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Thomas Young's Contributions to Science: IELTS Reading Passage With Questions & Answers

Updated on 09 February, 2024

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad abroad Editorial Team


Thomas Young was a polymath who left an indelible mark on the world of science. His interdisciplinary work spanned various fields, from physics to physiology. For IELTS aspirants, understanding complex historical and scientific texts is vital. This passage will explore Young's life and his groundbreaking work, providing a rich context for practice questions designed to prepare test-takers for the IELTS Reading section.


Thomas Young, a name that may not resonate as loudly as Newton or Einstein in the corridors of scientific fame, was nonetheless a pivotal figure in the early 19th century's scientific community. Born in 1773 in Milverton, Somerset, Young's intellectual prowess became evident early on. By the age of fourteen, he was conversant in Latin and Greek, and by adulthood, his linguistic proficiency expanded to include at least ten languages, earning him the title of a "prodigious" polymath.

Young's foray into the world of physics led to what would be known as the "Young's double-slit experiment," a cornerstone in the field of wave optics. His experiment demonstrated the interference pattern of light and thus supported the wave theory of light, which was contrary to the then-popular particle theory proposed by Newton. In physiology, Young's name is immortalized in the term "Young's modulus," a measure of the stiffness of an elastic material, showcasing his contributions to material science and engineering.

But perhaps Young's most publicly celebrated accomplishment was his work in deciphering the Rosetta Stone, which laid the foundation for Egyptology. Young's analysis of the demotic script paved the way for Jean-François Champollion to eventually crack the code of hieroglyphics.

Despite his monumental work, Young faced criticism from contemporaries, many of whom were staunch supporters of Newtonian physics. It wasn't until after his death in 1829 that Young's theories and findings gained widespread acceptance, cementing his status as a pioneer in the scientific community.


Q1. What was Thomas Young's nationality?

A. American

B. British

C. French

D. German

Q2. How many languages had Young mastered by adulthood?

A. Five

B. At least ten

C. Fifteen

D. Twenty

Q3. What scientific equipment is associated with Young's name in physics?

A. Young's telescope

B. Young's barometer

C. Young's double-slit

D. Young's pendulum

Q4. Thomas Young's work on the Rosetta Stone contributed to which field?

A. Botany

B. Egyptology

C. Zoology

D. Oceanography

Q5. True or False: Young's work was widely accepted and celebrated during his lifetime.

Q6. Young's modulus is a concept in:

A. Biology

B. Chemistry

C. Physics

D. Medicine

Q7. Fill in the blank: Thomas Young was born in the year ______.

A. 1673

B. 1773

C. 1873

D. 1973

Q8. What did Young's double-slit experiment support?

A. Particle theory of light

B. Wave theory of light

C. Quantum theory

D. Theory of relativity

Q9. True or False: Young's critics were mainly proponents of the wave theory of light.

Q10. Fill in the blank: The measure of stiffness in materials as defined by Young is called ______.

A. Young's ratio

B. Young's modulus

C. Young's constant

D. Young's coefficient

Answers & Explanations:

A1. B. British

Explanation: Thomas Young was born in Milverton, Somerset, which is in England, making him British.

A2. B. At least ten

Explanation: The passage mentions Young's linguistic abilities, stating he was proficient in at least ten languages by adulthood.

A3. C. Young's double-slit

Explanation: Young is well-known for the double-slit experiment, which played a significant role in understanding the wave nature of light.

A4. B. Egyptology

Explanation: Young's work on deciphering the Rosetta Stone contributed to the foundation of Egyptology, the study of ancient Egyptian history, language, and culture.

A5. False

Explanation: Young faced criticism during his life, especially from those who were supporters of Newtonian physics, and his work only gained widespread acceptance after his death.

A6. C. Physics

Explanation: Young's modulus is a term in physics that describes the stiffness of an elastic material.

A7. B. 1773

Explanation: The passage states that Thomas Young was born in 1773.

A8. B. Wave theory of light

Explanation: The double-slit experiment is known for demonstrating the interference pattern of light, supporting the wave theory over the particle theory of light.

A9. False

Explanation: Young's critics supported Newton's particle theory of light, not the wave theory which Young's experiment supported.

A10. B. Young's modulus

Explanation: The term "Young's modulus" is derived from Young's work and is used to describe the stiffness of materials.

IELTS Reading Test Preparation Tips:

Tip 1: Understand the context of the passage before attempting the questions. A clear grasp of the main ideas will help you choose the correct answers.

Tip 2: Pay close attention to dates, names, and terminologies. These are often the subject of direct questions in the reading section.

Tip 3: Practice skimming and scanning techniques. This will allow you to quickly identify key information in the passage that relates to the questions.

Tip 4: Enhance your vocabulary by learning words in context. This passage, for instance, provides terminology related to physics and history that can be useful in the exam.

Tip 5: Be mindful of traps in true/false questions. They often contain statements that are partially true, so it's important to consider the entire statement in the context of the passage.

By following these tips and thoroughly engaging with practice passages like the one provided, you can refine your IELTS reading skills and approach your exam with confidence.

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