Laughter makes clowns of us all

Today, Nature carries this article about new research from Prof Richard Wiseman. From the article:
“New research has revealed that the red nose and face-painting traditionally associated with clowns may have its origins in science.

Psychologist Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom used highly sensitive infrared imagers to observe people as they laughed at jokes and video clips. The devices were able to accurately map heat changes in the face.”

The image below, from the research, shows the effect:

Infrared red nose

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  1. Interesting… One would assume that it was the constant muscle constrictions associated with the rise in facial temperature due to laughing. But the article specifies that during “fake laughing” the temperature didn’t rise. Anyone have a hypothisis?

  2. I wonder if our noses turn red when we’re scared … I remember reading some article where they’d surveyed 50 children, and every last one of them thought clowns were scary instead of funny. I’ve never liked them …

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