After a nuclear power plant accident, researchers found radioactive isotopes of iodine, tellurium, and cesium- but no...

Golnar on January 14, 2020

Can't figure out the diagramming for this argument

Can you please diagram the conditional statements for this argument? I seem to be arriving at confusing conclusions when I diagram myself.

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Ben on January 14, 2020

Hi Golnar, thanks for the question!

This is a really tough question for a number of reasons. The subject matter isn't the most familiar to most readers, and there is just a ton of information.

While conditional statements do exist in this passage, I do not think that this passage calls for diagramming. This is my opinion because I do not see that the conditional reasoning would provide us with strong inferences that we couldn't otherwise deduce, and I don't see a clear way to link up the conditional statements to provide those deductions in the first place.

On top of the conditional reasoning (in my opinion) not being a central feature for this question, it is well disguised. The two conditional statements, if you did choose to diagram, would be as follows:

Material from fuel rods - > No tellurium

Material directly ejected from core - > Heavy isotopes

The very odd point here is that we are clearly told at the beginning that there is tellurium and that there are no heavy isotopes. This means that it is impossible for the source of the material to have been directly ejected from the core. Additionally, if it was from the fuel rods, then that is not alone enough to explain where all the material came from because there was tellurium.

The last bits of information given in the passage are that steam came in contact with the core and that the three materials found in the atmosphere are all contained in the core and moreover, they dissolve readily in steam.

Once we realize this, it almost shouts at us that these materials must have dissolved in the steam from the core, and this is how they were found in the atmosphere downwind, without any of the heavy isotopes that the core contains.

This is exactly what answer choice B says.

Again, this is one heck of a question. But it is worthwhile to see how conditional reasoning isn't always going to be the solution. Sometimes for these must be true/most supported, we will just need to crunch what is presented to us and find the answer choice that follows from the passage.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions!

on March 10, 2020

Okay, but what is the meaning of the word dissolved in this context then? If it were dissolved in the steam, how could we see remnants of it?

Filippo on June 14, 2020

I also had the same thought process. What does dissolve mean in this case?