Letters from the April 1, 2006, issue of Science News
The prion game
I must quibble about the headline of the piece about chronic wasting disease in deer (“Hunter Beware: Infectious proteins found in deer muscle,” SN: 1/28/06,
p. 52). “Hunter Beware” sounds ominous, but in order to get the mice to exhibit symptoms after getting muscle tissue from infected deer, it was necessary to use genetically engineered mice carrying deer protein. While hunters would be unlikely to take and consume a deer showing symptoms of chronic wasting disease, even if they did, there would be no danger. That is, of course, unless we are talking about genetically engineered hunters.
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I refer to the article on pyrethroid insecticides, “A Little Less Green?” (SN: 2/4/06, p. 74). I suggest that all pesticides, regardless of their chemical structure, should be applied by trained operators who are equipped to degrade the run off before it enters public water and soil. This group of products is unsuitable for casual use by people at large.
After reading about the use of electrons in a particle accelerator to “cool” the antiprotons in a secondary ring (“Smashing Success: Accelerator gets cool upgrade,” SN: 2/4/06, p. 68) I have a question. Is it possible to make a long straight stretch of the main ring feed high-energy electrons in at an oblique angle to a deflection magnet and thereby bend the electrons into the antiproton stream to cool it? At the next deflection magnet, the electrons would once again be bent through a relatively sharp angle and go back toward the center of the main ring. If the electrons could then be “cooled” and circled around to the first deflection magnet, they could be recycled many times to continue cooling the antiprotons.
The idea of electron cooling in an accelerator’s main ring is good in principle, says physicist Sergei Nagaitsev of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill. Indeed, accelerator specialists in New York State plan to build an electron-cooling system into the main ring of an accelerator there, he notes.—P. Weiss