Dangerously good stuff

On the back of my Memphis Meltdown icecream:

"Warning: Do not conduct aspects of nuclear physics or complex surgical procedures whilst consuming this product"

You what?  Just how is one meant to "conduct aspects of nuclear physics?" Is "Aspects of Nuclear Physics" some lesser-known composition by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart? I can see it now – Sir Simon Rattle standing in front of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra – baton in one hand, Memphis Meltdown in the other, and first violins taking evasive action against airborne milk product.  Little wonder the need for the warning.

OK – so I get the joke – they want to say that the icecream is dangerously tasty, or something like that. But it does irk me that yet again we see ‘nuclear’ being associated with ‘dangerous’. True, nuclear weapons are pretty dangerous things, but there’s a whole raft of nuclear stuff that is anything but.

What about the radioactive source in your smoke alarm (shock, horror – yes you have one in your house) – that’s there to alert you to danger not to cause it. And then there is medical physics – with its radiotherapy, PET scanners (nuclear stuff) and MRI ( ‘nuclear’ magnetic resonance imaging – except the ‘nuclear’ bit has to be left out so people don’t get scared). These are fantastic applications of nuclear physics and we have physicists to thank for them.

So please, advertisers, less of this ‘nuclear is dangerous’ stuff.

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