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Scientists in Sweden Hide Bob Dylan Lyrics in Their Papers

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It’s not easy making the science of flatulence sound pleasant, but two researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm relied on a little help from Bob Dylan and managed a decent pun, at least. Jon Lundberg and Eddie Weitzburg's article, “Nitric Oxide and Inflammation: The Answer Is Blowing in the Wind,” was published 17 years ago and marked the beginning of a contest of sorts—the researcher who successfully sneaks the most Dylan lyrics into papers before retirement wins a free lunch.

“We both really liked Bob Dylan so when we set about writing an article concerning the measurement of nitric oxide gas in both the respiratory tracts and the intestines … the title came up and it fitted there perfectly,” Weitzburg tells the Karolinska Institute (KI) website. Both Lundberg and Weitzburg are professors in the KI’s physiology and pharmacology department.

Coincidentally, two other KI researchers, Jonas Frisén and Konstantinos Meletis, published their own Dylan-inspired article, “Blood on the Tracks: A Simple Twist of Fate” (the 1975 Dylan album Blood on the Tracks inspired the title). Frisén and Meletis were unaware of Lundberg and Weitzburg’s attempts to include Dylan lyrics in their work when they titled their paper and sprinkled Dylan references throughout it. When Lundberg and Weitzburg learned about Frisén and Meletis, they asked if they were up for a friendly competition. They agreed. Around the same time, Lundberg and Weitzburg published another piece, an editorial with the title, “The Times They Are a-Changing,” while Frisén followed up with the paper “Eph Receptors Tangled up in Two”—a play on “Tangled up in Blue.”

Lundberg and Weitzburg made the next move with their article, “Dietary Nitrate—A Slow Train Coming.” In it, they paraphrased Dylan by writing “We know something is happening but we don’t know what it is—Do we, Dr. Jones?” This is a nod to the song “Ballad of a Thin Man,” which focuses on strange encounters of Mr. Jones. Fortuitously, they have a British colleague with the name Dr. Jones.

Meanwhile, Kenneth Chien, a professor in the department of cell and molecular biology at KI, was showing his love of Dylan with his own papers, completely unaware that a competition had begun. His paper? “Tangled up in Blue: Molecular Cardiology in the Postmolecular Era.” When the group learned of Chien’s contributions, he too became part of the contest.

The group says they only include Dylan references in review articles and editorials because peer-reviewed journal articles have a higher standard. While the contest is open to anyone, there are some general rules.

“It’s important that the quote is linked to the scientific content that it reinforces the message and raises the quality of the article as such, not the reverse,” says Jonas Frisén.

Why are all these scientists attracted to Dylan? Meletis, a research assistant in the neuroscience department, explains, “A musician who merely continues down the same highway for 30 years is not one who many want to listen to. Good music is innovative, like Bob Dylan’s. And the same thing applies to good research. A researcher must also try to find new and different paths.”

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Australian Charity Releases Album of Cat-Themed Ballads to Promote Feline Welfare
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An Australian animal charity is helping save the nation’s kitties one torch song at a time, releasing a feline-focused musical album that educates pet owners about how to properly care for their cats.

Around 35,000 cats end up in pounds, shelters, and rescue programs every year in the Australian state of New South Wales, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). Microchipping and fixing cats, along with keeping closer tabs on them, could help reduce this number. To get this message out, the RSPCA’s New South Wales chapter created Cat Ballads: Music To Improve The Lives Of Cats.

The five-track recording is campy and fur-filled, with titles like "Desex Me Before I Do Something Crazy" and "Meow Meow." But songs like “I Need You” might tug the heartstrings of ailurophiles with lyrics like “I guess that’s goodbye then/but you’ve done this before/the window's wide open/and so’s the back door/you might think I’m independent/but you’d be wrong.” There's also a special version of the song that's specifically designed for cats’ ears, featuring purring, bird tweets, and other feline-friendly noises.

Together, the tunes remind us how vulnerable our kitties really are, and provide a timely reminder for cat owners to be responsible parents to their furry friends.

“The Cat Ballads campaign coincides with kitten season, which is when our shelters receive a significantly higher number of unwanted kittens as the seasons change,” Dr. Jade Norris, a veterinary scientist with the RSPCA, tells Mental Floss. “Desexing cats is a critical strategy to reduce unwanted kittens.”

Listen to a song from Cat Ballads below, and visit the project’s website for the full rundown.

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ABBA Is Going on Tour—As Holograms
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Missed your chance to watch ABBA perform live at the peak of their popularity? You’re in luck: Fans will soon be able to see the group in concert in all their chart-topping, 1970s glory—or rather, they’ll be able to see their holograms. As Mashable reports, a virtual version of the Swedish pop band is getting ready to go on tour.

ABBA split up in 1982, and the band hasn't been on tour since. (Though they did get together for a surprise reunion performance in 2016.) All four members of ABBA are still alive, but apparently not up for reentering the concert circuit when they can earn money on a holographic tour from the comfort of their homes.

The musicians of ABBA have already had the necessary measurements taken to bring their digital selves to life. The final holograms will resemble the band in the late 1970s, with their images projected in front of physical performers. Part of the show will be played live, but the main vocals will be lifted from original ABBA records and recordings of their 1977 Australian tour.

ABBA won’t be the first musical act to perform via hologram. Tupac Shakur, Michael Jackson, and Dean Martin have all been revived using the technology, but this may be one of the first times computerized avatars are standing in for big-name performers who are still around. ABBA super-fans will find out if “SOS” still sounds as catchy from the mouths of holograms when the tour launches in 2019.

[h/t Mashable]

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