Cambridge B2 First

B2 First - Reading Multiple Choice

The History Of Time

Read about the history of time, then answer the questions about the text, choosing either A, B, C or D as the best answer.

If you can read a clock, you can know the time of day. But no one knows what time itself is. We cannot see it. We cannot touch it. We cannot hear it. We know it only by the way we mark its passing. For all our success in measuring the smallest parts of time, time remains one of the great mysteries of the universe. One way to think about time is to imagine a world without time. There could be no movement, because time and movement cannot be separated. A world without time could exist only as long as there were no changes. For time and change are linked. We know that time has passed when something changes.

In the real world, the world with time, changes never stop. Some changes happen only once in a while, like an eclipse of the moon. Others happen repeatedly, like the rising and setting of the sun. Humans always have noted natural events that repeat themselves. When people began to count such events, they began to measure time. In early human history, the only changes that seemed to repeat themselves evenly were the movements of objects in the sky. The most easily seen result of these movements was the difference between light and darkness.

The sun rises in the eastern sky, producing light. It moves across the sky and sinks in the west, causing darkness. The appearance and disappearance of the sun was even and unfailing. The periods of light and darkness it created were the first accepted periods of time. We have named each period of light and darkness: one day.

People saw the sun rise higher in the sky during the summer than in winter. They counted the days that passed from the sun's highest position until it returned to that position. They counted three hundred and sixty-five days. We now know that is the time Earth takes to move once around the sun. We call this period of time a year.

Early humans also noted changes in the moon. As it moved across the night sky, they must have wondered: Why did it look different every night? Why did it disappear? Where did it go? Even before they learned the answers to these questions, they developed a way to use the changing faces of the moon to tell time. The moon was "full" when its face was bright and round and "new" when it was almost entirely dark. The early humans counted the number of times the sun appeared between full moons. They learned that this number always remained the same, about twenty-nine suns. Twenty-nine suns equalled one moon. We now know this period of time as one month.

Early humans hunted animals and gathered wild plants. They moved in groups or tribes from place to place in search of food. Then, people learned to plant seeds and grow crops. They learned to use animals to help them work, and for food. They found they no longer needed to move from one place to another to survive. As hunters, people did not need a way to measure time. As farmers, however, they had to plant crops in time to harvest them before winter. They had to know when the seasons would change. So, they were forced to developed calendars. No one knows when the first calendar was developed. But it seems possible that it was based on moons, or lunar months.

When people started farming, the wise men of the tribes became very important. They studied the sky. They gathered enough information so they could know when the seasons would change. They announced when it was time to plant crops.

source: voanews

1. Why is time such a difficult concept to understand?

    it's always changing

    it's always moving

    it's been misunderstood since pre-history

    it's not tangible

2. How were early humans able to begin measuring time?

    by counting the objects in the sky

    by working both at night and during the day

    the movements of objects they saw every day

    by following the sun to the west

3. How did the concept of seasons become understood?

    by tracking the sun's movements through the months

    by noting the differences in temperature

    by measuring the length of the days

    with the introduction of early calendars

4. How would an early human have defined a 'month'?

    the number of days between a full moon and a new moon

    the number of days from one phase of the moon's cycle and then back to the same point again

    the number of days for the sun and moon to be seen together

    the number of days between eclipses of the moon

5. Why did the move towards farming require a better understanding of time?

    so that crops were grown at the right time of the year

    because looking after animals required it

    because they needed to have traditional celebrations at the same time every year

    because they wanted to know when animals would give birth

6. What is the meaning of the word 'forced' in the penultimate paragraph?

    the wise men were given no choice

    the crops wouldn't grow without the calendars

    time became a lot more important

    it was critical for survival

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