Boffins uncover why our headlines are so hilarious… and the answer involves quantum physics


The pun

We take a look at some of our best ever front pages as scientists explain what makes our gags so punny

PUN-derful news! Experts have worked out why Sun headlines are so funny, using quantum physics.

The kind of theories used by genius Prof Stephen Hawking to explain the universe’s origins may also show why our puns are seen as the best in the business.

I'm Only here for de beers

In 2000 a gang tried to steal £350million of diamonds, leading to this classic headline referencing the De Beers firm which sells 35 per cent of the would’s rough diamonds

Quantum physics is a complex science that reveals how atoms — the building blocks of everything — interact to create the world around us.

It says that on their own, atoms are pointless. But when combined with others, the result is matter.

Scientists adapted that to puns, concluding that many factors affect whether someone gets a joke.

How do you solve a problem like Korea

Our eye-catching reaction to North Korea’s first nuclear bomb paid homage to The Sound of Music’s famous song

Each element may have little meaning on its own but, when put together, the brain finds it funny.

A pun works because it has two meanings. If the brain can instantly interpret the double-meaning — known as bisociation — it has greater comic effect.

The key to Sun headlines is that readers can easily spot both meanings because they play on well-known words and phrases.


Super Caley go ballistic celtic are atrocious

News Group Newspapers Ltd

In February 2000 Inverness Caledonian Thistle beat home team Celtic and we immortalised it in this famous headline


For example, bank bosses went before MPs in 2009 over the financial crisis after the movie Slumdog Millionaire was a box-office hit.

Our headline Scumbag Millionaires summed up the culprits in a pun on the film everyone was talking about.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia, in Canada, used quantum theory to work out a mathematical model behind jokes.

Scumbag Millionaire

Just as Slumdog Millionaire hit cinemas, four bank bosses were forced to apologise for their role in Britain’s banking meltdown

They wrote: “It is our ability to perceive both meanings simultaneously that makes a pun funny.”

Leader Dr Liane Gabora said in a more complex explanation: “Funniness is not a pre-existing ‘element of reality’ that can be measured.

“It emerges from an interaction between the underlying nature of the joke, the cognitive state of the listener, and other social and environmental factors.

The liar, the witch and the wardrobe

In 2007 it was discovered that a canoeist who faked his own death was still alive and living in a bedsit accessed through his wife’s wardrobe

“It makes quantum theory an excellent candidate for modelling humour.”
And if that has left you scratching your head, simply enjoy a selection of our brilliant headlines.

You're going home in a faking ambulance

This witty headline topped a story about a Liverpool fan who pretended to be disabled to watch a sold-out match, despite being a triathlete

Don't cry for me... argie cleaner

Argentinian football star Carlos Tevez was handed cleaning roles in community service after driving without insurance in 2013

 

Tinker Taylor snogs a spy

Last year we broke the world exclusive on Taylor Swift snogging Tom Hiddleston, who stars in spy drama The Night Manager

Marks and sparks

Also last year, this man escaped his brush with lightening unharmed thanks to his Marks and Spencer slippers

Golden Boules

In 2013, so-called Goldenballs David Beckham made the move to French footie club Paris Saint Germain… and thus became Golden Boules

Great drain rogery

Just last month we made a Great Train Robbery pun about a pervert who bonked a drain cover



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