IELTS Academic Reading Practice 24

 
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This reading practice simulates one part of the IELTS Academic Reading test. You should spend about twenty minutes on it. Read the passage and answer questions 26-40.

Questions 26-30

The reading passage has five sections, A-E.

Choose the correct heading for sections A-E from the list of headings below.

Write the correct number i-viii in boxes 26-30 on your answer sheet.

List of Headings
  1. Responding to a detected signal
  2. Knowledge of extra-terrestrial life forms
  3. The fundamental hypothesis towards extra terrestrial intelligence
  4. SETI: Why search for aliens?
  5. Seeking the transmission of radio signals from planets
  6. The odds of intelligent life elsewhere
  7. The world's largest radio telescopes
  8. The survival of earth

26. Section A
27. Section B
28. Section C
29. Section D
30. Section E
Questions 31-35

Answer the questions below.

Use NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 31-35 on your answer sheet.

31. What is the life expectancy for a planet like earth?

32. What does SETI generally ignore while searching for intelligent life outside earth?

33. Probability-wise, how far away might an intelligent civilization be from us?

34. Which kind of signal that we know of can travel the farthest distances?

35. How many stars are the world’s most powerful radio telescopes searching?

Questions 36-40

Complete the summary below.  

Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.
Write your answers in 36-40 on your answer sheet.

Aliens may try to send signals but our search has focused mainly upon looking for radio waves in a certain . So far nothing has been found among the that have been investigated. Another part of the project involves searching the closest and investigation all of the galaxy using NASA’s . Far away stars are being searched and their signals can take to get back to Earth and the same amount of time for our reply to reach them.


Answer Sheet
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The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Section A

The search for extraterrestrial intelligence, often known by the acronym SETI, is a collective term for scientific searches for intelligent extraterrestrial life, for example, monitoring electromagnetic radiation for signs of transmissions from civilizations on other planets. The primary reason for SETI is basic curiosity, the same curiosity about the natural world that drives all forms of science. We want to learn whether we are alone in the Universe, whether life evolves naturally if given the right conditions, or whether there is something very special about the Earth to have fostered the variety of life forms that we see around us on the planet. The simple detection of a radio signal will be sufficient to answer these question. In this sense, SETI is another cog in the machinery of pure science which is continually pushing out the horizon of our knowledge. However, there are other reasons for being interested in whether life exists elsewhere. For example, we have had civilization on Earth for perhaps only a few thousand years, and with the threats of nuclear war and pollution, the survival of our own civilization hangs in the balance. Will we last another two thousand years, or will we wipe ourselves out? Since the lifetime of a planet like ours is several billion years, we can expect that if other civilizations do survive in our galaxy, their ages will range from zero to several billion years. Thus, any other civilization who makes contact is likely to be much older than our own. The mere existence of such a civilization will indicate that long-term survival is possible, a cause for optimism. It is even possible that the older civilization may pass on the benefits of their experience in dealing with threats to survival such as nuclear war and global pollution, as well as other threats that we haven't yet discovered.

Section B

In discussing whether we are alone in the universe, most SETI scientists adopt two ground rules. First of all, UFOs (unidentified Flying objects) are generally ignored since most scientists don’t consider the evidence for them to be strong enough to bear serious consideration (although it is also important to keep an open mind in case any really convincing evidence emerges in the future). Second, we make a very conservative assumption that we are looking for a life form similar to us, since if it differs radically from us we may well not recognize it as a life form, let alone be able to communicate with it. In other words, the life forms we are looking for may well have two green heads and seven fingers, but it will nevertheless resemble us in communication style. The lifeforms we discover should also be interested in learning about our universe, live on a planet orbiting a star like our Sun, and perhaps most restrictively have body chemistry like ours, based on carbon and water.

Section C

Even when we make these assumptions. our understanding of other life forms is still severely limited. We do not even know. for example, how many stars have planets, and we certainly do not know how likely it is that life will arise naturally when  given the right conditions. However, when we look at the 100 billion stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way, and 100 billion galaxies. In the observable universe, it seems inconceivable none of these host any lifeforms. In fact, the best educated guess we can make using the little that we do know about the conditions for carbon-based life, leads us to estimate that perhaps one in 100,000 stars might have a life-bearing planet orbiting it. That means that our nearest neighbors are perhaps 1000 light years away, which is almost next door in astronomical terms.

Section D

An alien civilization could choose many different ways of sending information across the galaxy, but many of these either require too much energy, or may be severely weakened while traversing vast distances across the galaxy. So far, we know that radio waves in the frequency range 1000 to 3000 MHz travel the greatest distance, therefore all searches to date have concentrated on looking for radio waves in this frequency range. Various groups around the world have made their own attempts at searches, including Australian searches using the radio telescope at Parkes, New South Wales. But as of now, nothing has been detected within the range of the few hundred stars which have been searched. The scale of the searches has increased dramatically since 1992, when the US Congress voted NASA $10 million per year for ten years to conduct a thorough search for extraterrestrial life. Much of the money in this project is being spent on developing special hardware needed to search many frequencies at once. The project has two parts. One part is a targeted search using the world's largest radio telescopes, which are the American-operated telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico and the French Nançay radio telescope. This part of the project is searching the nearest 1000 likely stars with a high sensibility for signals in the frequency range 1000 to 3000 MHz. The other parts of the project is an undirected search which is monitoring all of the space with a lower using the smaller antennas of NASA’s Deep Space Network.

Section E

There is considerable debate over how we should react if we detect a signal from an alien civilization. All experts seem to agree that we should not reply immediately. Apart from the impracticality of sending a reply over such large distances at short notice, it raises a host of ethical questions that would have to be addressed by the global community before any reply could be sent. Would the human race face culture shock if faced with a superior and much older civilization? Luckily, there is no urgency about this. The stars being searched are hundreds of light years away, meaning that it takes hundreds of years for their signal to reach us, and a further few hundred years for our reply to reach them. It is not important, then, if there's a delay of a few years, or decades, while the human race debates the question of how or not to reply, if at all.

Reading Passage Vocabulary
The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Section A

The search for extraterrestrial intelligence, often known by the acronym SETI, is a collective term for scientific searches for intelligent extraterrestrial life, for example, monitoring electromagnetic radiation for signs of transmissions from civilizations on other planets. The primary reason for SETI is basic curiosity, the same curiosity about the natural world that drives all forms of science. We want to learn whether we are alone in the Universe, whether life evolves naturally if given the right conditions, or whether there is something very special about the Earth to have fostered the variety of life forms that we see around us on the planet. The simple detection of a radio signal will be sufficient to answer these question. In this sense, SETI is another cog in the machinery of pure science which is continually pushing out the horizon of our knowledge. However, there are other reasons for being interested in whether life exists elsewhere. For example, we have had civilization on Earth for perhaps only a few thousand years, and with the threats of nuclear war and pollution, the survival of our own civilization hangs in the balance. Will we last another two thousand years, or will we wipe ourselves out? Since the lifetime of a planet like ours is several billion years, we can expect that if other civilizations do survive in our galaxy, their ages will range from zero to several billion years. Thus, any other civilization who makes contact is likely to be much older than our own. The mere existence of such a civilization will indicate that long-term survival is possible, a cause for optimism. It is even possible that the older civilization may pass on the benefits of their experience in dealing with threats to survival such as nuclear war and global pollution, as well as other threats that we haven't yet discovered.

Section B

In discussing whether we are alone in the universe, most SETI scientists adopt two ground rules. First of all, UFOs (unidentified Flying objects) are generally ignored since most scientists don’t consider the evidence for them to be strong enough to bear serious consideration (although it is also important to keep an open mind in case any really convincing evidence emerges in the future). Second, we make a very conservative assumption that we are looking for a life form similar to us, since if it differs radically from us we may well not recognize it as a life form, let alone be able to communicate with it. In other words, the life forms we are looking for may well have two green heads and seven fingers, but it will nevertheless resemble us in communication style. The lifeforms we discover should also be interested in learning about our universe, live on a planet orbiting a star like our Sun, and perhaps most restrictively have body chemistry like ours, based on carbon and water.

Section C

Even when we make these assumptions. our understanding of other life forms is still severely limited. We do not even know. for example, how many stars have planets, and we certainly do not know how likely it is that life will arise naturally when  given the right conditions. However, when we look at the 100 billion stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way, and 100 billion galaxies. In the observable universe, it seems inconceivable none of these host any lifeforms. In fact, the best educated guess we can make using the little that we do know about the conditions for carbon-based life, leads us to estimate that perhaps one in 100,000 stars might have a life-bearing planet orbiting it. That means that our nearest neighbors are perhaps 1000 light years away, which is almost next door in astronomical terms.

Section D

An alien civilization could choose many different ways of sending information across the galaxy, but many of these either require too much energy, or may be severely weakened while traversing vast distances across the galaxy. So far, we know that radio waves in the frequency range 1000 to 3000 MHz travel the greatest distance, therefore all searches to date have concentrated on looking for radio waves in this frequency range. Various groups around the world have made their own attempts at searches, including Australian searches using the radio telescope at Parkes, New South Wales. But as of now, nothing has been detected within the range of the few hundred stars which have been searched. The scale of the searches has increased dramatically since 1992, when the US Congress voted NASA $10 million per year for ten years to conduct a thorough search for extraterrestrial life. Much of the money in this project is being spent on developing special hardware needed to search many frequencies at once. The project has two parts. One part is a targeted search using the world's largest radio telescopes, which are the American-operated telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico and the French Nançay radio telescope. This part of the project is searching the nearest 1000 likely stars with a high sensibility for signals in the frequency range 1000 to 3000 MHz. The other parts of the project is an undirected search which is monitoring all of the space with a lower using the smaller antennas of NASA’s Deep Space Network.

Section E

There is considerable debate over how we should react if we detect a signal from an alien civilization. All experts seem to agree that we should not reply immediately. Apart from the impracticality of sending a reply over such large distances at short notice, it raises a host of ethical questions that would have to be addressed by the global community before any reply could be sent. Would the human race face culture shock if faced with a superior and much older civilization? Luckily, there is no urgency about this. The stars being searched are hundreds of light years away, meaning that it takes hundreds of years for their signal to reach us, and a further few hundred years for our reply to reach them. It is not important, then, if there's a delay of a few years, or decades, while the human race debates the question of how or not to reply, if at all.

 
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