Letters from the September 24, 2005, issue of Science News
Monkey see, monkey smell
That monkeys get “weirded out” by seeing themselves in mirrors doesn’t seem unexpected (“Reflections of Primate Minds: Mirror images strike monkeys as special,” SN: 7/23/05, p. 53). Were a familiar or an unfamiliar same-sex capuchin seen, the test subject would be bombarded not just by visual images but also by smells generated from the normal interactions of monkeys. What makes them act strangely is not seeing themselves, which they probably don’t recognize, but seeing an image that has no smell.
I’m currently writing a biography of RAF Squadron Leader Roger Bushell, the instigator of the plan to construct the three tunnels in Stalag Luft III (“Seeing Past the Dirt,” SN: 7/30/05, p. 72). Last fall, I visited the site. Amazingly, it was difficult to see where the excavation team had been. I have also spoken to dozens of men who either helped build the tunnel or were there when the mass escape occurred. The article stated that the escape was on March 26, 1944. However, it actually occurred on the evening of the 24th and into the wee hours of the 25th.
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Regarding “From Famine, Schizophrenia: Starvation gives birth to personality disorder” (SN: 8/6/05, p. 84), while no obstetrician nowadays advocates starving expectant mothers, there was a general belief for many years that a pregnant woman should gain minimal weight. It might be of interest to know if this practice had any influence on the incidence of schizophrenia.
Silver Spring, Md.