Letters from the February 10, 2007, issue of Science News

Grape gripe

“A Toast to Healthy Hearts: Wine compounds benefit blood vessels” (SN: 12/2/06, p. 356) leaves us up in the air with this statement: “. . . since the traditional wine-making techniques still in use in southwestern France and Sardinia increase concentrations of polymeric procyanidins, he says, other vintners may soon adopt such methods.” As a home winemaker, I have to ask, Which techniques contribute to increasing procyanidins?

Bill Treloar
East Hanover, N.J.

Evidently, the winemakers in these regions leave fermenting juice with grape skins and seeds longer than usual.—C. Brownlee

Pretty interesting

If membership in a species is characterized by the inability to breed with members of another species, how can there be “animal species known to have arisen from crossbreeding with other species” (“New Butterfly,” SN: 12/02/06, p. 355)?

Jeffry D. Mueller
Eldersburg, Md.

Exceptions happen. Also, biologists argue about what defines a species.—S. Milius

I suggest that the new species be named Lycaeides lolita, in honor of Vladimir Nabokov.

Joseph Singer
Fairfax, Va.

Transforming relationship

“Howdy, Neighbors: Long-term study finds a batch of red dwarfs” (SN: 12/2/06, p. 356) says that a planet so close to a red dwarf would be forced to “rotate in sync” with the star. Is this the same situation that causes the moon to rotate in sync with Earth?

Ken Bollers
Hudson, Colo.

Yes. First, the larger body (the red dwarf) pulls the smaller body (the planet) slightly out of round. Then, the bulging smaller body experiences internal friction that slows its rotation until it spins at the same rate that it orbits the larger body.—R. Cowen

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