Letters from the October 16, 2004, issue of Science News

Hubble grumble

The cover type “Farewell to Hubble?” (“End of the Line for Hubble?” SN: 7/24/04, p. 56: End of the Line for Hubble?) makes me wonder why we haven’t seen the headline “Farewell to the Current NASA Administrator?” The only reason I have heard for the cancellation of the planned servicing mission is “it’s too dangerous.” Almost anything worth accomplishing has some degree of danger associated with it. The administrator is just standing in the way of progress and scientific discovery for reasons that don’t seem to be very well founded.

Richard Dils
Avon Lake, Ohio

If we can build cars with robots and operate a machine on Mars, surely we can repair a telescope a few miles straight up. With a lead time of up to 10 years, if Hubble’s orbit is stable and its equipment doesn’t deteriorate, a package could be designed and rehearsed to do the job.

Russell Burton
Adelaide, Australia

Those lamenting the loss of the Hubble telescope are missing an important part of today’s business climate: outsourcing. We could ask the Russians, or maybe the Chinese, to bid on sending a team to repair the Hubble.

We have some $300 million worth of parts, but without a delivery system, that is so much scrap.

Jim Garrity
Minneapolis, Minn

Suicidal thoughts

I have been puzzled at the consternation over the findings in “Suicide Watch: Antidepressants get large-scale inspection” (SN: 7/24/04, p. 51: Suicide Watch: Antidepressants get large-scale inspection). It’s common knowledge among people who treat patients with major depression that the time of greatest risk for suicide is when depression begins to lift. The person finally has more energy and mental focus but may still feel awful. Resolved never to feel so bad again, they use their increasing energy to plan and carry out suicides. Hence, one would predict that an effective antidepressant might well lead to increased suicide attempts early in treatment.

Joel Denney
Oakland, Calif

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