Imagine sipping on some hot soup one winter evening and something seems off. After one more sip, you say to yourself, ‘Ah! this needs more salt’, you get up and add a pinch of salt and voila! the soup has transformed into a flavor bomb. Now you think, ‘It needs some more!’, you add one more pinch and take it a quick swill, and you immediately the curse the heavens. The soup is now too salty. It tastes of salts and nothing else. What just happened here? The salt was just right before and adding one more pinch shifted it to be being salty.

Now if you happen to plot this on a graph, with x-axis as amount of salt and y-axis being the ‘flavor’ of the soup, it would look something like a volcano.

This curve also nicely summarize the goldilock’s story where goldilocks finds a bowl of porridge in the bear’s house at just the right temperature, bed with just the right amount of softness to sleep.

There is a pattern now. Something of too much is going to be bad. You see this absolutely everywhere. This argument is also invoked in jusitifying life as we see on earth! It is proposed that earth is just at the right distance from the sun - not too cold or too hot. Or in natural world, the weight to land speed ratio of animals Or the amount of tax revenue and tax rate, famously termed as Laffer curve. Or the infamous flow state which you are to perform in when the skill you have and challenge of the task are just right.

In my research of solid-state catalysts, I have used this as well, under a different name: Sabatier principle. The binding of the adsorbate being just right for the reaction to occur. Any more stronger would lead to catalyst poisoning and no reaction, any more weaker and the molecule won’t “stick” for the reaction to occur.

I find it fascinating this permanence of just right curves in science, business, finance, policy, and in our lives.