Readers weigh in on mind know-how, black holes and extra

Thoughts readers

Scientists are grappling with the moral implications of latest know-how that goals to hearken to and maybe change mind exercise, Laura Sanders reported in “Inside your head” (SN: 2/13/21, p. 24).

“Attention-grabbing and provocative learn,” reader Andrew Nelson wrote. “As soon as the intricacies of our ideas turn out to be recordable (or worse, reproducible), they are going to be misused.” Linking neural exercise with particular actions may set up causal relationships that could possibly be used to regulate psychological processes and not using a individual’s data, Nelson wrote. “That’s the scary half!”

To form Sanders’ story, Science Information surveyed readers like Nelson about their opinions on mind science advances, editor in chief Nancy Shute defined in her editor’s word for the difficulty (SN: 2/13/21, p. 2). Reader Danny Otero applauded the hassle to contain the general public in conversations in regards to the thorny moral points surrounding neurotechnology. However “nice science journalism … rests on discovering the reality from specialists,” he wrote. “Why not then contain skilled ethicists on this dialogue?”

Science Information consults specialists in our reporting, and Sanders spoke with ethicists for the story. “We might love to attach ethicists with readers and scientists for in-depth conversations about these points,” Shute says. “Discovering out about readers’ issues so we may handle them in our reporting was simply step one. We hope to have the ability to assist encourage extra connections and conversations sooner or later,” she says.

Packing on the photo voltaic plenty

The oldest recognized black gap lies on the heart of a galaxy 13 billion light-years from Earth and has a mass equal to 1.6 billion suns, Maria Temming reported in “Oldest recognized black gap mystifies scientists” (SN: 2/13/21, p. 4).

If the black gap, dubbed J0313-1806, was that huge 13 billion years in the past, reader Arthur Silverthorn puzzled how a lot it weighs now.

Scientists don’t know the way huge the black gap is now. “Black holes … cease rising sooner or later after consuming all of the out there gasoline,” says astronomer Feige Wang of the College of Arizona in Tucson. “We have no idea when that might occur,” Wang says. However the largest recognized black gap is about 66 billion photo voltaic plenty. The mass of J0313-1806 would doubtless not be greater than that, he says.

Stunning science

Volta’s electrical eels can hunt in teams of greater than 100, with smaller teams of about 10 eels unleashing coordinated electrical assaults on prey, Jonathan Lambert reported in “Electrical eels shock with swarm searching ways” (SN: 2/13/21, p. 4).

Reader Jerry Kerrisk puzzled if the voltage generated by a gaggle of eels is any completely different from that of a single eel.

One Volta’s electrical eel can generate an 860-volt jolt, so in principle, a gaggle of 10 eels may generate 8,600 volts, says evolutionary biologist Carlos David de Santana of the Smithsonian Nationwide Museum of Pure Historical past in Washington, D.C. However his crew has but to measure the shock output of a gaggle.

The whole discharge from 10 joint eel strikes would in all probability cowl a broader space and last more than a single strike, and never exceed 860 volts, de Santana speculates. He hopes to assemble extra subject observations within the fall.


Zoologist Lee-Sim Lim of Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang labored with Priscillia Miard, additionally of the college, to find the ultrasound calls of colugos described in “An evening with colugos” (SN: 11/21/20, p. 22).


“Photo voltaic storm preparedness” (SN: 2/27/21, p. 16) incorrectly said that coronal mass ejections produce shock waves that speed up electrons to extraordinarily quick speeds. The shock waves speed up protons.

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