Academic reading practice test 34 THE STORY OF SILK ,Great Migrations ,Adventures in mathematical reasoning

Academic reading practice test 32 THE STORY OF SILK ,Great Migrations ,Adventures in mathematical reasoning

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THE STORY OF SILK

The history of the world’s most luxurious fabric, from ancient China  to the present day

Silk is a fine, smooth material produced from the cocoons – soft protective shells – that are made by mulberry silkworms (insect larvae). Legend has it that it was Lei Tzu, wife of the Yellow Emperor, ruler of China in about 3000 BC, who discovered silkworms. One account of the story goes that as she was taking a walk in her husband’s gardens, she discovered that silkworms were responsible for the destruction of several mulberry trees. She collected a number of cocoons and sat down to have a rest. It just so happened that while she was sipping some tea, one of the cocoons that she had collected landed in the hot tea and started to unravel into a fine thread. Lei Tzu found that she could wind this thread around her fingers. Subsequently, she persuaded her husband to allow her to rear silkworms on a grove of mulberry trees. She also devised a special reel to draw the fibres from the cocoon into a single thread so that they would be strong enough to be woven into fabric. While it is unknown just how much of this is true, it is certainly known that silk cultivation has existed in China for several millennia.

Great Migrations

Animal migration, however it is defined, is far more than just the movement of animals. It can loosely be described as travel that takes place at regular intervals – often in an annual cycle – that may involve many members of a species, and is rewarded only after a long journey. It suggests inherited instinct. The biologist Hugh Dingle has identified five characteristics that apply, in varying degrees and combinations, to all migrations. They are prolonged movements that carry animals outside familiar habitats; they tend to be linear, not zigzaggy; they involve special behaviours concerning preparation (such as overfeeding) and arrival; they demand special allocations of energy. And one more: migrating animals maintain an intense attentiveness to the greater mission, which keeps them undistracted by temptations and undeterred by challenges that would turn other animals aside.

Preface to ‘How the other half thinks:

Adventures in mathematical reasoning’



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Occasionally, in some difficult musical compositions, there are beautiful, but easy parts – parts so simple a beginner could play them. So it is with mathematics as well. There are some discoveries in advanced mathematics that do not depend on specialized knowledge, not even on algebra, geometry, or trigonometry. Instead they may involve, at most, a little arithmetic, such as ‘the sum of two odd numbers is even’, and common sense. Each of the eight chapters in this book illustrates this phenomenon. Anyone can understand every step in the reasoning. The thinking in each chapter uses at most only elementary arithmetic, and sometimes not even that. Thus all readers will have the chance to participate in a mathematical experience, to appreciate the beauty of mathematics, and to become familiar with its logical, yet intuitive, style of thinking.THE STORY OF SILK ,Great Migrations ,Adventures in mathematical

THE STORY OF SILK ,Great Migrations ,Adventures in mathematical

THE STORY OF SILK ,Great Migrations ,Adventures in mathematical

THE STORY OF SILK ,Great Migrations ,Adventures in mathematical

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