Letters from the January 5, 2008, issue of Science News

Missing link

“Antibiotics in infancy tied to asthma” (SN: 7/7/07, p. 14) reported a correlation but no confident explanation for the relationship between receiving antibiotics and later developing asthma. “Ulcer bug may prevent asthma” (SN: 10/27/07, p. 270), which reports that children with Helicobacter pylori in their stomachs are less likely to get asthma, seems to offer a convincing answer.

Virginia Brock
Rock Island, Ill.

Do the math

“Strategies to improve teaching” (SN: 12/8/07, p. 366) says that American students’ science and math skills have been falling relative to those of their peers in other countries. How true. Recent tests put the United States in 14th place in an international comparison. But at least we are still in the top 10!

Tom Reesor
Conway, S.C.

The scenic route

We in Maine were surprised to learn that the beautiful Penobscot Narrows Bridge runs between Bangor and Brewer (“Bad Vibrations,” SN: 11/24/07, p. 331). In fact, it connects Prospect, in Waldo County, with Verona, in Hancock County. The three bridges that connect Bangor and Brewer are frankly boring in comparison. And if you’re in the area, please head 30 miles up the coast to Sedgwick to see the Deer Isle Bridge. This lovely and much-repaired suspension bridge over Eggemoggin Reach is the sister to the infamous Tacoma Narrows Bridge, and while mostly stable, can make for an entertaining trip on a very windy day.

Joanna Linden
Waterville, Maine

Dental record

The DNA analysis indicating that some south Siberian bones from the Pleistocene age are from Neandertals (“Ancient DNA moves Neandertals eastward,” SN: 10/13/07, p. 238) matches very well with my interpretation of teeth from those same caves. I proposed in 1990 that the teeth were more like those of Neandertals than any other fossil or modern teeth. Furthermore, it is doubtful that these south Siberian Neandertals evolved into anatomically modern humans, as some Russian workers believe.

Christy Turner
Tempe, Ariz.

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