Content Frame

Mastery Tests

Mastery Test 4


Preview the following selection. Then read it and answer the questions.

Computers both reflected and assisted the process of technological development. Prior to World War II, Vannevar Bush, an electrical engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, had built a machine filled with gears and shafts, along with electronic tubes in place of some mechanical parts, to solve differential equations. Wartime advances brought large but workable calculators, such as the Mark I electromechanical computer developed by engineer Howard Aiken and installed by IBM at Harvard in 1944. It was huge—55 feet long and 8 feet high—and had a million components.

Even more complicated was the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator, called ENIAC, built in 1946 at the University of Pennsylvania. Like the Mark I, it was large, containing 18,000 electronic tubes and requiring tremendous amounts of electricity and special cooling procedures. It also needed to be “debugged” to remove insects attracted to the heat and light, giving rise to the term still used today by computer scientists for solving software glitches. In a widely publicized test conducted soon after installation, operators set out to multiply 97,367 by itself 5,000 times. A reporter pushed the necessary button, and the task was completed in less than half a second. In the years that followed, new machines with their own internal instructions and memories were developed.

A key breakthrough in making computers faster and more reliable was the development of the transistor by three scientists at Bell Laboratories in 1948. Computers transformed American society as surely as industrialization had changed it a century before. Airlines, hotels, and other businesses computerized their reservation systems. Business accounting and inventory control began to depend on computers. Computer programmers and operators were in increasing demand as computers contributed dramatically to the centralization and interdependence of American life. (Taken from The American People, Nash and Jeffrey, 6th Ed, Volume 2. New York: Pearson, 2004, pgs 901-902)

What would be a good title for this essay?


2.   How would you rate the highlighting of paragraph one?  

3.   How would you rate the highlighting of paragraph two?  

4.   How would you rate the highlighting of paragraph three?  

5.   What is an effect of the computers on society mentioned by the author?  


Preview the following selection. Then read it and answer the questions.

Sympathomimetic agents are chemical substances that mimic the sympathetic stress response. Many foods naturally contain these substances. When consumed, they trigger a stress response in the body, the severity of which will depend on how much of the chemical was consumed. The most common of these sympathomimetic stressors in the modern diet is caffeine, a chemical that belongs to the xanthine group of drugs. Xanthines are powerful amphetamine-like stimulants that increase metabolism and create a highly awake and active state. They also trigger release of the stress hormones that, among other actions, are capable of increasing heartrate, blood pressure, and oxygen demands on the heart. Extreme, prolonged stress-hormone secretion can even initiate myocardial necrosis—that is, destruction of the heart tissue.

Coffee (Coffea arabica) is the most frequently consumed source of caffeine. Americans over the age of fourteen consume an average of three cups of coffee a day! The average brewed six-ounce cup of coffee contains about 108 milligrams of caffeine. Caffeine consumption of more than 250 milligrams per day is considered excessive and will have an adverse effect on the human body. A lethal dose of caffeine could be consumed in the form of twenty cups of coffee if drunk all at once! Frequent side effects of excessive coffee drinking are anxiety, irritability, diarrhea, arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), and inability to concentrate, in addition to a host of symptoms characteristic of the stress response. Coffee may also stimulate the secretion of the digestive enzyme and other biochemical substances necessary for arousal and adaptation responses (Dusek and Girdano 1993).

During stressful times, high levels of certain vitamins (such as vitamin C and B vitamins) are needed to maintain proper function of the nervous and endocrine systems. They are also called on to help carry out carbohydrate metabolism and gluconeogenesis (the process whereby the body forms glucose for more energy). Vitamin C and choline are necessary elements in the production of adrenal hormones, which are secreted during the stress response. Deficiencies of these vitamins lower tolerance to stressors and ability to cope with them. In turn, excessive stress over prolonged periods may deplete the body of these vitamins, making an individual more prone to vitamin deficiency. (Taken from Controlling Stress and Tension, 7th Ed., Girdano, Dusek, Dorothy E., and Everly JR, George S. San Francisco: Pearson/Benjamin Cummings, 2005, pg 183)

How would you rate the highlighting of paragraph one?


7.   How would you rate the highlighting of paragraph two?  

8.   How would you rate the highlighting of paragraph three?  

9.   What is the purpose of the two colors in the third paragraph?  

10.   What would be a good way to organize the information from paragraph three?  


Copyright © 2003-2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.,
publishing as Longman Publishers.
All rights reserved.