Academic Reading: Passages

Academic Reading: Passages

Read the following information.

TOEFL Essentials Reading Sample Academic Passage

Something deadly might be wafting through the clouds shrouding Venus-a gas called phosphine that annihilates life forms reliant on oxygen for survival. Ironically, though the scientists who discovered this noxious gas in the Venusian atmosphere say it could be evidence of life on the planet. On rocky planets like Venus and Earth, phosphine can only be made by life whether human or microbe, Humans manufacture it for industrial purposes, but it is also made naturally by some species of anaerobic bacteria-organisms that live in oxygen-starved environments like landfills and marshlands. Researchers once surmised that finding the chemical on other terrestrial planets could indicate the presence of alien metabolisms. Now they believe they may have found signs of phosphine on Venus Put simply, phosphine should not be in the Venusian atmosphere. It is extremely hard to make and the chemistry in the clouds should destroy the molecule before it can accumulate to the observed amounts. It is just too early to conclude that life exists beyond Earth Scientists caution that the detection itself needs to be verified; the phosphine fingerprint described in the study could be a false signal introduced by the telescopes or by data processing.

What is the main topic of the passage?

Scientific uses for a newly discovered chemical

The effects of a particular gas on microorganisms

New findings that point to possible life beyond Earth

Ongoing research into the atmosphere of a nearby planet