Question of the Day




Hanging low on the horizon, ancient Polynesian mariners were helped by bright stars to navigate between the many islands of the Pacific Ocean.


B. Bright stars, which acted as compasses that helped ancient Polynesian mariners navigate between the many islands of the Pacific Ocean.
C. Bright stars acting as compasses helped ancient Polynesian mariners navigate the many islands of the Pacific Ocean.
D. Bright stars acted as compasses, they helped ancient Polynesian mariners navigate between the many islands of the Pacific Ocean.


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In 1977, the MIT professor Thomas J. Allen examined communication patterns among scientists and engineers and found that the farther apart their desks were, the less likely they were to communicate. At the 30-meter mark, the likelihood of regular communication approached zero. The expectation was that information technology would change that. Recently, therefore, researcher Ben Waber discovered that communication tools intended to erase distance are used largely among people who see one another face-to-face.


B. however,
C. moreover,
D. indeed,


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The planet Venus is believed to have contained Earth-like oceans at some point in they’re history, but these bodies of water evaporated as temperatures rose.


B. their
C. it’s
D. its


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It isn’t yet clear how much plastic is consumed by corals in the wild, or what harm it might do to these important marine organisms, which are already threatened by environmental dangers like warming seas and pollution. But understanding why plastic might appeal to them is important, especially because some particles appear to get stuck in the corals, potentially disrupting their digestive process.

Hundreds of chemicals are mixed into plastics to achieve certain textures or other characteristics. Because the corals sense the presence of food with receptors, it would not be all that surprising if some chemical additives mimicked substances that set off the corals’ appetites, suggested Alexander Seymour and Austin Allen, who were both graduate students at Duke University when they led this study.


In the last sentence, “set off” most nearly means


A. revealed
B. stimulated
C. responded
D. compensated for


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Chunks of ice and dust, which make their home in corners of the galaxy far beyond Pluto, and sometimes become dislodged and enter the solar system as streaky comets.


B. Pluto, they
C. Pluto and
D. Pluto,


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Thousands of years ago, two microscopic spores spawned and created a monster. It grew — up to three feet a year — sending out dark, gnarly, threadlike organs called rhizomorphs that explored the subterranean darkness, foraging for food. Now it’s a nebulous body, a tangled mat beneath the Oregon soil that occupies an area the size of three Central Parks and may weigh as much as 5,000 African elephants.

Its scientific name is Armillaria ostoyae, but you can call it The Humongous Fungus. It’s the largest known terrestrial organism on the planet, according to the United States Forest Service. It’s also a deadly forest pathogen.

Although none (that we know of) are as big, there are many others in the Armillaria genus. These fungi cause root rot disease in plants in forests, parks, orchards and vineyards across North America, Europe and Asia. What sets them apart from other fungi is those stringy rhizomorphs that find weak trees, colonize their roots, kill and eat them.


The passage indicates that “stringy rhizomorphs” are


A. beneficial to trees and other plants.
B. unique to members of the Armillaria genus.
C. a common characteristic of fungi.
D. destroyed by exposure to light.


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For years, seismologists have been trying to identify microquakes. Earthquakes so tiny they don’t even register on traditional measurement tools. Identifying microquakes can help scientists understand earthquake behavior and help them predict dangerous seismic events.


B. microquakes; earthquakes
C. microquakes, earthquakes
D. microquakes, and earthquakes


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Self-portraiture isn’t just a byproduct of the smartphone. Since as early as the fifteenth century, artists across different mediums use self-portraits as a way to meditate on the world around them and their places within it. More than just capturing physical features, these images allow artists to channel their beliefs into their work in ways that are both revealing and revolutionary.


B. used
C. have used
D. had used


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The strings of letters that make up genes are largely useless on their own; instead, like blueprints for the many proteins in the body. To actually build something, or be expressed, certain genes must be switched on. Spaceflight seems to affect the level of this expression for some genes—especially those that play a role in the immune system, DNA repair, and bone growth.


B. own, instead like blueprints,
C. own. Instead, they are like blueprints
D. own instead being like blueprints


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In some form or another, doughnuts have existed for so long that archaeologists keep turning up what look like fossilized bits of them in the middle of prehistoric settlements. But the doughnut proper, (if that’s the right word), supposedly came to Manhattan, then still New Amsterdam, under the unappetizing Dutch name of olykoeks—“oily cakes.”


B. proper, (if that’s the right word)
C. proper (if that’s the right word),
D. proper (if that’s the right word)


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For cost-conscious clothing shoppers in 1920, it must have seemed like a miracle: men’s suits in a choice of 50 different styles for a mere 60 cents each (about $7.66 today). What’s more, when a suit got dirty, you could easily clean it—with an eraser. The first rubber erasers had been produced in England more than a century earlier. Paper clothing had arrived, largely imported from Germany and Austria, where World War I shortages of wool and other materials had spurred its development.


The writer is considering deleting the underlined information. Should the writer do this?


A. Yes, because the passage does not state that rubber erasers could be used to clean the suits.
B.  Yes, because the passage focuses primarily on paper clothing.
C. No, because the passage indicates that paper clothing was erasable.
D. No, because the passage states that the suits seemed like a miracle.


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