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Science And Comedy: Part I

It's the day after the Fourth of July and all of us should be home recovering from too much beer and too much sun. Instead, we're at work.


Rather than try and engage you with a long-winded post about the possible existence of alien civilizations (we'll do that next week), let's watch this really funny bit from Louis C.K.

You may be wondering: "Does this have anything to do with science?"

Just to be clear, my answer is: "Yes, indeed."

See, I think that good stand-up comedy and good science share the power of a really good question. That's why lots of funny routines begin with "Have you ever noticed how ...?" or "Why is that ...?"

The ability to pull the ordinary out of its ordinary setting and poke it a little can make for really clever jokes. It also makes for insightful science.

So Louis C.K.'s observation in this piece that humanity pulled itself out of the food chain has the ring of an insight that can either head toward funny or toward some kind of analysis. And that means there's a longer post just itching to be born in the comparison between comedy and science.

But, like I said, it's the day after July Fourth and we all just need a little more down time.

Enjoy these three minutes of Mr. C.K.

Editor's Note: This video contains language that may be offensive to some people.

Adam Frank is a co-founder of the 13.7 blog, an astrophysics professor at the University of Rochester, a book author and a self-described "evangelist of science." You can keep up with more of what Adam is thinking on Facebook and Twitter: @adamfrank4.

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Adam Frank was a contributor to the NPR blog 13.7: Cosmos & Culture. A professor at the University of Rochester, Frank is a theoretical/computational astrophysicist and currently heads a research group developing supercomputer code to study the formation and death of stars. Frank's research has also explored the evolution of newly born planets and the structure of clouds in the interstellar medium. Recently, he has begun work in the fields of astrobiology and network theory/data science. Frank also holds a joint appointment at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, a Department of Energy fusion lab.