Zero Gravity = Seven Letters

I would like to propose corrections to the Zero Gravity column of the December, 2005 issue of APS News. A megaphone should be a trillion microphones, not a million. A million microphones is just 1 phone. Also, 1 megacycle should be 500,000 bicycles, not a million. One megacyles is a million monocycles.
Lior Burko
Huntsville, AL

I was very disappointed to spot a serious order of magnitude error in your December issue. It is clear that a million microphones do not suffice to make a megaphone. They make only a phone, today presumably a cell phone.

I trust that the inappropriate reference to Megaphone does not constitute an inadvertent disclosure of a (classified?) surveillance program authorized under the Patriot Act.
G. K. Wertheim
Morristown, NJ

At the risk of sounding too serious, I noticed an error in the Zero Gravity in the December 2005 APS News. 1 Million Microphones should equal "1 phone." 1012 Microphones will equal 1 Megaphone.
Phil Shemella
Troy, NY

At the risk of being labelled "Physically Correct", I feel compelled to point out a couple errors in the conversion factors presented in the last Zero Gravity column.

First off, wouldn't 1 million bicycles actually equal two megacycles?

And then 1 kilogram of falling figs would be 9.81 fig Newtons, at least here on Earth. Right?
Andrew Russ
Athens, OH

Beware the conversion factors! In the Zero Gravity column for December, one million microphones is of course is only a föhn. One trillion microphones would be a proper megaphone.
Jos van Schagen
Seattle, WA

You omited one important conversion factor: 10 logs= 1 decalogue Do you need a reference?
Leo M. Silber
Brooklyn, NY

Correction: one American TRILLION (1012) microphones = 1 megaphone
Jim Pivarski
Ithaca, NY

ID Does Not Stimulate Further Research

This letter is in response to "Religious Bathwater May Contain Scientific Baby" by Edward J. Garboczi (APS News, December 2005), who compares Intelligent Design (ID) to the belief in a Creator as espoused by Faraday, Maxwell, Newton, Einstein, Galileo, and Kepler, the argument being that if one "throws out the religious bathwater" one would have thrown out the accomplishments of the above-mentioned scientists who were motivated by their religious beliefs. This comparison ignores one great difference between the beliefs of these scientists and the tenet of ID. These scientists developed theories that have been tested and found to contribute to the understanding of the workings of Nature. In contrast, the basic tenet of ID is that there are some things in Nature that are too complex to be explained by natural laws. This ID tenet does not stimulate further research that might lead to a better understanding of how Nature works, but rather it is a statement that some things are too complex to be understood so why even try.

Scientists with religious views have contributed to science in the past and there is no reason to believe that this trend will cease. Nothing is lost if one throws out the ID bathwater, for there is no baby to be found.
Kenneth S. Schmitz

Kansas City, MO

Scientific Proof Beats Leap of Faith

Regarding your letters on creationism and intelligent design: a point overlooked in these discussions is the difference between a scientific solution and a leap of faith. For example, if an explanation that the strange goings on in a house is the work of ghosts, then that is fine for those who believe in ghosts but from a scientific point of view it is not complete until one has shown independently that ghosts exist and are capable of doing whatever it was. (As in the question of whether power lines caused cancer, despite any statistics, an actual mechanism had to be found). Likewise, it is clear anti-evolutionists take the leap of faith when they don't complete the science and show that a Designer exists and has the capability. There are probably many scientists who have the same faith but realize that it is not an appropriate answer to a scientific investigation, unless there is more evidence for their faith than their personal beliefs. Of course, to the creationists the existence of God and His unlimited powers is self-evident and their real problem is that there are those of us who say that it is not correct to mix the criteria in the two realms. It may turn out that the ID people are right, but only after the existence and capabilities of a Designer are proven scientifically.

Meanwhile, there seem to be plenty of scientific solutions to the quite proper questions that they raise.
Henderson Cole
Danbury, CT

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Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette
Staff Writer: Ernie Tretkoff

March 2006 (Volume 15, Number 3)

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Baltimore Hosts Largest Physics Meeting of 2006
APS Membership Hits Record High in 2005
Physicists Rally Around Efforts to Promote S&T Initiatives
JLab, Brookhaven Hope for Turnaround After Severe Budget Cuts Last Year
Thousands of APS Members Respond to Funding Alerts
New Report Examines Management and Public Perceptions of Nanotechnology
Featured PhysTec University
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This Month in Physics History
Washington Dispatch
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Physics and Technology Forefronts
Zero Gravity: The Lighter Side of Science