Question of the Day May




In 2014, Scottish artist Katie Paterson started a new project, one that would ultimately last a century and relying solely on hope and the goodness of future generations. That project, called the Future Library, is now well underway. It will result in an anthology of 100 books, printed in the year 2114, using paper from trees from a newly planted Norwegian forest.


B. century, and rely
C. century and rely
D. century; relying


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It wasn’t that long ago that putting food in liquid nitrogen was something you’d only see in a high school science class, but it’s also becoming a mainstay of modernist cooking. It’s odorless, tasteless, and harmless because it’s so cold (–320.44°F to be exact), it boils at room temperature and evaporates out of your food as it rapidly chills it.


B. tasteless, and harmless, and because
C. tasteless and harmless, because
D. tasteless, harmless and because,


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Although it may sometimes get overlooked in the hustle and bustle of the daily commute, New York City’s subway stations are packed with art. Over the years, stations have become home to all sorts of works like mosaics of peering eyes or disarmingly cute bronze sculptures. According to the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), subway art has been a part of the transit system’s lifeblood since its earliest days.


B. disarmingly, cute bronze sculptures.
C. disarmingly cute, bronze, sculptures.
D. disarmingly cute, bronze sculptures.


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Lions and great white sharks may boast the most famous jaws in the animal kingdom—but theirs are nowhere near the fastest. That honor belongs to Odontomachus bauri, a tiny ant whose jaws can snap shut at a remarkable 145 miles per hour. The ant’s quick bite also does double-duty as an escape mechanism. When faced with a larger nest intruder, an ant may use its jaws to strike the invader, simultaneously flinging itself 8 or 9 inches away (a maneuver known as the “bouncer defense”). Therefore, it may snap its jaws against the ground, propelling itself into the air and out of the way of such dangers as an anteater’s tongue (a move known as an “escape jump”).


B. For example,
C. Alternatively,
D. Meanwhile,


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Until 1877, all rapid long-distance communication depended upon the telegraph. However, that year saw the development of a rival technology: the telephone. In 1879, patent litigation between Western Union, which controlled the telegraph industry, and the infant telephone system ended in an agreement largely that separated the two services.


The best placement for the underlined word is


A. where it is now.
B. after the word that.
C. after the word two.
D. after the word services.


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Richard Sylvester of the University of Western Australia has associated the mysterious disappearances of ships in the Bermuda triangle with the Sargasso Sea. Vast amounts of seaweeds accumulate at its center, where powerful currents slowly circulate, creating a huge whirlpool. That whirlpool, which extends into the area of the Bermuda triangle, creates smaller whirlpools, strong enough to cause mini-cyclones capable of rotating a ship and dragging it inside.


B. whirlpools strong enough
C. whirlpools strong enough,
D. whirlpools are strong enough


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A comprehensive 2016 study by the National Academy of Sciences concluded that genetically engineered crops are just as safe to eat as their non-genetically engineered counterparts, yet in one survey, more than a quarter of consumers reported that they avoid to purchase them.


B. of purchasing
C. in purchasing
D. purchasing


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Life as we know it requires liquid water, which can exist on planets with a surface temperature and a mass similar to the Earth’s. Surface heating is also needed to prevent water from freezing and becoming ice, and Earth-like gravity is required to retain an atmosphere—an essential feature since ice turns directly into gas in the absence of an external atmospheric pressure.


B. freezing and turning into ice
C. freezing so that it becomes ice
D. freezing,


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In pumping her “Wonderful Hair Grower” door-to-door, at club gatherings, and eventually through a mail-order catalog, Sarah Walker—who eventually decided to promote herself professionally under the name, Madame C.J. Walker, proved to be a marketing magician who sold her customers more than mere hair products. She offered them a lifestyle, a concept of total hygiene and beauty that in her mind would bolster their pride.


B. name Madame C.J. Walker—
C. name, Madame C.J. Walker
D. name Madame C.J. Walker,


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In 1850, Joel Houghton registered a patent for the first mechanical dishwasher in the United States. The device was made of wood and was cranked by hand while water sprayed onto the dishes, and they were both slow and unreliable. Fifteen years later, another patent was granted to L.A. Alexander. It was similar to the first but featured a hand-cranked rack system. Like Houghton’s, this contraption was neither practical nor widely accepted.


B. it was
C. those were
D. DELETE the underlined portion.


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Hedy Lamarr and her co-inventor, the composer George Anthiel, figured out how to use the mechanics of the player piano to create the earliest version of the “frequency-hopping spread-spectrum” system. A method that protects radio communications by switching frequencies in a preprogrammed pattern.


B. system a method that
C. system, a method that
D. system, a method


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In Washington, D.C., viewing the cherry blossoms is a time-honored tradition that dates back to 1912. At that time, Tokyo presented 3,020 cherry trees to the United States in an act of friendship. The Cherry Blossom Festival was launched in 1935 to commemorate the springtime occasion, and it is still celebrated today.


What is the most effective way to combine the two sentences at the underlined portion?


A. that dates back to 1912, when Tokyo presented
B. dating back to 1912, and that was a time when Tokyo presented
C. that dates back to 1912, and Tokyo then presenting
D. that had dated back to 1912, which is when Tokyo presented


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Raising mice in captivity has been traced back to the seventeenth century, when collectors in Japan selected for traits such as coat color or unique behaviors. Two centuries later, “fancy” mice experienced a gust in popularity in Britain and in the United States, with people keeping them for pets and breeding interesting specimens for mouse shows.


B. surge
C. race
D. stream


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The Apollo 11 mission became famous for allowing astronauts to land on the lunar surface in 1969. However, the flight of Apollo 8, which sent the first crew to orbit the moon seven months earlier, was in some ways even riskier, its success more surprising.


B. its’
C. they’re
D. their


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When scientists cracked open the Murchison meteorite, which fell in Australia in 1969, and scraped the material on the inside, they discovered that it was chock-full of carbon and organic materials. It also had an odd smell, reminiscent of the New York City subway—metallic, with musty and bitter hints.


B. 1969 and scraped the material on the inside they
C. 1969, scraped the material on the inside, they
D. 1969, and scraped the material on the inside—they


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As the United States stood on the brink of a Second World War, the push for aeronautical advancement grew ever greater, spurring an insatiable demand for mathematicians. Ushered into the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in 1935 to shoulder the burden of number crunching, engineers were freed from hand calculations in the decades before the digital age by dozens of women acting as human “computers.”


B. in the decades before the digital age, dozens of women acting as human “computers” freed engineers from hand calculations.
C. dozens of women acting as “human computers” freed engineers from hand calculations in the decades before the digital age.
D. hand calculations were freed from engineers by dozens of women acting as human “computers” in the decades before the digital age.


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When Paige Embry, author of Our Native Bees: North America’s Endangered Pollinators and the Fight to Save Them, learned that bees extract pollen from flowers by shaking them, she embarked on a reporting journey to document the lives of North America’s 4,000 wild native pollinators. Some secrete silk, she discovered, while others shave fuzzy plants to build plush pillows for their eggs. Still others nest in rose stems, cow patties, or snail shells.


B. them. She embarked
C. them, and she embarked
D. them, she embarked,


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In recent years, scientists have become increasingly aware that plants thrive through cooperation rather than competition. For example, oaks that are subjected to drought conditions have been shown to provide nutrition to their beneficial partners by transferring water from their tap roots up through their root systems to associated fungal networks, nourishing these beneficial partners. In fact, some researchers believe that such networks are the principal way that plants extract nutrients from the soil.


B. providing nourishment for these beneficial partners.
C. sustaining these beneficial partners.
D. DELETE the underlined portion (replacing the comma after networks with a period).


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When I was a child growing up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, crossing a big bridge meant facing unexpected challenges. The majestic Chesapeake Bay Bridge was my family’s main route off of the rural shore and towards “real cities,” where we could walk among crowds and shop in stores unlike anything we had at home. But these trips were also journeys in themselves— a chance to spot bottlenose dolphins and peregrine falcons and to see both our home and our destination from a new perspective.


Which choice best introduces the topic of the paragraph?


B. taking a step toward independence.
C. entering a portal to a new world.
D. returning to my roots.


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Although it is estimated that 10 meteorites come crashing to Earth from outer space every day, researchers only discover a few of these rocks each year. They are easiest to spot when they fall on relatively stable geographic environments, making it unnecessary for search teams to use metal detectors like the Arizona desert.


B. environments that make it unnecessary for search teams to use metal detectors like the Arizona desert.
C. environments like the Arizona desert, making it unnecessary for search teams to use metal detectors.
D. environments like metal detectors that make it unnecessary for search teams in the Arizona desert.


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In 1997, David Perry founded Indigo Ag, a company dedicated to commercializing microorganisms that help plants grow. Indigo Ag’s scientists have identified a variety of microbes that confer resistance to drought, are developing others that reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides in five important crops: corn, rice, soybeans, cotton, and wheat.


B. scientists identify
C. scientists, having identified
D. scientists identified


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In the past few years, governments have begun to see automation as the key to better urban futures. Many cities are becoming test-beds for experiments with robots in social spaces, where robots have both a practical purpose (for which they are programmed) and a symbolic role (to demonstrate good city governance). Whether through autonomous cars, automated pharmacists, service robots in local stores, or autonomous drones delivering parcels, cities are being automated at a steady pace.


Which choice provides an example that is most similar to the other example in the sentence?


B. (to facilitate everyday life)
C. (they come in many shapes and sizes)
D. (and are becoming ever more intelligent)


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Today, humans can live in space for months at a time, and some space travelers are lucky enough to visit the realm of microgravity more than once. Repeat trips into space teach astronauts not only to survive in a hostile and alien environment but also adjusting to life back on Earth.


B. they adjust
C. adjusted
D. to adjust


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The “Green Revolution”—championed by American agronomist Norman Borlaug, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his work—led farmers to: increase their use of chemical fertilizers, adopt high-yielding crop varieties, and improve their irrigation practices and technologies. Today, those practices are firmly entrenched aspects of industrial agriculture.


B. to increase their use of chemical fertilizers;
C. to increase their use of chemical fertilizers,
D. to increase their use, of chemical fertilizers


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In the never-ending symphony of the sea, there’s a standout among the percussive pings of bottlenose dolphins and the plaintive calls of humpback whales. Recordings of bowhead whales show that these mammals sing intricate yet varied songs—they’re more like jazz musicians than Beethoven or Bach.


B. intricate, yet varied
C. intricate yet, varied
D. intricate yet varied,


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The largest pyramid, built for the Pharaoh Khufu around 2530 B.C. and intended in lasting an eternity, was until fairly recently the largest building on the planet. To raise it, laborers moved six-and-a-half million tons of stone—some in blocks as large as nine tons—into position using nothing but wood and rope.


B. on lasting
C. for lasting
D. to last


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Numerous factors—from changes in air temperature to the tug of nearby storms—can affect a tornado’s development. Unlike hurricanes, which can be spotted days off shore, tornadoes develop over the course of hours or minutes, which makes taking on-the-ground measurements even more challenging.


B. affect a tornadoes development.
C. effect a tornado’s development.
D. effect a tornadoes development.


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The cognitive scientist Rafael Núñez of the University of California at San Diego doesn’t buy the conventional wisdom that people have a naturally innate capacity for understanding numbers. Rather, he thinks that “number sense” is a product of culture, like writing and architecture.


B. a natural and innate
C. a natural, innate
D. an innate


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The emperors of the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD) are believed to have been the first to eat a frozen, milky confection. This early version of ice cream was made with cow, goat, or buffalo milk that was heated with flour. Camphor, an aromatic substance harvested from evergreen trees, was added to enhance the texture and flavor. Subsequently, the mixture was placed into metal tubes and lowered into an icy pool until frozen.


B. Nevertheless,
C. Thus,
D. Despite this,


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Despite the economic promises touted by supporters of the Golden Gate Bridge, the project met fierce resistance from an array of business and civic leaders. Not only would the bridge impede the shipping industry and mar the bay’s natural beauty, they argued, it wouldn’t survive a trembler like the San Francisco Earthquake that crippled the city in 1906.


B. it also won’t survive
C. and it also wouldn’t survive
D. but it also wouldn’t survive


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Before I started working on real-world robots, I wrote about their fictional and historical ancestors. That wasn’t too different from what I do now. In factories, labs, and of course science fiction, robots continue to fuel our imaginations about artificial humans and smart machines.


Which of the following would NOT be an acceptable alternative to the underlined word?


A. nourish
B. fire
C. supply
D. stimulate


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