Prescient Editor in Chief?
I got behind on magazine reading over the summer; now that colder weather is here I’m catching up, randomly. I read the Nov. 6 issue one day, with the Life article on microbes that walk on their pili (“Sure, but can they chew gum too?” SN: 11/6/10, p. 8); the next day I opened up the Sept. 26, 2009 issue. There right up front was Tom Siegfried’s “From the Editor” note where he says, “Picture … a bacterium with legs that lived on a cosmic-sized sheet of paper.” Did he have advance knowledge, was it a pie-in-the-sky, never-gonna-happen wild guess, or is he a wise foreteller of the future?
Gerry Beard, Edgewood, N.M.

This is an enduring mystery to all of us here at Science News. —Eva Emerson

Over time, it gets complicated
After reading “Getting to know you less and less” (SN: 11/6/10, p. 16), I felt the researchers’ assumptions were incomplete. So I asked my wife of 42 years what her favorite color was. Her response was just as I expected: “I don’t have a favorite color,” she said, “only a range of colors.” This was true for me also. Thus, I think that one factor is not that couples get to know each other less the longer they’ve been together, it is that over the years they experience more and more things, and their likes and dislikes are more complicated than when they were young. Each partner then is less likely to know what the other likes because the other has no simple answer.
O. Frank Turner, Pueblo West, Colo.

Sticky and all lit up
In response to “Electrons tell a tale of the tape” (SN: 11/6/10, p. 13), some adhesive tape can also radiate visible light, and it doesn’t need a vacuum to do it. If you remove the gummed wrapper from a Breathe Right nasal strip in the dark, it will create a dramatic flash of light. Is this the same phenomenon at work? If so, this might be an easier example to study.
David Taylor, Half Moon Bay, Calif.

Scotch tape emits visible blue light when adhesive bonds between the sticky side and the smooth side are broken. Biting into certain Life Savers mints also creates a burst of visible light. But the light you see from cracking into a mint or tearing off some kinds of tape comes from breaking chemical bonds in the material. This is different from what the new research found: Unexpectedly, peeling tape also emits X-rays, a much higher-energy type of radiation. Electric charge is separated when the tape peels, producing an electric field that accelerates free electrons to produce X-rays. — Marissa Cevallos