My friend Goodbeaker has had one of the more quilted scientific careers I know of, yet one that somehow always seems to follow the cutting edge of research. An academic biologist of no great repute, she thought her career was made last year when her department chairman fled the groves of academe for Turkey in search of Noah's Ark. Passed over for promotion, she languished teaching freshmen the difference between sperm and ova until eight weeks ago when she somehow jumped on the superconducter bandwagon in a minor capacity. She'd told me at the time that she'd given up on finding a good man. All she wanted was a nice ceramic with high-temperature conductivity. I thought she'd found herself in materials science.

So it was with great surprise that I found her just the other day peddling sunglasses, floppy hats, and zinc oxide ointment on the steamy streets of Washington,...

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