Innovative and mundane

Viewpoint: Mind your (nuclear) language

The nuclear industry cannot assume that the words and phrases it commonly understands as scientific or engineering terms have positive connotations for the public, writes Neil Alexander, principal consultant at Bucephalus Consulting.

"We have all heard that a picture paints a thousand words. This should not be surprising because our mind was always designed to handle images, the face of our mother, the outline of a lion in the savannah, the route from our cave to the berry bush. Images have always been essential to our survival and are bound to be powerful.

Less appreciated is the power of words to create mental pictures and how that affects perceptions of nuclear power. The power of words should not be a surprise either as language was developed so that we could describe things to each other in the absence of an image and then further developed to describe things, such as emotions or complex principles, by creating virtual images."

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