Building on a Kernel of Truth

This summer, friends and I took a cruise in Alaska where the tourist shops often featured the Russian matryoshka dolls.  The dolls originated in Japan but were made popular in Russia around the time of the Russian Revolution, a century ago.  You've seen them -- you pop open an outer doll, and nested inside is another.  The magic of the art is that you keep opening layer after layer, only to find another even smaller doll, until at last the final incarnation is just a kernel in size.  The successive dolls vary from near exact duplicates with hard-to-identify slight variations to entire chess game piece sets, each nested one inside another.  Shoppers pass the various pieces around to their fellow vacationers, amazed at the intricate artwork and comparing the design, shape, and ingenuity with which each piece fits neatly into the next.  Eventually somebody, usually not the same person who began this process, starts trying to put it all back together again,...(Read Full Article)