CBSE Class 11 English Reading Passage Set 5

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Passage 5 .


A.1 Read the passage given below and write the options that you consider the most appropriate.

The Universe or the Cosmos, as perceived today, consists of millions of galaxies. A galaxy is a huge congregation of stars which are held together by the forces of gravity. Most of the galaxies appear to be scattered in the space in a random manner, but there are many others which remain clustered into groups. Our own galaxy, called the Milky Way or Akash Ganga, which appears as a river of bright light flowing through the sky, belongs to a cluster of some 24 galaxies called the ‘local group’. The Milky Way is made up of over a hundred billion sparkling stars, which, though quite distant from one another, seem from the Earth as having been placed close together. The two other nearest galaxies are the Large Magellanic Cloud and the Small Magellanic Cloud, named after the famous Portuguese navigator, Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521), who discovered them.

The Universe is infinite, both in time and space. Its age was formerly believed to be between, 10-15 billion years. However, in 1999, a NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope Project team determined the age of cosmos to be 12 billion years (plus or minus 10 percent). In June 2001, NASA launched the MAP (Microwave Anisotropy Probe) to study the cosmic, microwave background radiation in greater detail according to which the exact age of the universe is 13.7 billion years after the theoretical Big Bang. The human perception of the Universe has, however, been different at different times over the long span of history of civilisation. The innate human inquisitiveness and tireless pursuit of knowledge have brought about revolutionary changes about our ideas of the Universe. The Moon and the stars are no longer looked upon as heavenly bodies or the abodes of gods. Solar and lunar eclipses are no more dreaded as foretellers of natural calamities. Man’s conquest of the Moon has now blown off many a myth of the religious testaments.

It was around 6th century BC that men started enquiring into the mysteries of the Universe in an endeavour to rationally analyse the earthly and the heavenly phenomena. They posed to themselves several questions : What is the Universe ? Why do things change ? Why do things move ? What is life ? and so on. These questions were of far-reaching significance to the development of modern science.

Ancient Greek astronomers and mathematicians came up with the view that the Earth was a perfect motionless sphere, surrounded by eight other crystalline spheres-the Sun, the Moon, and the five known planets, viz, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter, which revolved around the Earth on seven inner spheres. The stars were permanently fixed to the outer sphere that marked the edge of the Universe.

Ptolemy a second century Greco Egyptian astronomer, synthesised the various data gathered by the early Greek astronomers and in his book, Almagest, presented hiss system of astronomy based on a Geocentric (Earth-centred) Universe. He maintained that the Earth was the centre of the Universe, and the Sun and other heavenly bodies revolved around the Earth. This view of the Universe remained firmly entrenched in the minds of the people right up to the middle of the 16th century. Most men in the Middle Ages strongly adhered to the Ptolemaic system as they felt that they did, indeed, live in a physically limited, rigidly structured Universe centred around a motionless Earth. The Greeks had also estimated the visible Universe to be about 125 million miles in diameter.

The generally accepted view of Geocentric Universe received its first real jolt with the publication of the monumental work by Copernicus (1473-1543) De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (On the Revolution of Celestial Bodies). The main points- of the Copernican system are: (i) the Sun and the stars are motionless; (ii) the Sun lies at the centre of the Universe and the stars at its circumference; (iii) the Earth rotates on its axis taking 24 hours to complete one rotation; and (iv) the Earth and the planets revolve around the Sun; whereas the Moon revolves around the Earth.

This system of Universe, as propounded by Copernicus, was more consistent than that of Ptolemy. But its major flaw was that while it changed the centre of the Universe from the Earth to the Sun, it did not enlarge the limits of the Universe, as the Universe still remained equated with the Solar System.

Later Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), too, with his newlyinvented telescope demonstrated the validity of the Copernican system through his studies of the phases of the Venus and the moons of Jupiter that the Earth did revolve around the Sun. He discovered many new stars and proved that sensory appearances could be deceptive and that it is, our own. limitations of perception and reason that place boundaries around the

Universe. To be punished for telling the truth was not uncommon in the 16th century, and those who dared to do so, had to face the wrath of the Church. Indeed, Galileo had to pay the penalty for telling the truth. English scientist Isaac Newton (1642-1727) demonstrated that forces of gravitation linked all material bodies in an immence Universe and showed that these bodies moves in accordance with strict mathematical laws. God was still the creator, but he exercised a through mastery over mathematics and engineering.

A. Stars in a congregation are held in cluster by ....

i) Akash Ganga

ii) gravitational forces

iii) galaxies

iv) cosmos

B. Ferdinand Magellan discovered .....

i) law of gravitation

ii) two continents

iii) two galaxies

iv) Milky way

C. Our inquisitiveness and pursuit of knowledge have added to our knowledge of

i) civilization

ii) Aliens

iii) the universe

iv) Earth

D. The questioning nature of man has led to the

i) development of universe

ii) expansion of the Milkyway

iii) development of modern world

iv) development of modern science

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