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The term light-year looks like an adjective-noun combination naming a kind of year. Instead it denotes a distance, how far light travels in a year. Can the deceptive name be justified?

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A reader of Ernest Rutherford’s famous paper “The Scattering of α and β Particles by Matter and the Structure of the Atom,” which reports the discovery of the atomic nucleus, may be perplexed by a couple of expressions at the beginning of §3. An explanation follows.

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