Letters: Feb. 21, 2000

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Did White think that insulting black America was the best way to get his point across regarding the flying of the Confederate flag? White imparted to all of us his version of bigotry by using the hackneyed image of Buckwheat to tell black America we should be outraged at the insolence of Southern whites. Hell, we all know history, and believe it or not, not all of us are out here waiting for white America to pay us for the injustices suffered by our forefathers. Nor do we give a damn what political pundits say. If the people of the South are as offended as they claim by the flying of the Confederate flag, they will require the removal of that banner of racism. End of story. DOUGLAS SLAUGHTER Phoenix, Ariz.


As an amateur astronomer, I applaud your article on light pollution, the encroaching glare of lights from urban sprawl [SCIENCE, Jan. 31]. Even in my remote area in the mountains of Texas, light pollution is a growing threat to our clear, dark sky. But unshielded, overly bright lights do more than annoy astronomers. Their glare greatly impairs the vision of drivers and pedestrians, creating safety hazards. The safety issue affects far more people than does the reduced visibility of the night sky. Glare is a hazard for everyone out at night, whether anyone ever looks at the sky. JAMES T. WALKER, SECRETARY Big Bend Astronomical Society, Inc. Alpine, Texas

I'm glad your article mentioned the importance of light shielding used to direct light onto the ground, where it does its stuff. But you neglected an important added factor--savings on the electric bill. As the keepers of more modern parking lots know, full-cutoff lighting fixtures that direct light downward provide the same brightness effect for a fraction of the wattage. The noticeable effect on one's financial bottom line is welcome to everyone. LISA JUDD Houston


Many of your readers may not realize that Hedy Lamarr was very smart [MILESTONES, Jan. 31]. She was one of the authors of a 1942 patent titled Secret Communication System, which describes the first kind of spread-spectrum communication system, also known as frequency hopping. Her idea was simple but elegant: if a radio transmitter always uses the same frequency, it is subject to jamming. One way to avoid jamming and other interference is for the transmitter to hop around a predetermined set of frequencies in an apparently random order determined by a secret key. That technology was soon used in military communication devices. HENRIQUE MALVAR Redmond, Wash.

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