13 Stories

Even a Second of Laughter Speaks Volumes

Scientists find that across cultures humans are good at discerning intimacy via laughter

(Newser) - What can be revealed in just a brief moment of laughter—an audio recording a mere second long, played without any context to people in two dozen different parts of the world? Quite a lot, it turns out. In fact, that tiny blip of sound is enough for many of... More »

LOL Is Dead, Haha Reigns

Facebook looks at how we laugh online

(Newser) - A recent New Yorker essay about online laughter prompted Facebook to crunch data on how people actually express a chuckle in the ether. It's probably not a big surprise to find out that LOL is no longer the phrase of choice, but it might be surprising at just how... More »

If You Type 'HaHa' Instead of 'HeHe,' You're Probably Old

New Yorker writer assesses a new-ish arrival

(Newser) - Sure you laugh, but how do you "e-laugh"? Sarah Larson explores the question in the New Yorker . After sussing out the various iterations of "ha," she settles on "haha" as the current "feel-good standard in chat laughter." So why does she keep seeing... More »

Fake Laughing? Your Friends Can Tell

It's all about your breathing sounds, experts say

(Newser) - If you're forcing a laugh after a bad joke, the teller probably knows it. Researchers found that people can identify a fake laugh two-thirds of the time: "Quite a few fake laughs sound pretty good, but listeners seem to pay attention to certain acoustic features that are really... More »

National Laughing Contest Debuts in US

Contestants try to infect audience with laughter

(Newser) - Like laughing at nothing in particular? Then check out the American Laughing Championship when it debuts tomorrow in San Diego, reports the Huffington Post . The audience will determine which contestant is best at the Alabama knee-slapper, the maniacal laugh, and the diabolical laugh—the latter an attempt to make the... More »

Comedies Are Good for Your Heart

But war movies aren't

(Newser) - To give your heart a boost, turn on The Hangover—but make sure you avoid Halloween. Movies that make you chuckle are good for your vascular function, while stressful war and horror movies hurt your system, a study finds. Researchers showed bits of funny movies one day and the opening... More »

For Contagious Laughs, Open Your Mouth

... And get your vocal chords into it

(Newser) - When it comes to laughs, the bigger the better, at least if you want it to spread. In one of those science-confirms-the-obvious studies, researchers found that open-mouth laughs in which people use their vocal chords in "vowel-like bursts" are the most contagious, LiveScience reports. And the longer they last,... More »

When Does 'Grumpy' Begin? Try Age 52

Study says our temperament is 'all downhill' from there

(Newser) - The tipping point of being grumpy occurs at age 52, say Welsh researchers. That's when people are more likely to gripe than laugh, according to the University of Glamorgan study. "We laugh twice as much in our teens as we do in our fifties," one of the researchers... More »

Rats Laugh When Tickled

And guess what? They like it!

(Newser) - A YouTube gem from 2007 is making the rounds again, teaching us something kind of neat and kind of gross: Rats laugh when tickled. When a Bowling Green University professor decided to try tickling the rodents, and then listening to their resulting high-frequency noises on a “bat detector,”... More »

Apes, Humans Share a Laugh

Commonalities show laughter is pre-human

(Newser) - After tickling two dozen apes and several children, scientists have concluded that laughter developed long before humans did. In fact, a common ancestor of both apes and humans probably emitted the first chuckle at least 10 million years ago. The study measuring 800 vocalizations found that all subjects shared the... More »

Top 10 Mysteries of the Mind

From memories to sleep to consciousness itself, scientists still can't agree

(Newser) - Debated for centuries, the human mind still holds a mystery or two in modern times. Here are LiveScience's top 10:
  1. Consciousness. Still the biggest human puzzle since Socrates.
  2. Cryonics. Can gray matter be revived from a 320-degree deep freeze?
  3. Aging. An unappreciated benefit, or simply cell decay with no purpose?
... More »

Laughter Also Good Medicine for Orangutans

Study finds empathy, mimicry in primates' grins and chuckles

(Newser) - Humans aren't the only animals who laugh, according to a new study. Orangutans engage in a primitive form of laughing, the BBC reports—when one exhibits a facial expression such as an open, gaping mouth, and a companion displays the same expression less than half a second later. This sense... More »

Their Phony Yuks Run Amok

Writer says Hillary and Rudy are only hurting themselves

(Newser) - The presidential frontrunners have both taken to laughing loudly when facing hostile questions, and Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter says they’re tittering up the wrong tree. Hillary Clinton laughs uncontrollably when her health care plan is compared to “socialized medicine” and Rudy Giuliani gets giggly when quizzed on his... More »

13 Stories