Letters from the January 20, 2007, issue of Science News

Sea tales

In “Dashing Rogues” (SN: 11/18/06, p. 328) on rogue waves, you make no mention of the use of satellite data, which is ideal for this sort of study. Two projects, in particular, are of great relevance: the European Union’s MaxWave study and the subsequent WaveAtlas project. The former, with just 3 weeks’ data, identified 10 rogue waves above 25 meters in height. WaveAtlas aims to prepare a worldwide atlas of rogue waves.

Storm Dunlop
East Wittering
West Sussex, England

Your excellent report brought to memory a huge-wave event when I was in the crew of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise in December 1945. Midway in the Atlantic Ocean, we encountered waves that broke at least 50 feet higher than the flight deck. I lashed myself to the handrail behind the superstructure to prevent being washed overboard.

Glen D. Carter
Hillsboro, Ore.

The article didn’t mention the counterpart to rogue waves, rogue troughs. Not much is known of these. If a ship is positioned where a rogue trough occurs, the ship falls in and is gone without a trace.

John Sink
Costa Mesa, Calif.

Sorry, wrong number

“Ancient Gene Yield: New methods retrieve Neandertal’s DNA” (SN: 11/18/06, p. 323) reads: “… a huge chunk of Neandertal DNA, covering more than 1 million of the roughly 3 million paired chemical constituents of an individual’s genetic makeup.” That 3 million should be 3 billion.

Heather Trumbower
UCSC Genome Bioinformatics Group
Santa Cruz, Calif.

Way outside the box

It would seem difficult to distinguish between the repulsive force that dark energy proposes and the regular gravitational pull of ordinary matter (“Dark Fingerprints: Hubble sheds light on cosmic expansion,” SN: 11/18/06, p. 323). Somehow, the idea of multiple universes surrounding our universe, embodying the known laws of physics and providing the gravitational pull, is easier for me to accept than a mysterious dark energy nobody can explain.

Vern Shellman
Denver, Colo.

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