It took the Science News editor in chief to recognize the most prescient science “fiction” movie of all time, Forbidden Planet (“Science brings real life to the technologies of fiction,” SN: 7/2/11, p. 2). Beyond civilization without instrumentalities, the film also brought us lasers before there were masers, Robby [the Robot] analyzing molecular structure to duplicate anything and multiple concepts that have come to fruition in my and Tom Siegfried’s lifetime. If only those handsets hadn’t had wires....
Tony Witlin, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Attraction and gender
Thank you for a great publication! The meeting note entitled “Familiarity breeds congeniality” (SN: 6/18/11, p. 17) raises the question as to why “men showed no signs of especially liking women who resembled a romantic partner” while women did. One possible answer is that the ancient male genetic dictum said to spread his DNA as far and as often as possible; therefore, unfamiliar looks equaled difference and perhaps distance. On the other hand, the ancient female genetic dictum said to rear offspring in a safe environment; therefore, familiar looks equaled more of what she already knew. Just a thought.
Mike Kletzly, via e-mail
“Geometry comes naturally to the unschooled mind” (SN: 6/18/11, p. 16), states: “such as lines that extend forever or perfect right angles.” I think an old-growth timber forest is the perfect place to visualize parallel lines going on forever, as the trees are perpendicular to the ground and extend virtually till they go out of sight.
Irvin Hentzel, Ames, Iowa
It might be interesting to compare Amazonian villagers’ limited experience with respect to geometric principles with that of adults and children blind from birth. This might shed some light on the innate/acquired question.
Bill Britton, via e-mail
Catching the vibrations
A note about “What it means to ‘feel the noise’ ” (SN: 6/18/11, p. 11): When I worked as a complementary therapist at a hospice, patients who were said to be hard of hearing frequently responded to the sounds of the Native American flute, a particularly mellow instrument which I would place close to the sternum of these patients. One morning a 100-year-old, profoundly deaf woman turned to me at the completion of an old hymn and said simply: “That was beautiful. I wish I could hear it.”
Pat Edmunds, Six Mile, S.C.