CLOSE

Can laughter become an epidemic?

It's an open question. There are, in fact, rumors of such things happening in the world. They are little more than that, but like many urban legends, what's most interesting about them is that they could be true. Take, for instance, the so-called "Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic," which (supposedly) occurred in a small village in Tanzania in 1962. Here's the legend (thanks, Wikipedia):

The epidemic seems to have started within a small group of students in a boarding school, possibly triggered by a joke. Laughter, as is commonly known, is in some sense contagious, and for whatever reason in this case the laughter perpetuated itself, far transcending its original cause. Since it is physiologically impossible to laugh for much more than a few minutes at a time, the laughter must have made itself known sporadically, though reportedly it was incapacitating when it struck. The school from which the epidemic sprang was shut down; the children and parents transmitted it to the surrounding area. Other schools, Kashasha itself, and another village, comprising thousands of people, were all affected to some degree. Six to eighteen months after it started, the phenomenon died off.

But is such a thing even possible? On a much smaller scale, it's a phenomenon all of us have witnessed; with a little extrapolation, it's not tough to imagine a 6-month bout of infectious laughter. In case any of you don't know what we're talking about, here's a great example from YouTube, of an otherwise lame comedy routine made great by infectious, incapacitating laughter:

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
quiz
Multi-Category Television Blitz
iStock
iStock
nextArticle.image_alt|e
Pop Chart Lab
arrow
Comics
The Origins of 36 Marvel Characters, Illustrated
Pop Chart Lab
Pop Chart Lab

No matter what their powers, every super hero has an origin story, from Spider-Man’s radioactive bite to Iron Man’s life-threatening chest shrapnel. In their latest poster, the designers at Pop Chart Lab have taken their infographic savvy to the Marvel Universe, charting the heroic origins of 36 different Marvel characters through miniature, minimalist comics.

Without using any words, they’ve managed to illustrate Bucky Barnes's plane explosion and subsequent transformation into the Winter Soldier, Jessica Jones’s car crash, the death of the Punisher’s family, and other classic stories from the major Marvel canon while paying tribute to the comic book form.

Explore the poster below, and see a zoomable version on Pop Chart Lab’s website.

A poster featuring 36 minimalist illustrations of superhero origin stories.
Pop Chart Lab

Keep your eyes open for future Marvel-Pop Chart crossovers. The Marvel Origins: A Sequential Compendium poster is “the first release of what we hope to be a marvelous partnership,” as Pop Chart Lab’s Galvin Chow puts it. Prints are available for pre-order starting at $37 and are scheduled to start shipping on March 8.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios