Letters from the March 13, 2004, issue of Science News

Dry hole?

“Tapping sun’s light and heat to make hydrogen” (SN: 1/17/04, p. 46: Tapping sun’s light and heat to make hydrogen) seems to be delivering good news for the environment: “Clean” hydrogen can be produced from water using solar energy. This seems to me, however, to be even more horrifying than the burning of fossil fuels, which I believe we will be able to survive quite well without, once we consume them all. Will we shift our voracious consumption to the extremely finite water supply? Will we pump the very basis of life out of the ground to burn, nonrenewably, in our cars? This sounds like the worst plan yet.

Miriam Murphy
Calistoga, Calif

Made in the shade

The political pseudoscience press strikes again (“Warming climate may slam many species,” SN: 1/24/04, p. 62: Warming climate may slam many species). Now, we are told that by 2050, as many as 31 percent of species will be wiped out by a temperature increase of 0.8 to 1.7°C. I find this impossible to believe, in that these organisms are all presently surviving with diurnal, seasonal, yearly, and cyclical average-temperature fluctuations that exceed these numbers. Moreover, they’ll be able to move to more hospitable climes during this extremely gradual change, should it indeed occur.

McClellan Blair
Indiana, Pa

The researchers considered both an organism’s climate requirements and its capability to migrate to suitable habitat in their analysis. They found that conditions might change too quickly for slow-spreading organisms, such as plants, to travel to new habitat, if indeed it exists.—S. Perkins

Follow your dreams?

Once again, we see evidence that supports what we knew all along (“Sleeper Effects: Slumber may fortify memory, stir insight,” SN: 1/24/04, p. 53: Sleeper Effects: Slumber may fortify memory, stir insight). As my mother told me growing up, “Just sleep on it.”

David Varner
Portland, Ore

Fancy colors

In regards to the picture accompanying “Pumping Carbon: Researchers watch nanofibers grow” (SN: 1/31/04, p. 69: Pumping Carbon: Researchers watch nanofibers grow), it might be helpful to remind readers that such colorful depictions of nanoscale materials are slightly fanciful. These structures exist in realms so small that visible light, and therefore color, has little meaning.

James Hedberg
Portland State University
Portland, Ore

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