Letters to the Editors; February 2003; Scientific American Magazine; by Staff Editor; 3 Page(s)
Letter writers often comment on the perceived substance--or lack thereof--of Scientific American's articles. But one correspondent takes the concept to an admirable level. "Graham P. Collins seems to be taking an overly skeptical, even facetious, view of perpetual-motion research ['There's No Stopping Them,' Staking Claims, October 2002]. Clearly, he has not made a serious effort to investigate the matter fully," writes Stephen Palmer of Plainfield, N.J. "For example, I have recently applied for a patent of a perpetual-motion device that has been proven to work perfectly and, indeed, perpetually. This amazing invention sets into motion an infinite number of virtual particles, which flicker in and out of existence every instant. I have decided to call it 'nothing.' Like all entrepreneurs, I intend to make my fortune from royalties as soon as nothing is patented. I will follow the path of many wealthy dot-com pioneers, except that I have a firm business plan: when I receive investment capital, I will promptly send nothing in return." There's nothing more we can add about this topic, but others weigh in on the substance of the rest of the October issue below.
"You would still have to cut down the trees and pave everything over for roads." This was an answer given by a fourth-grade student when I asked what environmental effects cars would have if they were powered by a nonpolluting source of energy, such as hydrogen fuel cells ["Vehicle of Change," by Lawrence D. Burns, J. Byron McCormick and Christopher E. Borroni-Bird].