New SAT Reading Practice Test 40: Bohr Letter

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Bohr Letter

The following passage is adapted from an open letter to the United Nations, written by Danish physicist and Nobel Prize winner Niels Bohr. Bohr completed important work on atomic structure long before World War II. After fleeing Denmark to escape the Nazis, he eventually went to work with the British as an adviser to U.S. scientists developing the first atomic bomb. The atomic bomb was then used to bring an end to World War II.

I address myself to the organization, founded
for the purpose to further co-operation between
The fear of being left behind was a strong
05incentive in various countries to explore, in secrecy,
the possibilities of using such energy sources for
military purposes. The joint American-British
project remained unknown to me until, after my
escape from occupied Denmark in the autumn of
101943, I came to England at the invitation of the
British government. At that time I was taken into
confidence about the great enterprise which had
already then reached an advanced stage.
Everyone associated with the atomic energy
15project was, of course, conscious of the serious
problems which would confront humanity once the
enterprise was accomplished.…
It certainly surpasses the imagination of anyone
to survey the consequences of the project in years
20to come, where in the long run the enormous ener-
gy sources which will be available may be expected
to revolutionize industry and transport. The fact
of immediate preponderance is, however, that a
weapon of an unparalleled power is being created
25which will completely change all future conditions
of warfare.
This situation raises a number of problems
which call for most urgent attention. Unless,
indeed, some agreement about the control of the
30use of the new active materials can be obtained in
due time, any temporary advantage, however great,
may be outweighed by a perpetual menace to
human security.
When the war ended and the great menaces of
35oppression to so many peoples had disappeared,
an immense relief was felt all over the world.
Nevertheless, the political situation was fraught
with ominous forebodings. Divergences in outlook
between the victorious nations inevitably aggravat-
40ed controversial matters arising in connection with
peace settlements. Contrary to the hopes for future
fruitful co-operation, expressed from all sides and
embodied in the Charter of the United Nations, the
lack of mutual confidence soon became evident.
45The creation of new barriers, restricting the free
flow of information between countries, further
increased distrust and anxiety.…
The very fact that knowledge is in itself the
basis for civilization points directly to openness as
50the way to overcome the present crisis. Whatever
judicial and administrative international authori-
ties may eventually have to be created in order to
stabilize world affairs, it must be realized that full
mutual openness, only, can effectively promote
55confidence and guarantee common security.
Any widening of the borders of our knowledge
imposes an increased responsibility on individuals
and nations through the possibilities it gives for
shaping the conditions of human life. The forceful
60admonition in this respect which we have received
in our time cannot be left unheeded and should
hardly fail in resulting in common understanding
of the seriousness of the challenge with which our
whole civilization is faced. It is just on this back-
65ground that quite unique opportunities exist to-day
for furthering co-operation between nations on the
progress of human culture in all its aspects.

1. What is the most likely intended purpose of this letter?

  • A. To discuss the implications of the military use of atomic energy
  • B. To explore the industrial potential of atomic energy development
  • C. To compare the shared atomic energy goals of members of the United Nations
  • D. To clarify the role of the United Nations in overseeing atomic energy use

2. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?

  • A. Lines 7-11 ("The joint … government")
  • B. Lines 11-13 ("At that time … stage")
  • C. Lines 14-17 ("Everyone … accomplished")
  • D. Lines 18-22 ("It certainly … transport")

3. As used in line 23, "preponderance" most nearly means

  • A. eminence.
  • B. importance.
  • C. majority.
  • D. prestige.

4. The passage most clearly suggests that Bohr's work before World War II

  • A. began as a nonmilitary pursuit.
  • B. led to the outbreak of the war.
  • C. resulted from industrialization.
  • D. undermined efforts to reach peace.

5. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?

  • A. Lines 4-7 ("The fear … purposes")
  • B. Lines 7-11 ("The joint … government")
  • C. Lines 22-26 ("The fact of … warfare")
  • D. Lines 27-28 ("This situation … attention")

6. As used in line 38, "divergences" most nearly means

  • A. differences.
  • B. misinterpretations.
  • C. perspectives.
  • D. rebellions.

7. What does Bohr claim happened after World War II "contrary to the hopes for fruitful cooperation" (lines 41-42)?

  • A. Countries decided to form the United Nations.
  • B. Knowledge became the driving force behind civilization.
  • C. Trust among nations declined because of political disagreements.
  • D. New judicial and administrative authorities were established.

8. The reference to knowledge in lines 48-50 ("The very fact … present crisis") primarily serves to

  • A. explain the important uses of atomic energy.
  • B. highlight the role of learning in societal progress.
  • C. posit the benefits of regulating scientific investigation.
  • D. justify the need for transparency among nations.

9. The author's position in the concluding paragraphs suggests that he would most likely support international

  • A. laws restricting the testing of nuclear bombs.
  • B. monitoring of countries' nuclear technologies.
  • C. regulation of nuclear power plants and materials.
  • D. sanctions on nations with nuclear weapons.

10. Lines 59-64 ("The forceful admonition … is faced") primarily serves to

  • A. emphasize the significance of the author's purpose.
  • B. explain the author's credentials regarding the subject.
  • C. offer evidence for a contrary point of view.
  • D. summarize the author's arguments and evidence.