Letters from the June 25, 2005, issue of Science News

Dark secret?

“Dark Influence: Most of the universe’s matter is out of sight, but not out of mind” (SN: 4/23/05, p. 264) made me wonder about the possibility of a continuum of matter. Could part of the problem in identifying dark matter be that only part of the spectrum of matter is observable by our senses and sensors? As there are sound waves above and below the frequencies we can hear, and light waves we can’t see with our eyes, could it be that matter has properties that make it invisible to us at certain “frequencies”? This may explain some of the anomalies in the layering of dark matter.

Phil Paulsen
Racine, Wis

Reading, writing, ruminating

It is frustrating to read of studies endeavoring to study brain activity as related to reading and thinking (“Read All about It: Kids take different neural paths to reach print mastery,” SN: 4/30/05, p. 280). What the researchers are observing, in my opinion, is brain activity related to building a lexicon. Animals and children “think” without a lexicon. “Ethan” was intensely interested in symbols but not exceptional in relating those symbols to comprehension. We all experience having a thought without being able to recover the word that best fits it.

Richard Harem
Marfa, Texas

Written English is only barely phonetic, as anybody who has tried to explain ought, though, and through to a child knows. I wonder what the results would have shown for a more strongly phonetic language, such as Spanish or maybe Korean, which is phonetic but not linear.

Ivan Mann
Hoover, Ala

Fateful fluoride?

In “Zinc boosts kids’ learning” (SN: 4/30/05, p. 286), I wonder if the enhanced learning that the researchers observed might have resulted not from the supplemental zinc per se, but from the zinc’s blocking absorption of fluoride in the juice. Most juice, especially grape and citrus, has enormous concentrations of fluoride from the pesticides used to produce it. Fluoride is known to cross the blood-brain barrier and to interfere with learning.

Jerry Malone
Pueblo, Colo

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