Letters from the December 2, 2006, issue of Science News

Concerns vented

“Venting Concerns: Exploring and protecting deep-sea communities” (SN: 10/7/06, p. 232) barely scratches the surface of the problem. What is stopping someone from gene splicing the disease of choice onto heat-loving bacterium? Something that can live near the 600°F of melting lead will certainly survive the standard hospital-sterilization process.

D.J. Kava
Beaumont, Texas

The statement “2 tons of ore from ocean sites should yield as much copper as

80 million tons of material mined on land” can’t be correct. That’s 40 million to 1. No one mines that kind of ore.

Terrence Kerwin
Silverton, Colo.

The statement should have been that 2 million tons of ocean ore would yield that much copper.—J. Raloff

Eruption deduction

In the article “Hot, Hotter, Hot: Climate seesawed during dinosaur age” (SN: 10/7/06, p. 228), the explanation for the increased ocean-surface temperature seemed to focus solely on atmospheric effects. I wonder if variations in undersea volcanism might have contributed to the sudden spike in Pacific Ocean surface temperatures during the Aptian epoch of the Cretaceous period. If so, then a moderately higher release of volcanic ash might have contributed to the sudden drop in ocean-surface temperatures.

Darryle Vaught
Selmer, Tenn.

Say no to drugs

In the study that was cited in “Life Blood: Drug stops mothers’ bleeding after births” (SN: 10/14/06, p. 243), misoprostol was tested as a more practical means of inducing postdelivery contractions in women in developing countries, despite “troubling side effects.” Because most women need no intervention to cause the uterus to contract, why not wait a few minutes to see which of them will require the medication, instead of subjecting every single one of them to “severe shivering and fever”?

Dian Duchin Reed
Soquel, Calif.

Where drugs may not be available, why not use the natural approach to curb postpartum bleeding, namely, encourage breast-feeding? A baby’s suckling stimulates the mother’s flow of natural oxytocin. Low tech perhaps, but the methodology has been working for millennia.

Virgil H. Soule
Frederick, Md.

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