In the first half of the show, George Noory welcomed author Scott Weems for a discussion on the science of what’s funny, what makes us laugh, the unexpected benefits of laughing and the surprising profiles of who has the best funny bones. Studies have shown we laugh an average of 15 to 25 times a day, Weems said, noting that one individual clocked in at almost 50 laughs a day. Two women are statistically twice as likely to laugh when together than a group of two men, he added. According to Weems, laughing is a universal psychological coping mechanism which helps individuals deal with the challenges of daily living. The degree to which one laughs may be determined by how much anxiety that person experiences in other parts of life, he suggested.
"You are hardwired to laugh," Weems continued, pointing out how babies will laugh even if they have never seen it before. Humor is linked to intelligence and problem-solving abilities, and laughing at comedy can increase creativity, he explained. Weems spoke about how laughter therapy purportedly cured journalist Norman Cousins of a life-threatening disease, as well as the Tanganyika laughter epidemic of 1962. The strange event started with three girls laughing in class, then spread throughout their school and eventually to the surrounding region where it ultimately affected more than 1000 people over a period of 18 months. The laughing outbreak may have been a collective nervous breakdown, he offered. Weems also commented on why we laugh at other people's misfortunes, cultural differences in laughter and why laughing is so infectious.
During Open Lines, Jeff from Redding, California, told George about his recent chupacabra sighting. "The creature I saw today crossed several lines that animals don't intermingle," he said, noting how the animal he saw seemed like several different animals rolled into one. Jeff said the creature was about the size of a small dog, acted like a raccoon, moved with the economy of motion of a cat, and had a snout nose, dark non-blinking eyes, and black and white skin. The animal knew we were there but did it not acknowledge us, he added.
Several callers also phoned in to share their theories about the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Annie in Alabama believes the missing Boeing 777 was hijacked and flown to North Korea under a plan hatched by Kim Jong-un and Iran's former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Matt from Saskatchewan, Canada, raised doubts that Flight 370 had been deliberately diverted, noting that a plane of that size would be hard to hide as it requires a special runway found only at the largest airports around the world.
News segment guest: James Sanders
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) caught an intense solar flare as it erupted from the surface of the sun on Wednesday. The M9.3 flare was emitted by a complex and magnetically-strong region called AR 11996. SDO captured the action in several wavelengths, denoted by different colors, showing various aspects of the same event. More details at NASA.gov.
Bumper music from Friday March 14, 2014