On believing

Editor of the Reformer:

In response to "Believe" (Dec. 14), wonder and awe are intrinsic parts of science. The question "how does this happen?" drives scientific progress and understanding the answer doesn’t make any phenomena any less magical.

Take thunder for example. Yes, you can distill it down to noise due the expansion and cooling of the air after a lighting bolt. But consider this -- the average lighting bolt is five times hotter than the surface of the sun and contains enough energy to power your house for five days. And you know that shock you get when you touch someone after rubbing your feet across the carpet? That’s lighting. So although you’re not Zeus, you can throw lighting bolts form your couch.

Or think about the cells in your body. Every single one of your 10 trillion cells contains a very small compartment called the nucleus. Each nucleus holds your DNA -- all the information that makes you, you. If you stretched out the DNA of one cell, it would be six feet long. If you stretched out all off your DNA from every one of your cells, it would span the entire 92,960,000 miles to the sun 133 times. What’s even more awe inspiring is that your DNA is 99.9 percent identical to the DNA of every other human being. If you have a sibling, you share 99.95 percent of your DNA. So there’s something magical about that 0.01 percent of your DNA that distinguishes you from me, and from everyone else.

Science isn’t a set of facts to be learned, science is a process. And it’s a scientist’s job to be constantly in wonder by the magic in the world around them. That magic doesn’t suddenly end when we understand something. I believe understanding makes it even more magical.

Kai-Ming Pu,

New Haven, Conn., Dec. 16

It’s on everyone

Editor of the Reformer:

As a Brattleboro resident, I have followed recent letters to the editor regarding pedestrian tragedies with great interest. I find that many of the comments are directed to the town officials and rightly so, however, it is my opinion that the officials who make decisions in our town are extremely responsive and look out for our greater good. The problem lies with a distracted community at large who need to develop an awareness of their surroundings, either driving or walking.

For more than the past year, I too have had concerns about the speeding and inattention of drivers in our town, especially as it pertains to my neighborhood. I decided to become proactive and began attending the Traffic Safety Committee meetings (held on the fourth Tuesday of each month in the Selectboard Meeting Room) in an attempt to understand exactly how the town and this committee approached the myriad traffic problems that exist within our small community. This is the venue to voice your concerns because they do listen and take all questions and problems under consideration. The recently implemented Traffic Calming Plan is just one way in which this committee is attempting to make a difference for us all. They are also working with the newly formed Brattleboro "Local Motion" who are developing strategies called Safe Streets.

Don’t complain and don’t blame, become involved. This problem will not be cured overnight but each individual in this town can make it their personal commitment to do a better job of driving and walking with care and looking out not only for themselves but for others.

Susan Avery,

Brattleboro, Dec. 17

Kudos to
BMH Staff

Editor of the Reformer:

I was recently and unexpectedly admitted to Brattleboro Memorial Hospital for an abdominal problem. Turns out I need an operation so I will be going back on Dec. 22. I’ll be spending my Christmas there.

While no one looks forward to having to go to a hospital, one of many people’s worries is what kind of care will I receive? What will the hospital staff be like? Well, I can tell you I am not worried one little bit, as my five-day stay this week showed me that the folks at BMH are the most caring and friendliest you could ask for. A couple of examples are Michelle, who is one of the best nurses I’ve ever met Allie, who is a nurse’s aide, and another Michelle who lives in Massachusetts but works in Vermont and has to pay taxes in two states.

These three women are just three examples of the many people who took care of me during my stay. Every one of them, from Dr. Thomas Lewis to the nutritionist who fed me to the lady who made sure my room was clean, was great. All are exceptionally hard working and friendly and I know when I go back to the hospital on the 22nd, one worry I won’t have is that I won’t have to worry about the people who will be taking care of me. Thank you BMH staff for all that you do and I will be seeing you soon.

Martin Bittner,

Brattleboro, Dec. 18