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LETTERS TO THE EDITORS

Play It Again

To the Editors:

Reading Pierre Laszlo's article "Science as Play" (September-October) gave me a real sense of déja vu! In 1978 my then Ph.D. advisor, the late Professor Arthur J. Cain presented a paper to introduce a Royal Society meeting on "The evolution of adaptation by natural selection." The proceedings of the meeting were published in 1979 (Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, series B, 205: 435–604).

In the last paragraph of his paper (pages 599–603 of the Proceedings), Cain posits essentially the same idea presented by Laszlo. Cain suggested that scientists are "the perpetual adolescents, who retain their inquisitiveness, their desire to play..." Others mature earlier and lose objectivity, becoming politicians, religious fanatics, and so on. Further, he suggested that  academia is inhabited by such "adolescents" although some, as they mature may "fall off into administration." He even suggested that there might be a genetic component of such cultural adolescence. Are we then genetically predisposed to becoming scientists, remaining perpetual adolescents?

Robert H. Cowie
University of Hawaii
Honolulu, Hawaii

To the Editors:

The eye-catching photograph of a faux police car atop an MIT building in Pierre Lazlo’s "Science As Play" column (September-October), illustrates the playfulness and ingenuity of engineers. The transportation, assembly and structural integrity of the car depended on engineering skills. I am glad to hear that scientists can use their playful attitudes to scientific fruition, but the photo shows that engineers also "think outside the sandbox."

George Prans
Manhattan College
Bronx, New York

 

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