Letters from the March 3, 2007, issue of Science News

Up, down, around

I haven’t seen any reference to the similarity between the “morphing” wing (“Ahead of the Curve: Novel morphing wing may reduce aircraft’s fuel use,” SN: 12/23&30/06, p. 406) and the “warping” wing that the Wright brothers used on their gliders and powered aircraft. It seems we’ve come full circle in our quest to emulate the flight of birds.

Paul Baker
Browns Valley, Calif.

Missing matchmaker

“No-Dad Dragons: Komodos reproduce without males” (SN: 12/23&30/06, p. 403) seems to gloss over an important issue. With only 4,000 dragons left in the world, why was this female, one of only a thousand females remaining, not paired with a mate? I read several versions of this story, none of which touched on this topic. I believe this reveals an even more interesting story concerning the care of endangered animals.

David Lamm
San Diego, Calif.

A hole too far

The statement in “A New Spin: X rays shed light on black holes” (SN: 1/6/07, p. 8) that astronomers “don’t yet have” a probe to journey to the vicinity of a black hole is puzzling. As far as I know, the closest known black hole is V4641, more than 1,500 light-years away. Given that, the implied assumption that a probe will someday be able to reach a black hole seems misleading.

Ben Beasley
Kernersville, N.C.

Bone to pick

Regarding “Bad to the Bone: Acid stoppers appear to have a downside” (SN: 1/6/07, p. 3), without a corresponding study of bone densities, it’s not possible to determine whether the link between proton-pump inhibitors and increased fractures in people over age 50 is due to increased numbers of falls (dizziness, etc.) or to bone damage. It would be extremely helpful to try to tease out the cause behind this linkage.

Dan Winicur
West Chester, Pa.

Some falls could be attributed to dizziness caused by a proton-pump inhibitor (PPI). But tests have shown that less than 2 percent of people taking omeprazole (Prilosec), a commonly used PPI, report dizziness. In contrast, this drug and other PPIs reduce acid production substantially in volunteers, leading scientists to investigate a connection between that effect and bone fractures.—N. Seppa

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