By Connie Willis
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Translated into armor, the poulaine fad became downright dangerous: Austrian knights at the battle of Sempach in 1386 were riveted to the spot by their elongated iron shoes and were forced to strike off the points with their swords or be caught flat-footed, so to speak. Supplanted by the square-toed, ankle-strapped duck’s-bill shoe, which promptly became ridiculously wide. The Earth Mother has okay food and iced tea so good I order it all year round. Plus, it’s a great place to study fads. Not only is its menu trendy (currently free-range vegetarian), but so are its waiters.
All fads have a low ability threshold. That’s why you never see speed chess becoming a fad. ” He pushed his Coke-bottle glasses up on his nose. “I’m working on a project on fads. What causes them and where they come from,” I said. ” “I have no idea. ” I stuck out my hand again. “Nice to have met you, Dr. ” I started back through the maze. ” I was going to say I didn’t think there’d be room in here, but it was almost six, and I at least had to get my piles up off the floor and into file folders before I went home.
Witness bungee-jumping. And Lava lamps. Scientific discoveries are the same way. People like to think of science as rational and reasonable, following step by step from hypothesis to experiment to conclusion. Dr. ” Nothing could be further from the truth. The process is exactly like any other human endeavor—messy, haphazard, misdirected, and heavily influenced by chance. Look at Alexander Fleming who discovered penicillin when a spore drifted in the window of his lab and contaminated one of his cultures.
Bellwether by Connie Willis