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Posts tagged ‘Medium’

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Unit 52 – To Build A Genome

Difficulty: Medium

Time: 4 minutes 30 seconds

The passage below has been adapted from an article by Clive Cookson and was originally published in the Financial Times, July 2012.

 

Craig Venter, king of the genome, has been uncharacteristically quiet for a couple of years since his laboratory created the world’s first synthetic life form, a microbe whose genes were made entirely from inanimate chemicals. Some critics downplayed Venter’s achievement in 2010 because he did not make a novel form of life. The project was a technical tour de force, a demonstration that scientists could move on from reading to writing genes, but it reproduced an existing microbe called Mycoplasma mycoides, with just a few “watermarking” additions to distinguish its DNA from the natural bacterium.

Now his teams are well on the way to making synthetic microbes distinctly different to anything in nature. “We have a design contest to come up with a genome designed completely in a computer,” Venter says. “Three different versions of the genome are being constructed now and we hope to know by the end of the summer whether any of these designs will work as a living cell.”

The designs are all attempts to find the “minimal genome”, the least DNA with the fewest genes capable of sustaining a free-living organism. The smallest microbial genome in nature belongs to Mycoplasma genitalium, with 525 genes encoded in 580,000 chemical “letters” of DNA. The question is how much DNA is truly essential for life and how much is unnecessary clutter resulting from undirected Darwinian evolution. More…

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Unit 51: Comparing Songs About The Elderly

Difficulty: Medium

Time: 6 minutes

Song 1: Help The Aged, by Pulp

Help the aged,
One time they were just like you,
Drinking, smoking cigs and sniffing glue.
Help the aged,
Don’t just put them in a home,
Can’t have much fun when they’re all on their own.
Give a hand, if you can,
Try and help them to unwind.
Give them hope and give them comfort
’cause they’re running out of time.

In the meantime we try.
Try to forget that nothing lasts forever.
No big deal so give us all a feel.
Funny how it all falls away.
When did you first realize?
It’s time you took an older lover baby.
Teach you stuff although he’s looking rough.
Funny how it all falls away.

Help the aged
’cause one day you’ll be older too –
You might need someone who can pull you through
And if you look very hard
Behind those lines upon their face
You may see where you are headed
And it’s such a lonely place.

More…

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Unit 50 – Hannibal Lecter’s Palace

Difficulty: Medium

Time: 4 minutes 30 seconds

The passage below is an extract from Hannibal by Thomas Harris. 

The memory palace was a mnemonic system well known to ancient scholars and much information was preserved in them through the Dark Ages while Vandals burned the books. Like scholars before him, Dr. Lecter stores an enormous amount of information keyed to objects in his thousand rooms, but unlike the ancients, Dr.Lecter has a second purpose for his palace; sometimes he lives there. He has passed years among its exquisite collections, while his body lay bound on a violent ward with screams buzzing the steel bars like hell’s own harp.
Hannibal Lecter’s palace is vast, even by medieval standards. Translated to the tangible world it would rival the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul for size and complexity.
We catch up to him as the swift slippers of his mind pass from the foyer into the Great Hall of the Seasons. The palace is built according to the rules discovered by Simonides of Ceos and elaborated by Cicero four hundred years later; it is airy, high-ceilinged, furnished with objects and tableaux that are vivid, striking, sometimes shocking and absurd, and often beautiful. The displays are well spaced and well lighted like those of a great museum. But the walls are not the neutral colors of museum walls. Like Giotto, Dr. Lecter has frescoed the walls of his mind.
He has decided to pick up Clarice Starling’s home address while he is in the palace, but he is in no hurry for it, so he stops at the foot of a great staircase where the Riace bronzes stand. These great bronze warriors attributed to Phidias, rased from the seafloor in our own time, are the centerpiece of a frescoed space that could unspool all of Homer and Sophocles.
Dr. Lecter could have the bronze faces speak Meleager if he wished, but today he only wants to look at them.
A thousand rooms, miles of corridors, hundreds of facts attached to each object furnishing each room, a pleasant respite awaiting Dr. Lecter whenever he chooses to retire there.
Fearfully and wonderfully made, we follow as he moves with a swift stride along the corridor of his own making, through a scent of gardenias, the presence of great sculpture pressing on us, and the light of pictures.
His way leads around to the right past a bust of Pliny and up the staircase to the Hall of Addresses, a room lined with statuary and paintings in a fixed order, spaced wide apart and well lit, as Cicero recommends.
Ah… The third alcove from the door on the right is dominated by a painting of St. Francis feeding a moth to a starling. On the floor before the painting is this tableau, life-sized in painted marble.
A parade in Arlington National Cemetery led by Jesus, thirty three, driving a ’27 Model-T Ford truck, a “tin lizzie,” with J. Edgar Hoover standing in the truck bed wearing a tutu and waving to an unseen crowd. Marching behind him is Clarice Starling carring a .308 Enfield rifle at shoulder arms.

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Unit 46 – Tomoe Nage

Difficulty: Medium

Time: 4 minutes 30 seconds

This one is quite similar in style and format to a question that came up on the March 2012 GAMSAT in Ireland. It was themed on fishing, and required students to interpret both text and illustrations.

 

The material below has been adapted from ‘Judo Masterclass Techniques: Tomoe Nage’ by Katsuhiko Kashiwazaki

 

The success of this throw depends on two crucial elements; an effective break of balance and an extremely deep entry. Here we see demonstrated the standard sleeve/lapel grip. The kuzushi (breaking of balance) for tomoe nage is markedly different to most other judo throws. As can be seen from the photograph, I pull slightly up with both hands, but also outwards, to ‘open’ my opponent. It is a movement that is maintained throughout the throw: even when I am on my back, my arms are pulling wide. At the same time, I am starting my first step. Of course, in competition the number of steps will most likely need to be reduced, but it is best to begin a tomoe-nage study using a two-step entry.
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Unit 45 – Stockholm Syndrome

Difficulty: Medium

Time: 4 minutes 30 seconds

The passage below has been adapted from Culture and Religion – Sharia Law, from the iMinds series.

 

At first glance two of the 1970’s most notorious bank robberies would seem to have nothing in common. They occurred eight months apart, for different motives, on opposite sides of the globe. But these two incidents would prove seminal to the development and understanding of a curious and once controversial psychological condition; Stockholm Syndrome.
On the 15th of April 1974, the Sunset District branch of the Hibernia Bank in San Francisco was robbed. Security footage showed a young, attractive urban guerrilla brandishing a machine gun and ordering people in the bank to lie face down on the ground.
Bizarrely, the armed robber was wealthy heiress Patty Hearst, who had been kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army just two months before. The image of the then nineteen year old Patty was known across the globe as the victim of a brutal kidnapping. On the night of February 4 three members of the Symbionese Liberation Army had burst into her home and dragged her away, dressed only in her nightgown.
For over fifty days Patty was kept captive in a padded closet where she was constantly verbally and sexually abused by members of the Symbionese Liberation Army. Despite police efforts to find her, the first clue to her whereabouts was the security footage of her aiding her kidnappers to rob the Hibernia bank. Living as an outlaw with her kidnapers, Patty was ultimately arrested on 18 September 1975, exactly two years to the day from her kidnapping. She was subsequently tried for her involvement in the bank robbery.
During her trial, Hearst’s defence team argued that Patty had not acted criminally from her own free will, but rather that she had been suffering from a newly identified psychological condition called the Stockholm Syndrome. The intense media coverage of this sensantional trial seared Stockholm Syndrome into the public consciousness, Patty Hearst had become its most contentious and undoubtedly most famous victim.
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