A group of five Swedish scientists of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm have revealed that they have been inserting Bob Dylan lyrics and song titles into research articles for the past 17 years as part of a bet. The scientist who winds up quoting Dylan the most often before retirement is set to win lunch in a restaurant.
According to Eddie Weitzberg, one of the scientists, it all started in 1997, when he and his colleague Jon Lundberg published an article in Nature Medicine called "Nitric Oxide and Inflammation: The answer is blowing in the wind".
“We both really like Bob Dylan so when we set about writing an article concerning the measurement of nitric oxide gas in both the respiratory tracts and the intestine, with the purpose of detecting inflammation, the title came up and it fitted there perfectly,” he says on the Institute's website.
Several years later, the two men noticed in an article on blood cells written by Jonas Frisén, a professor at the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, and Konstantinos Meletis, of the Department of Neuroscience, something strange about the title: "Blood on the tracks: a simple twist of fate". A Bob Dylan album name, followed with a song from the album.
They didn't think twice, the game was on all right.
Strangely enough, another scientist, from a university in Huddinge, near Stockholm, had also been quoting Bob Dylan in his publications, but was also unaware others had been doing the same, according to the Karolinska Institute. Even more strange, the first time he did so was also in 1997, in an article he called "Tangled up in blue: Molecular cardiology in the postmolecular era," which was published in Circulation, a scientific magazine.
Including complete Dylan song titles into article headlines may not be the most subtle bet in the world, but it kept going without, seemingly and amazingly, no one noticing until this week. Other titles included "The Biological Role of Nitrate and Nitrite: The Times They Are a-Changin," "Eph Receptors Tangled Up in Two", and "Dietary Nitrate – A Slow Train Coming."
It's not the first time Dylan has wound up in the halls of academia. In 1970, at the age of 29, the college dropout from Minnesota received an honorary degree from Princeton University. Listening to a song, Day of the Locusts, he wrote afterwards, he apparently didn't much like the scholarly recognition. And now, Bob, How does it feel...?