The Reporter
Issue 499, 7 June 2004
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Letters

Send your letters to editor of the Reporter, Vanessa Bridge. Email the.reporter@leeds.ac.uk or send by internal post to press office, 12.67 E C Stoner building

 

DISAPPEARING DINOSAURS? (From Jonathan Adams, formerly of biology) Climate change worriers will have been disturbed by the theories of David Miller and Jonathen Summers (Reporter 498). If true, natural selection was unable to adjust a male/female temperature threshold for sex determination in dinosaurs and doomed them to extinction, although, bizarrely, it had worked well enough for tens of millions of years. Fortunately, no worries needed. Dr Miller was anticipated not only by RA Fisher’s mathematical work on sex ratio evolution more than 50 years ago, but by work on gekkoes (and shrimps and other food) in Leeds in the 1980s and Mark Ferguson’s work in Manchester on sex determination in crocodiles. Temperature-dependent sex determination is used not by animals that get stuck with it but by species that stick by it because of its tactical benefit in choosing offspring gender. Alligators have not died out although Louisiana swamps are not what they used to be. If their environment had become too unpredictable then dinosaurs would have evolved a better control mechanism. Our own theory shows that overheated imaginations in medical researchers can lead to a complete failure to read the scientific literature. Excitation of neural networks caused by perceived discovery, described as a ‘scarce phenomenon’ in medical textbooks, leads to rapid thermal change. This initially blocks recall of resource locations, such as libraries, and leads to tunnel vision, possibly resulting in clinicians looking at their own backsides. Again, there are climate change implications. Still, it’s a fun idea and if it gives you a few more inches then run it up the flagpole.

DENTISTRY IN DECAY? (From JN Kidd, retired senior dental instructor) Since my retirement in 1984 it would appear that dentistry is in terminal decay. The letter ‘Chasing Paper’ (Reporter 498) made very alarming reading when considered alongside an article in the Daily Mail on May 10 entitled ‘A kick in the teeth’, which said that nine-out-of-ten people in the UK live in an area without adequate practising dentists. The universities, government, and people of this country should know why we have sunk to this level. We have succeeded in getting rid of most people requiring full upper and lower dentures, children with disgusting teeth, and the elderly with nothing but a set of gums. These days will return unless the public can obtain NHS access. Will the dentists of tomorrow have sufficient knowledge to obtain the desired success? It is a big question and one which leaves severe doubts as to the future of dental health in this country. My solution is to pass a statute for compulsory registration of all dental technicians. Grant dental technicians access to the mouth to carry out NHS prosthetic work. The dentist is then free to pursue his private work. The training of technicians at the Leeds Dental Institute is of the highest standard. Many open days at the University bear this out. Could someone please inform me what became of the wonderful dental museum which had such valuable specimens and history? Perhaps it is now used to store the huge amounts of paper referred to?

 

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