SSAT Middle Level Reading : Determining Authorial Purpose in Narrative Science Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SSAT Middle Level Reading

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Science Passages

Adapted from “Humming-Birds: As Illustrating the Luxuriance of Tropical Nature” in Tropical Nature, and Other Essays by Alfred Russel Wallace (1878)

The food of hummingbirds has been a matter of much controversy. All the early writers down to Buffon believed that they lived solely on the nectar of flowers, but since that time, every close observer of their habits maintains that they feed largely, and in some cases wholly, on insects. Azara observed them on the La Plata in winter taking insects out of the webs of spiders at a time and place where there were no flowers. Bullock, in Mexico, declares that he saw them catch small butterflies, and that he found many kinds of insects in their stomachs. Waterton made a similar statement. Hundreds and perhaps thousands of specimens have since been dissected by collecting naturalists, and in almost every instance their stomachs have been found full of insects, sometimes, but not generally, mixed with a proportion of honey. Many of them in fact may be seen catching gnats and other small insects just like fly-catchers, sitting on a dead twig over water, darting off for a time in the air, and then returning to the twig. Others come out just at dusk, and remain on the wing, now stationary, now darting about with the greatest rapidity, imitating in a limited space the evolutions of the goatsuckers, and evidently for the same end and purpose. Mr. Gosse also remarks, ” All the hummingbirds have more or less the habit, when in flight, of pausing in the air and throwing the body and tail into rapid and odd contortions. This is most observable in the Polytmus, from the effect that such motions have on the long feathers of the tail. That the object of these quick turns is the capture of insects, I am sure, having watched one thus engaged pretty close to me.”

The purpose of this passage is __________.

Possible Answers:

to explain why one should feed a captive hummingbird insects and not flower nectar

to consider the opinions of scientists on what hummingbirds eat

to propose a definitive experiment about what hummingbirds eat

to critique the opinions of other scientists

to discuss the Polytmus’ feeding habits

Correct answer:

to consider the opinions of scientists on what hummingbirds eat

Explanation:

When answering questions about a passage’s purpose or main idea, it’s important to pick an answer choice that is broad enough to encompass the entire passage. For instance, while the Polytmus’ feeding habits are discussed in the passage, it can’t be said to be the purpose of the passage, since it’s only mentioned as a small detail. The passage can’t be said to critique the opinions of other scientists, because for the most part, the author quotes findings by scientists with whom he does not disagree. A definitive experiment is never proposed, and captive hummingbirds are never discussed. The passage does provide the opinions of scientists on what hummingbirds eat; this accurately captures the intent of the entire passage, not just some of its parts, and doesn’t state it too broadly.

Example Question #1 : Purpose And Effect Of Phrases Or Sentences In Natural Science Passages

Adapted from Volume Four of The Natural History of Animals: The Animal Life of the World in Its Various Aspects and Relations by James Richard Ainsworth Davis (1903)

The examples of protective resemblance so far quoted are mostly permanent adaptations to one particular sort of surrounding. There are, however, numerous animals which possess the power of adjusting their color more or less rapidly so as to harmonize with a changing environment.

Some of the best known of these cases are found among those mammals and birds that inhabit countries more or less covered with snow during a part of the year. A good instance is afforded by the Irish or variable hare, which is chiefly found in Ireland and Scotland. In summer, this looks very much like an ordinary hare, though rather grayer in tint and smaller in size, but in winter it becomes white with the exception of the black tips to the ears. Investigations that have been made on the closely allied American hare seem to show that the phenomenon is due to the growth of new hairs of white hue. 

The common stoat is subject to similar color change in the northern parts of its range. In summer it is of a bright reddish brown color with the exception of the under parts, which are yellowish white, and the end of the tail, which is black. But in winter, the entire coat, save only the tip of the tail, becomes white, and in that condition the animal is known as an ermine. A similar example is afforded by the weasel. The seasonal change in the vegetarian Irish hare is purely of protective character, but in such an actively carnivorous creature as a stoat or weasel, it is aggressive as well, rendering the animal inconspicuous to its prey.

Why is the American hare mentioned in the passage?

Possible Answers:

It is better at hiding than the Scottish hare.

Scientists have studied it to find out how a hare’s fur changes color.

It is another name for the Scottish hare.

It is a predator of the Scottish hare.

It is a type of hare that does not change color.

Correct answer:

Scientists have studied it to find out how a hare’s fur changes color.

Explanation:

The American hare is mentioned in the last line of the passage’s second paragraph, “Investigations that have been made on the closely allied American hare seem to show that the phenomenon is due to the growth of new hairs of white hue.” Here, the American hare is mentioned because “investigations” “have been made” on it, and those “investigations” “seem to show that the phenomenon is due to” something. We can tell from this context that in these “investigations,” scientists have studied how a hare’s fur changes color, since they are about what “the phenomenon is due to.” This means that “Scientists have studied it to find out how a hare’s fur changes color.” None of the other answer choices are supported by the passage.

Example Question #1 : Passage Based Questions

Adapted from Volume Four of The Natural History of Animals: The Animal Life of the World in Its Various Aspects and Relations by James Richard Ainsworth Davis (1903)

The examples of protective resemblance so far quoted are mostly permanent adaptations to one particular sort of surrounding. There are, however, numerous animals which possess the power of adjusting their color more or less rapidly so as to harmonize with a changing environment.

Some of the best known of these cases are found among those mammals and birds that inhabit countries more or less covered with snow during a part of the year. A good instance is afforded by the Irish or variable hare, which is chiefly found in Ireland and Scotland. In summer, this looks very much like an ordinary hare, though rather grayer in tint and smaller in size, but in winter it becomes white with the exception of the black tips to the ears. Investigations that have been made on the closely allied American hare seem to show that the phenomenon is due to the growth of new hairs of white hue. 

The common stoat is subject to similar color change in the northern parts of its range. In summer it is of a bright reddish brown color with the exception of the under parts, which are yellowish white, and the end of the tail, which is black. But in winter, the entire coat, save only the tip of the tail, becomes white, and in that condition the animal is known as an ermine. A similar example is afforded by the weasel. The seasonal change in the vegetarian Irish hare is purely of protective character, but in such an actively carnivorous creature as a stoat or weasel, it is aggressive as well, rendering the animal inconspicuous to its prey.

For what reason does the author describe the Irish hare as “vegetarian” in the underlined sentence?

Possible Answers:

To provide information about the hare's diet that the reader may not know

To provide insight about what food is available in arctic environments

To contrast the hare with the stoat and the weasel

To encourage the reader to switch to a vegetarian diet

To help readers empathize with the hare

Correct answer:

To contrast the hare with the stoat and the weasel

Explanation:

The underlined sentence is the last sentence of the third paragraph, “The seasonal change in the vegetarian Irish hare is purely of protective character, but in such an actively carnivorous creature as a stoat or weasel, it is aggressive as well, rendering the animal inconspicuous to its prey. One could reasonably infer that a hare would be vegetarian, so “To provide information about the hare’s diet that the reader may not know” cannot be the correct answer. The section doesn’t aim to help readers empathize with the hare any more than the stoat and weasel, so “To help readers empathize with the hare” cannot be correct either. The sentence doesn’t specifically encourage the reader to do anything; it is merely providing information about certain animals; so, “To encourage the reader to switch to a vegetarian diet” cannot be correct. “To provide insight about what food is available in arctic environments” doesn’t make sense either, because we are not told about the food specifically available in arctic environments; we can’t even assume that there are only plants available, as the stoat and weasel eat meat. That brings us to the correct answer: “To contrast the hare with the stoat and the weasel.” The word “vegetarian” specifically contrasts with the word “carnivorous” used later in the sentence to describe the stoat and weasel. This contrast mirrors the contrast of defensive and aggressive/defensive color-changing adaptations which the author is discussing in the sentence.

Example Question #1 : Determining Authorial Purpose In Narrative Science Passages

Adapted from Volume Four of The Natural History of Animals: The Animal Life of the World in Its Various Aspects and Relations by James Richard Ainsworth Davis (1903)

The examples of protective resemblance so far quoted are mostly permanent adaptations to one particular sort of surrounding. There are, however, numerous animals which possess the power of adjusting their color more or less rapidly so as to harmonize with a changing environment.

Some of the best known of these cases are found among those mammals and birds that inhabit countries more or less covered with snow during a part of the year. A good instance is afforded by the Irish or variable hare, which is chiefly found in Ireland and Scotland. In summer, this looks very much like an ordinary hare, though rather grayer in tint and smaller in size, but in winter it becomes white with the exception of the black tips to the ears. Investigations that have been made on the closely allied American hare seem to show that the phenomenon is due to the growth of new hairs of white hue. 

The common stoat is subject to similar color change in the northern parts of its range. In summer it is of a bright reddish brown color with the exception of the under parts, which are yellowish white, and the end of the tail, which is black. But in winter, the entire coat, save only the tip of the tail, becomes white, and in that condition the animal is known as an ermine. A similar example is afforded by the weasel. The seasonal change in the vegetarian Irish hare is purely of protective character, but in such an actively carnivorous creature as a stoat or weasel, it is aggressive as well, rendering the animal inconspicuous to its prey.

The purpose of the passage’s third paragraph is __________.

Possible Answers:

to describe an animal that has adapted to an unchanging environment

to describe why stoats and weasels have a hard time hunting Irish hares in winter

to provide an example of an animal that goes by two different names depending on its appearance

to provide an example color-change in animals that is both aggressive and defensive

to describe the appearance of a stoat in summer

Correct answer:

to provide an example color-change in animals that is both aggressive and defensive

Explanation:

When answering questions about a paragraph’s purpose, it’s helpful to consider how it relates to the rest of the passage as a whole, and to consider what each of the other paragraphs do in the context of the passage. For instance, in this passage, the first paragraph transitions from discussing animal adaptations in unchanging environments to discussing animal adaptations in changing environments. The second paragraph talks about Irish hares as an example of animals that change their fur color. So, what is the point of the third paragraph? While it does “provide an example of an animal that goes by two different names depending on its appearance” and “describe the appearance of a stoat in summer,” neither of these is its main point; these are details, and neither seems to relate that much to the points of the previous paragraphs. Stoats and weasels are not described as specifically hunting Irish hares, and the passage describes how their changing fur color helps them be better hunters, not why they have such a hard time hunting, so “to describe why stoats and weasels have a hard time hunting Irish hares in winter” cannot be the correct answer either. The point of the paragraph cannot be “to describe an animal that has adapted to an unchanging environment” either, because it describes stoats and weasels, animals that adapt to changing environments. This leaves us with one answer, the correct one: “to provide an example color-change in animals that is both aggressive and defensive.” The examples of stoats and weasels both fall into this category, which is contrasted with the purely defensive function of color-change in hares in the passage’s last sentence.

Example Question #2 : Determining Authorial Purpose In Narrative Science Passages

Adapted from "The Man-Like Apes" by T. H. Huxley in A Book of Natural History (1902, ed. David Starr Jordan)

The orangutan is found only in Sumatra and Borneo, and is common in either of these islands—in both of which it occurs always in low, flat plains, never in the mountains. It loves the densest and most sombre of the forests, which extend from the seashore inland, and thus is found only in the eastern half of Sumatra, where alone such forests occur, though, occasionally, it strays over to the western side. On the other hand, it is generally distributed through Borneo, except in the mountains, or where the population is dense. In favorable places the hunter may, by good fortune, see three or four in a day.

Except in the pairing time, the old males usually live by themselves. The old females and the immature males, on the other hand, are often met with in twos and threes, and the former occasionally have young with them, though the pregnant females usually separate themselves, and sometimes remain apart after they have given birth to their offspring. The young orangs seem to remain unusually long under their mother’s protection, probably in consequence of their slow growth. While climbing, the mother always carries her young against her bosom, the young holding on by the mother’s hair. At what time of life the orangutan becomes capable of propagation, and how long the females go with young is unknown, but it is probable that they are not adult until they arrive at ten or fifteen years of age. A female which lived for five years at Batavia had not attained one-third the height of the wild females. It is probable that, after reaching adult years, they go on growing, though slowly, and that they live to forty or fifty years. The Dyaks tell of old orangs that have not only lost all their teeth, but which find it so troublesome to climb that they maintain themselves on windfalls and juicy herbage.

The primary purpose of this passage is to __________.

Possible Answers:

describe the close bond between orangutans and the people of Borneo and Sumatra

attempt to preserve a living record of the almost-extinct orangutans

explain the process of child-rearing among orangutans

describe the habitats of orangutans and how long they live

encourage a deeper affection for orangutans amongst the author’s audience

Correct answer:

describe the habitats of orangutans and how long they live

Explanation:

This passage is divided into two portions. The first paragraph deals with the natural habitats of orangutans among the dense forests of Borneo and Sumatra. The second paragraph is primarily concerned with the speed at which orangutans age and how long they live. Although there are extensive mentions of the “process of child-rearing” among the orangutans, this seems to be part of a larger explanation of the longevity and life span of orangutans. It is partially correct, but less complete than the correct answer. The other answer choices each suggest a motive that there is simply no evidence to support.

Example Question #21 : Textual Relationships In Science Passages

Adapted from "The Wild Llama" by Charles Darwin in A Book of Natural History (1902, ed. David Starr Jordan)

The wild llama is the characteristic quadruped of the plains of Patagonia; it is the South American representative of the camel in the East. It is an elegant animal in a state of nature, with a long slender neck and fine legs. It is very common over the whole of the temperate parts of the continent, as far south as the islands near Cape Horn. It generally lives in small herds of from half a dozen to thirty in each, but on the banks of the St. Cruz we saw one herd which must have contained at least five hundred.

They are generally wild and extremely wary. Mr. Stokes told me that he one day saw through a glass a herd of these animals which evidently had been frightened and were running away at full speed, although they were so far away that he could not distinguish them with his naked eye. The sportsman frequently receives the first notice of their presence by hearing from a long distance their peculiar shrill, neighing note of alarm. If he then looks attentively, he will probably see the herd standing in a line on the side of some distant hill. On approaching nearer, a few more squeals are given, and off they set at an apparently slow, but really quick canter, along some narrow beaten track to a neighboring hill. If, however, by chance, he abruptly meets a single animal, or several together, they will generally stand motionless and intently gaze at him, then perhaps move on a few yards, turn round, and look again. What is the cause of this difference in their shyness? Do they mistake a man in the distance for their chief enemy, the puma? Or does curiosity overcome their timidity?

The primary purpose of the first paragraph is __________.

Possible Answers:

To provide some introductory information about wild llamas

To describe the size of herds that llamas like to move in

To characterize llamas as wild and unpredictable

To introduce the author’s argument that llamas are dangerous

To explain where wild llamas can be found in the wild

Correct answer:

To provide some introductory information about wild llamas

Explanation:

The primary purpose of the first paragraph is to provide some introductory information about wild llamas. Although the author does describe the size of the herds in which they move and explains where they can be found in the wild, the fact that he does each of these means that we cannot say that either is his primary purpose. Instead, both are part of the larger purpose of providing some introduction. The author does not go on to characterize the behavior of llamas until the second paragraph.

Example Question #3 : Determining Authorial Purpose In Narrative Science Passages

Adapted from "Birds’ Nests" by John Burroughs in A Book of Natural History (1902, ed. David Starr Jordan)

The woodpeckers all build in about the same manner, excavating the trunk or branch of a decayed tree, and depositing the eggs on the fine fragments of wood at the bottom of the cavity. Though the nest is not especially an artistic work, requiring strength rather than skill, yet the eggs and the young of few other birds are so completely housed from the elements, or protected from their natural enemies—the jays, crows, hawks, and owls. A tree with a natural cavity is never selected, but one which has been dead just long enough to have become soft and brittle throughout. The bird goes in horizontally for a few inches, making a hole perfectly round and smooth and adapted to his size, then turns downward, gradually enlarging the hole, as he proceeds, to the depth of ten, fifteen, twenty inches, according to the softness of the tree and the urgency of the mother bird to deposit her eggs. While excavating, male and female work alternately. After one has been engaged fifteen or twenty minutes, drilling and carrying out chips, it ascends to an upper limb, utters a loud call or two, when its mate soon appears, and, alighting near it on the branch, the pair chatter and caress a moment; then the fresh one enters the cavity and the other flies away.

The main purpose of this passage is __________.

Possible Answers:

to outline the unusual behavior of woodpeckers

to describe how woodpeckers build their nests

to argue against the needless slaughter of woodpeckers

to examine the process by which a woodpecker chooses a tree for its nest

to highlight the close relationship between male and female woodpeckers

Correct answer:

to describe how woodpeckers build their nests

Explanation:

From start to finish, this passage is about the process by which a woodpecker builds its nest. Although there is some discussion of the unusual behavior of woodpeckers, the close relationship between males and females, and a short examination into how a woodpecker chooses its nest, these three elements combine as part of the main purpose: describing the process of nest-building among woodpeckers.

Example Question #24 : Science Passages

Adapted from "The Greatest Sea-Wave Ever Known" by R. A. Proctor in Wonders of Earth, Sea, and Sky (1902, ed. Edward Singleton Holden)

It was at Arequipa, at the foot of the lofty volcanic mountain Misti, that the most terrible effects of the great earthquake were experienced. Within historic times, Misti has poured forth no lava streams, but that the volcano is not extinct is clearly evidenced by the fact that in 1542 an enormous mass of dust and ashes was vomited forth from its crater. On August 13th, 1868, Misti showed no signs of being disturbed. So far as the volcanic neighbor was concerned, the forty-four thousand inhabitants of Arequipa had no reason to anticipate the catastrophe which presently befell them.

At five minutes past five, an earthquake shock was experienced, which, though severe, seems to have worked little mischief. Half a minute later, however, a terrible noise was heard beneath the earth; a second shock more violent than the first was felt, and then began a swaying motion, gradually increasing in intensity. In the course of the first minute, this motion had become so violent that the inhabitants ran in terror out of their houses into the streets and squares. In the next two minutes, the swaying movement had so increased that the more lightly built houses were cast to the ground, and the flying people could scarcely keep their feet. "And now," says Von Tschudi, "there followed during two or three minutes a terrible scene. The swaying motion changed into fierce vertical upheaval. The subterranean roaring increased in the most terrifying manner; then were heard the heart-piercing shrieks of the wretched people, the bursting of walls, the crashing fall of houses and churches, while over all rolled thick clouds of a yellowish-black dust, which, had they been poured forth many minutes longer, would have suffocated thousands." Although the shocks had lasted but a few minutes, the whole town was destroyed. Not one building remained uninjured, and there were few that did not lie in shapeless heaps of ruins.

The fact that Misti has “poured forth no lava streams” is meant to suggest that __________.

Possible Answers:

The volcano should have been assumed to be extinct.

The inhabitants were foolish to assume they were safe.

The volcano was extinct.

The volcano was known to be dangerous.

The inhabitants were taken completely by surprise.

Correct answer:

The inhabitants were taken completely by surprise.

Explanation:

In context, the author says, “Within historic times, Misti has poured forth no lava streams, but that the volcano is not extinct is clearly evidenced by the fact that in 1542 an enormous mass of dust and ashes was vomited forth from its crater.” It is important to consider the greater context of this part of the passage. In the opening few lines, the author is trying to explain to his audience how unexpected the volcanic eruption was to the people of Arequipa, as is evidenced when he says, "the forty-four thousand inhabitants of Arequipa had no reason to anticipate the catastrophe which presently befell them.” So, when the author says that Misti has “poured forth no lava streams,” he is highlighting the understanding of the volcano from the perspective of the people who lived nearby. The “enormous mass of dust and ashes [that] was vomited forth from its crater” perhaps highlights how the “inhabitants were foolish to assume they were safe.”

Example Question #4 : Determining Authorial Purpose In Narrative Science Passages

Adapted from "The Greatest Sea-Wave Ever Known" by R. A. Proctor in Wonders of Earth, Sea, and Sky (1902, ed. Edward Singleton Holden)

The inhabitants of the Sandwich Islands, which lie about six thousand three hundred miles from Arica—a city in Chile, might have imagined themselves safe from any effects that could be produced by an earthquake taking place so far away from them. But on the night between August 13th and 14th, the sea around this island group rose in a surprising manner, and many thought the islands were sinking, and would shortly subside altogether beneath the waves. Some of the smaller islands, indeed, were for a time completely submerged. Before long, however, the sea fell again, and as it did so the observers "found it impossible to resist the impression that the islands were rising bodily out of the water." For no less than three days this strange oscillation of the sea continued to be experienced, the most remarkable ebbs and floods being noticed at Honolulu, on the island of Woahoo.

But the sea-wave swept onward far beyond these islands. At Yokohama, in Japan, more than ten thousand five hundred miles from Arica, an enormous wave poured in on August 14th, but at what hour we have no satisfactory record. So far as distance is concerned, this wave affords most surprising evidence of the stupendous nature of the disturbance to which the waters of the Pacific Ocean had been subjected. The whole circumference of the earth is but twenty-five thousand miles, so that this wave had traveled over a distance considerably greater than two-fifths of the earth's circumference. A distance which the swiftest of our ships could not traverse in less than six or seven weeks had been swept over by this enormous undulation in the course of a few hours.

The underlined final sentence is meant to highlight __________.

Possible Answers:

how destructive the sea-wave was

the distance the wave traveled

how feared the sea-wave was

the speed at which the wave traveled

how limited modern technology was

Correct answer:

the speed at which the wave traveled

Explanation:

The underlined final sentence reads as follows: “A distance which the swiftest of our ships could not traverse in less than six or seven weeks had been swept over by this enormous undulation in the course of a few hours.” Although the author has for the most part been focusing on the massive distance traveled by the sea-wave, here he is focusing on the speed at which the wave traveled. The speed of the sea-wave is compared to the “swiftest” (fastest) of the ships at the time, and the author notes that the wave has traveled the great distance in a much faster time than the ships of the author’s time could.

Example Question #5 : Determining Authorial Purpose In Narrative Science Passages

Adapted from "The Stars" by Sir Robert S. Ball in Wonders of Earth, Sea, and Sky (1902, ed. Edward Singleton Holden)

We are about to discuss one of the grandest truths in the whole of nature. We have had occasion to see that this sun of ours is a magnificent globe immensely larger than the greatest of its planets, while the greatest of these planets is immensely larger than this earth; but now we are to learn that our sun is, indeed, only a star not nearly so bright as many of those that shine over our heads every night. We are comparatively close to the sun, so that we are able to enjoy its beautiful light and cheering heat. Each of those other myriads of stars is a sun, and the splendor of those distant suns is often far greater than that of our own. We are, however, so enormously far from them that they appear dwindled down to insignificance.

To judge impartially between our sun or star and such a sun or star as Sirius, we should stand halfway between the two; it is impossible to make a fair estimate when we find ourselves situated close to one star and a million times as far from the other. After allowance is made for the imperfections of our point of view, we are enabled to realize the majestic truth that the sun is no more than a star, and that the other stars are no less than suns. This gives us an imposing idea of the extent and magnificence of the universe in which we are situated. Look up at the sky at night—you will see a host of stars; try to think that every one of them is itself a sun. It may be that those suns have planets circling round them, but it is hopeless for us to expect to see such planets. Were you standing on one of those stars and looking towards our system, you would not perceive the sun to be the brilliant and gorgeous object that we know so well. If you could see it at all, it would merely seem like a star, not nearly as bright as many of those you can see at night. Even if you had the biggest of telescopes to aid your vision, you could never discern from one of these bodies the planets which surround the sun; no astronomer in the stars could see Jupiter, even if his sight were a thousand times as powerful as any sight or telescope that we know. So minute an object as our Earth would, of course, be still more hopelessly beyond the possibility of vision.

Which of these is LEAST likely to be part of the author’s purpose in writing this passage?

Possible Answers:

To explain the nature of stars and the sun

To highlight the vast grandeur of space

To undermine existing telescope technology

To place Earth in a relative position in space

To explain the imperfect human point of view with regards to the cosmos

Correct answer:

To undermine existing telescope technology

Explanation:

The author’s purpose in writing this passage seems to be a combination of several motivations. Practically, he wishes to inform his audience about the simple fact that a star is also a sun and our sun is also a star. More than this, he wants to make several more theoretical conclusions known. These include placing Earth in a relative position in space and explaining the imperfect human point of view, as seen in “To judge impartially between our sun or star and such a sun or star as Sirius, we should stand halfway between the two; it is impossible to make a fair estimate when we find ourselves situated close to one star and a million times as far from the other.” These theoretical conclusions also include highlighting the grandeur of space, as seen throughout the passage, but most clearly in “This gives us an imposing idea of the extent and magnificence of the universe in which we are situated.” Now, although the author makes a few references to the limitations of telescope technology, such as when he says “Even if you had the biggest of telescopes to aid your vision, you could never discern from one of these bodies the planets which surround the sun; no astronomer in the stars could see Jupiter, even if his sight were a thousand times as powerful as any sight or telescope that we know.” It is likely that he is trying to express the vastness and magnificence of space by highlighting how little we can see, rather than trying to “undermine existing technology.”

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