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Readers Respond to the April Issue

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Bruce Henderson ["North Pole. Peary comes off badly here. His refusal to transport Cook's belongings from Annoatok, Greenland, not only reflects poorly upon his character, it suggests that one man believed Cook had indeed reached the Pole. That man was Peary.
Steven Newman
Washington, D.C.

Polar Controversy
If cook was deprived of glory, consider Fridjtof Nansen, the Norwegian explorer and scientist who wrote of his polar experiences in the popular book Farthest North, first published in 1897. Henderson's article credits Cook with being the first to describe, in 1908, the constant movement of polar ice and its westerly direction. Not so. Prior to 1893, Nansen recognized that polar sea ice not only moved, but did so in a westerly direction. He then proved it with his 1893-96 expedition aboard the Fram.
Raymond F. Ford
Charlottesville, Virginia

Who Owns Fossils?
I read the story by Donovan Webster ["South Dakota farmer and gold is discovered on your land. Or, better still, a great gushing oil well. Does Webster believe the gold or oil should belong to all of us? Why is it OK for the government to confiscate one kind of property but not another?
Charles Hoult
Culver City, California

I was bothered by the general tenor of Webster's article. Instead of dealing with the complex reality of the subject, he presented the more extreme views. This has a rather polarizing effect, which will satisfy neither academics nor commercial or amateur collectors. No doubt there are fossil thefts. It is also true that the introduction of big money has permanently changed vertebrate paleontology. But these are complicated issues. For example, would those Therizinosaurs have been discovered had Larry Walker not poached them?
Rob Sula
Aurora, Illinois

The Science of Artistic Genius
It seems that Donald Olson ["Celestial Sleuth"] has too much time on his hands. All his research and speculation about the circumstances surrounding specific paintings would be better spent on other problems, such as trying to find cures for human ills. Great paintings are great because of what the painter evoked, not because of a split second in eternity when the stars were in a certain position.
John Degatina
Summerfield, Florida

As an artist I find Donald Olson's forensic astronomy illuminating. By contrast, his critics seem to have their heads in the clouds. Olson's findings establish facts that help us understand more fully what went into creating historic paintings.
John DeFrancesco
Monument, Colorado

Chili Expert Not Overheated
I enjoy your regular profiles of ecologists, such as Brendan Borrell's story on Joshua Tewksbury and his work on wild chili peppers ["What's So Hot About Chili Peppers?"]. I don't know Dr. Tewksbury personally, but he is painted as a whimsical guy with misguided enthusiasm who does everything by the seat of his pants. This belies his strong history of professional publication, which could only have been produced by a focused and disciplined scientist.
Terry McGlynn
Pasadena, California

Corrections:
The subject of the photograph on page 59 of the April issue was incorrectly identified as the explorer Robert Peary. It is almost certainly Lewis Lindsay Dyche, according to Dyche biographer William Sharp and Rebecca Schulte, an archivist at the University of Kansas, where Dyche's papers are kept. Dyche (1857-1915) was an explorer and a naturalist at the university who knew both Peary and his rival Frederick A. Cook. In the same article, we stated that Cook studied indigenous peoples of the Arctic and Antarctic. He did not conduct such studies in Antarctica.

"Mozart composed only two clarinet works. We regret the errors.

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