Skip to main content
Search IntMath

Laughing scale

By Murray Bourne, 24 Feb 2008

Japanese scientists have developed a "laughometer" scale, according to this translation from Pink Tentacle:

The laughter measurement system, which the [Kansai University] researchers say will help scientists conduct more detailed research into the physiological effects of laughter on the immune system, relies on a series of electrode sensors that monitor the tiny amounts of bioelectricity generated by certain muscles that flex when you chuckle. The sensors, which attach to a person’s cheeks, chest and abdomen, take 3,000 measurements per second. Sensor data is relayed to a computer, where it is analyzed by special software that determines the nature of the laugh and assigns a numerical score based on the quantity.

The laughter quantity is expressed in terms of “aH” — a unit of measurement developed by the research team. According to chief researcher Yoji Kimura, a Kansai University professor, 1 second of explosive laughter amounts to 5 aH.

I’m wondering if the scale is logarithmic. It probably needs to be, since our reactions to events have a large range from discomfort (from embarrassment) through glee at others’ misfortunes (the sadists) and on to uncontrollable laughter often manifested by teenage girls (and boys when someone breaks wind in a serious meeting).

Devotees of laughter therapy. [Image source: Sakthi Foundation, no longer available.]

The system can tell the difference between genuine amusement and a polite laugh (something the Japanese have perfected over centuries).

According to Kimura, the diaphragm does not vibrate significantly when a person pretends to laugh, even when the person’s voice and facial expression appear genuine. On the other hand, when one laughs at something they truly find funny, the diaphragm generates 2 to 5 distinct vibrational waves per second.

To show that it works...

At Kansai University on February 21, the researchers publicly demonstrated the system by measuring the laughter of a 30-something-year-old woman and her 5-year-old daughter as they watched a performance by Yoshimoto comedians. The mother, who apparently found no humor in the comedy routine, experienced only slightly more than 0 aH of laughter, while her amused daughter experienced a hearty 42 aH.

I’m looking forward to the release of Kimura’s research paper in English.

See the 5 Comments below.

Leave a comment

Comment Preview

HTML: You can use simple tags like <b>, <a href="...">, etc.

To enter math, you can can either:

  1. Use simple calculator-like input in the following format (surround your math in backticks, or qq on tablet or phone):
    `a^2 = sqrt(b^2 + c^2)`
    (See more on ASCIIMath syntax); or
  2. Use simple LaTeX in the following format. Surround your math with \( and \).
    \( \int g dx = \sqrt{\frac{a}{b}} \)
    (This is standard simple LaTeX.)

NOTE: You can mix both types of math entry in your comment.


Tips, tricks, lessons, and tutoring to help reduce test anxiety and move to the top of the class.