Enigma

Two, three, four

Richard England

In the following statement digits have been consistently replaced by capital letters, different letters being used for different digits:

TWO is a prime number, THREE is a triangular number, FOUR is a perfect square; none of them starts with a zero.

Triangular numbers are those that fit the formula /2n(n+1), like 1,3,6,10.

What are the numbers represented by (a) THREE, (b)FOUR?

£15 will be awarded to th e sender of thefirst correct answer opened on Thursday 23 June. The Editor's decision isfinal. Send entries to Enigma W, New Scientist, Lacon House, 8if Theobald's Road, London WOX8NS,orto [email protected] (please include your postal address). The winner of Enigma 1335 is Siva Theja of Chen nai, India.

Answer to 1335 I know where you live! Their house numbers are 16,36,6k 81.

AT WtfAT AGt i>0

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Leukaemia double

From Douglas Holdstock The study showing that children who attend day care are less likely to develop leukaemia did not examine the effects of proximity to nuclear sites (30 April, p 14). Clusters of childhood leukaemia cases are related to three UK sites: Sellafield, Dounreay and the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston. I suggest that the two possible causes mentioned in the article, radiation and infection brought in by migrant workers, are not mutually exclusive.

As Mel Greaves of the Institute of Cancer Research in London says, leukaemia is caused by a "double whammy". The first, DNA mutation, could result from exposure to radiation from a nuclear facility. This could cause genomic instability in a parent which is then transmitted to the offspring, or radiation could directly affect a fetus, the tissues of which are highly radiosensitive. An infection could then be the second whammy. London, UK

Promise me a rose

From Hugh Webb Patricia Churchland claims that there is no theoretical barrier to science explaining consciousness and that philosophical arguments to the contrary are bunk (30 April, p 46). Yet she fails to explain fairly the nub of the philosophical problem and why it is wrong.

Consider trying to tell a person tjTcA&cF «i- Th'S ^ ONt 's G CT

who has been blind from birth what it is like to see a red rose. Intuitively, no set of statements captures the peculiar property of "what it is like", otherwise known as the qualia of a conscious state. It is uncontroversial that neuroscience may one day give us an extremely comprehensive set of statements about what goes on in our brains when we see and feel things. This is not the point. As anybody who has had an orgasm, seen a red rose or stubbed a toe will know, there is a very real difference between a set of statements about that experience and actually experiencing it.

Before we dismiss our intuitions, Churchland has to explain why science will one day allow, among other things, such a blind person to know what it is actually like to see a red rose, rather than just know a complicated set of linguistic and mathematical propositions about our brains.

Dickson, ACT, Australia

Gift economy

From Sally John

You offer a male perspective on gift giving, in which males offer gifts of higher value to the "other woman" (2 April, p 19). I suggest considering the described behaviour from the female's position.

The value of offerings is likely to be a direct result of female choice when females demand gifts as a prerequisite to mating. The gift of a beetle may be acceptable from her long-term mate, but from a paramour she might sulkily hold out for a plump vole (chocolate-covered, preferably).

The reduced benefits of mating with a transient male, as compared to the male who helps to rear his offspring, suggest that females should demand gifts of higher value from males other than their long-term partners. Or: "diamonds from the lover, daffodils from the husband". Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada

Mighty mimic

From Jonny Coleman, Brunei University In the feature on superatoms -clusters of atoms of a particular chemical element that can take on the properties of different elements -1 am surprised Philip Ball did not mention the possibility of creating superatoms (16 April, p 30) which mimic the properties of the theorised superheavy element 114 (17 July 1999, p 12).

At the very least the technique could hint at the chemistry such an element would have, and what technical applications could follow. Given that the most stable form of the element has not even been generated yet, I would think the superatom method should have been considered. London, UK

To err isAI

From Martin Pitt

I am not sure it is such a good idea to allow web users to contact AI program Cyc to "contribute to its fund of knowledge by submitting questions and correcting it if it gets the answers wrong" (23 April, p 32). The web is populated by many assertive but not necessarily knowledgeable or truthful people. After a while Cyc would decide, on the basis of the responses, that evolution is only a discredited theory, Elvis is alive, you can sell your soul on eBay, and so on. Mind you, perhaps it will gain sufficient artificial stupidity to be really human. Leeds, UK

Trail blazers

From Michael Gray You reports that kids in Japan will soon be wearing blazers fitted with GPS transceivers, "allowing parents to track their whereabouts on a laptop" (23 April, p 26). I am confident that even the dullest student is sufficiently bright to reach the conclusion that it is the

blazer that is being tracked, not the wearer. I expect this to lead to an explosion of entrepreneurial juvenile " blazer-minding" services, thus perverting the original good intent, as is every young person's duty. Wingfield, South Australia

For the record

• In the 9 April issue, p 15, we used a photograph depicting five young Welsh fans at a recent rugby match to illustrate a story about the general behaviour of sports team supporters. We may have given the impression that these fans had, in someway, been involved in violent behaviour. They had not, and we would like to make clear that those depicted were well-behaved fans enjoying, and contributing to, a vibrant atmosphere during a trouble-free international.

They have no links to any of the antisocial behaviour by supporters discussed in the article, which took place years earlier at other sporting events.

• In the story entitled "Black or white, the reaction is the same" (m May, p 9), we refer to Implicit Attitude Tests (lATs). It should be Implicit Association Tests.

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