Given the information in the passage, which one of the following, if true, would have been most likely to reduce the ...

shafieiava on March 6, 2020

Did not in answer choice B

I am confused as to why answer choice B reads that the scientists did NOT have a particular expectation.... Given the question stem I thought that if the scientists did indeed have the expectation of the results that they would have recognized them? The not in the answer choice here threw me off here. Can someone explain why it doesn't disqualify the answer choice? Thanks in advance.

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Victoria on March 6, 2020

Hi @shafieiava,

Happy to help!

We are looking for the answer choice which, if true, would have likely reduced the amount of time that it took for physicists to realize that atoms were being split.

The passage tells us that researchers were not receptive to the possibility that bombarding uranium with neutrons might break the atoms apart. Prior to Meitner's discovery, scientists largely believed that a neutron breaking uranium apart "would be analogous to a pebble, thrown through a window, causing a house to collapse" (lines 22-25).

We also learn that the by-products were not identified in part because only minimal amounts were produced, but "more significantly because of the expectation that they would all be elements close to uranium in nuclear composition" (lines 30-36).

The passage ends by telling us that "the relevant evidence had been present for some time, lacking mainly the right conceptual link" (lines 62-64).

Overall, the reason that it took so long for physicists to realize that the atoms were being split by neutron bombardment was because they did not expect that this was possible and so, were looking for any other possible result.

This is why answer choice (B) is correct. If the physicists did not have particular expectations regarding the likely composition of the by-products, then they would have been receptive to the possibility that the by-products were not similar to uranium in composition and were the result of splitting the atoms themselves apart. It was the scientists' preconceived notions regarding nuclear physics (in other words, the "particular expectations" which they DID have) which precluded them from reaching this conclusion until Meitner's revelation.

Hope this is helpful! Please let us know if you have any further questions.