In response to “Hints of a flaw in special
relativity” (SN: 10/22/11, p. 18): When
supernova 1987a was detected in the
Large Magellenic Cloud (a distance of
roughly 168,000 light-years) an influx
of neutrinos was detected simultaneously (or nearly so) in Japan, the United
States and Russia. Had these neutrinos
traveled at the same speed (about
25 parts per million faster than light)
as the CERN neutrinos detected by the
OPERA experiment in Italy, they would
have arrived roughly four years ahead
of the visual display from 1987a, rather
than at approximately the same time.
Paul White, Portsmouth, R.I.
The mathematical representations
found in Einstein’s theory of special
relativity do not predict an upper limit
on speed. They predict a “real” bound
on currently understood physical entities when speed approaches the speed
of light from below.
We have exhaustively explored
our familiar physical world below the
speed of light. Possibly this is our first
glimpse into the netherworld above
the speed of light. Einstein lived in the
world of thought experiments. Possibly
Einstein’s mathematical representations work adequately to represent
physical phenomena at subluminal
speeds, but do not adequately represent
physical processes at superluminal
speeds. Possibly new thought experiments along with new mathematical
representations are needed to analytically continue the classic representations into this new world.
Keith Mitchell, Westminster, Md.
Regarding the article “Helping bats
hold on” (SN: 9/10/11, p. 22), we have
little brown bats that visit the field in
back of our home to hunt each summer.
Our experience with the bats is some-
what consistent with the information
in the article, but there is a significant
This local bat population’s apparent
rebound is not typical. Researchers
continue to report declining numbers
across Canada and the eastern United
States this year, as in the last few years.
— Janet Raloff
Send communications to: Editor, Science News,
1719 N Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20036 or
firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters subject to editing.
Science News Prime
Available now for the iPad
in the iTunes App store.
A new way to get the latest reports from
the frontiers of science, brought to you
weekly from the staff of Science News
s news articles and briefs
s an in-depth feature article
s rotating columns including Math Trek,
Earth in Action, Reconstructions, Culture
Beaker and Science News editor in chief
Tom Siegfried’s new column, Randomness
s shorts on science newsmakers, new books
and weird creatures