Letters from the August 20, 2005, issue of Science News

Just a little gas

“Energy on Ice” (SN: 6/25/05, p. 410) states that the gas-hydrate deposit near Prudhoe Bay “contains more than 1.2 trillion cubic meters of gas. That’s twice the total amount of natural gas consumed annually in the United States. …” Does it behoove us to invest the time and dollars it will take to tap that field for a resource that will last us only 2 years? We need to think more seriously about energy conservation, not just energy supply.

Lorien Davy
Santa Barbara, Calif.

Priorities in order

Regarding “Sleepless in SeaWorld: Some newborns and moms forgo slumber” (SN: 7/2/05, p. 3), why should the whale study lead scientists to “change the way we view sleep”? Among whales, the priority is that babies not drown in the first weeks of life. Maturational processes thought to occur during sleep, such as brain development, might have to be put on hold while this critical lesson is learned. Our neonatal sleeping pattern, 4-to-6-hour periods interspersed with bouts of feeding, is dictated by a critical need for rapid, overall physical development to achieve mobility. To live, the already mobile baby whale must first learn to breathe.

Brenda Marion Gray
Glen Burnie, Md.

Comment clarification

My comments cited in “Boning Up: Tissue for grafts grown inside the body” (SN: 7/30/05, p. 68) were taken out of context. My original comments were: “The authors present a clever strategy to generate autologous bone. … This approach is very promising, since bone tissue for subsequent grafting into defects may be grown within a patient without the need to deliver cells and bioactive factors. As tissue engineers grapple with the problem of choosing an appropriate cell source to generate tissues, Stevens et al. have found an alternative approach that circumvents the issue altogether.”

Eben Alsberg
Case Western Reserve University
Cleveland, Ohio

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