Perhaps Stefan Koelsch’s study should have been limited to trained musicians, rather than exclude them (“Song Sung Blue: In brain, music and language overlap,” SN: 2/28/04, p. 133: Song Sung Blue: In brain, music and language overlap). Word and visual associations in music are vigorously reinforced in movie soundtracks, cartoons, and elsewhere. But classical composers and musicians typically take pains to isolate their musicianship from any and all nonmusical elements. This inquiry may shine light on the alleged universality of a musical “language.” Music lovers have been brawling over related issues for centuries.
I believe a reader rushed to judgment regarding the environmental impact of splitting water to produce hydrogen for fuel (“Letters: Dry Hole?” SN: 3/13/04, p. 175: Letters from the March 13, 2004, issue of Science News). The split water isn’t ultimately consumed, only recycled. Burning hydrogen reunites it with oxygen, returning water to the environment. Much more intriguing questions might concern the human-accelerated migration of water from liquid sources (oceans, lakes, aquifers) into the atmosphere of our vehicle-congested cities. Will metro-area atmospheric concentrations affect weather systems? Lifestyles? Presumably the trade-offs—if any—of water vapor concentrations will be preferable to the scale of damage to people and the environment wrought by today’s tailpipe emissions.