If my wife and some leading scientists are correct, before finishing this story, most readers will stare off into space, perhaps contemplating the seemingly perfect shape of a crumb on the table, before recalling their prior engagement with this fine piece of prose.

I won't take it personally. The mind is apt to wander, and I know this because some scientists at Harvard say so.

What you call daydreaming, they call Stimulus Independent Thought, or SIT.

Scientists were able to prove people daydream when bored by watching on a fancy MRI as people's brains wandered as they got bored.

They know this because they watched it all on a functional MRI, a machine that can show brain activity by measuring oxygen in the blood.

To bore subjects, researchers did what my boss does: told them to do the same boring thing over and over again. Then they had them do something interesting, and the fancy machine said their brains weren't bored anymore. But just to be sure, they were asked if they were still bored. They weren't.

The study, the authors concluded after several pages and a picture of a brain with little patches of yellow interest on it, showed that people daydream when unchallenged.

Harvard researcher Malia Mason, who did the study, said it contradicted accepted theories that most thoughts are directed toward a goal and only occasionally does a mind wander.

What does this study tell me about my wife, who seems to find the texture of the tablecloth more interesting than what I did at work that day?

Alas, my worst fears confirmed. She isn't feeding a voracious curiosity about textiles. - John Sullivan