Where the Shadow Goes

This is in reference to the Nov. 14 news story "A Planet Is Detected Via Distant Shadow."

For the record, what was observed from the viewpoint of the earth was not the shadow of that putative planet but its silhouette or outline. You can't see an object's shadow on a star; all you see is its outline covering part of the star's surface, thereby diminishing its light intensity as seen from a point on a straight line connecting the observer, the obscuring mass and the light source.

In the story, the reporter also wrote that a "drop in the star's brightness . . . [indicated] that the planet had cast a shadow over the star." How can the planet cast a shadow when the only object in the vicinity capable of creating shadows is the light source (the star) itself!

--Sergio Reyes

Wicked Ambition

I would like to bring to your attention to the word "enormity," as used in Sally Quinn's Nov. 14 Outlook article on Al Gore. It does not mean "largeness" or "hugeness," nor is it in any way connected with size. Rather it is associated with wickedness and atrocity.

Of course that could be what Sally Quinn's friend and "longtime Washington observer" meant in suggesting that "when a person gets close to power and has seen the enormity of it he will do anything to get and keep it."

But I don't think so.

--Gordon H. Clow

Money Talks

The Nov. 11 World in Brief column includes the headline "Afghanis Demonstrate Against Sanctions." This seems unlikely because an afghani is a unit of currency. The people are Afghans.

The thought of all those coins and bills marching up and down, complaining about sanctions, however, is intriguing and certainly helped cement the story in my mind. Perhaps that was what the headline writer intended.

--Clark Rumrill

D.C. Countdown

A Metro Nov. 7 article on the control board noted that there are "523,124 people living in the District." Twelve paragraphs later he notes: "The District had a population of 756,492 in 1970 and [it] has decreased by about 45 percent since."

Forty-five percent of 756,492 results in a loss of 340,421, leaving a residual population of 416,071 residents, compared with 523,124 given in the article. Can this be ascribed to the purported urban "undercounting"?

Yes, the District likely needs to increase its taxable population, but readers of your paper need a firm factual basis to agree with the assertion.

--Pete J. Dunn

Two Vowels Too Many

Your Nov. 13 crossword had a pretty inexcusable double misspelling in its very first clue and answer. The clue "Slugger Vaughan" led to the answer "Moe."

Now I know Mo Vaughn made a ton of money slinking out west to Anaheim this past year, but none of it was spent with Vanna White to buy vowels. Maurice Vaughn's nickname is not "Moe" but "Mo," and his last name has only six letters, as has his cousin's, slugger Greg Vaughn of Cincinnati.

--Robert Sutton

Forsaken Frederick

As a resident of Frederick County for the past 24 years, I've found your paper's weekly Montgomery County section, which is delivered to my door, to be an increasing source of irritation. That it almost never includes Frederick County in any listings of events, schedules or meetings is also more than a little tedious.

We are inundated with your emigres; we have become the second-largest city in Maryland because of them, yet the cultural, political and sporting events in our county and communities do not seem to be of sufficient consequence to be reported.

The only exceptions to this seem to be on the occasion of some outbreak of bigotry or when the local politicians do or say something particularly heinous. I feel sure that I am not alone in my desire for a Frederick County weekly section.

--Samuel H. Stout

Final Premier

In his Nov. 10 article "Ten Years After the Fall" [World News], William Drozdiak incorrectly states that Egon Krenz was "the last East German leader."

The last East German leader was Lothar de Maziere, who was premier from April 1990 until Unification Day, Oct. 3, 1990.

--Alison Mahr