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#16 - Nuclear fusion is a process whereby the nuclei of

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Complete Question Explanation

The correct answer choice is (C)

The argumentation in this stimulus is fairly straightforward:

    Premise: ..... Fusion creates helium-4 as one of its by-products.

    Premise: ..... After the heavy water experiment, they found traces of helium-4.

    Conclusion: ..... Fusion was achieved (this was the conclusion of the “experimenters”).

The stimulus is followed by a Weaken question, so the correct answer choice will provide some basis for questioning the experimenters’ conclusion.

Answer choice (C) is the correct answer choice. If the amount of helium-4 was what would have been expected under normal circumstances, then the presence of helium-4 in the experiment chamber certainly doesn’t prove that fusion took place.

Answer choices (A), (B), and (E) are incorrect for related reasons. There is no way to assess, based on the limited information provided in the stimulus, the relevance of information such as the absence of other gases in the experiment chamber (answer choice A), or the relevance of normal by-products of fusion such as tritium, gamma rays (answer choice B), or heat (answer choice E). The author tells us only that helium-4 is “one of the by-products” of fusion. Answer choice (D) is incorrect for a different reason; if helium-4 rapidly breaks down, then its presence in the experiment chamber strengthens the experimenters’ conclusion.
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I chose the correct answer choice for this problem. One of my prephrase answers was in fact answer choice (C). Additionally, I eliminated the other answer choices for the following reasons:

[tab]The stimulus said "ONE of the by-products of fusion is helium-4 gas." Well, couldn't there be other by-products? With this reasoning, I attacked the answer choices[/tab]

A) If other gasses were found in the chamber, it could support the authors argument. Helium-4 was found, and x and y gasses were another byproduct of fusion.

B) "Several byproducts" fits into the authors argument

C) My prephrase - no additional byproducts. OK.

D) Fusion did occur, authors argument proved.

E) Large amounts of heat = energy released. Energy released = fusion. Eliminate.

Can you please let me know if my reasoning to eliminate answer choices (a)(b) and (e) were correct?
Adam Tyson
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Your approach to answers A and B looks good to me, andriana.caban - the author never said H4 was the only byproduct, so other gasses could be fine. We don't know if tritium or gamma rays happened, so maybe they did - also fine.

For answer E, I'm not sure what you're getting at there, but it's just like answer B - there was supposed to be a lot of heat, and we don't know from the stimulus that there wasn't, so perhaps there was. Think of heat as being just like any other byproduct - it was supposed to be there. If we knew it was not there, that would weaken, but if we are left wondering, then no problem.

As to answer D, by the way, I would not say that it proves the argument. All it tells us is that the H4 we found must have gotten there recently, and that doesn't prove that fusion happened. Maybe H4 is also a byproduct of, say, fission, and fission happened instead of fusion? Maybe it's a byproduct of whatever the experimenters had for lunch that day? Still, answer D doesn't weaken the argument, and it does strengthen at least a little by eliminating the possibility that it was just there in the air all along.

Overall, nice work! Keep that up!
Adam M. Tyson
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