Letters from the April 21, 2007, issue of Science News

How the West isn’t one

The author of “Why So Dry? Ocean temperatures alone don’t explain droughts” (SN: 2/10/07, p. 84), seems to feel, like most other writers do, that “the western United States” properly covers all geographical bases. Believe me, the Pacific Northwest is anything but dry. One other point about geography: Weather phenomena, and other stuff, occurring in the Dakotas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, or Kansas are not happening in the 11 westernmost states.

Matt Andrews
Seattle, Wash.

The word on worms

I enjoyed reading in “What’s Going on Down There?” (SN: 2/17/07, p. 107) about the marine census that’s been taking place, but I was waiting for some mention of the organisms’ parasites. Granted, worms are not glamour-pusses, but they are fascinating creatures. If we want a complete survey, they must be included.

Ann Gardner
Lincoln, Neb.

Net gains

“Net Heads: Huge numbers of brain cells may navigate small worlds” (SN: 2/17/07, p. 104) points out that vital intrinsic neural activities may in part stem from a person’s random thoughts and daydreams, or from neural efforts to balance the opposing signals of cells simultaneously trying to jack up and cool down brain activity, or could occur during an internal process of generating predictions about upcoming environmental demands and how to respond to them. These findings corroborate some of the basic principles important for the development of psychoanalytic theory: the utility of conceptualizing functional divisions of the mind and the importance of a person’s inner world. Freud maintained that the organizing principle in the nervous system was based on functional groupings rather than topographical relationships.

Leon Hoffman
New York Psychoanalytic Institute and Society
New York, N.Y.

Many parallels could be drawn between this perspective on the brain and the World Wide Web. The active nodes, the chaos, and the long-distance and short-distance connections can be compared to servers, terminals, Web sites, and the Web chaos that results in packet traffic being delivered simultaneously to millions of different locations. Each person has his or her own internal Internet.

Dan Dell
Santa Clarita, Calif.

More Stories from Science News on Humans