The notion that growing old is a natural, inevitable part of life is so fixed in our culture that we rarely question it. But scientists like Richard Walker have been questioning it for a long time. When Walker saw on TV a girl who seemed to be “frozen in time”, he thought she could help him test his theory. She was 12 years old, but weighed just 6 kg and was 69 cm long. He had heard of other genetic diseases, such as progeria and Werner syndrome, which cause premature ageing in children and adults respectively. But her disease stopped development and apparently, Walker suspected, the ageing process.
Ageing happens because in human biology change never stops. From birth until puberty, change is crucial: we need to grow and mature. After we’ve matured, however, our adult bodies don’t need change. If you’ve built the perfect house, you would want to stop adding bricks at a certain point. However, there is no “stop switch” for development, so, unfortunately or not, we continue changing until we die.
If Walker’s team discover the cause of ageing, there will still be a long way to go. The researchers would need to obtain results in laboratory mice, which typically have a life expectancy of two or three years. Then they would have to find some therapy to achieve the same effects on people, and finally they’d have to begin long and expensive clinical trials to make sure that the treatment was safe and effective. Walker, now 74, is aware that it would come too late for him: “I feel like Moses – after wandering in the desert I can see but not enter the Promised Land.”
I * READING COMPREHENSION
CHOOSE AND WRITE THE CORRECT OPTION (A, B, C or D).
1. The girl in the TV show was like “frozen in time” because…
- (a) her parents kept her alive thanks to cold-induced therapy.
- (b) she suffered from progeria and was growing old extremely fast.
- (c) she had hardly changed from the time she was a little baby. X
- (d) she had stopped growing old physically but not psychologically.
2. Even after they find out the cause of ageing there is a long way to go because…
- (a) the process involves three different phases of tests that will take years. X
- (b) lab tests with rats usually take longer than 2 or 3 years.
- (c) Walker is old now and is impatient to get results so that he can save himself.
- (d) no anti-aging treatment can ever be found.
ARE THESE STATEMENTS TRUE OR FALSE? JUSTIFY YOUR ANSWERS WITH THE PRECISE WORDS OR PHRASES FROM THE TEXT
3. People normally assume that ageing is a biological fact of life.
- TRUE: “The notion that growing old is a natural, inevitable part of life is so fixed in our culture that we rarely question it” (lines 1-2).
4. Walker found inspiration to continue his research in order to prove his theories on a TV programme.
- TRUE: “When Walker saw on TV a girl who seemed to be “frozen in time”, he thought she could help him test his theory“(lines 2-3).
5. Werner syndrome is a disease that affects little children.
- FALSE: “other genetic diseases, such as progeria and Werner syndrome, which cause premature ageing in children and adults respectively” (lines 4-5).
6. Human beings need to grow and change all their life in order to stay strong and healthy.
II * USE OF ENGLISH
7. FIND IN THE TEXT THE WORD WHICH HAS THE FOLLOWING DEFINITION: “to move around usually without a clear purpose or direction”.
8. GIVE A NOUN WITH THE SAME ROOT AS “achieve” (verb).
9. FILL IN THE GAP WITH THE CORRECT FORM OF THE VERB IN BRACKETS:
“I … (study) when he came in.”
10. CHOOSE THE RIGHT OPTION:
- “Look ….! There‟s a dangerous dog in this garden.” for / out / after / off
11. FIND IN THE TEXT ONE OPPOSITE FOR “harmful” (adjective).
12. WHICH WORD DOES NOT HAVE THE SAME MEANING?
- ill / unwell / cheat / sick
13. REWRITE THE SENTENCE WITHOUT CHANGING ITS MEANING. BEGIN AS INDICATED: “The carpenter is repairing the shutters of Ann's bedroom tomorrow.”
14. GIVE A QUESTION FOR THE UNDERLINED WORDS:
“My grandma taught me to play the piano.”
15. REWRITE THE SENTENCE CORRECTLY:
“I would like have other cup of tea, please.”
- I would like to have another cup of tea, please.
16. TURN THE FOLLOWING SENTENCE INTO REPORTED SPEECH:
“Can you do me a favour?”, Liz asked me.
17. USE THE WORDS IN THE BOXES TO MAKE A MEANINGFUL SENTENCE. USE ALL AND ONLY THE WORDS IN THE BOXES WITHOUT CHANGING THEIR FORM.
has what I know she done don’t
III * PRODUCTION
18. WRITE A COMPOSITION OF APPROXIMATELY 120 WORDS ABOUT THE TOPIC PROPOSED. YOU MUST FOCUS STRICTLY ON IT:
- Describe how you would like your life to be in 10 or 20 years from now.