Multiple Choice Questions

Multiple Choice Questions


The meaning and power of smell

The sense of smell, or olfaction, is powerful. Odours affect us on a physical, psychological and social level. For the most part, however, we breathe in the aromas which surround us without being consciously aware of their importance to us. It is only when the faculty of smell is impaired for some reason that we begin to realise the essential role the sense of smell plays in our sense of well-being

A A survey conducted by Anthony Synott at Montreal’s Concordia University asked participants to comment on how important smell was to them in their lives. It became apparent that smell can evoke strong emotional responses. A scent associated with a good experience can bring a rush of joy, while a foul odour or one associated with a bad memory may make us grimace with disgust. Respondents to the survey noted that many of their olfactory likes and dislikes were based on emotional associations. Such associations can be powerful enough so that odours that we would generally label unpleasant become agreeable, and those that we would generally consider fragrant become disagreeable for particular individuals. The perception of smell, therefore, consists not only of the sensation of the odours themselves, but of the experiences and emotions associated with them.

B Odours are also essential cues in social bonding. One respondent to the survey believed that there is no true emotional bonding without touching and smelling a loved one. In fact, infants recognise the odours of their mothers soon after birth and adults can often identify their children or spouses by scent. In one well-known test, women and men were able to distinguish by smell alone clothing worn by their marriage partners from similar clothing worn by other people. Most of the subjects would probably never have given much thought to odour as a cue for identifying family members before being involved in the test, but as the experiment revealed, even when not consciously considered, smells register.

C In spite of its importance to our emotional and sensory lives, smell is probably the most undervalued sense in many cultures. The reason often given for the low regard in which smell is held is that, in comparison with its importance among animals, the human sense of smell is feeble and undeveloped. While it is true that the olfactory powers of humans are nothing like as fine as those possessed by certain animals, they are still remarkably acute. Our noses are able to recognise thousands of smells, and to perceive odours which are present only in extremely small quantities.

D Smell, however, is a highly elusive phenomenon. Odours, unlike colours, for instance, cannot be named in many languages because the specific vocabulary simply doesn’t exist. ‘It smells like …,’ we have to say when describing an odour, struggling to express our olfactory experience. Nor can odours be recorded: there is no effective way to either capture or store them over time. In the realm of olfaction, we must make do with descriptions and recollections. This has implications for olfactory research.

E Most of the research on smell undertaken to date has been of a physical scientific nature. Significant advances have been made in the understanding of the biological and chemical nature of olfaction, but many fundamental questions have yet to be answered. Researchers have still to decide whether smell is one sense or two – one responding to odours proper and the other registering odourless chemicals in the air. Other unanswered questions are whether the nose is the only part of the body affected by odours, and how smells can be measured objectively given the nonphysical components. Questions like these mean that interest in the psychology of smell is inevitably set to play an increasingly important role for researchers.

F However, smell is not simply a biological and psychological phenomenon. Smell is cultural, hence it is a social and historical phenomenon. Odours are invested with cultural values: smells that are considered to be offensive in some cultures may be perfectly acceptable in others. Therefore, our sense of smell is a means of, and model for, interacting with the world. Different smells can provide us with intimate and emotionally charged experiences and the value that we attach to these experiences is interiorised by the members of society in a deeply personal way. Importantly, our commonly held feelings about smells can help distinguish us from other cultures. The study of the cultural history of smell is, therefore, in a very real sense, an investigation into the essence of human culture.


Questions 33-36

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

Write the correct letter in boxes 33–36 on your answer sheet.


33 According to the introduction, we become aware of the importance of smell when

A we discover a new smell.

B we experience a powerful smell.

C our ability to smell is damaged.

D we are surrounded by odours.


34 The experiment described in paragraph B

A shows how we make use of smell without realising it.

B demonstrates that family members have a similar smell.

C proves that a sense of smell is learnt.

D compares the sense of smell in males and females.


35 What is the writer doing in paragraph C?

A supporting other research

B making a proposal

C rejecting a common belief

D describing limitations


36 What does the writer suggest about the study of smell in the atmosphere in paragraph E?

A The measurement of smell is becoming more accurate.

B Researchers believe smell is a purely physical reaction.

C Most smells are inoffensive.

D Smell is yet to be defined.



Striking Back at Lightning

Seldom is the weather more dramatic than when thunderstorms strike. Their electrical fury inflicts death or serious injury on around 500 people each year in the United States alone. As the clouds roll in, a leisurely round of golf can become a terrifying dice with death – out in the open, a lone golfer may be a lightning bolt’s most inviting target. And there is damage to property too. Lightning damage costs American power companies more than $100 million a year.

But researchers in the United States and Japan are planning to hit back. Already in laboratory trials they have tested strategies for neutralising the power of thunderstorms, and this winter they will brave real storins, equipped with an armoury of lasers that they will be pointing towards the heavens to discharge thunderclouds before lightning can strike.

The idea of forcing storm clouds to discharge their lightning on command is not new. In the early 1960s, researchers tried firing rockets trailing wires into thunderclouds to set up an easy discharge path for the huge electric charges that these clouds generate. The technique survives to this day at a test site in Florida run by the University of Florida, with support from the Electrical Power Research Institute (EPRI), based in California. EPRI, which is funded by power companies, is looking at ways to protect the United States’ power grid from lightning strikes. ‘We can cause the lightning to strike where we want it to using rockets,’ says Ralph Bernstein, manager of lightning projects at EPRI. The rocket site is providing precise measurements of lightning voltages and allowing engineers to check how electrical equipment bears up.

Bad behaviour

But while rockets are fine for research, they cannot provide the protection from lightning strikes that everyone is looking for. The rockets cost around $1,200 each, can only be fired at a limited frequency and their failure rate is about 40 per cent. And even when they do trigger lightning, things still do not always go according to plan. ‘Lightning is not perfectly well behaved,’ says Bernstein. ‘Occasionally, it will take a branch and go someplace it wasn’t supposed to go.’

And anyway, who would want to fire streams of rockets in a populated area? What goes up must come down,’ points out Jean-Claude Diels of the University of New Mexico. Diels is leading a project, which is backed by EPRI, to try to use lasers to discharge lightning safely and safety is a basic requirement since no one wants to put themselves or their expensive cquipment at risk. With around $500,000 invested so far, a promising system is just emerging from the laboratory,

The idea began some 20 years ago, when high-powered lasers were revealing their ability to extract electrons out of atoms and create ions. If a laser could generate a line of ionisation in the air all the way up to a storm cloud, this conducting path could be used to guide lightning to Earth, before the electric field becomes strong enough to break down the air in an uncontrollable surge. To stop the laser itself being struck, it would not be pointed straight at the douds. Instead it would be directed at a mirror, and from there into the sky. The mirror would be protected by placing lightning conductors close by. Ideally, the cloud-zapper (gun) would be cheap enough to be installed around all key power installations, and portable enough to be taken to international sporting events to beam up at brewing storm clouds.

A stumbling block

However, there is still a big stumbling block. The laser is no nifty portable: it’s a monster that takes up a whole room. Diels is trying to cut down the size and says that a laser around the size of a small table is in the offing. He plans to test this more manageable system on live thunderclouds next summer.

Berstein says that Diels’s system is attracting lots of interest from the power companies. But they have not yet come up with the $5 million that EPRI says will be needed to develop a commercial system, by making the lasers yet smaller and cheaper. ‘I cannot say I have money yet, but I’m working on it,’ says Bernstein. He reckons that the forthcoming field tests will be the turning point – and he’s hoping for good news. Bernstein predicts ‘an avalanche of interest and support if all goes well. He expects to see cloud-zappers eventually costing $50,000 to $100,000 each.

Other scientists could also benefit. With a lightning ‘switch’ at their fingertips, materials scientists could find out what happens when mighty currents meet matter. Diels also hopes see the birth of ‘interactive meteorology’ – not just forecasting the weather but controlling it. ‘If we could discharge clouds, we might affect the weather,’ he says.

And perhaps, says Diels, we’ll be able to confront some other meteorological inenaces. “We think we could prevent hail by inducing lightning,’ he says. Thunder, the shock wave that comes from a lightning flash, is thought to be the trigger for the torrential rain that is typical of storms. A laser thunder factory could shake the moisture out of clouds, perhaps preventing the formation of the giant hailstones that threaten crops. With luck, as the storm clouds gather this winter, laser-toting researchers could, for the first time, strike back.


Questions 1-3

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

Write the correct letter in boxes 1-3 on your answer sheet.

1 The main topic discussed in the text is

A the damage caused to US golf courses and golf players by lightning strikes.

B the effect of lightning on power supplies in the US and in Japan.

C a variety of methods used in trying to control lightning strikes.

D a laser technique used in trying to control lightning strikes.


2 According to the text, every year lightning

A does considerable damage to buildings during thunderstorms.

B kills or injures mainly golfers in the United States.

C kills or injures around 500 people throughout the world.

D damages more than 100 American power companies.


3 Researchers at the University of Florida and at the University of New Mexico

A receive funds from the same source.

B are using the same techniques.

C are employed by commercial companies.

D are in opposition to each other.



Land of the rising sum

A Japan has a significantly better record in terms of average mathematical attainment than England and Wales. Large sample international comparisons of pupils’ attainments since the 1960s have established that not only did Japanese pupils at age 13 have better scores of average attainment, but there was also a larger proportion of ‘low’ attainers in England, where, incidentally, the variation in attainment scores was much greater. The percentage of Gross National Product spent on education is reasonably similar in the two countries, so how is this higher and more consistent attainment in maths achieved?

B Lower secondary schools in Japan cover three school years, from the seventh grade (age 13) to the ninth grade (age 15). Virtually all pupils at this stage attend state schools: only 3 per cent are in the private sector. Schools are usually modern in design, set well back from the road and spacious inside. Classrooms are large and pupils sit at single desks in rows. Lessons last for a standardised 50 minutes and are always followed by a 10-minute break, which gives the pupils a chance to let off steam. Teachers begin with a formal address and mutual bowing, and then concentrate on whole-class teaching,

Classes are large – usually about 40 – and are unstreamed. Pupils stay in the same class for all lessons throughout the school and develop considerable class identity and loyalty. Pupils attend the school in their own neighbourhood, which in theory removes ranking by school. In practice in Tokyo, because of the relative concentration of schools, there is some competition to get into the ‘better’ school in a particular area.

C Traditional ways of teaching form the basis of the lesson and the remarkably quiet classes take their own notes of the points made and the examples demonstrated. Everyone has their own copy of the textbook supplied by the central education authority, Monbusho, as part of the concept of free compulsory education up to the age of 15. These textbooks are, on the whole, small, presumably inexpensive to produce, but well set out and logically developed. (One teacher was particularly keen to introduce colour and pictures into maths textbooks: he felt this would make them more accessible to pupils brought up in a cartoon culture.) Besides approving textbooks, Monbusho also decides the highly centralised national curriculum and how it is to be delivered.

D Lessons all follow the same pattern. At the beginning, the pupils put solutions to the homework on the board, then the teachers comment, correct or elaborate as necessary. Pupils mark their own homework: this is an important principle in Japanese schooling as it enables pupils to see where and why they made a mistake, so that these can be avoided in future. No one minds mistakes or ignorance as long as you are prepared to learn from them.

After the homework has been discussed, the teacher explains the topic of the lesson, slowly and with a lot of repetition and elaboration. Examples are demonstrated on the board; questions from the textbook are worked through first with the class, and then the class is set questions from the textbook to do individually. Only rarely are supplementary worksheets distributed in a maths class. The impression is that the logical nature of the textbooks and their comprehensive coverage of different types of examples, combined with the relative homogeneity of the class, renders work sheets unnecessary. At this point, the teacher would circulate and make sure that all the pupils were coping well.

E It is remarkable that large, mixed-ability classes could be kept together for maths throughout all their compulsory schooling from 6 to 15. Teachers say that they give individual help at the end of a lesson or after school, setting extra work if necessary. In observed lessons, any strugglers would be assisted by the teacher or quietly seek help from their neighbour. Carefully fostered class identity makes pupils keen to help each other – anyway, it is in their interests since the class progresses together. This scarcely seems adequate help to enable slow learners to keep up. However, the Japanese attitude towards education runs along the lines of ‘if you work hard enough, you can do almost anything’. Parents are kept closely informed of their children’s progress and will play a part in helping their children to keep up with class, sending them to Juku’ (private evening tuition) if extra help is needed and encouraging them to work harder. It seems to work, at least for 95 per cent of the school population.

F So what are the major contributing factors in the success of maths teaching? Clearly, attitudes are important. Education is valued greatly in Japanese culture; maths is recognised as an important compulsory subject throughout schooling; and the emphasis is on hard work coupled with a focus on accuracy.

Other relevant points relate to the supportive attitude of a class towards slower pupils, the lack of competition within a class, and the positive emphasis on learning for oneself and improving one’s own standard. And the view of repetitively boring lessons and learning the facts by heart, which is sometimes quoted in relation to Japanese classes, may be unfair and unjustified. No poor maths lessons were observed. They were mainly good and one or two were inspirational.


Questions 10-13

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

Write the correct letter in boxes 10–13 on your answer sheet.

10 Maths textbooks in Japanese schools are

A cheap for pupils to buy.

B well organised and adapted to the needs of the pupils.

C written to be used in conjunction with TV programmes.

D not very popular with many Japanese teachers.


11 When a new maths topic is introduced,

A students answer questions on the board.

B students rely entirely on the textbook.

C it is carefully and patiently explained to the students.

D it is usual for students to use extra worksheets.


12 How do schools deal with students who experience difficulties?

A They are given appropriate supplementary tuition.

B They are encouraged to copy from other pupils.

C They are forced to explain their slow progress.

D They are placed in a mixed-ability class.

13 Why do Japanese students tend to achieve relatively high rates of success in maths?

A It is a compulsory subject in Japan.

B They are used to working without help from others.

C Much effort is made and correct answers are emphasised.

D There is a strong emphasis on repetitive learning.



Biological control of pests

The continuous and reckless use of synthetic chemicals for the control of pests which pose a threat to agricultural crops and human health is proving to be counter-productive. Apart from engendering widespread ecological disorders, pesticides have contributed to the emergence of a new breed of chemical-resistant, highly lethal superbugs.

According to a recent study by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), more than 300 species of agricultural pests have developed resistance to a wide range of potent chemicals. Not to be left behind are the disease-spreading pests, about 100 species of which have become immune to a variety of insecticides now in use.

One glaring disadvantage of pesticides’ application is that, while destroying harmful pests, they also wipe out many useful non-targeted organisms, which keep the growth of the pest population in check. This results in what agroecologists call the ‘treadmill syndrome’. Because of their tremendous breeding potential and genetic diversity, many pests are known to withstand synthetic chemicals and bear offspring with a built-in resistance to pesticides.

The havoc that the ‘treadmill syndrome’ can bring about is well illustrated by what happened to cotton farmers in Central America. In the early 1940s, basking in the glory of chemicalbased intensive agriculture, the farmers avidly took to pesticides as a sure measure to boost crop yield. The insecticide was applied eight times a year in the mid-1940s, rising to 28 in a season in the mid-1950s, following the sudden proliferation of three new varieties of chemicalresistant pests.

By the mid-1960s, the situation took an alarming turn with the outbreak of four more new pests, necessitating pesticide spraying to such an extent that 50% of the financial outlay on cotton production was accounted for by pesticides. In the early 1970s, the spraying frequently reached 70 times a season as the farmers were pushed to the wall by the invasion of genetically stronger insect species.

Most of the pesticides in the market today remain inadequately tested for properties that cause cancer and mutations as well as for other adverse effects on health, says a study by United States environmental agencies. The United States National Resource Defense Council has found that DDT was the most popular of a long list of dangerous chemicals in use.

In the face of the escalating perils from indiscriminate applications of pesticides, a more effective and ecologically sound strategy of biological control, involving the selective use of natural enemies of the pest population, is fast gaining popularity – though, as yet, it is a new field with limited potential. The advantage of biological control in contrast to other methods is that it provides a relatively low-cost, perpetual control system with a minimum of detrimental side-effects. When handled by experts, bio-control is safe, non-polluting and self-dispersing.

The Commonwealth Institute of Biological Control (CIBC) in Bangalore, with its global networkof research laboratories and field stations, is one of the most active, non-commercial research agencies engaged in pest control by setting natural predators against parasites. CIBC also serves as a clearing-house for the export and import of biological agents for pest control world-wide.

CIBC successfully used a seed-feeding weevil, native to Mexico, to control the obnoxious parthenium weed, known to exert devious influence on agriculture and human health in both India and Australia. Similarly the Hyderabad-based Regional Research Laboratory (RRI.), supported by CIBC, is now trying out an Argentinian weevil for the eradication of water hyacinth, another dangerous weed, which has become a nuisance in many parts of the world. According to Mrs Kaiser Jamil of RRL, ‘The Argentinian weevil does not attack any other plant and a pair of adult bugs could destroy the weed in 4–5 days.’ CIBC is also perfecting the technique for breeding parasites that prey on ‘disapene scale’ insects – notorious defoliants of fruit trees in the US and India.

How effectively biological control can be pressed into service is proved by the following examples. In the late 1960s, when Sri Lanka’s flourishing coconut groves were plagued by leaf-mining hispides, a larval parasite imported from Singapore brought the pest under control. A natural predator indigenous to India, Neodumetia sangawani, was found useful in controlling the Rhodes grass-scale insect that was devouring forage grass in many parts of the US. By using Neochetina bruci, a beetle native to Brazil, scientists at Kerala Agricultural University freed a 12-kilometrelong canal from the clutches of the weed Salvinia molesta, popularly called ‘African Payal in Kerala. About 30,000 hectares of rice fields in Kerala are infested by this weed.


Questions 14-17

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

Write the correct letter in boxes 14-17 on your answer sheet.

14 The use of pesticides has contributed to

A a change in the way ecologies are classified by agroecologists.

B an imbalance in many ecologies around the world.

C the prevention of ecological disasters in some parts of the world.

D an increase in the range of ecologies which can be usefully farmed.


15 The Food and Agriculture Organisation has counted more than 300 agricultural pests which

A are no longer responding to most pesticides in use.

B can be easily controlled through the use of pesticides.

C continue to spread disease in a wide range of crops.

D may be used as part of bio-control’s replacement of pesticides.


16 Cotton farmers in Central America began to use pesticides

A because of an intensive government advertising campaign.

B in response to the appearance of new varieties of pest.

C as a result of changes in the seasons and the climate.

D to ensure more cotton was harvested from each crop.


17 By the mid-1960s, cotton farmers in Central America found that pesticides

A were wiping out 50% of the pests plaguing the crops.

B were destroying 50% of the crops they were meant to protect.

C were causing a 50% increase in the nurnber of new pests reported.

D were costing 50% of the total amount they spent on their crops.