Bên dưới đây là các trích dẫn từ các bài đọc trong các sách luyện thi IELTS của NXB Cambridge và một số nội dung từ các báo nước ngoài. Những bài đọc ngắn như thế này có lẽ sẽ giải tải phần nào áp lực phải đọc 'full text' cho một bài đọc giống như trong đề thi IELTS Reading. Tất cả các bài đọc bên dưới đều liên quan tới chủ đề Khoa học-Công nghệ (Science & Technology)

Exercise 1:  scientists trying to control lightning

In the 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. But while rockets are fine for research, they cannot provide the protection from lightning strikes that everyone is looking for. And anyway, who would want to fire streams of rockets in a populated area? What goes up must come down.

Another project is trying to use lasers to discharge lightning safely. 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. To stop the laser itself being struck , it would not be pointed straight at the clouds. Instead it would be directed at a mirror, and from there into the sky. Ideally, the cloud-zapper (gun) would be cheap enough to be installed around all key power installations.

Complete the following summary using words from the box below it.

In this method, a laser is used to create a line of ionisation by removing electrons from 1).......... . This laser is then directed at 2).......... in order to control electrical charges, a method which is less dangerous than using 3).......... . As a protection for the lasers, the beams are aimed firstly at 4).......... . 

A. cloud-zappers       B. atoms         C. storm clouds        D. mirrors

E. technique              F. ions             G. rockets                H. conductors     I. thunder 

 

Exercise 2: the history of the computer.

The history of the computer can be traced back around 2000 years to the birth of the abacus. However, construction of the first digital computer is usually attributed to the French inventor Blaise Pascal. In 1642, Pascal built a mechanical calculating machine which added numbers entered with dials. In the early 19th century, Charles Babbage, an English mechanical engineer, originated the concept of a programmable computer. His ‘Analytical Engine’ incorporated an arithmetic logic unit, control flow in the form of conditional branching and loops, and integrated memory, making it the first design for a general-purpose computer that could be described in modern terms.

The era of modern computing began with a flurry of development before and during World War II. The ‘Z2’ was one of the earliest examples of an electro-mechanical relay computer, and was created by German engineer Konrad Zuse in 1939. In the same year, electro-mechanical devices called bombes were built by British cryptologists to help decipher secret wartime messages. The initial design of the bombe was produced by Alan Turing, who was the first scientist to describe the principle of the modern computer. He proved that a machine would be capable of performing any conceivable mathematical computation if it were representable as an algorithm.

The Manchester Small-Scale Experimental Machine, nicknamed ‘Baby’, was the world's first stored-program computer. It was invented by Frederic Williams and Tom Kilburn, and ran its first program in 1948. Although the computer was considered "small and primitive" by the standards of its time, it was the first working machine to contain all of the elements essential to a modern electronic computer.

Which scientist or inventor...

   1. designed a computer to aid military intelligence gathering?
   2. introduced the concept of the computer as a programmable machine?
   3. built the first electronic computer that had all the basic features of the computers we use today?
   4. built the first mechanical computer?

Choose your answers from the following list:

   A - Blaise Pascal
   B - Charles Babbage
   C - Konrad Zuse
   D - Alan Turing
   E - Frederic Williams and Tom Kilburn

 

Exercise 3: The Paper Clip

According to the Early Office Museum, the first patent for a bent wire paper clip was awarded in the United States to Samuel B. Fay, in 1867. This clip was originally intended primarily for attaching tickets to fabric, although the patent recognized that it could be used to attach papers together. Although functional and practical, Fay's design along with the 50 other designs patented prior to 1899 are not considered reminiscent of the modern paper clip design known today.

The most common type of wire paper clip still in use, the Gem paper clip, was never patented, but it was most likely in production in Britain in the early 1870s by "The Gem Manufacturing Company", according to the American expert on technological innovations, Professor Henry J. Petroski.

Are the following statements true, false, or not given in the text?

   1. Samuel B. Fay’s paper clip was only patented for one specific use.
   2. Fay’s paper clip was not as practical as those we use today.
   3. Nobody has a patent on the paper clip that most people use today.

 

Exercise 4: The cinematograph

The cinematograph is a motion picture film camera which also serves as a film projector and developer. It was invented in the 1890s, but there is much dispute as to the identity of its inventor.

Some argue that the device was first invented and patented as "Cinématographe Léon Bouly" by French inventor Léon Bouly on February 12, 1892. Bouly coined the term “cinematograph”, which translates in Greek to “writing in movement”. It is said that Bouly was not able to pay the rent for his patent the following year, and that the brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière bought the licence.

A more popular version of events is that Louis Lumière was the first to conceptualise the idea. The Lumière brothers shared the patent, and they made their first film, Sortie de l'usine Lumière de Lyon, in 1894.

Choose the best title for the whole passage from the list below.

   A) How the cinematograph was invented
   B) The first film projector
   C) Who invented the cinematograph?
   D) What is a cinematograph?

 

Exercise 5a chess-playing computer.

A) On February 10, 1996, Deep Blue became the first machine to win a chess game against a reigning world champion (Garry Kasparov) under regular time controls. However, Kasparov won three and drew two of the following five games, beating Deep Blue by a score of 4–2. Deep Blue was then heavily upgraded and played Kasparov again in May 1997, winning the six-game rematch 3½–2½. Deep Blue won the deciding game six, becoming the first computer system to defeat a reigning world champion in a match under standard chess tournament time controls.

B) After the loss, Kasparov said that he sometimes saw deep intelligence and creativity in the machine's moves, suggesting that during the second game, human chess players had intervened on behalf of the machine, which would be a violation of the rules. IBM denied that it cheated, saying the only human intervention occurred between games. The rules provided for the developers to modify the program between games, an opportunity they said they used to shore up weaknesses in the computer's play that were revealed during the course of the match. This allowed the computer to avoid a trap in the final game that it had fallen for twice before. Kasparov demanded a rematch, but IBM refused and dismantled Deep Blue.

Choose the best heading for paragraphs A and B from the list below.

   1. The first chess-playing computer
   2. Developers’ intervention is questioned
   3. Chess champion accepts defeat
   4. Program developers caught cheating
   5. A victory for artificial intelligence

 

Exercise 6: The Wright brothers and the first airplane

The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, were two American brothers, inventors, and aviation pioneers who were credited with inventing and building the world's first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on December 17, 1903. In the two years afterward, the brothers developed their flying machine into the first practical fixed-wing aircraft.

The brothers' fundamental breakthrough was their invention of three-axis control, which enabled the pilot to steer the aircraft effectively and to maintain its equilibrium. This method became standard and remains standard on fixed-wing aircraft of all kinds. From the beginning of their aeronautical work, the Wright brothers focused on developing a reliable method of pilot control as the key to solving "the flying problem". This approach differed significantly from other experimenters of the time who put more emphasis on developing powerful engines. Using a small homebuilt wind tunnel, the Wrights also collected more accurate data than anyone had before, enabling them to design and build wings and propellers that were more efficient than rival models.

They gained the mechanical skills essential for their success by working for years in their shop with printing presses, bicycles, motors, and other machinery. Their work with bicycles in particular influenced their belief that an unstable vehicle like a flying machine could be controlled and balanced with practice.

Fill each gap in the summary below with a maximum of 2 words.

In 1903, the Wright brothers completed development of the first airplane that was capable of sustaining controlled (1)______. The key to their success was a system that gave the pilot the means to control and (2)______ the airplane. This set them apart from other inventors who had focused on building (3)______. The brothers had previous experience with a wide variety of (4)______, but it was their work with (5)______ that had the greatest influence on their ideas.

 

Exercise 7:  The printing press

From a single point of origin, Mainz, Germany, printing spread within several decades to over two hundred cities in a dozen European countries. By 1500, printing presses in operation throughout Western Europe had already produced more than twenty million volumes. In the 16th century, with presses spreading further afield, their output rose tenfold to an estimated 150 to 200 million copies. The operation of a press became so synonymous with the enterprise of printing that it lent its name to an entire new branch of media, the press.

In Renaissance Europe, the arrival of mechanical movable type printing introduced the era of mass communication which permanently altered the structure of society. The relatively unrestricted circulation of information and ideas transcended borders and threatened the power of political and religious authorities. The sharp increase in literacy broke the monopoly of the literate elite on education and learning and bolstered the emerging middle class.

Answer TRUE, FALSE or NOT GIVEN:

   1. By the beginning of the 16th century, the printing press was in use in several different countries.
   2. The printing press was popular because it was so easy to operate.
   3. Movable type printing can be linked to a rise in the number of people who could read and write.
   4. Printing had a negative effect on the middle classes.

Match two of the following headings with the paragraphs below. I'll reveal the correct answers tomorrow.

   a. Rapid sales of printing presses.
   b. The revolutionary impact of the printing press.
   c. New information and ideas.
   d. The printing boom.

 

Exercise 8the inventor Thomas Edison.

Thomas Edison was an American inventor and businessman. He developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. He was one of the first inventors to apply the principles of mass production and large-scale teamwork to the process of invention, and because of that, he is often credited with the creation of the first industrial research laboratory. Edison is the fourth most prolific inventor in history, holding 1,093 US patents in his name, as well as many patents in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. He is credited with numerous inventions that contributed to mass communication and, in particular, telecommunications.

Choose the best heading for the paragraph from the list below.

   A) The creator of the first industrial research laboratory.
   B) A pioneering and prolific inventor.
   C) Edison’s contribution to mass communication.

 

Exercise 9:  the scientist Michael Faraday.

Michael Faraday, (1791 - 1867) was an English scientist who contributed to the fields of electromagnetism and electrochemistry. Although Faraday received little formal education he was one of the most influential scientists in history, and historians of science refer to him as having been the best experimentalist in the history of science.

The young Michael Faraday, who was the third of four children, having only the most basic school education, had to educate himself. At fourteen he became the apprentice to George Riebau, a local bookbinder and bookseller. During his seven-year apprenticeship he read many books, including Isaac Watts' The Improvement of the Mind, and he enthusiastically implemented the principles and suggestions contained therein.

In 1812, at the age of twenty, and at the end of his apprenticeship, Faraday attended lectures by the eminent English chemist Humphry Davy. Faraday subsequently sent Davy a three-hundred-page book based on notes that he had taken during these lectures. Davy's reply was immediate, kind, and favourable. When one of the Royal Institution's assistants was sacked, Davy was asked to find a replacement, and appointed Faraday as Chemical Assistant at the Royal Institution.

Are the following statements true, false or not given?

   1. Many experts regard Faraday as the foremost experimentalist of all time.
   2. Faraday educated himself by reading books that were recommended to him by George Riebau.
   3. Faraday came to the attention of a famous chemist after he wrote a book based on the chemist's lectures.

 

Answer keys:

Exercise 1:

Exercise 2:

1. D (In the same year, electro-mechanical devices called bombes were built by British cryptologists to help decipher secret wartime messages. The initial design of the bombe was produced by Alan Turing)

2. B (In the early 19th century, Charles Babbage, an English mechanical engineer, originated the concept of a programmable computer)
3. E (It was invented by Frederic Williams and Tom Kilburn, and ran its first program in 1948. Although the computer was considered "small and primitive" by the standards of its time, it was the first working machine to contain all of the elements essential to a modern electronic computer.)

4. A (the first digital computer is usually attributed to the French inventor Blaise Pascal. In 1642, Pascal built a mechanical calculating machine which added numbers entered with dials)

Exercise 3: 

1. False. "patented for one specific use" = FALSE BECAUSE TWO USES ARE MENTIONED: for attaching tickets to fabric...AND... to attach papers together.
2. Not given. "Fay’s paper clip was not as practical as those we use today" = NOT GIVEN BECAUSE NO COMPARISON IS MADE WITH TODAY'S PAPER CLIPS IN TERMS OF HOW PRACTICAL THEY ARE.
3. True. "Nobody has a patent on the paper clip that most people use today." TRUE BECAUSE THE PASSAGE SAYS: "The most common type of wire paper clip still in use, the Gem paper clip, was never patented."

Exercise 4: C.

"D" is only mentioned in the first sentence. The main topic of the whole text is "C".

Exercise 5: 

A. 5 the first computer system to defeat a reigning world champion

B. 2 which would be a violation of the rules.

Exercise 6:

1. (human) flight
2. steer
3. powerful engines
4. machinery
5. bicycles

Exercise 7: 

1. TRUE (By 1500, printing presses in operation throughout Western Europe).
2. NOT GIVEN
3. TRUE (The arrival of mechanical movable type printing....altered the structure of society...The sharp increase in literacy...)
4. FALSE (...bolstered the emerging middle class)

Paragraph 1: d - The printing boom
Paragraph 2: b - The revolutionary impact of the printing press

Exercise 8: heading

B - this is the overall idea of the paragraph. The other answers are too specific.

Exercise 9: 

1. True
2. Not given
3. True

 

Biên tập: Ce Phan