How to educate a reader

Another issue has helped to punch a hole in the hull of Chapter 2 (to use a metaphor that already seems tired). I’m telling the story of inventing and building reactors over 75 years. Chapter 2, covering the first 10 or so years, is nearly done. But over the top of the “X built this, Y invented that” tale, I need to overlay the big issues integral to nuclear power: safety, radiation doses, economics, and radioactive waste. I thought I’d be able to “slip in” these issues from the 1960s, since in the early days they received less attention.

Now I’m sure that won’t work. From the very start of my book, the reader needs to receive a basic education on, for example, how to measure radiation and how dangerous it is. Can I slip this into my Chapter 2 with a couple of artful paragraphs? Or (pursuing this one educational topic) should I take a bit more trouble, perhaps even employing a quick additional chapter, to survey early, pre-WWII radiation knowledge? If I don’t do it now, in Chapter 2, I’m just deferring the issue.

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