Letters to the editor

Faux pas on fashion
In “Students honored for research,” (SN: 4/6/13, p. 28), the female winner got singled out as “decked out in a lavender satin dress.” Didn’t Hillary Clinton recently point out to an interviewer that he asked her about her clothes, whereas he wouldn’t ask a man that? What are you trying to convey?
Irena Swanson, Portland, Ore.

While editing this story, we did ask ourselves whether we might mention the first-place winner’s tuxedo were he a young man. Our answer, and the reason we kept the phrase in the story, was yes. The writer was trying to use detail to convey the formality of the event and the sense that these young scientists were being feted. It’s unfortunate that it seemed that the winner’s gender was being emphasized over her cerebral achievements. As we move forward, we will be sure to think more carefully about our portrayal of women in science. —Eva Emerson

Mouselike men
It’s interesting to read in “It matters whether you’re a man or a mouse” (SN: 3/23/13, p. 10) about how mice can be cured of cancer, sepsis and other conditions, yet the same cures do not work in humans. I support the effort to make a mouse that is more like a human for research purposes. But aren’t we missing the biggest potential gain here?  We should be trying to discover how humans can be more like mice. Of all the scientists mentioned in the story, only Derry Roopenian of the Jackson Laboratory appears to be thinking this way.
Tom DuBois, Keene, N.Y.

Slow-motion warning
Regarding “Quakes in slo-mo” (SN: 3/23/13, p. 26): Since mechanisms triggering earthquakes are mathematically chaotic, we are unlikely to be able to predict them anytime soon, if ever. But it’s clear that hot, deep creep can only put more strain on the colder, locked rocks above. Thus creep is a better-than-average warning for The Big One. These slo-mo quakes should therefore be used to save lives through preparedness. When a deep creep starts, local officials along the Cascadia subduc­​­tion zone (and others like it) should get on TV and the Internet and educate the public about what’s going on, order earthquake preparedness drills, and in general remind the public to prepare and think about what to do in the event of an earthquake.
Jeff Barry, Acton, Mass.

The article “Ignition failed” (SN: 4/20/13, p. 26) neglected to mention Mike Dunne’s title. He is the National Ignition Facility’s director for laser fusion energy.