Unclear physics

I was reading a book called “The Revenge of Anguished English”, and although the content doesn’t live up to the promise suggested by the title, there was a nice physics typo mentioned near the end: “He got his degree in unclear physics”. The question is whether that tiny letter substitution makes that much difference to most people who might be reading a newspaper biography of someone. Are nuclear and unclear synonyms to everyone who doesn’t have a physics degree? I would guess that for all practical purposes they could often be interchanged. I don’t want to be snobbish about it – I’m sure that I wouldn’t blink at an article about”More sculpture” when it was meant to be about “Moore sculpture”. Perhaps nuclear physicists should be upfront about it and just go with it. An “unclear power station” sounds quite aesthetically pleasing, as if it faded into the background on sunny days. And at least G.W. Bush could talk about such an entity without inducing a snigger from every science graduate (and indeed every literate person) in the English-speaking world.


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