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Figures 1 and 2 show, for each of 6 of the isotopes listed in Table 1, the change over time in the number of the nuclei remaining, N, in a sample initially containing 1,000 of the nuclei.(From ACT)

What does the bold text mean? I don't think there is a predicate/main verb for the sentence, and the meaning is just elusive to me.

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The skeleton of the sentence (basic structure) is

[Figures 1 and 2] [show] [the change [over time [in the number of the nuclei remaining, N, [in a sample initially containing 1,000 of the nuclei]]].

where "figure 1 and 2" is the subject, "show" the main verb, and ["the change" + PP complement] the object.

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  • Could you further explain what come after "the change"? A whole bunch of preposition phrases... Nov 5 '20 at 4:16
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    The direct object is actually the long noun phrase "the change over time in the number of the nuclei remaining, N, in a sample initially containing 1,000 of the nuclei". The expression "over time in the number of the nuclei remaining, N, in a sample initially containing 1,000 of the nuclei" is a preposition phrase modifying "change” and within that PP is the further PP “in the number of the nuclei remaining, N, in a sample initially containing 1,000 of the nuclei" and a further PP “in a sample initially containing 1,000 of the nuclei.
    – BillJ
    Nov 5 '20 at 14:01
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    @Charlie Please see the updated answer
    – Eddie Kal
    Nov 5 '20 at 18:03

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