LSAT Reading : Must Be True in Science Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for LSAT Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #15 : Science

Adapted from Are the Planets Inhabited? by E. Walter Maunder (1913)

What is a living organism? A living organism is such that, though it is continually changing its substance, its identity, as a whole, remains essentially the same. This definition is incomplete, but it gives us a first essential approximation, it indicates the continuance of the whole, with the unceasing change of the details. Were this definition complete, a river would furnish us with a perfect example of a living organism, because, while the river remains, the individual drops of water are continually changing. There is then something more in the living organism than the continuity of the whole, with the change of the details.

An analogy, given by Max Verworn, carries us a step further. He likens life to a flame, and takes a gas flame with its butterfly shape as a particularly appropriate illustration. Here the shape of the flame remains constant, even in its details. Immediately above the burner, at the base of the flame, there is a completely dark space; surrounding this, a bluish zone that is faintly luminous; and beyond this again, the broad spread of the two wings that are brightly luminous. The flame, like the river, preserves its identity of form, while its constituent details—the gases that feed it—are in continual change. But there is not only a change of material in the flame; there is a change of condition. Everywhere the gas from the burner is entering into energetic combination with the oxygen of the air, with evolution of light and heat. There is change in the constituent particles as well as change of the constituent particles; there is more than the mere flux of material through the form; there is change of the material, and in the process of that change energy is developed.

A steam-engine may afford us a third illustration. Here fresh material is continually being introduced into the engine there to suffer change. Part is supplied as fuel to the fire there to maintain the temperature of the engine; so far the illustration is analogous to that of the gas flame. But the engine carries us a step further, for part of the material supplied to it is water, which is converted into steam by the heat of the fire, and from the expansion of the steam the energy sought from the machine is derived. Here again we have change in the material with development of energy; but there is not only work done in the subject, there is work done by it.

But the living organism differs from artificial machines in that, of itself and by itself, it is continuously drawing into itself non-living matter, converting it into an integral part of the organism, and so endowing it with the qualities of life. And from this non-living matter it derives fresh energy for the carrying on of the life of the organism.

Based on the information given in the passage, which of the following statements must be true?

Possible Answers:

Scientific definitions are always extremely difficult to explain to laypeople.

A gas flame's multiple parts have not been well studied by scientists.

A steam engine needs constant monitoring to keep functioning.

The water contained in a river stays fairly constant throughout the length of the waterway.

Scientists do not have any good ideas about what defines a living organism.

Correct answer:

A steam engine needs constant monitoring to keep functioning.

Explanation:

The passage discusses many different comparisons, which means that there are not many in-depth descriptions in the passage. The description of a steam engine does focus on the fact that a machine is not a living organism, which does not need help in "continuously drawing into itself non-living matter." This leads to the fact that a steam engine absolutely needs a constant feeding in order to keep running.

Example Question #16 : Science

"Darwin and Wallace" (2016)

Alfred Russel Wallace developed what he termed “the tendency of varieties to depart from the original type” while on an extended research trip in Borneo. During earlier research in the Amazon basin, Wallace had observed that certain, highly similar species were often separated by a small distance, but some type of significant geographical barrier. Although he was halfway around the world, Wallace was keeping in touch with fellow scientists in his native Britain, including Charles Darwin, who was most notable at that time for a large book on barnacles and his trip around the world on the HMS Beagle over a decade and a half earlier.

When Wallace sent Darwin a letter in February of 1858, Wallace’s intention was merely to ask if his findings in Malaysia were consistent with Darwin’s private theorizing about the development of species. Darwin received the letter in June, and was astonished at what he read from Wallace. He fired off a letter to Charles Lyell, head of the prestigious scientific organization the Linnean Society. Lyell had previously expressed concern that Darwin’s long gestating theory of natural selection would be preempted by another researcher, expressing a strong likelihood it would be Wallace.

The custom among scientists at the time called for the first person to publish a theory to be given credit for it. Wallace was well on his way to publishing his own work, largely in the form of the letter he had sent Darwin. Lyell, who had been hearing about Darwin’s theory for fifteen years, believed that both men should receive some credit. With his position of authority at the Linnean Society, Lyell arranged to have a joint paper read at the last meeting before their summer break in 1858, which took place on the first of July. The meeting was relatively well attended for the time, with over thirty people in the audience, including two foreigners. The vast majority of them were there to hear a eulogy for Robert Brown, the Scottish botanist and former president of the Society, who had passed away in early June.

Neither Alfred Russell Wallace nor Charles Darwin were present at the meeting. Wallace was still in Southeast Asia, totally unaware that the joint paper was being presented, only being informed by a letter after the meeting. Darwin was in his native Kent, far away from London, burying his recently deceased baby son, Charles Waring Darwin, who had succumbed to scarlet fever just three days previously. Darwin gave Lyell and fellow scientist Robert Hooker Wallace’s letter, a letter he had written to the American researcher Asa Gray, and an essay he had written in 1844. He then told Lyell and Hooker that he was unable to attend.

Little was made of the joint reading. Only a few small reviews were made, none of which either greatly lauded or fiercely criticized the theory of natural selection. After this, Darwin left his home with his family, seeking to get away from the disease that killed his youngest child, and began a large book on the theory. Wallace kept traveling across the Malay Archipelago, finding new evidence for the theory everywhere he went.

Charles Darwin’s name would become indelibly linked with natural selection; in particular, its subsequent overarching idea of the evolution of human beings due to the big book he was writing, On the Origin of Species. Its publication in 1859 would revolutionize how scientists thought about natural history, biology, and even science’s relation to religion. Darwin would often retreat from public scrutiny and engagement. In his stead, it was often Alfred Russell Wallace, who had returned to England in 1862, defending what became known as “Darwin’s theory.” Wallace’s significant contribution to natural selection was recognized by scientists, but rarely by the public. Nonetheless, from prompting the initial publication of the idea to staunchly fighting for it, Alfred Russell Wallace was key to the development of evolution.

Based on the information presented in the passage, which of the following statements must be true?

Possible Answers:

Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species was rarely read outside of scientific circles.

Alfred Russell Wallace had no connections to the Linnean Society before the joint presentation in July of 1858.

Charles Darwin was little known in scientific circles before the joint presentation at the Linnean society.

The Linnean Society was a forum for the presentation of groundbreaking scientific research and papers.

Correct answer:

The Linnean Society was a forum for the presentation of groundbreaking scientific research and papers.

Explanation:

The key to the events presented in the passage is that a presentation at the Linnean Society would give primacy to the researcher who gave that presentation, making a joint presentation the only possibility which would give both Alfred Russell Wallace and Charles Darwin credit for their work. This shows that the Linnean Society was a venue in which there were many presentations of groundbreaking scientific research and papers.

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