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A Spark A flint: How Fire Leapt To Life: Reading Answers

Academic Test 1 – Passage 01: A Spark A flint: How Fire Leapt To Life reading answers and pdf summary. This reading paragraph has been taken from our huge collection of Academic & General Training (GT) Reading practice test PDF’s.

Check out A Spark A flint: How Fire Leapt To Life reading answers below with explanation and location given in the text:

QuestionsAnswers
1preserve
2unaware
3chance
4friction
5rotating
6percussion
7Eskimos
8despite
QuestionAnswerLocation of answer in text
9F“… the red phosphorus was non toxic”
10D“… three years later it was copied …”
11E“… since white phosphorus is a deadly poison …”
12C“The first matches resembling those used today …”
13G“… a brewery had the novel idea of advertising …”
14A“… a sealed glass tube …”
15C“… borrowed the formula from a military rocket- maker …”

IELTS reading module focuses on evaluating a candidate’s comprehension skills and ability to understand English. This is done by testing the reading proficiency through questions based on different structures and paragraphs (500-950 words each). There are 40 questions in total and hence it becomes extremely important to practice each and every question structure before actually sitting for the exam.

This reading passage mainly consists of following types of questions:

  • Summary completion
  • Match the following

We are going to read about the fascinating stories behind the discovery of fire. You must read the passage carefully and try to answer all questions correctly. 

A Spark A flint: How Fire Leapt To Life

The control of fire was the first and perhaps greatest of humanity’s steps towards a life-enhancing technology.

A Spark A flint: How Fire Leapt To Life reading answers
A Spark A flint: How Fire Leapt To Life

To early man, the fire was a divine gift randomly delivered in the form of lightning, forest fire, or burning lava. Unable to make flame for themselves, the earliest peoples probably stored fire by keeping slow-burning logs alight or by carrying charcoal in pots.

How and where man learned how to produce flame at will is unknown. It was probably a secondary invention, accidentally made during tool-making operations with wood or stone. Studies of primitive societies suggest that the earliest method of making fire was through friction. European peasants would insert a wooden drill in a round hole and rotate it briskly between their palms This process could be speeded up by wrapping a cord around the drill and pulling on each end.

The Ancient Greeks used lenses or concave mirrors to concentrate the sun’s rays and burning glasses were also used by Mexican Aztecs and the Chinese.

Percussion methods of firefighting date back to Paleolithic times, when some Stone Age tool-makers discovered that chipping flints produced sparks. The technique became more efficient after the discovery of iron, about 5000 years ago In Arctic North America, the Eskimos produced a slow-burning spark by striking quartz against iron pyrites, a compound that contains sulfur. The Chinese lit their fires by striking porcelain with bamboo. In Europe, the combination of steel, flint, and tinder remained the main method of firefighting until the mid 19th century.

Fire-lighting was revolutionized by the discovery of phosphorus, isolated in 1669 by a German alchemist trying to transmute silver into gold. Impressed by the element’s combustibility, several 17th-century chemists used it to manufacture fire-lighting devices, but the results were dangerously inflammable. With phosphorus costing the equivalent of several hundred pounds per ounce, the first matches were expensive.

The quest for a practical match really began after 1781 when a group of French chemists came up with the Phosphoric Candle or Ethereal Match, a sealed glass tube containing a twist of paper tipped with phosphorus. When the tube was broken, air rushed in, causing the phosphorus to self-combust. An even more hazardous device, popular in America, was the Instantaneous LightBox — a bottle filled with sulphuric acid into which splints treated with chemicals were dipped.

The first matches resembling those used today were made in 1827 by John Walker, an English pharmacist who borrowed the formula from a military rocket-maker called Congreve. Costing a shilling a box, Congreves were splints coated with sulphur and tipped with potassium chlorate. To light them, the user drew them quickly through folded glass paper.

Walker never patented his invention, and three years later it was copied by a Samuel Jones, who marketed his product as Lucifers. About the same time, a French chemistry student called Charles Sauria produced the first “strike-anywhere” match by substituting white phosphorus for the potassium chlorate in the Walker formula. However, since white phosphorus is a deadly poison, from 1845 match-makers exposed to its fumes succumbed to necrosis, a disease that eats away jaw-bones. It wasn’t until 1906 that the substance was eventually banned.

That was 62 years after a Swedish chemist called Pasch had discovered non-toxic red or amorphous phosphorus, a development exploited commercially by Pasch’s compatriot J E Lundstrom in 1885. Lundstrom’s safety matches were safe because the red phosphorus was non-toxic; it was painted onto the striking surface instead of the match tip, which contained potassium chlorate with a relatively high ignition temperature of 182 degrees centigrade.

America lagged behind Europe in match technology and safety standards. It wasn’t until 1900 that the Diamond Match Company bought a French patent for safety matches — but the formula did not work properly in the different climatic conditions prevailing in America and it was another 11 years before scientists finally adapted the French patent for the US.

The Americans, however, can claim several “firsts” in match technology and marketing. In 1892 the Diamond Match Company pioneered book matches. The innovation didn’t catch on until after 1896 when a brewery had the novel idea of advertising its product in matchbooks. Today book matches are the most widely used type in the US, with 90 percent handed out free by hotels, restaurants, and others.

Other American innovations include an anti-afterglow solution to prevent the match from smouldering after it has been blown out; and the waterproof match, which lights after eight hours in water.

Questions 1-8

Complete the summary of A Spark A flint: How Fire Leapt To Life below.

Choose your answers from the box at the bottom of the page and write them in boxes 1-8 on your answer sheet.

NB There are more words than spaces so you will not use them all You may use any of the words more than once.

EARLY FIRE-LIGHTING METHODS

Primitive societies saw fire as a … (Example) … gift. [Answer – heavenly]

They tried to … (1) … burning logs or charcoal ... (2) … that they could create fire themselves. It is suspected that the first man-made flames were produced by … (3) …


The very first fire-lighting methods involved the creation of ... (4) … by, for example, rapidly … (5) … a wooden stick in a round hole. The use of … (6) … or persistent chipping was also widespread in Europe and among other peoples such as the Chinese and … (7) … . European practice of this method continued until the 1850s … (8) … the discovery of phosphorus some years earlier.

A Spark A flint: How Fire Leapt To Life pdf summary.

Questions 9-15

Look at the following notes that have been made about the matches described in Reading Passage 01 – A Spark A flint: How Fire Leapt To Life.

Decide which type of match (A-H) corresponds with each description and write your answers in boxes 9-15 on your answer sheet.

NB There are more matches than descriptions so you will not use them all. You may use any match more than once.

          Example                                                                           Answer
could be lit after soaking in water                                              H

NOTES
9) made using a less poisonous type of phosphorus
10) identical to a previous type of match
11) caused a deadly illness
12) first to look like modern matches
13) first matches used for advertising
14) relied on an airtight glass container
15) made with the help of an army design

Types of Matches
A   the Ethereal Match
B   the Instantaneous Light box
C   Congreves
D   Lucifers
E   the first strike-anywhere match
F   Lundstrom’s safety match
G  book matches
H  waterproof matches.

Answers with Explanation

For in-depth understanding on how answers are chosen, carefully look at A Spark A flint: How Fire Leapt To Life reading answers explained below:

QuestionsTaskSkills tested
1-8Gap fill summary▪️ skimming for information
▪️ detailed understanding of a section of text
▪️ ability to paraphrase/re-word original text
9-15Matching (items to descriptions)▪️ skimming for specific information
▪️ understanding description/characteristics
▪️ understanding paraphrase
QuestionsAnswers
1preserve
2unaware
3chance
4friction
5rotating
6percussion
7Eskimos
8despite

Questions 9-15

(Suggested approach)

  • Read the task rubric carefully. In this task you have to decide which match is being described in each question.
  • Decide what information is best to skim for in the passage: the type of match or the description. In this question it is best to skim for the types of match as these are names, some of which are in italics, they are easier for you to pick out.
  • Skim through the text until you find match A, the Ethereal Match.
  • Read that section of the text and underline any important features of this match.
  • Read through the descriptions and write A next to any that fit this type of match.
  • If you think there is more than one possible description for the match, note A next to both. (The rubric states that you may use any match more than once. )
  • Towards the top of the second page of the text it states that the Ethereal Match consisted of a “sealed glass tube”, so A is the answer to question 14. Note that the description is expressed differently from the text. Sometimes you have to match the meaning rather than the words.
  • If you think none of the descriptions fits this type of match, go on to the next the rubric also states that there are not enough descriptions to fit all the matches.
QuestionAnswerLocation of answer in text
9F“… the red phosphorus was non toxic”
10D“… three years later it was copied …”
11E“… since white phosphorus is a deadly poison …”
12C“The first matches resembling those used today …”
13G“… a brewery had the novel idea of advertising …”
14A“… a sealed glass tube …”
15C“… borrowed the formula from a military rocket- maker …”
Have any doubts??? Discuss in the comments ...

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