Does Isaac Asimov give enough clues in Pate de Foie Gras for the reader to figure out the series of nuclear reactions that produced the gold eggs?

According to the link above:

In a commentary on the story, Asimov wrote that it was his intention for there to be a single solution discoverable by the reader. The hint dropped in the story is the description of an experiment in which the goose's gold production goes up when it is given water enriched with oxygen-18, which would indicate a possible source of the gold produced. This was expected to imply that if the goose is maintained in a closed environment, it will convert all the oxygen-18 to gold, while still being able to breathe the predominant oxygen nuclide (oxygen-16). It will excrete all the gold in its eggs, at which point it can be expected to start producing fertile eggs.

This is not a complete explanation, because the other strange thing about the goose was that it was not radioactive at all. This means it had no Carbon-14 in its tissues. As we know -- and knew in Asimov's time -- radioactive Carbon-14 is present in all living things. (Also in dead tissue; see Radiocarbon Dating.)

My question is not how could a molecular reactor (the Goose) sustain nuclear reactions. Asimov never attempted to explain this; it is inexplicable.

My question is: did Asimov give other clues than those I have mentioned to explain how the disappearance of Carbon-14, plus a diet enriched in Oxygen-18 led to the production of Gold-197? (I'm not asking a science question, I am asking about the content of a science fiction story.)

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    You say you aren't asking a science question, which is fair. But wouldn't an acceptable answer to this question explain how C-14 is consumed in the production of Au-197? Is that not what you want to know? – Adamant May 13 '17 at 0:30
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    @Adamant Sure, if someone has the answer, I'd like to see it. I didn't want to get too science-y in the question, but a big problem for me is how the goose gets out of, or jumps across, the potential well at Fe-56, if Au-197 Is built up from light-ish nuclei ....there must be a clue that I don't remember involving heavier nuclei. – ab2 May 13 '17 at 0:41
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    You can read the story online here – Valorum May 13 '17 at 6:44
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    @Valorum: But not legally. – Ubik May 14 '17 at 3:23
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    @Ubik - The story was published over 60 years ago and has been on that site for a decade. I think we can be reasonably sure that the (now dead) rights-holder isn't overly interested in pushing their claim and even if they were, it's Google's problem, not ours. – Valorum May 14 '17 at 7:08

You're misinterpreting the statement about the puzzle. The puzzle isn't how the hen creates gold. The puzzle is how to allow the hen to produce fertile eggs. The scientists hope that this would allow to breed other anomalous hens before the one amazing hen dies. The narrator asks this puzzle in the story, and asks for readers in universe to submit solutions.

The intended solution is probably to keep the hen in an environment lacking oxygen-18, but readers have found other solutions. The hint for this solution is mentioned in the quote in your question.

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    You are right, as I realized a few hours ago, but that is the easy part. There is, as far as I can tell, no route of nuclear reactions to get the Au-197 except in a collider. – ab2 May 13 '17 at 23:32

With the link provided by @Valorum in his comment, above, I read the story. The clue in the story is the liver's conversion of Fe-56 in hemoglobin to Au-197, using the energy produced by the conversion of O-18 to Fe-56. I also found this analysis by a reader, who made a good attempt, but gave up.

I conclude that Asimov did not provide enough clues to give even a semi-plausible route to Au-197 from C-14, O-18 and Fe-56. But it is still a great story, and the wonderful cartoon by Kelly Freas of an incredibly smug goose is memorable.

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