Every now and then, some new brain wave assails the scientific community hive mind that promises to shift paradigms, usher a new era, herald a new understanding, save humanity, or some combination. Hubbub in the form of international conferences and coffee-laced symposia is kindled to drum up excitement. If science was YouTube, it would be the equivalent of the viral cat video. Kindly known as “bandwagons” among the science Illuminati, they can be charted by the number of peer-reviewed articles published annually on a topic. If you stretch the publishing window out years and/or decades, what you get is a bell-shaped curve looking something like this:

Early on, a few intrepid pioneers dip their toes, the “hey look me over” phase. This is followed by a steep rise, middle peak, and finally, a period of waning frequency that characterizes so many natural and human social phenomena. Biochar, the ancient soil amendment of the Amazon, fits this trend perfectly. Continue reading