Robert L. Platzman strove for a quarter of a century to develop a quantitative picture of the delivery of energy to individual molecules by ionizing radiations-a prerequisite to the understanding of further stages of radiation action. Comprehensive results of these efforts, achieved shortly after his untimely death by several of his collaborators and students, are reviewed in this article, with emphasis on the methods that led to them. Characteristic of the methods is the skillful use of fragmentary data, resting on clear theoretical understanding and on critical knowledge of vast experimental evidence. The program involved a persistent, successful quest for whatever new experimental information seemed essential to basic understanding. The article points to the opportunity for systematic extension of the new results, thus far confined to pilot examples, as well as to the next major stage of inquiry into fundamental mechanisms.

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