"It's often assumed that unsophisticated people are most likely to be drawn to talismans, but intellectuals and corporate titans are drawn to them, too, says Dr. [Scott] Sandage, [an American history professor at Carnegie Mellon University]. Personal talismans often are most meaningful when they offer a sense of connection to a time, place or community. Dr. Sandage, 46, keeps a small box on his office desk, which contains an odd assortment of items, including a hose clamp, a chrome lug nut, some brown string, and a 13/64th drill bit. After his dad died last year at age 88, this box was discovered among the few belongings he'd brought with him when he moved into a nursing home."