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Investigations

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Tourists in an unknown town: Remapping the social sciences

Andrew Abbott, AM'75, PhD'82, proposes a theory of research in the social sciences that follows a fractal pattern. There's a curious thing about fractals. Once you recognize a pattern, you begin seeing them all over the place: in the tangled tops of crab apple trees, in the early winter waves crashing against the concrete riprap along the South Shore, and-in Andrew Abbott's case-in the way knowledge moves through the social sciences.
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> > Joan of Arc fever
Plug "Joan of Arc" into your Web browser and skip around the 100,000-plus threads that result. One thread likely leads to Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's declaration that in a previous life he was Charles VII and "abandoned" Joan, another to the International Joan of Arc Society's repository of scholarly and pedagogic information. And certainly a few lead to reviews and synopses of the 1999 film The Messenger.
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> > Body electric
Opposites, many lovers say, can and do attract-it's just a matter of the right chemistry. A team of University chemists believes this maxim can be true at the cellular level too, and its research is bringing together the most extreme of opposites-living cells and man-made materials-in an effort to create tiny biomedical devices smart enough to communicate with the body's building blocks.
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  DECEMBER 2000

  > > Volume 93, Number 2


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