Letters to the editor
Bohr no boor
As described in “When the atom went quantum,” (SN: 7/13/13, p. 20), Bohr’s willingness to travel both paths when different viewpoints seemed to clash, yet both seemed to fit the data, was crucial to the development of quantum mechanics. Yet that willingness cannot be equated with acceptance of all possible views. Having investigated the paths indicated by classical physics, he found them to be dead ends and did not persist in walking those while he followed various quantum paths. Too often, quantum uncertainty is invoked as supporting philosophical rejection of absolutes.
David Campbell, Boiling Springs, N.C.
I was confused by the conclusion that “simulations suggest that the climate effects of greenhouse gases will again reduce tropical storm frequency later this century” in “Cleaner air may bring on storms” (SN: 7/27/13, p. 15). One of the effects of increased atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations is higher ocean water temperatures. Wouldn’t higher water temperatures increase the likelihood of tropical storms?
Jerry Kerrisk, Santa Fe, N.M.
Climate scientists are still debating whether global warming will increase or decrease tropical storm frequency in the North Atlantic later in the 21st century. Though the research described in the article was designed to tease out the effects of aerosols, the simulations did suggest that in the long term, a rise in greenhouse gases will result in less frequent tropical storms in the North Atlantic. Study coauthor Nick Dunstone warns, though, that sea surface warming may increase the intensity of hurricanes, since extra heat would provide more energy for storms to tap into. This could lead to more of the most destructive storms, even if the total number decreased. — Cristy Gelling
The title of Eva Emerson’s editorial “Be humble in the face of nature’s awesomeness,” (SN: 6/29/13, p. 2) reminded me of some advice a friend once gave me: Be humble, for you are made of Earth. Be noble, for you are made of stars. Both are true, and both are worthy efforts.
K.A. Boriskin, Bellingham, Mass.
I have been a subscriber to Science News for more than 20 years, and I hope that they put my last issue in my casket as they close the lid. I really enjoy the preview that Ms. Emerson gives us every two weeks. I always read the editor’s comments first; they are so much fun and introduce me to the news in the magazine.
Paul Ebel, Aiken, S.C.