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Pipe dream

[ 2013-09-25 10:18] 来源:中国日报网     字号 [] [] []  
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Pipe dreamA plan to develop from scratch about 10,700 megawatts of nuclear capacity by 2030 is a pipe dream.

My comments:

Pipe refers to the opium pipe, the thin, long tube those opium smokers used in the olden days.

Opium, in case you don’t know, was a huge problem for China during the 19th and early 20th century. It was forced on China by the British, ostensibly as a commodity to balance trade.

Anyways, inhaling the fumes of the drug gave smokers a high, hence the analogy. Literally, pipe dream means that if you smoke the opium pipe, it will lead you to good dreams and fantasies.

What really happens, of course, is that the drug gives the smoker deliriums and hallucinations.

At any rate, though the opium pipe has long been consigned to old curiosity museums, pipe dream as a phrase, meaning unrealistic hopes and fantasies, has remained – alive and well – in the language.

In our example, it means the plan to develop from scratch about 10,700 megawatts of nuclear capacity by 2030 is unrealistic. In other words, it cannot happen.

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Go to Zhang Xin's column


About the author:

Zhang Xin(张欣) has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.