Society & Culture

U of A researchers are cracking the science of what makes us crack up, one word at a time.

28
November
2018

Upchuck, bubby, boff, wriggly, yaps, giggle, cooch, guffaw, puffball and jiggly: these are the top 10 funniest words in the English language, according to a new study by University of Alberta psychology experts.

“Humour is, of course, still personal,” explained U of A psychologist Chris Westbury. “Here, we get at the elements of humour that aren’t personal—things that are universally funny.”

RELATED: How funny is this word? The 'snunkoople' effect

The researchers wanted to understand what it is about certain words that makes them funny. Westbury and his collaborator, U of A computing scientist Geoff Hollis, began their work based on a study from the University of Warwick that had participants rate the humour of nearly 5,000 English words. Westbury and Hollis then modelled these ratings statistically.

“Our model was good...

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14
December
2018

Local musician’s blues rooted in research and teaching

Musician and ethnomusicologist Kat Danser also uses her considerable expertise to help black musicians in the American South protect the rights to their own music.

Fresh from performing in northern Mississippi in 2015, blues artist Kat Danser was cruising down the highway with her African-American friend when she was pulled over by the state police. In true
13
December
2018

Rhodes Scholar combines medicine and dance in creative approach to public health

Dance, med school and community work in Africa taught latest U of A Rhodes Scholar value of understanding “how people experience life, illness and the world.”

Second-year medical student Julia Sawatzky will head to Oxford University next fall as the University of Alberta’s 2019 Rhodes Scholar. "I couldn't believe I was selected,” said Sawatzky
11
December
2018

Popular Luminaria inspires ‘audible gasp’ among first-time attendees

A behind-the-scenes look at the seasonal light show at the U of A Botanic Garden.

The year Kerry Mulholland saw cars lined up for miles down highway 60 waiting to get into Luminaria, she realized the event had become a seasonal favourite for people from all over central
11
December
2018

How you move shows how you make up your mind

Research on decision-making shows making up your mind is a continuous, ongoing process linked to physical movement.

You’re standing at a vending machine, ready to punch in the code to get your snack. Even as your hand moves toward the keypad, your brain is still deciding what to do, still in the middle of choosing
07
December
2018

New law entitles common-law couples to 50-50 property split

Family Statutes Amendment Act will give common-law couples same property rights as married ones; 19 of 20 recommendations by Alberta Law Reform Institute included in new law.

Common-law couples arguing about how to divide their property after they break up will soon get relief from the costly, time-consuming struggle thanks to three years of groundwork by the Alberta Law
07
December
2018

Was John Lennon’s “Imagine” inspired by an Alberta Cree grandmother?

A 1969 phone conversation between the legendary songwriter and a local Indigenous activist points to song’s possible origin.

It was shortly after Lillian Piché Shirt pitched her tipi in Edmonton’s Winston Churchill Square to protest insufficient Indigenous housing in 1969 that a man approached to say there was an urgent
30
November
2018

How Shakespeare still informs today’s family businesses

Generational squabbles, ungrateful heirs and identity crises present perennial challenges for family businesses, says U of A expert.

While established family businesses generate much of Canada’s gross domestic product and are key drivers of entrepreneurship, it’s a national tragedy that—according to a University of Alberta
28
November
2018

U of A medical school changes admission policy for Indigenous applicants

New policy redresses historic limitations on Indigenous student admissions to MD program.

The University of Alberta is eliminating a quota system that limited the number of Indigenous students admitted to its MD program through the Indigenous Health Initiatives Program (IHIP) process.
27
November
2018

New U of A exhibit shows how print fashions reflect social fabric

Fashion in Print showcases evolving dress styles over 300 years to explore how we see ourselves and the world through what we wear.

Those paisley scarves and plaid shirts are more than just pretty faces in your closet—they’re also a reflection of the times. We love print fabrics for their visual pop, but on a deeper level,
23
November
2018

U of A law professor joins Canadian Human Rights Commission

Expert in constitutional and international law brings global experience.

A University of Alberta law professor has been appointed a part-time member of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Joanna Harrington, an award-winning teacher and legal scholar and a former
23
November
2018

Why scoring deals on Black Friday makes us feel so good

Finding great bargains triggers brain chemistry designed to keep us alive, says U of A expert.

Finding deals in stores and online triggers brain chemistry—designed to keep us alive—to make us feel good, according to a University of Alberta pharmacologist. Behavioural rewards and cues