Get it straight

Unfortunately, “Wings of Change” (SN: 12/6/03, p. 359: Wings of Change) got something wrong in describing the reshaping of aircraft surfaces. The article states, “The recently retired supersonic commercial transport, the Concorde, tilted its nose downward for subsonic flight.” This is not the (whole) truth because the reason for this reshaping was not to reduce air drag, but to achieve a far-better view of the runway during (subsonic) approach to the airfield. It is true that for supersonic flight, the long and tapered nose of the Concorde must not be tilted?because of the fantastic drag it would cause if tilted.

Peter Wagner
Dresden, Germany

Going it alone

“Allies in Therapy: Depression fix feeds off patient-therapist bond” (SN: 12/6/03, p. 357: Allies in Therapy: Depression fix feeds off patient-therapist bond) uses the words “placebo therapies such as supportive counseling.” I think that people in the profession and people who have been paying for such therapy would disagree with the characterization. Also, the various permutations of treatment covered in the article didn’t include a very common one: drugs without any serious counseling. In such circumstances, there is little opportunity for (or need for?) development of a therapeutic alliance between doctor and patient.

Timothy J. Harrison
Seattle, Wash

An underbite problem?

“Seek and Destroy: Virus attacks cancer, spares normal cells” (SN: 12/6/03, p. 356: Seek and Destroy: Virus attacks cancer, spares normal cells) described the use of the mosquito-borne Sindbis virus to kill cancer cells in lab dishes and mice. It would be interesting to determine whether the human population of the Egyptian town of Sindbis exhibits a reduced incidence of certain cancers. Perhaps large-scale efforts directed toward elimination of the mosquito in populated areas are reducing beneficial, insectborne inoculations worldwide.

John T. Petrick
New Port Richey, Fla

One more worry

The conclusion does not follow from the data in “Worried to Death: Lifelong inhibitions hasten rodents’ deaths” (SN: 12/13/03, p. 373: Worried to Death: Lifelong inhibitions hasten rodents’ deaths). The possibility was not ruled out that the same inborn trait that causes fear of novelty also hastens aging. A cohort of novelty-averse rats should have been left stressfree to answer this important question.

Tom Paskal
Montreal, Quebec


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