“Hidden messages” are typically the sort of thing that rock musicians hide in their songs, and studious individuals track down. This time, the opposite is true.
For the past 17 years, John Lundberg and Eddie Weitzberg, two researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Solna, Sweden, have been including Bob Dylan references in their various reports and reviews. It all started back in 1997 when they decided to title an academic article about intestinal gases “Nitric Oxide and Inflammation: The Answer is Blowing in the Wind.” (In addition to being fans of The Voice of Protest, they clearly appreciate a good fart joke.) Another of the group’s essays was titled, “Tangled Up in Blue: Molecular Cardiology in the Postmolecular Era.”
Despite naming papers after some of Dylan’s most famous songs, nobody really caught on until this summer, when a librarian at their institute came across “Blood on the Tracks: A Simple Twist of Fate.” Maybe it was because that one had two Dylan references is what made the librarian dig a little deeper and track down more Dylan-themed titles.
“We’re not talking about scientific papers; we could have gotten in trouble for that,” Weitzberg told a Swedish newspaper. “But rather articles we have written about research by others, book introductions, editorials, and things like that.”
Despite the fact that their silly conspiracy has earned them headlines all over the world, the researchers say that they’re going to keep sneaking Dylan lyrics and references into their work whenever they can. They have a running bet: whoever manages to pull off the most hidden messages before they retire will win a free lunch.
“I would much rather become famous for my scientific work than for my Bob Dylan quotes,” Weitzberg added. “But, yes, I am enjoying this!”