Dylan Inspires Scientists

I just read about five Swedish-based scientists who have been inserting Bob Dylan lyrics into research articles as part of a long-running bet. After 17 years, the researchers revealed their race to quote Dylan as many times as possible before retirement.

I, too, have been sampling lyrics my entire professional career. Heck, I started it in high school when I won an essay contest with an opening line from the song "Cool Change"   by the Little River Band.

While Dylan is one of my favorites, I've also stolen lines from myriad musicians to create a catchy headline or a punchy phrase in my copy.

A quick search of the site, I found these gems:

Research Says Love IS a Drug --  The line is a tweak from the Roxy Music song "Love is the Drug."

Rock's Good Vibrations Super Charge Solar Cells  -- Obviously I was channeling the Beach Boys for the headline, but in the copy I mention my favorite bad boys of British rock royalty, the Rolling Stones.

The Artificial Nose Knows That Smell  -- this one was a little bit of a stretch to make it work, but the inspiration was Lynyrd Skynyrd's "That Smell."

Ending The Communication Breakdown For Signing Scientific Terms -- When I wrote this headline I had Led Zeppelin's "Communication Breakdown" in my head the entire day, which isn't a bad thing.

Hazardous Chemicals: Knowledge Is Power -- While this one isn't a rock song, "Knowledge Is Power" was the intro to School House Rock and it's a catchy little tune that rocked my childhood.

The Children Are Our Future -- This is straight from Whitney Houston's powerful pipes. A little off the path from my usual classic rock references, but it was an obvious choice for the blog topic.

What's On Your Mind?  -- Getting back to rock, I chose this headline because of an Ace Frehley (think KISS) song of the same name.  

I never realized how much I rely on lyrics and song titles as a writing tool. I'm sure if I poked through every single thing I've written over the past 20 years I'd find even more rock references.

It's nice to know I am in the good company of scientists. According to an article in the Guardian, "The [Dylan lyrics] bet began in 1997, following Nature’s publication of a paper by Jon Lundberg and Eddie Weitzberg, 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 ... the title came up and it [fit] there perfectly,” Weitzberg recently explained."


Traci-bio-photo.jpgTraci Purdum is Chemical Processing's digital editor and classic rock diva. You can e-mail her at tpurdum@putman.net.