SCIENCE
09/30/2014 08:24 am ET Updated Sep 30, 2014

Sneaky Scientists Slip Bob Dylan Lyrics Into Articles For 17 Years

Gustav Mårtensson

How many times can scientists slip references to Bob Dylan lyrics in their research articles? The answer, my friends, is a lot.

At least that's true for a group of five researchers at Sweden's famed Karolinska Institute who this week revealed that they have been sneaking Dylan lyrics into their articles for the past 17 years.

It all started with an article about flatulence that two of the scientists wrote for the journal Nature Medicine in 1997. The title? "Nitric oxide and inflammation: The answer is blowing in the wind."

After that, three other scientists joined in, with all five agreeing to an informal competition: whoever snuck the most Dylan references into articles before retiring would win lunch at a local restaurant.

"We're not talking about scientific papers -- we could have got in trouble for that -- but rather articles we have written about research by others, book introductions, editorials, and things like that," Dr. Eddie Weitzberg, a professor of anesthesiology at the university and one of the five scientists, told Sweden's English newspaper The Local.

Other references the scientists have woven into their papers include: "The times they are a-changing," "blood on the tracks," "a simple twist of fate," and "tangled up in blue."

The whimsical competition has charmed bloggers across the web -- and served to remind us that even scientists like to have a little fun.

"Consider this a reminder that scientists are people, too," reporter Rachel Feldman wrote on the Washington Post's 'Speaking of Science' blog, "and that many of them really, really want to make you laugh."

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