Fed up underground 20th July 2006 Are we meant to sympathise with your columnist Dan Kuper (July) for his dreary working life underground? As a commuter who has to fork out a huge sum every year to travel on the tube, I find Kuper’s casual attitude to his work most irritating. His admission that staff were bunking off from manning the ticket gates to watch the World Cup is typical. He wouldn’t last long in the private sector.
Robert Low London NW6
Strung out 9th August 2006
I share some of his doubts about string theory, but John Horgan is over-pessimistic (August). It is true that string theory does not yet answer most of the questions asked of it, although as Horgan acknowledges, several key theoretical problems have been solved over the last 20 years. The need for new experimental data is indeed pressing, and Horgan is right that it may never be possible to build an accelerator capable of testing the theory. But he does not reflect on the opportunity of using “nature’s particle accelerator”—the hot, dense universe immediately after the big bang. Our current “concordance” model of the universe does not account for about 95 per cent of the energy in the universe; plenty of scope for physicists, stringy or not, to get their hands dirty.
Chris Lintott University College London
English questions 1 7th August 2006 I suggest that a basic issue driving the current debate on the “English question” (August) is the demise of the Conservative party in both Scotland and Wales. As the party seems unable to recover in these places, owing to the perception that it is an English party, the Conservatives could do themselves a favour by dissolving themselves there. This would make way for local right-wing parties that would provide the Scots and Welsh with an alternative to the present clutter of leftish parties and provide the Conservatives in Westminster with partners; similar to the CSU in Bavaria.
Hugh Gilfedder Welton, Lincolnshire
English questions 2 26th July 2006
In his piece “The East Lothian Answer” (August), Malcolm Rifkind wrote, “This is not a quarrel between England and Scotland. Every survey of Scottish opinion shows that a very big majority of Scots agree that English MPs should have the last word on legislation in parliament that affects only England.”
Among activists seeking an English parliament, Rifkind…