The great scientist-philosopher Sir Arthur Eddington wrote that his words about "the soulless dance of bloodless electrons" might be truth, but they were not reality. He urged us to get away from theoretical speculations periodically and watch a sunset. Speculation is our business, but when people ask us about a technical matter, they deserve an answer that has real-world meaning, not a hypothetical argument.

For example, one day consumer activist Ralph Nader was debating radiation pioneer Ralph Lapp. Nader stated that a pound of plutonium could kill every human being on Earth. One could picture a one-pint jar of the stuff spilling on the ground and its dea dly vapors spreading until all life was obliterated. That's what Nader's statement means in the common-sense real world. But Lapp put the statement in its proper context by replying: "So could a pound of fresh air, Ralph." Now how can that be?...

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