helpful, says Dr Fienberg, because there are so many of them (they far outnumber professionals) and because they are distributed all over the world. This makes special kinds of observations possible:’ if several observers around the world accurately record the time when a star is eclipsed by an asteroid, for example, it is possible to derive useful information about the asteroid’s shape.
Another field in which amateurs have traditionally played an important role is palaeontology. Adrian Hunt, a palaeontologist at Mesa Technical College in New Mexico, insists that his is the field in which amateurs have made the biggest contribution. Despite the development of high-tech equipment, he says, the best sensors for finding fossils are human eyes – lots of them. Finding volunteers to look for fossils is not difficult, he says, because of the near –universal interest in anything to do with dinosaurs. As well as helping with this research, volunteers learn about science, a process he calls ‘recreational education’.
Rick Bonney of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York, contends that amateurs have contributed the most in his field. There are, he notes, thought to be as many as 60 million birdwatchers in America alone. Given their huge numbers and the wide geographical coverage they provide, Mr Bonney has enlisted thousands of amateurs in a number of research projects. Over the past few years their observations have uncovered previously unknown trends and cycles in bird migrations and revealed declines in the breeding populations of several species of migratory birds, prompting a habitat conservation programme.
Despite the successes and whatever the field of study, collaboration between amateurs and professionals is not without its difficulties. Not everyone, for example is happy with the term ‘amateur’. Mr Bonney has coined the term ‘citizen scientist’ because he felt that other words, such as ‘volunteer’ sounded disparaging. A more serious problem is the question of how professionals can best acknowledge the contributions made by amateurs. Dr Fienberg says that some amateur astronomers are happy to provide their observations but grumble about not being reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses. Others feel let down when their observations are used in scientific papers, but they are not listed as co-authors. Dr Hunt says some amateur palaeontologists are disappointed when told that they cannot take finds home with them.
These are legitimate concerns but none seems insurmountable. Provided amateurs and professionals agree the terms on which they will work together beforehand, there is no reason why co-operation between the two groups should not flourish. Last year Dr S. Carlson, founder of the Society for Amateur Scientists won an award worth $290,000 for his work in promoting such co-operation. He says that one of the main benefits of the prize is the endorsement it has given to the contributions of amateur scientists, which has done much to silence critics among those professionals who believe science should remain their exclusive preserve.
At the moment, says Dr Carlson, the society is involved in several schemes including an innovative rocket-design project and the setting up of a network of observers who will search for evidence of a link between low- frequency radiation and earthquakes. The amateurs, he says, provide enthusiasm and talent, while the professionals provide guidance ‘so that anything they do discover will be taken seriously’. Having laid the foundations of science, amateurs will have much to contribute to its ever – expanding edifice.
Complete the summary below.
Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS for each answer.
Write your answers in boxes 1-8 on your answer sheet.
Prior to the 19th century, professional (1)……………. did not exist and scientific research was largely carried out by amateurs. However, while (2)………….. today is mostly the domain of professionals, a recent US survey highlighted the fact that amateurs play an important role in at least seven (3)………… and indeed many professionals are reliant on their (4)…………… In areas such as astronomy, amateurs can be invaluable when making specific (5)…………… on a global basis. Similarly in the area of palaeontology their involvement is invaluable and helpers are easy to recruit because of the popularity of (6) ………….. Amateur birdwatchers also play an active role and their work has led to the establishment of a (7) ………………. Occasionally the term ‘amateur’ has been the source of disagreement and alternative names have been suggested but generally speaking, as long as the professional scientists (8) ………………. the work of the non-professionals, the two groups can work productively together.
Classify the following opinions as referring to
A Dr Fienberg
B Adrian Hunt
C Rick Bonney
D Dr Carlson
Write the correct letter A, B, C or D in boxes 9-12 on your answer sheet.
9. Amateur involvement can also be an instructive pastime. ………………
10. Amateur scientists are prone to accidents. ………………..
11. Science does not belong to professional scientists alone. …………….
12. In certain areas of my work, people are a more valuable resource than technology. …………
READING PASSAGE : 2
You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 13-26 which are based on Reading Passage 36 below.
Moles happy as homes go underground
A. The first anybody knew about Dutchman Frank Siegmund and his family was when workmen tramping through a field found a narrow steel chimney protruding through the grass. Closer inspection revealed a chink of sky-light window among the thistles, and when amazed investigators moved down the side of the hill they came across a pine door complete with leaded diamond glass and a brass knocker set into an underground building. The Siegmunds had managed to live undetected for six years outside the border town of Breda, in Holland. They are the latest in a clutch of individualistic homemakers who have burrowed underground in search of tranquillity.
B. Most, falling foul of strict building regulations, have been forced to dismantle their individualistic homes and return to more conventional lifestyles. But subterranean suburbia, Dutch-style, is about to become respectable and chic. Seven luxury homes cosseted away inside a high earth-covered noise embankment next to the main Tilburg city road recently went on the market for $296,500 each. The foundations had yet to be dug, but customers queued up to buy the unusual part-submerged houses, whose back wall consists of a grassy mound and whose front is a long glass gallery.
C. The Dutch are not the only would-be moles. Growing numbers of Europeans are burrowing below ground to create houses, offices, discos and shopping malls. It is already proving a way of life in extreme climates; in winter months in Montreal, Canada, for instance, citizens can escape the cold in an underground complex complete with shops and even health clinics. In Tokyo, builders are planning a massive underground city to be begun in the next decade, and underground shopping malls are already common in Japan, where 90 percent of the population is squeezed into 20 percent of the land space.
D. Building big commercial buildings underground can be a way to avoid disfiguring or threatening a beautiful or ‘environmentally sensitive’ landscape. Indeed many of the buildings which consume most land -such as cinemas, supermarkets, theatres, warehouses or libraries -have no need to be on the surface since they do not need windows.
E. There are big advantages, too, when it comes to private homes. A development of 194 houses which would take up 14 hectares of land above ground would occupy 2.7 hectares below it, while the number of roads would be halved. Under several metres of earth, noise is minimal and insulation is excellent. “We get 40 to 50 enquiries a week,” says Peter Carpenter, secretary of the British Earth Sheltering Association, which builds similar homes in Britain. “People see this as a way of building for the future.” An underground dweller himself, Carpenter has never paid a heating bill, thanks to solar panels and natural insulation.
F. In Europe the obstacle has been conservative local authorities and developers who prefer to ensure quick sales with conventional mass-produced housing. But the Dutch development was greeted with undisguised relief by South Limburg planners because of Holland’s chronic shortage of land. It was the Tilburg architect Jo Hurkmans who hit on the idea of making use of noise embankments on main roads. His two floored, four-bedroomed, two-bathroomed detached homes are now taking shape. “They are not so much below the earth as in it,” he says. “All the light will come through the glass front, which runs from the second-floor ceiling to the ground. Areas which do not need much natural lighting are at the back. The living accommodation is to the front so nobody notices that the back is dark.”
G. In the US, where energy-efficient homes became popular after the oil crisis of 1973, 10,000 underground houses have been built. A terrace of five homes, Britain’s first subterranean development, is under way in Nottinghamshire. Italy’s outstanding example of subterranean architecture is the Olivetti residential centre in Ivrea. Commissioned by Roberto Olivetti in 1969, it comprises 82 one-bedroomed apartments and 12 maisonettes and forms a house/ hotel for Olivetti employees. It is built into a hill and little can be seen from outside except a glass facade. Patnzia Vallecchi, a resident since 1992, says it is little different from living in a conventional apartment.
H. Not everyone adapts so well, and in Japan scientists at the Shimizu Corporation have developed “space creation” systems which mix light, sounds, breezes and scents to stimulate people who spend long periods below ground. Underground offices in Japan are being equipped with “virtual” windows and mirrors, while underground departments in the University of Minnesota have periscopes to reflect views and light.
I. But Frank Siegmund and his family love their hobbit lifestyle. Their home evolved when he dug a cool room for his bakery business in a hill he had created. During a heatwave, they took to sleeping there. “We felt at peace and so close to nature,” he says. “Gradually I began adding to the rooms. It sounds strange but we are so close to the earth we draw strength from its vibrations. Our children love it; not every child can boast of being watched through their playroom windows by rabbits.
Reading Passage 2 has nine paragraphs (A-I). Choose the most suitable heading for each paragraph from the list of headings below.
Write the appropriate numbers (i-xii) in boxes 13 -20 on your answer sheet. Paragraph A has been done for you as an example.
NB There are more headings than paragraphs so you will not use all of them.
List of Headings
i A designer describes his houses
ii Most people prefer conventional housing
iii Simulating a natural environment
iv How an underground family home developed
v Demands on space and energy are reduced
vi The plans for future homes
vii Worldwide examples of underground living accommodation
viii Some buildings do not require natural light
ix Developing underground services around the world
x Underground living improves health
xi Homes sold before completion
xii An underground home is discovered
13 Paragraph B
14 Paragraph C
15 Paragraph D
16 Paragraph E
17 Paragraph F
18 Paragraph G
19 Paragraph H
20 Paragraph I
Complete the sentences below with words taken from the reading passage. Use NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS for each answer. Write your answers in boxes 21-26 on your answer sheet.
21. Many developers prefer mass-produced houses because they …………..
22. The Dutch development was welcomed by …………
23. Hurkmans’ houses are built into …………
24. The Ivrea centre was developed for ………….
25. Japanese scientists are helping people …………. underground life.
Reading Passage 3
Read the text below and Answer the Questions 26-40.
Toddlers Bond With Robot
(A) Will the robot revolution begin in nursery school? Researchers introduced a state-of-the-art social robot into a classroom of 18- to 24-month-olds for five months as a way of studying human-robot interactions. The children not only came to accept the robot, but treated it as they would a human buddy – hugging it and helping it – a new study says. “The results imply that current robot technology is surprisingly close to achieving autonomous bonding and socialization with human toddlers,” said Fumihide Tanaka, a researcher at the University of California, San Diego
(B) The development of robots that interact socially with people has been difficult to achieve, experts say, partly because such interactions are hard to study. “To my knowledge, this is the first long-term study of this sort,” said Ronald Arkin, a roboticist at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who was not involved with the study. “It is ground-breaking and helps to forward human-robot interaction studies significantly,” he said.
(C) The most successful robots so far have been storytellers, but they have only been able to hold human interest for a limited time. For the new study, researchers introduced a toddler-size humanoid robot into a classroom at a UCSD childhood education center. Initially the researchers wanted to use a 22-inch-tall model, but later they decided to use another robot of the QRIO series, the 23-inch-tall (58-centimeter-tall) machine was originally developed by Sony. Children of toddler age were chosen because they have no preconceived notions of robots, said Tanaka, the lead researcher, who also works for Sony. The researchers sent instructions about every two minutes to the robot to do things like giggle, dance, sit down, or walk in a certain direction. The 45 sessions were videotaped, and interactions between toddlers and the robot were later analysed.
(D) The results showed that the quality of those interactions improved steadily over 27 sessions. The tots began to increasingly interact with the robot and treat it more like a peer than an object during the first 11 sessions. The level of social activity increased dramatically when researchers added a new behavior to QRIO’s repertoire: If a child touched the humanoid on its head, it would make a giggling noise. The interactions deteriorated quickly over the next 15 sessions, when the robot was reprogrammed to behave in a more limited, predictable manner. Finally, the human-robot relations improved in the last three sessions, after the robot had been reprogrammed to display its full range of behaviors. “Initially the children treated the robot very differently than the way they treated each other,” Tanaka said. “But by the end they treated the robot as a peer rather than a toy.”
(E) Early in the study some children cried when QRIO fell. But a month into the study, the toddlers helped QRIO stand up by pushing its back or pulling its hands. “The most important aspect of interaction was touch”, Tanaka said. “At first the toddlers would touch the robot on its face, but later on they would touch only on its hands and arms, like they would with other humans”. Another robot-like toy named Robby, which resembled QRIO but did not move, was used as a control toy in the study. While hugging of QRIO increased, hugging of Robby decreased throughout the study. Furthermore, when QRIO laid down on the floor as its batteries ran down, a toddler would put a blanket over his silver-coloured “friend” and say “night-night.”
(F) “Our work suggests that touch integrated on the time-scale of a few minutes is a surprisingly effective index of social connectedness,” Tanaka says. “Something akin to this index may be used by the human brain to evaluate its own sense of social well-being.” He adds that social robots like QRIO could greatly enrich classrooms and assist teachers in early learning programs. Hiroshi Ishiguro – robotics expert at Osaka University in Japan – says, “I think this study has clearly reported the possibilities of small, almost autonomous humanoid robots for toddlers. Nowadays robots can perform a variety of functions that were thought to be incident to people only – in short time we’ll have electronic baby-sitters and peer-robots in every kindergarten,” said Ishiguro, who was not involved with the study but has collaborated with its authors on other projects.
(G) Now this study has taken a new direction – the researchers are now developing autonomous robots for the toddler classroom. “I cannot avoid underlining how great potential it could have in educational settings assisting teachers and enriching the classroom environment,” Tanaka said. However, some scientists don’t share his opinion.
(H) Arkin, the Georgia Tech roboticist, said he was not surprised by the affection showed by the toddlers toward the robot. “Humans have a tremendous propensity to bond with artifacts with any or all sort, whether it be a car, a doll, or a robot,” he said. But he also cautioned that researchers don’t yet understand the consequences of increased human-robot interaction. “Just studying how robots and humans work together can give us insight into whether this is a good thing or a bad thing for society,” Akrin said. “What are the consequences of introducing a robot artifact into a cadre of children? How will that enhance, or potentially interfere with, their social development? It might make life easier for the teacher, but we really don’t understand the long-term impact of having a robot as a childhood friend, do we?”
Reading Passage 3 has eight paragraphs, A-H.
Which paragraph contains the following information?
Write the correct letter, A-H, in boxes 26-32 on your answer sheet. You may use any letter more than once.
26. Changes in toddler-robot interactions quality.
27. Comparison of two different robots.
28. The fact that previous robots could maintain people’s interest only for a short time.
29. The importance of touch.
30. The new direction of the study.
31. Technical parameters of the introduced robot.
32. The significance and novelty of the conducted study.
Connect each of the statements below with the name of scientist who expressed it. Answer A, B, or C to questions 33-37.
A Fumihide Tanaka
B Ronald Arkin
C Hiroshi Ishiguro
33. Robots will perform duties of baby-sitters in the nearest future……………. .
34. By the end of the study children treated the robot as a living creature rather than a toy………………… .
35. The long-term impact of having a robot as a childhood friend can be negative……………… .
36. The conducted study is the first major study of this sort…………….. .
37. Robots can be used in classrooms and assist teachers………….. .
Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.
Write the correct letter in boxes 38-40 on your answer sheet.
38 For the study, researchers introduced a toddler-size humanoid robot that was
39 The researchers sent instructions to the robot to perform different actions EXCEPT
C sit down
40 The toddlers began to increasingly interact with the robot during
A the first 11 sessions
B the next 15 sessions
C the first 27 sessions
D the last 15 sessions
7 Conservation programme
21 sell (more) quickly
22 (South Limberg) planners
23 (road/ noise) embankments
24 (Olivetti) employees
25 adapt to