Letters from the June 3, 2006, issue of Science News

Latitude adjustments

“Shafts of snow sculpted by sun” (SN: 4/1/06, p. 206) doesn’t say that penitentes appear only in the Andes, nor does it say in what part of the Andes they appear. Does the formation of penitentes require that the sun be nearly directly overhead for part of the day? Can penitentes form only near the equator?

Burton Loupee
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Penitentes are also found in non-equatorial regions, says Meredith D. Betterton of the University of Colorado at Boulder. While the sun need not be directly overhead for the snow spikes to form, its midday position affects their tilt. For instance, penitentes far south of the equator lean more to the north than equatorial ones do.—P. Weiss

Sorry, you lose

I did think the hairy crab was amazing, and I chuckled over the earthworm-eating and drop-down spider stories, although the “male spiders woo lifelessly” slipped right by (“Hairy crab lounges deep in the Pacific,” “On a dare, teen advances medical science,” “Device rids homes of sounds of rap,” and “Wary male spiders woo lifelessly,” SN: 4/1/06, p. 205). It wasn’t until I passed the issue on to my husband that I noticed that the heading said “No Fooling” instead of “Of Note.” So now, we have a $20 bet on the veracity of these articles. Please tell me that you were pulling our (hairy) legs.

Dian D. Reed
Soquel, Calif.

All the April 1 stories were authentic, although amusing. That’s why we labeled them “No Fooling.”—The Editors

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