IN the cloudland of higher mathematics, there is a whole area of study called "imaginary numbers." What is an imaginary number? It is a multiple of the square root of minus one. What is the good of knowing that? Imaginary numbers, according to mathematicians, are useful in figuring out such problems as the flow of air or water past a curved surface like an airplane wing.

In ordinary life, imaginary numbers of a somewhat different kind seem to have become even more useful. From solemn public officials and eager corporations, from newspapers, television (and...

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