Striking Back at Lightning With Lasers
The Nature of Genius
HOW DOES THE BIOLOGICAL CLOCK TICK?
A - Limitations of life span
Our life span is restricted. Everyone accepts this as ‘biologically’ obvious. ‘Nothing lives for ever!’ However, in this statement we think of artificially produced, technical objects, products which are subjected to natural wear and tear during use. This leads to the result that at some time or other the object stops working and is unusable (‘death’ in the biological sense). But are the wear and tear and loss of function of technical objects and the death of living organisms really similar or comparable?
B - Fundamental differences in ageing of objects and organisms
Our ‘dead’ products are ‘static’, closed systems. It is always the basic material which constitutes the object and which, in the natural course of things, is worn down and becomes ‘older’. Ageing in this case must occur according to the laws of physical chemistry and of thermodynamics. Although the same law holds for a living organism, the result of this law is not inexorable in the same way. At least as long as a biological system has the ability to renew itself it could actually become older without ageing; an organism is an open, dynamic system through which new material continuously flows. Destruction of old material and formation of new material are thus in permanent dynamic equilibrium. The material of which the organism is formed changes continuously. Thus our bodies continuously exchange old substance for new, just like a spring which more or less maintains its form and movement, but in which the water molecules are always different.
C - Why dying is beneficial
Thus ageing and death should not be seen as inevitable, particularly as the organism possesses many mechanisms for repair. It is not, in principle, necessary for a biological system to age and die. Nevertheless, a restricted life span, ageing, and then death are basic characteristics of life. The reason for this is easy to recognise: in nature, the existent organisms either adapt or are regularly replaced by new types. Because of changes in the genetic material (mutations) these have new characteristics and in the course of their individual lives they are tested for optimal or better adaptation to the environmental conditions. Immortality would disturb this system - it needs room for new and better life. This is the basic problem of evolution.
D - A stable life span despite improvements
Every organism has a life span which is highly characteristic. There are striking differences in life span between different species, but within one species the parameter is relatively constant. For example, the average duration of human life has hardly changed in thousands of years. Although more and more people attain an advanced age as a result of developments in medical care and better nutrition, the characteristic upper limit for most remains 80 years. A further argument against the simple wear and tear theory is the observation that the time within which organisms age lies between a few days (even a few hours for unicellular organisms) and several thousand years, as with mammoth trees.
E - The biological clock
If a life span is a genetically determined biological characteristic, it is logically necessary to propose the existence of an internal clock, which in some way measures and controls the ageing process and which finally determines death as the last step in a fixed programme. Like the life span, the metabolic rate has for different organisms a fixed mathematical relationship to the body mass. In comparison to the life span this relationship is ‘inverted’: the larger the organism the lower its metabolic rate. Again this relationship is valid not only for birds, but also, similarly on average within the systematic unit, for all other organisms (plants, animals, unicellular organisms).
F - Energy consumption
Animals which behave ‘frugally’ with energy become particularly old, for example, crocodiles and tortoises. Parrots and birds of prey are often held chained up. Thus they are not able to ‘experience life’ and so they attain a high life span in captivity. Animals which save energy by hibernation or lethargy (e.g. bats or hedgehogs) live much longer than those which are always active. The metabolic rate of mice can be reduced by a very low consumption of food (hunger diet). They then may live twice as long as their well fed comrades. Women become distinctly (about 10 per cent) older than men. If you examine the metabolic rates of the two sexes you establish that the higher male metabolic rate roughly accounts for the lower male life span. That means that they live life ‘energetically’ - more intensively, but not for as long.
G - Prolonging your life
It follows from the above that sparing use of energy reserves should tend to extend life. Extreme high performance sports may lead to optimal cardiovascular performance, but they quite certainly do not prolong life. Relaxation lowers metabolic rate, as does adequate sleep and in general an equable and balanced personality. Each of us can develop his or her own ‘energy saving programme’ with a little self-observation, critical self-control and, above all, logical consistency. Experience will show that to live in this way not only increases the life span but is also very healthy. This final aspect should not be forgotten.
The main topic discussed in the text is
According to the text, every year lightning
Researchers at the University of Florida and at the University of New Mexico
Complete the sentences below.
Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer.
Write your answers in boxes 4-6 on your answer sheet.
EPRI receives financial support from
The advantage of the technique being developed by Diels is that it can be used
The main difficulty associated with using the laser equipment is related to its
Questions 7 - 10
Complete the summary using the list of words, A-I, below.
Write the correct letter, A-I, in boxes 7-10 on your answer sheet.
C storm clouds
In this method, a laser is used to create a line of ionisation by removing electrons from 7 This laser is then directed at 8 in order to control electrical charges, a method which is less dangerous than using 9 As a protection for the lasers, the beams are aimed firstly at 10 .
Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 1?
In boxes 11-13 on your answer sheet write
YES if the statement agrees with the claims of the writer
NO if the statement contradicts the claims of the writer
NOT GIVEN if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this
Power companies have given Diels enough money to develop his laser.
Obtaining money to improve the lasers will depend on tests in real storms.
Weather forecasters are intensely interested in Diels’s system.
Questions 14 - 18
Choose FIVE letters, A-K.
Write the correct letters in boxes 1-5 on your answer sheet
NB Your answers may be given in any order.
Below are listed some popular beliefs about genius and giftedness.
Which FIVE of these beliefs are reported by the writer of the text?
Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 2?
In boxes 19-26 on your answer sheet, write
TRUE if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this
Nineteenth-century studies of the nature of genius failed to take into account the uniqueness of the person’s upbringing.
Nineteenth-century studies of genius lacked both objectivity and a proper scientific approach.
A true genius has general powers capable of excellence in any area.
The skills of ordinary individuals are in essence the same as the skills of prodigies.
The ease with which truly great ideas are accepted and taken for granted fails to lessen their significance.
Giftedness and genius deserve proper scientific research into their true nature so that all talent may be retained for the human race.
Geniuses often pay a high price to achieve greatness.
To be a genius is worth the high personal cost.
Reading Passage 3 has seven paragraphs, A-G.
Choose the correct heading for paragraphs B-G from the list of headings below.
Write the correct number, i-x, in boxes 27-32 on your answer sheet.
List of Headings
i The biological clock
ii Why dying is beneficial
iii The ageing process of men and women
iv Prolonging your life
v Limitations of life span
vi Modes of development of different species
vii A stable life span despite improvements
viii Energy consumption
ix Fundamental differences in ageing of objects and organisms.
x Repair of genetic material
Questions 33 - 35
Objects age in accordance with principles of 33 , 34 and of 35
Do the following statements agree with the views of the writer in Reading Passage 3?
In boxes 37-40 on your answer sheet, write
YES if the statement agrees with the views of the writer
NO if the statement contradicts the views of the writer
NOT GIVEN if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this
38 The wear and tear theory applies to both artificial objects and biological systems.
39 In principle, it is possible for a biological system to become older without ageing.
40 Within seven years, about 90 per cent of a human body is replaced as new.
41 Conserving energy may help to extend a human’s life.