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Whoever started this trend is a real Jokerman.

Five Swedish-based scientists have been secretly inserting Bob Dylan lyrics into research articles as part of a long-running bet. It all started in 1997, when scientists/Dylan fans Jon Lundberg and Eddie Weitzberg were trying to figure out the perfect title for their paper on the measurement of nitric oxide gas in respiratory tracts. It just so happened that lyrics from their favourite singer held the answer: They came up with the title “Nitric Oxide and Inflammation: The Answer Is Blowing In the Wind.

For a while, it was just an inside joke. Until several years later, that is, when a librarian pointed out that two of those scientists’ colleagues, Jonas Frisén and Konstantinos Meletis, had also laid down a Dylan reference in a paper published in 2003: “Blood on the Tracks: A Simple Twist of Fate?”

And with that, the competition was on.

“The one who has written most articles with Dylan quotes, before going into retirement, wins a lunch at the [local] restaurant Jöns Jacob,” Lundberg explained.

Word of the free meal quickly spread through Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute, where the four men work. It wasn’t long before a fifth contender wanted a piece of the action. And fortunately for professor Kenneth Chien, he already had one Dylan paper to his name: “Tangled Up in Blue: Molecular Cardiology in the Postmolecular Era”, published in 1998.

With the competition getting fierce, Lundberg and Weitzberg unleashed “The Biological Role of Nitrate and Nitrite: The Times They Are a-Changin’”, in 2009. Then they followed it up with “Eph Receptors Tangled Up in Two in 2010; Dietary Nitrate – A Slow Train Coming”, in 2011.

The researchers only admitted to their bet last week, noting that the funky titles were only applied to lighthearted papers, and not to strict, scientific ones.

Either way, this is definitely another side of Bob Dylan.