Readers ask about Cuvier’s beaked whales, microbes in the atmosphere and more

cover of the November 7, 2020 issue

Waiting to exhale Cuvier’s beaked whales may rely on large stores of oxygen, a slow metabolism and the ability to tolerate lactic acid to dive for hours without surfacing for air, Erin Garcia de Jesus reported in “A beaked whale’s nearly four-hour-long dive sets a new record” (SN: 11/7/20, p. 5). “Your report on Cuvier’s […]

Readers ask about life on Venus and high-energy cosmic rays

October 10, 2020 cover

Venusian recollection Phosphine gas detected in the clouds of Venus could be a sign of life or some strange unknown chemistry, Lisa Grossman reported in “Possible sign of life is found on Venus” (SN: 10/10/20 & 10/24/20, p. 6). The story brought back memories for reader Bruce Hapke, a professor of planetary science at the […]

Readers ask about buoyancy, Stonehenge sounds and more

cover of the September 26, 2020 issue

Rock the boat Scientists made a toy boat float upside down on the bottom of a layer of levitating liquid, Maria Temming reported in “Toy boats defy gravity by floating upside down” (SN: 9/26/20, p. 32). “I was quite intrigued by the upside-down boat. The explanation of buoyancy versus gravity does suggest an equilibrium for […]

Readers ask about positronium, wild bees and more

cover of September 9, 2020 issue

Dance of the doomed particles Scientists are puzzled by an unexpectedly large gap in the energy levels of an exotic “atom” called positronium, which consists of an electron and a positron, Emily Conover reported in “Positronium result baffles physicists” (SN: 9/12/20, p. 14). Reader Lee Skinner asked why the electron and its antimatter counterpart, the […]