Week of January 1, 2022

Facts That Are Fit to Be Tied


The convention of categorizing athletic players as “first string, second string, etc.” goes back to the medieval archer’s practice of carrying backup strings for their bow in case the first string broke.


Purse strings tighten or loosen the opening of a traditional pouch purse, so one who “controls the purse strings” has authority to dictate finances as they see fit.


Fabric merchants of old times marked flaws in their material for sale by tying a string to the imperfect spot. Hence to get something without condition is to receive it “no strings attached.”


A person who “pulls the strings” controls people or events, often unbeknownst to others. This term originates with marionette puppetry, where characters were controlled by hidden puppeteers holding the strings.


Stringed instruments go back to at least 2,550BC, the date of the first known lyre found in 1929 in modern day Iraq.


String theory, in a very simplified sense, suggests that the various forces among subatomic particles could interact in a more theoretically cohesive way if the particles were conceptualized as vibrating strings instead of individual points.


Unsurprisingly, strings are old. Man-made strings found in a cave in southeast France date back 90,000 years.