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Remembering Edward Lorenz

Many around the world have spoken of Professor Lorenz’s monumental contributions to science (“When the Butterfly Effect Took Flight,” March/April 2011). As a student of his in the 1970s, I would like to give a more personal view of Ed, who was soft-spoken and clear as a diamond, his words better than pearls.

Ed and I shared a love of mountains. We climbed Mount Monadnock at night in winter to see the sun rise behind Boston. He later climbed it for his 90th birthday! We tackled Mount Galehead so he could complete a newly expanded list of mountains over 4,000 feet in New Hampshire. We also climbed several peaks—some taller than 14,000 feet—in Colorado. Once, as we gazed at the mountains, Ed said, “What a gorgeous view!” I replied, “Yes, beautiful peaks.” “No. Lower down,” Ed said. I then noticed the bathing beauty by the lake below us.

I had many opportunities to talk with Ed at length and see him with his family. He was clearly grateful for his grown children and so loved and cared for his wife, Jane. His deeply loving nature made a lasting impression on me.
James Fullmer, PhD ‘79
Killingworth, Connecticut

The Silver Streak

MIT’s involvement in the development of the Zephyr (“The Silver Streak,” March/April 2011) went further than your article stated. Albert Dean ‘31 designed the railcar body in a manner similar to that of an aluminum-body airplane in which the vehicle skin—instead of a separate structure—carries much of the mechanical load, saving a lot of weight. His brother Walter Dean ‘28 (whose son, Claude, also went to MIT) worked on automobiles at the Budd Company and designed and built the railcar “trucks,” the assembly of wheels, axles, and a suspension system that supports the railcar while minimizing the bounces from switches, rail joints, and track irregularities. Without this improved suspension, high-speed rail trips would have been exceedingly uncomfortable.

I worked in the Budd Company’s product development division from 1968 to 1970 and had many lunchtime discussions with Walter Dean about the unique challenges of rail-vehicle engineering. The Dean brothers were the finest gentlemen I ever worked for.
Steven I. Freedman ‘56, ­
SM ‘57, ME ‘60, PhD ‘61
Deerfield, Illinois

The “Silver Streak” story requires an addition. At the time the original Pioneer Zephyr was exhibited at South Station, the Boston and Maine Railroad was taking delivery of an almost exact copy, the Budd-built Flying Yankee, for service over the B&M to Portland and then on to Bangor via the Maine Central. It made the round trip every day except Sunday, and the running time from Boston to Portland was faster than that of today’s Amtrak Downeaster. (I recall this because I was a test engineer on the B&M for work on my SB thesis.) After serving the B&M through World War II, the Flying Yankee shifted to other routes, including running as the Cheshire to White River Junction, Vermont, and as the Minute Man to Troy, New York. Retired in 1957, the train is now being restored for renewed operation (see www.flyingyankee.com).
David-Lloyd Klepper ‘53, SM ‘57
Jerusalem, Israel

Editor’s note: For a remembrance of the Flying Yankee by David D. Wallace ‘52, MArch ‘56, see technologyreview.com/flying-yankee.

Overcoming Dyslexia

Thanks for calling attention to Professor Gabrieli’s brain-scan studies of dyslexic children (“A New View on Dyslexia,” March/April 2011). I have taught hundreds of dyslexic children to read and have observed the difficulty that they experience in crossing from the right to the left brain hemisphere. And I worry that Gabrieli’s recommendations may harm a new generation of dyslexic children.

I agree that dyslexic children should be taught differently, but they should not try, as he suggests, to memorize whole words on sight. Memorizing turns out to be a terribly inefficient way to read, write, and spell.

The method I use involves spending a short time each day retraining the children’s brains to track letters, then words, across the page—and across the brain’s central divide. Tracking exercises, combined with basic phonics, enable students to read most English words fluently and spell them correctly, even when they have not seen the word before. Memorizing cannot do that.

More research on dyslexia is always welcome. However, teaching methods that help dyslexic students connect their right and left brain hemispheres exist today. Memorization has already been tried and rejected.
Lindsay Pavel (wife of George Pavel ‘72)
Livermore, California

John Gabrieli responds:
I thank Lindsay Pavel for noting the challenges involved in translating controlled scientific studies into educational practices for children and adolescents who struggle with reading. Indeed, interventions are documented as being more effective in younger children in whom accurate decoding (single-word reading) is a major problem, but interventions are often ineffective in older children, for whom fluent reading of connected text is often the greater problem. I hope our findings on brain structure and function that predict long-term gains in older children with reading difficulty will ultimately contribute to more effective ways to help them.

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