The importance of numbers

The fission of an atom of uranium liberates about 10 million times as much energy as does the combustion of an atom of carbon from coal. I fear that to many people, the impression made by saying 10 million is about the same as if I had said 10 thousand or 10 billion.

One cannot understand policy issues without taking numbers seriously. If the number were 10 thousand, we probably could not afford nuclear energy. If the number were 10 billion, there would be no need for a significant uranium mining industry, and the waste problem would be trivial.

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