The Weekly Newsmagazine of Science
Volume 155, Number 21 (May 22, 1999)
Other clues to thought and action
The research on how infants learn to coordinate movement ("Minds
on the move," SN: 3/20/99, p. 184) would seem to be most applicable
in modern homes with floors and central heating. In some cultures,
notably in cold climates, infants remain mostly wrapped and strapped
to their mothers for up to a year. Has there been any comparative
study with these infants?
Not that I know of. Dynamic-systems theorists also acknowledge the
need to investigate social and cultural processes, such as infants'
exposure to spoken language, that influence mental development along
with their motor experience. B. Bower
The first paragraph of "Fickle climate thwarts future forecasts"
(SN: 2/27/99, p. 133) mistakenly refers to Sisyphus as the person
who constantly reaches for elusive goals. Sisyphus was doomed
to forever push a rock uphill, only to have it roll back down.
Tantalus, however, was tempted from above by grapes that moved
away when he reached for them, and from below by water that receded
when he tried to drink it.
Huntington Woods, Mich.
The story does not characterize Sisyphus as one who reaches for
elusive goals, but one who strains. Indeed, he pushed the rock toward
the top of the hill and seemed to make progress, only to have the rock
slip back down each time. Similarly, climate researchers are continually
making advances, but complications routinely crop up that send them
several steps backward. R. Monastersky
I feel that the title and subtitle of the article "Redefining
dioxins: Once dreaded as industrial poisons, some of these compounds
may prove to be naturaleven beneficial" (SN: 3/6/99, p.
156) were very misleading. They suggest that the extremely dangerous
dioxins like TCDD have now been found to be beneficial, when this
is not the case, as the article goes on to explain. The content
of the article was excellent, as usual.
Chippewa Falls, Wis.
What a letdown to see an article such as "Redefining dioxins"
in Science News. What a perfect out for the producers of
these once-dreaded and, yes, still-dreaded industrial poisons.
We are now instructed to label any and every entity that binds
to the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (Ahr) as dioxin. Then, we encounter
the sidebar telling us that dioxins are actually anticancer agents
and that breakdown products of broccoli, cabbage, and brussels
sprouts activate the very same Ahr receptor that dioxins do.
To rename beneficial, naturally occurring molecules as dioxinsrather
than informing, clarifying, educating, and enlighteningwould
disinform and defraud, as well as cloud, the issues.
Linda J. Tanner
|How to communicate with Science News:
||Use our convenient online form: Feedback to Science News
||E-mail us at email@example.com|
||Send snail mail to:
||Editor, Science News
1719 N Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
|All letters subject to editing.
Back to Top
Copyright © 1999 Science Service