Economist GMAT Reading Comprehension Challenge #26

Economist GMAT Reading Comprehension Challenge #26

Welcome back to the Economist Reading Comprehension Challenges! If this is your first there are some helpful reading strategies on the home page.

Article: A lot of the periodic table is a result of neutron stars colliding

Link: https://www.economist.com/science-and-technology/2019/02/23/a-lot-of-the-periodic-table-is-a-result-of-neutron-stars-colliding

Living things are star...

Other than hydrogen from the big bang, elements from which life is composed came from the nuclear fusion that powers stars but that process has its limits and can't produce elements heavier than iron.

To synthesise...

Some of the elements heavier than iron have been produced by supernova but supernova can't account for the abundance of the heaviest metals which it is now confirmed are the products of collisions between ultra dense objects called neutron stars.

The neutron-star...

Neutron stars are the collapsed leftovers of particular types of supernova.

A single neutron...

Although a single neutron star cannot create new elements, two neutron stars orbiting each other might as they collide, creating an explosion called a kilonova that throws neutrons in all directions.

On Earth one ...

On Earth one established way of making heavy elements from light ones is by neutron bombardment.

In effect...

Neutron bombardment is a small-scale version of what happens after a neutron-star collision but although the theory was reasonable until recently no one had seen a kilonova and so could prove its existence.

In the wake...

Scientists used optical telescopes to scan the recent kilonova to collect spectra from the explosion and thus determine which elements were created.

Kilonovae are rare events...

Kilonovae are rare events although they were more common in the past.

Future observations...

More refined analysis is forthcoming but it is confirmed that heavy metals at least in part originated from Kilonova.

Main Idea

It is now confirmed that Kilonovae are responsible for heavy metals present on earth that can't be explained by supernovae.

Primary Purpose

To discuss a theory that has recently been confirmed by data.

Economist GMAT Reading Comprehension Challenge #25

Economist GMAT Reading Comprehension Challenge #25

Welcome back to the Economist Reading Comprehension Challenge! If you're just getting started with this reading visit the instructions on the GMAT Reading Comprehension Challenges home page.

Article: Rice, maize and sorghum may be able to fix nitrogen from the air

Link: https://www.economist.com/science-and-technology/2019/02/23/rice-maize-and-sorghum-may-be-able-to-fix-nitrogen-from-the-air

Plants need nitrogen...

Plants are unable to breakdown airborne nitrogen, a nutrient they rely on, but have been able to benefit from bacteria that can.

At the moment...

Farmers provide nitrogen to crops either by rotating fields with plants that benefit from nitrogen fixing bacteria or by applying nitrogen to fields in the form of fertilizer which requires a great quantity of fossil fuels to create.

Jean-Michel Ané...

Ané is working on the nitrogen issue in two different ways, studying how legumes became friendly with nitrogen fixing bacteria and identifying a type of symbiotic nitrogen-fixing that does not rely on root nodules.

The crucial insight...

The crucial insight behind the first of these approaches was the realisation that the association between legumes and bacteria is similar to a more widespread one between land plants and fungi.

Genetic tweaking...

Dr Ané and his colleagues have also worked out the evolutionary origin of nodule formation and want to copy this evolution to other crops, by genetic tweaking.

The most widely...

Corn is the subject of the second approach.

Sierra Mixe maize...

Sierra Mixe maize is an odd corn plant because it puts out aerial roots, which ooze a gel when it rains, and doesn't require crop rotation to flourish.

Analysis of the gel...

The aerial roots of the plant are hosting nitrogen-fixing bacteria and using them to fertilise the surrounding soil.

Six-metre-tall maize plants...

Dr Ané, Dr Shapiro and their colleagues have managed to cross-breed aerial roots into more manageable plants and have found that gel-dripping aerial roots were reported on a strain of sorghum.

Dr Ané is now doing...

If any of these crops could be encouraged to fix nitrogen routinely, that would simplify and improve farmers’ lives enormously.

Main Idea

Dr. Ané has shown promising work in nitrogen fixation which if made viable for crops would simplify and improve farmers’ lives enormously.

Primary Purpose

To discuss scientific work in nitrogen fixation.

Economist GMAT Reading Comprehension Challenge #24

Economist GMAT Reading Comprehension Challenge #24

First time doing the challenges? Start here for some reading comprehension strategies.

Article: Why retired people could be ideal customers for self-driving cars

Link: https://www.economist.com/business/2019/02/23/why-retired-people-could-be-ideal-customers-for-self-driving-cars

New technologies...

New technologies are normally first adopted by the young but according to Voyage, a silicon valley startup, the elderly will be the early adopters of self-driving cars.

First...

Voyage claims that AVS are ideally suited for retirement towns because the roads and traffic patterns in retirements communities are simpler so easier for self-driving cars to navigate and old people want to move around but may not want the hassle of owning there own car or may have lost confidence in their ability to drive.

Third...

With retirement towns there is a clear road to a large market.

There are other reasons...

There are other reasons why retirement towns make sense for AVS: Warm weather, private roads, and lack of rush hour because everyone is retired.

Voyage is now...

Voyage is now testing in two communities and has extended a .5% ownership stake to the owners of each community in order to align incentives.

Replacing car...

Replacing car ownership for the aged may be easier than providing ride-sharing for young urbanites.

Main Idea

According to Voyage, old people in retirement towns will be the first major users of EVS.

Primary Purpose

To discuss a pilot autonomous vehicle program in retirement towns.

Economist GMAT Reading Comprehension Challenge #23

Economist GMAT Reading Comprehension Challenge #23

Welcome to the Economist GMAT Reading Comprehension Challenge! Here are instructions for approaching the articles.

Article: Why Malpass should get the job

Link: https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/02/09/why-malpass-should-get-the-job

It has long...

That the USA chooses the head of the world bank is an outdated privilege.

True to this...

Although Trump’s pick has been a critic of multilateral institutions such as the world bank it would be a mistake to oppose his nomination.

Accepting him...

Accepting Malpass will not be easy as he has major issues with the world bank.

Nonetheless...

The nominee could be worse as Malpass is one of the most qualified members of the Trump administration and so far in his role in the Trump administration has put forward sensible reform.

The bank’s shareholders...

Rejecting Malpass could jeopardize USA funding the World Bank.

What of Mr Malpass’s hostility...

That Mr. Malpass is hostile to China and specifically Chinas bridges and roads initiative isn’t completely unreasonable but he shouldn’t ignore the good that comes from the initiative and should allow the world bank to participate in the pieces that serve its purpose: to eradicate poverty.

Ultimately...

The bureaucracy of the world bank will likely make it so Malpass won’t be able to make any drastic changes.

Main Idea

Though not perfect for the role, Malpass should be accepted as head of the world bank.

Primary Purpose

To discuss the nomination of David Malpass to lead the world bank and to advocate for his acceptance.

Economist GMAT Reading Comprehension Challenge #22

Economist GMAT Reading Comprehension Challenge #22

Welcome back to the GMAT reading comprehension challenge! Core reading skills are key to GMAT success so we summarize Economist articles to help you improve your GMAT reading. For more info on getting started with these articles go ahead and visit the GMAT reading comprehension challenge home page.

Article: The struggle to reform China’s economy

Link: https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/02/21/the-struggle-to-reform-chinas-economy

For the past...

At stake in US/China trade talks is one of the 21st century's most consequential issues: the trajectory of China's $14trn economy.

Although President Donald Trump...

Trump started the trade war with China but there is near universal agreement that China's aggressive state capitalism makes it a bad actor in the global trading system, causing gross distortions in markets at home and abroad, and poses a threat to security.

The backlash...

China's steroidal state capitalism is yielding diminishing returns and leads to long term instability but China's leader, Xi, is reluctant to limit state power or yield to American demands though those things could boost economic performance and win more friends abroad.

Its leaders...

China's leaders are entitled to feel smug as they have presided over one of history's great socio-economic successes.

Yet as our essay...

Since Mr. Xi took power China has in some ways gone backwards as government owned firms have grown in prominence and the private sector has stagnated.

Regulators meddle...

In addition to heavily manipulating the economy and suppressing critical analysis, the government has announced a "made in china 2025" plan to use state direction to dominate high-tech industries, a plan which has so far produced little except for alarm in the rest of the world.

Make no mistake...

The current system could continue for some time but is facing pressure from a shrinking working age population, inefficient spending, and a swelling bubble of debt.

The backlash abroad...

China's image risks becoming another drag on the economy as trade barriers rise and its firms are viewed with suspicion by western markets.

China’s leaders...

China's leaders have underestimated the frustrations behind the trade war and the depth of change in its economy that may be required to end the feud.

To deal with...

To improve the economy and reduce foreign hostility the state's role in allocating capital must be limited and banks and financial markets must operate freely.

Mr Xi also...

Mr. Xi should temper industrial policy by giving state firms autonomy while requiring them to operate as efficiently as the private sector and by shifting spending away from grandiose schemes such as "Made in China 2025" to funding basic research.

Lastly, China...

China must protect the rights of foreign firms.

Given China’s poor...

America needs room to respond to potential Chinese bad behavior with punitive measures but given that Chinese firms can operate with greater transparency and on commercial principles they should treated like businesses from any other country.

Today, these reforms...

Chinese economic policy has been regressing but opening up the economy is a popular idea at home and would make China a richer country with fewer enemies.

Main Idea

Liberalizing the Chinese economy would help solve its current slowdown and create fewer enemies abroad.

Primary Purpose

To provide some context to the current US/China trade war and suggest reforms for improving China's economy and its relationship to the world at large.

 

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