Letters from the June 16, 2007, issue of Science News

Bigger picture

Reading “Pictures Posing Questions: The next steps in photography could blur reality” (SN: 4/7/07, p. 216), I was struck by the similarity between the image that used a cone-shaped mirror and the images you get from gravitational lensing. As the same data are available in both types of images, it ought to be possible to process gravitationally imaged objects in a way to reconstruct their 3-D shapes under certain circumstances.

Robert Braunstein
Reston, Va.

Old news

The existence of ancient proteins is no surprise. Evidence of remnants of durable, skeleton-associated proteins such as collagen are not uncommon in the fossil record long before Tyrannosaurus rex (“Ancient Extract: T. rex fossil yields recognizable protein,” SN: 4/14/07, p. 228). For example, remains of bivalve ligaments are known from the mid-Ordovician, over 400 million years ago. Other durable but pliable organic materials, such as protist resting cysts, are important parts of the Precambrian fossil record, up to 2 billion years old.

David Campbell
University of Alabama
Tuscaloosa, Ala.

House of cars

I was interested to read that running portable generators caused carbon monoxide poisoning, presumably by improper fuel burning (“Even outdoors, generators pose risks,” SN: 4/14/07, p. 237). A good solution to this problem is to use a generator that is designed for much lower emissions. I use my Toyota Prius as an emergency generator that can power my house! It can deliver 3 kilowatts cleanly, efficiently, and continuously, and many more kilowatts on peaks as needed for starting motors in appliances, the well, and the furnace. As hybrids become more popular and prevalent, getting emergency power from your car will be a lot easier and safer than using the ubiquitous portables.

Richard Factor
Kinnelon, N.J.

Not measuring up

The title of “Wanted: Better Yardsticks” (SN: 4/21/07, p. 251) exemplifies the problem. By law, the official and preferred system of measurement for all U.S. activities is SI, or the modern metric system. We too often forget that a gram of prevention is worth three kilograms of cure. Education reform at all levels needs to model and teach SI units.

Scott M. Kruse
Fresno, Calif.

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