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Travel letters

The physics behind those whispers

Regarding "Royal View" by Christopher Reynolds [April 3]: The Whispering Gallery [in St. Paul's Cathedral] is a version of a now-famous physics phenomena, whispering gallery wave modes. They also exist with light and have been used recently to make sensitive medical diagnostics devices and to detect trace explosives.

It is not that it "is said to make whispers audible." It does make them audible by conducting the sound wave in a way that does not let it disperse or fade. (That part is the trick.) It is neat to try it out. My wife and I had a company based on those physics, and we made sure to go to St. Paul's on a trip, especially since we sold the company and wanted to see some gallery modes in action.

When Christopher Wren built it, he did not know about whispering modes but made them by accident.

Gregory Bearman


How time flies. Reading Jay Jones' article about the royal wedding festivities ["Royal Treatment," April 3] planned at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, Canada, I was transported to that July day 30 years ago when I celebrated Charles and Diana's wedding at the regal Empress. I recall attending a beautiful afternoon tea that special day.

I now find myself back in the same time zone as 30 years ago. I'll again be setting my alarm for the wee hours of darkness to enjoy the wedding broadcast. However, my celebratory afternoon tea this time will be a bit less majestic than before. But those memories will linger.

Rachel Bishar

Santa Barbara

All praise the April 3 L. A. Times for the space and word count of not one but two — count 'em — two articles on mountain biking in California ["Chasing Thrills in Desert Hills" by Hugo Martín, and "A Steep Trek Up Little Pine" by Arnie Cooper]. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

A. Downs

Long Beach

"Worries Aren't Covered" [More for Your Money, March 27] by Jane Engle offers excellent and timely information.

We had a trip to Japan planned with Tauck Travel. When we called to cancel, they were very understanding. Within five days, we had a full refund check and a credit-card refund posted to our account, because we had cancel-for-any-reason coverage.

Within five days, American Airlines had reinstated our frequent-flier miles and rebated the taxes paid with our credit card. Yes, there was a fee, annoying but not that onerous.

This is not the first time the insurance has paid off, so even with all the premiums I have paid, I'm still ahead. It's always good to have some travel peace of mind.

Richard Snyder

Los Angeles

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