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Putting the fizz and pizzazz into physics

Science and humour: a punny thing happened on the way to the lab.

ET Bureau|
Updated: Nov 15, 2019, 08.52 AM IST
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According to a recent Pew poll, scientists are the most trusted professional community in the US after the military. (Representative image)
Rejecting the principle of uncertainty at the heart of quantum mechanics, Einstein reportedly said, “God does not play dice with the Universe,” to which Niels Bohr rejoindered, “Please stop telling God what to do.”

Science and humour do have an underlying affinity. Perhaps taking a cue from this, an increasing number of boffins representing various scientific disciplines in the US and elsewhere are taking the comic route to help to elucidate the cosmic to lay audiences. According to a recent Pew poll, scientists are the most trusted professional community in the US after the military, a mandate all the more important in controversial realms of discourse such as climate change or the advances made in artificial intelligence (AI).

Long the butt of low-brow jokes, the absent-minded professor is giving way to a trendy Doctorate with a pi-in-the-face sense of humour. Purists who would object that science is no laughing matter might invite the response that laughter itself has become the subject of neuroscientific research that analyses the evolutionary importance of humour in social bonding. That science can be funny business is exemplified by the limerick, “There was a young lady of Wight,/ Who travelled much faster than light./ She departed one day,/ In a relative way,/ And arrived on the previous night.”


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