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# One of the foundations of scientific research is that an experimental

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One of the foundations of scientific research is that an experimental  [#permalink]

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Updated on: 01 Dec 2019, 20:33
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LSAT September 2006, Passage #4: Riddled Basins of Attraction

Similar to the Maize passage, the first paragraph of this passage is fairly easy to understand (it discusses the replication of experimental results in fairly clear terms). Thereafter, the passage discusses “riddled basins of attraction” and fractals as an analogy of systems where replicating results can be impossible. Those portions of the passage lead most students to feel that the passage was impossible.

One of the foundations of scientific research is that an experimental result is credible only if it can be replicated—only if performing the experiment a second time leads to the same result. But physicists John Sommerer and Edward Ott have conceived of a physical system in which even the least change in the starting conditions—no matter how small, inadvertent, or undetectable—can alter results radically. The system is represented by a computer model of a mathematical equation describing the motion of a particle placed in a particular type of force field.

Sommerer and Ott based their system on an analogy with the phenomena known as riddled basins of attraction. If two bodies of water bound a large landmass and water is spilled somewhere on the land, the water will eventually make its way to one or the other body of water, its destination depending on such factors as where the water is spilled and the geographic features that shape the water’s path and velocity. The basin of attraction for a body of water is the area of land that, whenever water is spilled on it, always directs the spilled water to that body.

In some geographical formations it is sometimes impossible to predict, not only the exact destination of the spilled water, but even which body of water it will end up in. This is because the boundary between one basin of attraction and another is riddled with fractal properties; in other words, the boundary is permeated by an extraordinarily high number of physical irregularities such as notches or zigzags. Along such a boundary, the only way to determine where spilled water will flow at any given point is actually to spill it and observe its motion; spilling the water at any immediately adjacent point could give the water an entirely different path, velocity, or destination.

In the system posited by the two physicists, this boundary expands to include the whole system: i.e., the entire force field is riddled with fractal properties, and it is impossible to predict even the general destination of the particle given its starting point. Sommerer and Ott make a distinction between this type of uncertainty and that known as “chaos”; under chaos, a particle’s general destination would be predictable but its path and exact destination would not.

There are presumably other such systems because the equation the physicists used to construct the computer model was literally the first one they attempted, and the likelihood that they chose the only equation that would lead to an unstable system is small. If other such systems do exist, metaphorical examples of riddled basins of attraction may abound in the failed attempts of scientists to replicate previous experimental results—in which case, scientists would be forced to question one of the basic principles that guide their work.
1) Which one of the following most accurately expresses the main point of the passage?

(A) Sommerer and Ott’s model suggests that many of the fundamental experimental results of science are unreliable because they are contaminated by riddled basins of attraction.
(B) Sommerer and Ott’s model suggests that scientists who fail to replicate experimental results might be working within physical systems that make replication virtually impossible.
(C) Sommerer and Ott’s model suggests that experimental results can never be truly replicated because the starting conditions of an experiment can never be re-created exactly.
(D) Sommerer and Ott’s model suggests that most of the physical systems studied by scientists are in fact metaphorical examples of riddled basins of attraction.
(E) Sommerer and Ott’s model suggests that an experimental result should not be treated as credible unless that result can be replicated.

2) The discussion of the chaos of physical systems is intended to perform which one of the following functions in the passage?

(A) emphasize the extraordinarily large number of physical irregularities in a riddled basin of attraction
(B) emphasize the unusual types of physical irregularities found in Sommerer and Ott’s model
(C) emphasize the large percentage of a riddled basin of attraction that exhibits unpredictability
(D) emphasize the degree of unpredictability in Sommerer and Ott’s model
(E) emphasize the number of fractal properties in a riddled basin of attraction

3) Given the information in the passage, Sommerer and Ott are most likely to agree with which one of the following?

(A) It is sometimes impossible to determine whether a particular region exhibits fractal properties.
(B) It is sometimes impossible to predict even the general destination of a particle placed in a chaotic system.
(C) It is sometimes impossible to re-create exactly the starting conditions of an experiment.
(D) It is usually possible to predict the exact path water will travel if it is spilled at a point not on the boundary between two basins of attraction.
(E) It is usually possible to determine the path by which a particle traveled given information about where it was placed and its eventual destination.

4) Which one of the following most accurately describes the author’s attitude toward the work of Sommerer and Ott?

(A) skeptical of the possibility that numerous unstable systems exist but confident that the existence of numerous unstable systems would call into question one of the foundations of science
(B) convinced of the existence of numerous unstable systems and unsure if the existence of numerous unstable systems calls into question one of the foundations of science
(C) convinced of the existence of numerous unstable systems and confident that the existence of numerous unstable systems calls into question one of the foundations of science
(D) persuaded of the possibility that numerous unstable systems exist and unsure if the existence of numerous unstable systems would call into question one of the foundations of science
(E) persuaded of the possibility that numerous unstable systems exist and confident that the existence of numerous unstable systems would call into question one of the foundations of science

5) According to the passage, Sommerer and Ott’s model differs from a riddled basin of attraction in which one of the following ways?

(A) In the model, the behavior of a particle placed at any point in the system is chaotic; in a riddled basin of attraction, only water spilled at some of the points behaves chaotically.
(B) In a riddled basin of attraction, the behavior of water spilled at any point is chaotic; in the model, only particles placed at some of the points in the system behave chaotically.
(C) In the model, it is impossible to predict the destination of a particle placed at any point in the system; in a riddled basin of attraction, only some points are such that it is impossible to predict the destination of water spilled at each of those points.
(D) In a riddled basin of attraction, water spilled at two adjacent points always makes its way to the same destination; in the model, it is possible for particles placed at two adjacent points to travel to different destinations.
(E) In the model, two particles placed successively at a given point always travel to the same destination; in a riddled basin of attraction, water spilled at the same point on different occasions may make its way to different destinations.

6) Which one of the following best defines the term “basin of attraction,” as that term is used in the passage?

(A) the set of all points on an area of land for which it is possible to predict the destination, but not the path, of water spilled at that point
(B) the set of all points on an area of land for which it is possible to predict both the destination and the path of water spilled at that point
(C) the set of all points on an area of land that are free from physical irregularities such as notches and zigzags
(D) the set of all points on an area of land for which water spilled at each point will travel to a particular body of water
(E) the set of all points on an area of land for which water spilled at each point will travel to the same exact destination

7) Which one of the following is most clearly one of the “metaphorical examples of riddled basins of attraction” mentioned in lines 52–53?

(A) A scientist is unable to determine if mixing certain chemicals will result in a particular chemical reaction because the reaction cannot be consistently reproduced since sometimes the reaction occurs and other times it does not despite starting conditions that are in fact exactly the same in each experiment.
(B) A scientist is unable to determine if mixing certain chemicals will result in a particular chemical reaction because the reaction cannot be consistently reproduced since it is impossible to bring about starting conditions that are in fact exactly the same in each experiment.
(C) A scientist is unable to determine if mixing certain chemicals will result in a particular chemical reaction because the reaction cannot be consistently reproduced since it is impossible to produce starting conditions that are even approximately the same from one experiment to the next.
(D) A scientist is able to determine that mixing certain chemicals results in a particular chemical reaction because it is possible to consistently reproduce the reaction even though the starting conditions vary significantly from one experiment to the next.
(E) A scientist is able to determine that mixing certain chemicals results in a particular chemical reaction because it is possible to consistently reproduce the reaction despite the fact that the amount of time it takes for the reaction to occur varies significantly depending on the starting conditions of the experiment.

shoutout to:
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warriorguy
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gmatexam439
duahsolo
Vyshak

Guys try this passage.

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https://gmatclub.com/forum/700-q47-v39-ir-7-awa-246682.html

Originally posted by jkolachi on 27 May 2017, 07:42.
Last edited by gmat1393 on 01 Dec 2019, 20:33, edited 2 times in total.
Updated - Complete topic (712).
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Re: One of the foundations of scientific research is that an experimental  [#permalink]

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28 May 2017, 00:32
Can someone pls explain that how is the 3rd question "C" and not "D" ?
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Re: One of the foundations of scientific research is that an experimental  [#permalink]

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28 May 2017, 05:36
PranavSomani wrote:
Can someone pls explain that how is the 3rd question "C" and not "D" ?

PranavSomani

If you read carefully, the third para clearly clearly addresses this issue. While one may be slightly confused with the 1st half of third para, but this line ("Along such a boundary, the only way to determine where spilled water will flow at any given point is actually to spill it and observe its motion") makes it amply clear that author does not believe that it is usually possible to predict the exact path water will travel. Hence, D is out.

Wrt C, para 4 addresses it to a great extent, and para 5 makes it very clear.
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Re: One of the foundations of scientific research is that an experimental  [#permalink]

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25 Jun 2017, 05:54
shailabh wrote:
PranavSomani wrote:
Can someone pls explain that how is the 3rd question "C" and not "D" ?

PranavSomani

If you read carefully, the third para clearly clearly addresses this issue. While one may be slightly confused with the 1st half of third para, but this line ("Along such a boundary, the only way to determine where spilled water will flow at any given point is actually to spill it and observe its motion") makes it amply clear that author does not believe that it is usually possible to predict the exact path water will travel. Hence, D is out.

Wrt C, para 4 addresses it to a great extent, and para 5 makes it very clear.

What you have answered to PranavSomani is applicable only when the water is dropped in the boundary between two basins of attraction. Well as option D clearly states that water is NOT dropped on the boundary between two basins of attraction.

The reason option D is wrong is because even if water is NOT dropped on the boundary between two basins of attraction , rather water is dropped on one basin of attraction then the destination is predictable NOT the exact path. The destination is the body of water into which the drop of water will finally land.
No where in the passage does it state that dropping water anywhere on the basin of attraction will always have the same EXACT PATH to the relevant water body.

Which water body water will go is predictable NOT the exact path. But when water is dropped in the boundary and NOT on any particular basin of attraction then nothing is predictable .

Hence option C is correct.

Hope it helps.
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Re: One of the foundations of scientific research is that an experimental  [#permalink]

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26 Dec 2019, 02:03
Hi everyone,
Got 5/7 correct here.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

P1

paragraph ones tells us that the scientific community normally relies on a general belief according to which the results of an experiment must be replicated in order to confirm the validity of the results.
However two scientists suggest that even the slightest chance in the initial condition of an experiment might lead to different results. The 2 scientists conceived a computer model based on an equation and in such model particles are subjected to force fields.

Brief summary: Two scientists shake the validity of a general belief in the scientific community

P2

The 2 scientists conceived their model on a similarity with the RBOA. Such system consists of 2 bodies of water and a landmass in between. Whenever the water is spilled on the landmass, such water will go to either one body or the other, and such movements will depend on different variables. Also, we are given that a basin of attraction is a land where, whenever water is spilled on it, will always direct the water to the same body.

Brief summary: RBOA

P3

In paragraph 3 we are given that there are some areas in which it is not possible to forecast where the spilled water will go. Such areas are at the boundary between one basin of attraction and another. These areas are permeated by riddled fractals, that is irregularities such as zigzags etc... The only possible way to determine where the spilled water will go is to spill water in a location and see where it goes next. But if the water is spilled somewhere else (even if very close), the water could take a total different direction than the previous one.

Brief summary: Impossibility of forecast directions

P4

Paragraph one applies the RBOA to their system. In such system the boundaries permeated with fractals are all over the system, making it impossible to forecast anything. In addition we know that differently from in this system, i a chaotic system we would be able to forecast at least the destination but not the path.

Brief summary: Riddled fractals in the two scientists' system

P5

Paragraph 5 suggests that the system created by the 2 scientists might be one of the many that could be created. In addition, if many such systems were to exist, the riddled basin of attraction might explain lots of failed experiments, leading scientists to review their general belief.

Main point

The main point is to discuss the system created by 2 scientists in order to suggest that the scientific community might need to rediscuss one of its general belief

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1) Which one of the following most accurately expresses the main point of the passage?

Pre-thinking

Main point question

Refer to main point above

(A) Sommerer and Ott’s model suggests that many of the fundamental experimental results of science are unreliable because they are contaminated by riddled basins of attraction.
This choice fails to address the right portion of experimental results. In fact the two scientists try to address those experimental results which cannot be replicated while this option addresses all kind of experimental results

(B) Sommerer and Ott’s model suggests that scientists who fail to replicate experimental results might be working within physical systems that make replication virtually impossible.
In line with pre-thinking

(C) Sommerer and Ott’s model suggests that experimental results can never be truly replicated because the starting conditions of an experiment can never be re-created exactly.
too extreme and not the reason

(D) Sommerer and Ott’s model suggests that most of the physical systems studied by scientists are in fact metaphorical examples of riddled basins of attraction.
Most is quite a strong word; what the two scientists try to address are those experiments that cannot be replicated but we don't know whether such experiments represent most of the total experiments

(E) Sommerer and Ott’s model suggests that an experimental result should not be treated as credible unless that result can be replicated.
Opposite

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

2) The discussion of the chaos of physical systems is intended to perform which one of the following functions in the passage?

Pre-thinking

Function question

The discussion at hand is presented in P4. Here we can see that the 2 scientists make a distinction between their system and a chaotic system, suggesting that their system is even worse than a chaotic system when it comes to forecast a direction, destination etc.....

(A) emphasize the extraordinarily large number of physical irregularities in a riddled basin of attraction
not the purpose

(B) emphasize the unusual types of physical irregularities found in Sommerer and Ott’s model
not the purpose

(C) emphasize the large percentage of a riddled basin of attraction that exhibits unpredictability
not the purpose

(D) emphasize the degree of unpredictability in Sommerer and Ott’s model
In line with pre-thinking

(E) emphasize the number of fractal properties in a riddled basin of attraction
not the purpose

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

3) Given the information in the passage, Sommerer and Ott are most likely to agree with which one of the following?

Pre-thinking

Inference question

[b]Let's analyze each option

[/b]

(A) It is sometimes impossible to determine whether a particular region exhibits fractal properties.
Whether a region exhibits or not fractal properties is not discussed

(B) It is sometimes impossible to predict even the general destination of a particle placed in a chaotic system.
This topic is discussed in P4 and the 2 scientists claim that it is generally possible to predict such.

(C) It is sometimes impossible to re-create exactly the starting conditions of an experiment.
The all system created by the 2 scientists is based on the reasoning according to which lots of failed replication hav to do with riddled basin of attractions. Now riddled basin of attractions are permeated by fractal properties and in such scenarios even the slightest change in the initial conditions may change drastically the results. Hence we can infer that lots of failed replication are related to the impossibility of re-creating the initial conditions

(D) It is usually possible to predict the exact path water will travel if it is spilled at a point not on the boundary between two basins of attraction.
The prediction of the path is not discussed in the passage and hence we cannot make inferences about it

(E) It is usually possible to determine the path by which a particle traveled given information about where it was placed and its eventual destination.
The prediction of the path is not discussed in the passage and hence we cannot make inferences about it

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

4) Which one of the following most accurately describes the author’s attitude toward the work of Sommerer and Ott?

Pre-thinking

Author's attitude question

The author seems intrigued by the implications of the system created by the 2 scientists. We can identify her attitude from this lines in the last paragraph: " and the likelihood that they chose the only equation that would lead to an unstable system is small."

(A) skeptical of the possibility that numerous unstable systems exist but confident that the existence of numerous unstable systems would call into question one of the foundations of science
Not skeptikal

(B) convinced of the existence of numerous unstable systems and unsure if the existence of numerous unstable systems calls into question one of the foundations of science
The author is not unsure

(C) convinced of the existence of numerous unstable systems and confident that the existence of numerous unstable systems calls into question one of the foundations of science
Convinced seems a strong word to use

(D) persuaded of the possibility that numerous unstable systems exist and unsure if the existence of numerous unstable systems would call into question one of the foundations of science
The author is not unsure

(E) persuaded of the possibility that numerous unstable systems exist and confident that the existence of numerous unstable systems would call into question one of the foundations of science
Persuaded fits more than convinced, hence correct

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

5) According to the passage, Sommerer and Ott’s model differs from a riddled basin of attraction in which one of the following ways?

Pre-thinking

Detail question

Their model is completely permeated by riddled basins of attractions

(A) In the model, the behavior of a particle placed at any point in the system is chaotic; in a riddled basin of attraction, only water spilled at some of the points behaves chaotically.
The behavior is not chaotic

(B) In a riddled basin of attraction, the behavior of water spilled at any point is chaotic; in the model, only particles placed at some of the points in the system behave chaotically.
no chaos

(C) In the model, it is impossible to predict the destination of a particle placed at any point in the system; in a riddled basin of attraction, only some points are such that it is impossible to predict the destination of water spilled at each of those points.
Yes, in the model it is never possible to forecast directions while in the riddled basin the problem is related only to the boundaries

(D) In a riddled basin of attraction, water spilled at two adjacent points always makes its way to the same destination; in the model, it is possible for particles placed at two adjacent points to travel to different destinations.
completely wrong

(E) In the model, two particles placed successively at a given point always travel to the same destination; in a riddled basin of attraction, water spilled at the same point on different occasions may make its way to different destinations.
incorrect

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

6) Which one of the following best defines the term “basin of attraction,” as that term is used in the passage?

Pre-thinking

Detail question

From P2:"The basin of attraction for a body of water is the area of land that, whenever water is spilled on it, always directs the spilled water to that body.
"

(A) the set of all points on an area of land for which it is possible to predict the destination, but not the path, of water spilled at that point
The body of water is neglected in this option

(B) the set of all points on an area of land for which it is possible to predict both the destination and the path of water spilled at that point
The body of water is neglected in this option

(C) the set of all points on an area of land that are free from physical irregularities such as notches and zigzags
The body of water is neglected in this option

(D) the set of all points on an area of land for which water spilled at each point will travel to a particular body of water
In line with pre-thinking

(E) the set of all points on an area of land for which water spilled at each point will travel to the same exact destination
The body of water is neglected in this option

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

7) Which one of the following is most clearly one of the “metaphorical examples of riddled basins of attraction” mentioned in lines 52–53?

Pre-thinking

Analogous statement question

We need to have in mind the system of the two scientists: such system is completely permeated with fractals properties and even a slight change in the initial conditions leads to a drastic change in the results

(A) A scientist is unable to determine if mixing certain chemicals will result in a particular chemical reaction because the reaction cannot be consistently reproduced since sometimes the reaction occurs and other times it does not despite starting conditions that are in fact exactly the same in each experiment.
If the initial conditions were exactly the same in the system created by the two scientists, the results would be the same. out

(B) A scientist is unable to determine if mixing certain chemicals will result in a particular chemical reaction because the reaction cannot be consistently reproduced since it is impossible to bring about starting conditions that are in fact exactly the same in each experiment.
In line with pre-thinking

(C) A scientist is unable to determine if mixing certain chemicals will result in a particular chemical reaction because the reaction cannot be consistently reproduced since it is impossible to produce starting conditions that are even approximately the same from one experiment to the next.
The goal is to have the same starting conditions, not the approximate starting conditions since already in the latter case the results would be different

(D) A scientist is able to determine that mixing certain chemicals results in a particular chemical reaction because it is possible to consistently reproduce the reaction even though the starting conditions vary significantly from one experiment to the next.
out of scope

(E) A scientist is able to determine that mixing certain chemicals results in a particular chemical reaction because it is possible to consistently reproduce the reaction despite the fact that the amount of time it takes for the reaction to occur varies significantly depending on the starting conditions of the experiment.
out of scope

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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Re: One of the foundations of scientific research is that an experimental  [#permalink]

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10 Jan 2020, 07:50
Paragraph 1:

Looks like a hard science passage. We need to be clear on what the central concept is/key definitions. We also need to understand the viewpoints of people mentioned in the passage as well as the author's opinion.

(Tone) Looks like the passage is going to be descriptive rather than polemical. We're discussing the work of Sommerer and Ott.

(MP) They made a computer model that has some implications for the scientific method.

Paragraph 2:

(MP/View) Discusses S & O's work by analogy with "riddled basins of attraction" ¶ 2 largely discusses this analogy.

Paragraph 3:

(MP/View) Continuation of discussion of "riddled basin" analogy. We should note that we will likely be asked about details from these two paragraphs. Do not go overboard with memorizing the whole thing. Just note that this is important, detailed information.

Paragraph 4:

(MP/View) Still in S&O's viewpoint. Now discussing contrast between their work and what they call "chaos." Notice that the definition of this term in quotes will likely be important, i.e. you'll have to come back to it later.

Paragraph 5:

(MP/View) Now we're in author's viewpoint. Further, the author makes an (Argument) that other systems like that of S & O likely exist. Author ratiocinates based on probability. This paragraph confirms that the author is largely in agreement with the observations of S & O and views their work as significant.

Overall Main Point would be something along the lines of:

Passage about the work of S & O, which suggests that difficulty replicating scientific results may have to do with unrepeatable initial conditions. This work may have further implications.

Notice we're trying to work from general to specific as always. We'll have plenty of opportunities to dig into the minutiae of this passage while we are answering questions.
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One of the foundations of scientific research is that an experimental  [#permalink]

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10 Jan 2020, 07:54
Question 1

it seems most people were torn between B and C, so here we g:

Answer choice (B) discusses what happens when scientists fail to replicate experiments. If a scientist fails to replicate a result, this failure might be due to this "riddled basin of attraction" metaphor/phenomenon.
Answer choice (C) makes a much stronger statement, that experimental results in general cannot be replicated because of this riddled basin of attraction phenomenon.

In other words, (B) limits itself to situations in which replication has been unsuccessful. (C) makes a broader, more extreme claim. This difference in degree provides a good tool for contrasting these two answer choices and determining which one is better supported by the text. In this case, we can find evidence in lines 54 to the end of the passage (which is where the author states the thesis): when scientists fail to replicate experiments, it might be because of this principle illustrated in the riddled basins of attraction.

This statement is a pretty good match for answer choice (B). Answer choice (C) goes beyond what the text supports and is too extreme/out of scope.
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One of the foundations of scientific research is that an experimental  [#permalink]

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10 Jan 2020, 08:06
Question 2

Here we are asked to define a conceptual reference that is sprinkled throughout the passage, but becomes much clearer once the uncertainty concept of "chaos" is introduced to the reader. Note how with the riddled basins of attraction, even general destination becomes impossible to predict. This concept of predicting general destination is then carried over to distinguish it from the uncertainty principle of chaos as it's used in particle physics and the prediction of the path of a particle. In other words with particle physics, "chaos" is something less chaotic than the study of the riddled basins of attraction issue because at least the general destination of the particle can be predicted whereas the water pathway's general destination cannot be predicted at all.
One of the foundations of scientific research is that an experimental   [#permalink] 10 Jan 2020, 08:06
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