I'm there in Gary, and you're listening to The Laugh of your Life, the podcast where I talk to influential people about laughter from their first memories of laughter to feeling laughed at. Two, if laughter wasn't the best medicine, what would be what?
You can't beat a glass of wine. Oh, thank God. I thought you're going to say some sort of chemical. I be like, oh, no. And this is very interesting. You know, now it's dangerous.
We don't want to promote no one else in exist scientifically proven.
By the way, this is true. A massive what's called a meta analysis, which means lots of clinical trials combine into one.
The healthiest people in this group were the ones little glass of wine, occasionally the least healthy with the teetotallers and the big drinkers, obviously. Now, the big question is, why is that? Yeah, the reason is it's not just the alcohol which the alcohol in moderation.
Those are beneficial effects stuff. It does tell the rock star.
Professor Luke O'Neill is my guest this week. He talks to me about his undying love for his hometown, Brai, his appreciation for healthy competition in the world of science, and how having the crack with friends could cure almost anything. This week's episode is brought to you by Science Week 20/20, which is running from November 8th to 15th with hundreds of virtual events taking place online. You can check them out at SFI Dorahy Forward Slash Events. Science Week wants to help the general public understand what the future could look like because of the decisions we're making or we're not making, and to highlight the role of science in delivering solutions that support our future environment and health and quality of life.
Science is the solution to a shared better future. And for Science Week 2020, we're asking people to hashtag believe in science and play a role in choosing our future.
I hope you enjoy the episode. Professor Lucania, you are extremely welcome to the last of your life. Thank you very much. Very happy to be here. That's right. We were having a chat there.
So we walk up four flights of stairs to the studio, laugh, and he's like, sorry about that murder.
It's murder. It's good for the cardio that we were talking about. Just how busy you are at the moment. Yes.
Well, it's a funny time, isn't it? We're in the middle of this, the dreaded pandemic, and I work on it as well as a scientist. And I've got all my communications stuff as well on top of that, which I was doing anyway.
Yeah, four years. Really. Yeah, but that's ramped up hugely. So that's my second job at the moment. So it's all happening.
How is your work going? How are you finding it. Very good. Well we're lucky innovative because we can open our lab because it's essential I guess in a way. So back in April my lab reopened and my team could come in. Then, you see, and they're all in there now as we speak. I've just left them this morning, actually, 15 people you see doing research. And we work on inflammation in the broader sense and inflammatory diseases.
We're covid-19 is an inflammatory condition of your lungs. So I got five of them to switch into Kofod. So it's very exciting. And they love it because they're young people, you know, and I work in October together.
So Superfriends, is there a kind of a collective bors around any DNA we could make some kind of a great breakthrough.
Every every rizzle counts, yet the stakes are high. Now, I'd worked on things like sepsis before antisepsis happens. Every bacteria in your body that would irritates your body in various ways. So a long time working on this. But now, good God, you know, you can't avoid Colbie, can you? And they love it because, you know, they're young. And one of them said to me last week, oh, my mummy said, great, your going to go with iodine.
So thrilled for them to do and stuff. And we are getting some good results. I mean, every day now, I'm waiting for results to come in. So we got we got a big collaboration with scientists in Holland and Belgium. We got a result last week from the Belgians.
And it looks great right now.
If you're a scientist, you go a non-believer, you've got to repeat it. You could do it again.
And the email the guy last night, actually, and I said to him, what do you think? I know? He says there's something going on here that's up and that's that kind of thing. The trouble is, in science, things can follow over.
Yeah. You go down the wrong road. The idea's stupid. All that stuff is in your mind. Second is very competitive. There's other people out there doing the same thing as you. So and there's no prizes for coming. Second, in science, you can't discover gravity twice, you know, so so there's a variety, but, you know, so you're on edge and that's part of the game.
It's a great thing of being a scientist. You see, there's lots of excitement.
Well, you mentioned the competitiveness is like is that race it's a good thing. It can be good or bad. It's bad if you come second because you wasted three years. We're kind of and you get you do get some publication out of it. But it's not going to be in TIME magazine. It's going to be in the brave people or whatever, you know, that kind of thing.
No shade to the from right. I don't know if I picked it. I don't know. But you don't need them, I don't think. But you'd rather be inside of it. So it's terrible because you've done the same bloody work. You're the guy. And then that can happened to me maybe twice. Yeah. We call this being scooped just like in journalism. Right. That's tricky. Now, what's happening covid is actually very interesting. A lot more collaboration.
OK, we kind of know let's roll in together. We're literally all in this. We've got this together. And then the guys in Holland are experts on SARS, which is a related virus, and they're very keen now to help us. And then the guys in Belgium have models of sars-cov-2 in animals. They use hamsters actually sounds a bit strange, but you can recreate the disease in hamsters just like humans. And of course, you can't go to humans first because it could be too dangerous.
And our drug works and hamsters, that's the good news.
And it's the first experiments are working.
OK, so it was great because I could bring my ideas and then get the Belgians to use their technology to to move it forward. And I love that collaboration. In fact, it's it's a great joy as a scientist to collaborate anyway. Yeah, but I've never seen the like of the collaborative effort around this one for obvious reasons. I guess, you know, it's for the history books in every way.
OK, can I just call you? You can of course, substitute. Absolutely. Well, people are now calling me Professor Lukwiya. Nervously Hey, Professor, just like, you know, a children's science show presented all sorts of unusual. Yeah, right. OK, I never see myself as professor. That's OK. Right. We'll just take wordly. That's great.
Luke, your first memory of laughter. Of laughter. Yeah.
You mean the very first time I laughed at our first memory of it, whatever form that takes. Good Lord, I'll tell you. I remember vividly. Go on. So I was in my grandmother's garden and I was four years of age and I just remember. Chuckling Oh, what a beautiful garden. And she she died when I was five. So that's why it sticks in my mind anyway. And she was dropping a feather in front of me, you see.
And I see the feather float down to the ground and I and we started laughing. So there you have it. And it is my first memory overall as well, remember, because I remember we were in the garden and she was famous for her geraniums. My granny, this is true.
I remember the vivid smell of the uranium and then for four years after and it still is the case of I smelled geraniums.
I think of her. That's nice. But there you have that. Probably the first one. Where was that?
That was in where I'm from. She was living around the corner from us, I lived on a place called Non-current Avenue and she lived in the sea by road and, you know, basically her son moved close to his mother and father, you know, for the dinner, for all of us, for the dinner. They live close to each other. So it was easy. Tell me about your childhood.
Tell me about growing up. Yes. Well, Brade that's mentioned Brade. A great place to go. I've got very fond memories of Ray. I lived on this street called Junction Avenue and the Coronation Street, actually. Right. It was two rows of houses and every house had 10 children back in those days or whatever. And then when I was about my age, boys, we play football on the road vividly. Every day we're kicking a football around.
And then there was the seafront, which is superb. I'd be down there a lot of Braehead. And then I joined the Sea Scouts Oak Park and then began to love the sea, which I still do from the age of 11. So my memories of Brayer of going and boats basically a lot as well. So it's a great place to grow up.
Your siblings, one sister. Yes. It was eight years older than me. Right. So there was an age gap and and she left home and I was like maybe 10. So I was kind of a seven year old child as well. She spoiled rotten. Precisely. Yeah, she was always a bit. So what's the word like sibling rivalry, let's call it that really? Well, I arrived and I was she was eight know. Yeah.
Yeah. And I'm the son. Of course, my mother is like Jesus Christ of knows that. So that's my sister's version. So we often get little digs at each other because of this. But she is an amazing woman. So my sister went to the Philippines, volunteered as a teacher overseas when I was like maybe 10 or 11. Okay. And spent three years in the Philippines as a teacher, you know, teaching girls, actually young girls, and then came back to London and then did social work.
And she was a social worker on a psychiatric social Write-Off. So when I went to live in London, we moved in together, which is great, you know, because obviously she'd come home and stuff and I got to visit her. But now we we shared a flat for about a year together, which is great. And we get to get to know each other a bit, you know. So it was a good development in our relationship, I guess.
Yeah. Yeah. Later in life. OK, look, the first time you were laughed at and laughed at.
Oh well that's very common. If you're if you're an academic, you know really well you can't beat students poking fun at you, you see.
OK, they laugh away, you know, any chance they get they laugh at you. That's OK.
I'd say I can I can imagine you. Yeah. I'd say yeah. Now that you say I'm sorry to say it, like I say, people do giggle at you, they dig.
Well, you see, it's a very interesting group. I lecture the first year students and Trinity. I give them their first five lectures. Right. They're sitting there very anxious.
Eighteen year old. So yeah. So I always use the F word during a lecture.
Nice to me this isn't school you know. Right. But sometimes the jokes backfire and you get laughed at. That's my main memory of being laughed at is students. I don't mind. It's great. Bring it on kind of thing.
You throw in the words to loosen things up and let them know like we're all adults here.
And I got that first lecture so important to him because you're saying, look, you're no longer in school. This isn't the concert. Yeah. In fact, the first thing I say is you don't need to be here. You can f off if you like, just right to you. You're not you know, you can you can get the notes off someone else.
It's up to you to engage now with the subject and take it as far as you want yourself, that kind of thing.
Yeah. And they like people.
Remember that first lecture I bump into P, but years later.
Yeah, I remember that first year was very vivid. So that's a bit of a performance in retrospect. I think that's another 250 of them. Yeah. You try and keep as you know yourself, keep an audience and these are all eighteen years of age adversity and they're fun time there.
That's a very is a tough age of age. I recently know if I did a talk in a secondary school and like I've done a lot of stuff in front of, as you say, it's crowds or whatever, and it's that seventeen, eighteen year old age that are it's so daunting because you you don't know whether to act total adults and and not be on their level or to try and be cool and seem like you're on there because either way they're kind of just blankly looking into and being like impressed me.
Well this is interesting because it's quiet actually because they don't know each other.
It's our first week in college. Yeah, that's good. Yeah. There is so much noise. Yeah. Builds up as electrons go on as they meet each other I suppose, and so on. So that's quite good I suppose. Yeah. I'm waiting for a pin to drop in away. So you've got their attention so it's probably an easy enough gig to do. Yeah. And what I've learned is exactly as you say, just be yourself because they'll see through you.
You know, they're very good dissecting us psychologically, you see. So I try to just be myself and then fitted for me.
OK, so. So you finish secondary school. Yeah. You go to Trinity. Yes. And then on to London. That's right. OK, and then and then you come back to Ireland. When I went to Cambridge next I did. The normal route for scientist is you do your first degree in some scientific discipline. Yeah, mine was biochemistry. And then I went to London to do a PhD because that's your training now to be your doctor.
Yes, that was I think I'll pharmacology, which is the science of medicines. And I worked on the immune system, became an immunologist then actually because I'm working on the immune system, then the normal thing is to do a post what's called a postdoc next. That's your first job as a fully fledged card carrying scientist, and I did my post up in Cambridge, so then I spent three years in Cambridge, which was fantastic, obviously university. And then you look for a job like most careers, I suppose.
And people these days, though, it's changed. They often do two or three postdocs, not of jobs. And you're on a contract that it is the gig economy in a way, you might get a three year contract, then go anywhere in the world if you're a scientist and go to Harvard or Australia and do another three years. Some people are postdocs wherever they like that. Yeah, lifestyle, you know, but eventually you I got a job.
So so I applied for jobs and I applied in Queens and Belfast. I applied in Southampton and I applied in Trinity and guess which one?
I got trainers and I didn't have to be the case. And in fact, I didn't think I'd come back in a way, really. I want to go to America. In fact, you see, so I was going to go to America next. Next thing I'm up for this job. What am I going to do now, you know, when I take the job or not?
Yeah, well, it's it's a gift horse thing. So I took the job and I thought I'd come back for two or three years, to be honest. And my boss in Cambridge was a very eminent rheumatologist, actually, because I was working on arthritis at this stage. He said, you're a bloody idiot, go on there.
It's why it's a backwater. And it was actually Ireland at that time wasn't great scientifically. We're talking about the early 90s. You said it's a backwater. You need to go to the best places in the world.
It's like you're a footballer, OK?
You want to play for Inter Milan or one for us to dig into.
Sorry, sorry. Really twisted. And now is very widespread poverty and about the Carlaw grounds at the bottom of our road. And I love it, you know what I mean?
He said you've got a talent. You should be you should be going into Harvard or Yale or whatever, might be raised you big time.
And then he says to me, now, by the way, I understand that you want to go back to your home country. And he said, I'll always have a job for you here.
He gave me a safety net right there. And so I knew if it wasn't good here, I can always go back to Cambridge and that was quite nice. The second thing, though, was I was determined to.
I'm just thinking of your mother now, like she thinks you're Jesus Christ Xavier when you're born. Imagine what she was like there. You're like, well, and I have Cambridge to fall back. Well, there's a safety net there. But but he says to me, then I said, look, I'm going to find this guy kind of gave me an extra fit of, if you will. I'll prove him wrong.
So it was kind of a motivation to try to do well. Yes. He's a bit of a reverse psychology, I suppose. Well, he was a bit like a father figure to me, this guy. Right. And he may have been doing it to do that to, you know, dads could be sort of clever in that way, you know? Yeah. Maybe it wasn't up to me to say what you get on that now and say, are you getting any kind of thing?
So maybe there was method in his criticism. I suspect that. I think he didn't he didn't write Triniti. It's all right. It's OK. These Cambage types, you know, they're like.
Right, interesting. How many years then has it been have you been in Trinity? That was nineteen ninety two.
I came back, you see. So it's been a long stretch since then. Now the beauty of it is there and you can do sabbaticals. Yeah. And I've done maybe three in that time and you go away for a year. It's fantastic fab and that rejuvenates you and you do better science and you collaborate again, you know. And I did a great one in Boston for example in nineteen ninety nine. So, you know, maybe six years after the back.
And then when Australia know a president that erm anyone actually towards the end of last year and Stanford when I wrote the book partly s so the great thing about an academic is you can do a sabbatical and get away if you get a bit sort of bored or whatever, but you see so, so even though I was here all that time, I did a lot of travelling.
You know, I don't mean to make you feel old, but you started in the year I was born.
Now, there you are. Thanks very much. Twenty eight years the Botox has gone great for, you know.
Oh, my God. I know what I look like.
A frozen grin. It's a giveaway. Oh, OK. Very good.
OK, the moment when Luke, if you didn't laugh, you'd cry.
Oh the moment know I didn't laugh I would cry. That's a great one. Well, you know, I'm going to give you I thought about this already. Yeah. My favorite movie of all time is with Nayland. I've ever seen that movie. It was Richard E Grant is the lead actor in it and it was made in the mid eighties when I was in London, actually, and I went to see it. It's set in London. It's about two out of our actors who basically spend the weekend getting drunk.
Now it's a cult movie. Right? Right. And I'm amazed you haven't heard about encyclopedic knowledge of movies.
And it's a brilliant movie, but good God, it's a comedy. But you would cry as well if some of the scenes in it that he could like could go either way with this, you see.
So, for example, at the very end of the movie, they said they part movie about friendship are two actors. One of them gets an acting job up in Manchester. He leaves London and leaves with no. And the closing scene is in walking through a park in the rain. And it's still funny. But still, there's a real sort of edge to it. Kind of the dreaded word bittersweet, I suppose.
So you and I watched it again last week with my son, strangely, because he'd never seen it. Now he's twenty and he quite liked it.
You know, it's a bit dated and I felt tears welling up towards the end, whereas the first time I would have seen it laughed about seeing the funny. Yes. Because isn't it the two emotions, I suppose, life experiences and your son, as you follow in your footsteps?
He has a bit he said science and Trinity actually, yes. Are you lectured and not knowing nothing in biology like he's doing more chemistry? OK, nano science, they call it. So he's now a third ear and honestly loving it. Yeah, but it's OK because he's remote teaching now is not the best. Yeah. As we were just discussing earlier. So it's hard for that whole generation. I think it's really tough for them, isn't it.
So you were saying that, that I recently was thinking about, you know, whatever about second and third year. Yes, of course it's tough. But first year, like if you've done six years of secondary school and maybe didn't have a great time or you were just so excited for a new chapter, a new friends. It's very difficult. It is difficult. Yeah. Have you found that from.
Well well, how do they motivate themselves in a way? I think the big thing for me is it's part of the developmental process, actually. Yeah. So when you're 18, you're trying to make friends, get your identity established, have your peer group around you, maybe meet a partner eventually.
All that's what's going on biologically as a biologist, you see. Right. It's no different from when you're like a baby and then you become a child and then an adolescent and then you becoming an adult. It's a very important developmental process. It's almost hardwired. So denying that generation stuff is like stopping salmon swimming upstream. You see, it's it's it's as big as that. Now they're trying to obviously help them. And we we try to help them.
We do have a certain amount of face to face that's important. But they can't meet and go for a drink and that they can't go to their sports clubs or all that's gone for them.
And so how do you feel when when, say, in the media, the the young people are the youngsters are being berated for doing stuff that they shouldn't be berating them because it's the most natural thing in the world you see now.
Now, it's tricky, obviously, because you can't have too much looseness. Now we can't but cut them slack for that cut that generation so that kids are having a hard time. And the worry I have done is the mental health issues. In the longer run, there's a come back to haunt us probably in five, ten years time. You never know. You know, so we've got to be aware of this and try to come up with ways to help them.
And in Trinity, we're trying to get them. I mean, the final year of class, they do a 12 week research project as part of their degree. That's now four weeks. But it's something they come into us for four weeks now instead of 12.
And and they sort of attempt to try to try to mind them, I suppose, is the reason why you talk to me about the mental health thing for every generation.
Like, do you think? I think everyone is kind of it's great if people are aware and they're kind of trying to chip away at, you know, being active and eat well and making sure you're, you know, chatting to people, whether it's on social media or whatever long term.
Do you think it's going to have a big it has to because there'll be vulnerable people. You see, anyway, before the pandemic began, that was vulnerable. People are now in a more stressful situation. And you don't need to be a psychologist to figure that that will have negative effects.
But remember, we are very resilient as a species. Never forget that either. And we have survived horrible things, you know, and the main reason we survive is as a community, there's the usual things we help each other and maybe good things comes out of this that we all are aware of each other's needs, I suppose. And you never know the benefits as well. But it has to be uppermost in every government's mind. This risk to the health of the population, both physical and mental.
So it's a big, big issue, really.
OK, look, you're no laughing matter moment in life at the moment where there was just no room for laughter, where there was no room for laughter. Well, that's a serious question that we have to get serious.
Oh, we do. I am.
Well, I have in the book actually, I talk about an incident, you see, which I think is what we were talking about. There's a chapter on depression and the book has big issues like that. And the interest me, these issues, by the way, I'm fascinated by them. Right. And I know a lot of the psychiatrists, strange as it may seem, and I know the science behind depression. But each chapter has a little personal story in the front.
And when I was about 33, I think I was my first son was born. And that's a pressure on any parent, as you know. God, God, I've got this small creature now to mind.
Yeah. And then secondly, had a health scare that turned out to be minor in the end. But there was about a three month period when they weren't quite sure what it was. And I was worried about that. And then I went into a kind of a slump, you know, and it developed. I wasn't it wasn't serious depression, but I definitely a depressive episode.
And that was tough because I never had that before, you know, and it was that all the symptoms were there in a way. You know, I wasn't able to sleep when I would wake up early. And I knew, you know, the six criteria, if you have them for more than three weeks, go and see someone. And that's what I did. What are they what are the big ones are if you can't sleep is a big one or you sleep too much disturbs sleep.
Right. That are some of those waking early. That's a real marker. And if you wake at four in the morning, that's a bad, very bad sign because of what one of the boxes Utica's up on. The second one is obvious in a sense. It's sort of not so much that you're feeling down. It's just joylessness, as what they call it. It's one of the worst things that gave you pleasure in the past, no longer do.
And it's not so much you feel depressed.
It's more like, if nothing else, there's numbness. Yeah.
And I noticed that I said like a TV show. I just couldn't be bothered watching it. I said about annoying me and it wasn't get any pleasure out of it. So the lack of pleasure and things as a big one as well. Obviously the third one would be like, if you're if you're dying, if your appetite is disturbed, is a big one as well. And then a kind of a sense of hopelessness. In other words, I can't get out of this.
I can't see a way out the other. End of it. There's about seven of them in total, actually. OK. And if you have, like I think five of them for three weeks now, we all feel these things every day, kind of not every day. But, you know, all these things. You're a human being. You're going to suffer from these things. But if it persists, then there's something going wrong in your brain.
And then and then I went to see my GP and better meds was good. And then a bit of talking was good as well. And I came out of it after about three or four months. So I decided now never to stop working because I wasn't that serious. Right. Like, depression can be extremely serious. I mean, that wasn't a joyride by any means, but it wasn't as bad as the severe end of it. But still, it was bad enough.
And then my main thing was, I can't believe this is my new son because my job is to be a dad.
Yeah. You know, and I said, I've got to do something that motivated me so you men don't get help doing right now.
I think the fact that I had a child provoked me to go to the doctor. I might have gone otherwise, you know, so but then I began to come out of it and then it was amazing. I mean, I'll never forget the moment I can vividly talk in the book. We went for a way for a weekend to Malaga with the mother in law, who I'm very fond of, by the way, because I was with her on the Zeri.
Let's give it a shot. She's 90 years of age now.
So we're sitting on a balcony looking at the sea and I suddenly notice the sunlight sparkling. But that's very nice. And I was like a rush of something is now this is great. I could see something before that would have been.
Yeah, nothing but joy in the mundane and the absent. Just regular thing coming out of this. Now I can date the turning of the corner to that moment in a way. So that was a grim time, I'll tell you that much, because I just there was three months of it there in the winter, you know, and I'm going to stop. So every one of them I thought I'm always interested to know with depression, I've never actually asked the question.
So now that I have you to mind if I ask you. Absolutely. So like, what is the difference between, say, situational? This is just the terminology and the spot and I suppose clinical or chemical. Yeah. So they obviously have something horrendous happens in your life and it triggers it. Yeah. Or if just nothing really strange.
They're both the same in terms of symptomology. There's no difference between them. You know, people can just become depressed for no obvious stressor.
Right. And that's important to remember. It's really important.
The main stigma is sure you don't need to be worried about. Yeah, exactly. Great for you. Yeah, precisely. And I was probably bumping in and out of that all my life anyway. You know, you'd have three or four days of misery and then. Yeah. And then but then it became chronic, you know. Now the question is why does it become chronic? And it must be because you're over ruminating and you're thinking too much and those thoughts get too intense in a way.
And my thoughts were kind of a sign to my illness and that kind of thing. Yeah, but there was a background there, vague sense of unease as GP's did. Other people go and see their GP and they write down a vague sense of them. So we all have that to some extent you say, yeah, but this becomes chronic and a great, great name for it is a malignant sadness. It's called Sometimes I Call it was well written, a great book, if you want people to read this about depression.
And I know he was a famous biologist, actually passed away, but it's like malignant sadness now. So but it's a mystery. And to be honest, I mean I mean, why would it suddenly trigger that even even an incident? And many people and Pat himself said something. He had it with no reason. Right.
It just came on him. Yeah. And he was about to go and give a lecture tour in South Africa. And he couldn't go and have to stay home. And he became he was very severe, became suicidal. And his wife figured it was because his dad was from South Africa and his dad had committed suicide and that was preying on his mind and wasn't aware of it. So there's often something in the background like that. Yeah. Now, then his wife passed away about six years later.
It didn't go into a depression. So can't just be like an adverse event and obviously was down and breathing, of course, didn't turn into malignant sadness.
So it's a very mysterious nobody really knows. But either way, it is a chemical. Oh absolutely. There's no question the point in that chapter says something that it was quite personal to write about this, by the way. Yeah. And I gave my copy of my friends. I can you read up for me? Is is it a bit self-serving or brilliant? Honestly, because the message is everybody is susceptible, doesn't matter what you do.
And in fact, if you're successful, it can make things worse. Paradoxically, many successful people become depressed. Isn't that strange to you? See, like. Yeah, Hollywood is exactly. Yeah. And the big question is, why is that?
They think it's partly the imposter syndrome. Yeah.
Kind of thing, you know, and no one feels no one is built to deal with fame. No, there's no handbook to fame. Well, fame is interesting because I think it's to do with existential despair in a way.
Now, this is the opinion would be in other words, where does life have meaning? Yes. If you're striving for something and you achieve it and it's not quite what you expected or it's not quite the thing you want not to hire, you thought you suddenly become existentially challenged. Yeah, and that can pivot into depression, you see. So it's a strange one in a way. And then the point in that chapter is very simple, very common.
Go and get help because it's like spraining your ankle or there's no shame in this. And in fact, if anything, I would write as a badge of honor.
If you've been through this because it shows you're a human being, you're a member of the human race and it gives you empathy for others. So then what happens to me next to us? I would see students with a tutor at the time at Trinity.
And I remember we all of these two students had one year. And 120 of them. They often come with anxiety. It's worse than ever now, by the way, that this is back in the 90s. This is, you know, and then I was able to help them. I really felt it was gave me a perspective on them. So there's a good thing that good things can come out of this in a way that's horrendous. I'm not trying to wish on anybody.
That's what empathy is. That's the key thing. Yes. And so there's always a kind of a slightly beneficial it's obviously an evolved thing. Again, if you're a biologist, you wonder, why do people get depressed? Yeah, it's about it's the real thing because it gives you a sense of perspective maybe. And it could be a survival instinct eventually, that kind of thing. You know, obviously it becomes severe. That wouldn't be great now.
But but it's part of who we are. It's part of us as a species, as the kind of bottom line on this reading.
OK, look, the person you always laugh with, with our love, the word with rather than art rather than art. That's right.
Well, my favorite thing that's probably overstating it. One of my most favorite things is going for a pint or two at a bunch of pals and you just get the crack on.
It only makes it so much.
And what I love about being Irish most of all, and I travel the world or used to anyway, is the slugging and taking the piss out of each other. And then we all laugh together at that moment. A good dig. Yeah. Yeah.
That's not a nice no, no, no. When it comes to you and me and me and my mates. Now, the latest incarnation is my band, the metabolics. That is 24/7 slugging. Is this. Oh God, yes. And the well-placed slag we all fall about at the place together, you know, so. Laughter Actually, probably the function of laughter is partly to be a socially bonding experience among us. So do you miss the beat again?
I do, yeah. Yeah. That's another tough. Mind you, these are first world problems to some extent. But now that was a great joy. Yes.
And we used to do one a month kind of thing. Yeah. And with a residency in a pub and dog and everything.
So although last week we recorded four songs this tell us more Brazzi who you know. Yeah.
And he did a podcast about the book and he said, bring the band with you and we record in a studio, come down to four songs.
And that was fantastic. But now he's going to put them on the end of the podcast, which is good. Now, where amateurs do add, although we have two two semi professionals, it has to be said our lead guitarist. Bring it. Yeah. And the bass player, Paul Faery and Chris Coulters. And then they were fantastic. They left us.
So now that he likes them and we may release them for charity and his amazing maybe they don't sound fantastic, but you never know.
Do people giggle at the rock and roll scientist kind of thing you have going on? They do, yeah.
That's another source of slagging, which is great. I don't mind.
You don't mind it if I see the phrase rock star professor one more time, I want to be tied. Oh, I don't mind. I think people it's a good thing to talk about because people don't expect it.
But you've got too many scientists and musicians really. Oscar goes to the territory and whenever I go to conferences we often get the guitars out and have a session or play at the dinner and stuff. Yeah, so many of my scientific friends are musicians, so it's not unusual actually.
You know what it's called. Tom Jones to be a scientist. We're on fire today. But, you know, strangely, it's not unusual. And often at a conference, there's a dinner at the end of the conference, like a bit like a function and a band gets up and played and it could be a local band. They book to do a gig. Often we get up the flight, you know, and just jam basically. So it's not that unusual sight for the musicians.
Amazing. OK, look, a time where you had the last laugh.
Oh, the last laugh. Ha ha. That's that's a tricky one. When that I have the last. That's a scientific thing. Oh what you already wait. So there's great rivalry between scientists. You see now it can be good and if something's going to be nasty, whether they're human beings. So if I go to a conference and I give a talk, I'm fully expecting three or four people to up the microphone and dig in to me for the science.
And that's the way it should be, right. Science is meant to be combative, actually sounds a bit strange, but because it's all about getting the truth, of course. And if I've got a scientific discovery and some other scientist doesn't agree with it and has different data to me, and they they absolutely should tell me. And then we we duke it out and you get to the truth.
That's part of the process. But sometimes it gets very nasty and they get a bit better interested. And I won't name this scientist, but I decided to get a dig into my lab and one nasty thing happened in one of my students gave a talk at a conference and I wasn't at the conference. This guy got up next. He was a senior guy and he really picked it up in his face at that talk was no good. And he was harshly critical of her.
Really nasty. Now backfired on him because people in the audience, there's a bully, you know, and he did it.
You get scientists like that, like every other human industry does, people like that. But you don't need to be nasty, you know. So about three months later, I was at a conference and I could give a talk that countered some of the stuff he had. Amazing.
And I got up and I he was there and I showed our data and I said, now, I won't be quite as personal as he was the last time I. I'm just showing you my data, you know, and then someone came up to the microphone and said that was a great topic, fantastic, well done. But now they're not going to talk. There was a mate of mine. So now that that combat is still going on, this guy is still digging.
Oh, it's still burning in the background. But I felt that was a good one.
Last laugh because defending my students, that was an awful thing to do. They all said if I'd been there, he wouldn't have done it yet.
Right. Because the email thing was absolutely never seen as a male bully there towards a young female scientist very badly from, you know, really well. And then the room there go. And that was inappropriate.
And then she was so she was very upset and she didn't have the experience to go up to the mike and count from the guts to do that.
Whereas if I'd been that, I'd be up immediately. Yeah. Oh, yeah.
And they said you weren't there. That's why he did. He's a bloody carrot, you know. So that was nice part of the dialogue. I suppose she had her back.
I did indeed. And remember, science can be like that as well. It's not pure whether there is a.
OK, look, finally. Well not finally actually quickfire round as well. If laughter wasn't the best medicine. Oh, I love that. I love that.
Do you like those. Yeah. Do all the best medicine would be terrible if laughter wasn't the best medicine will be. Well you can't beat a glass of wine.
Oh thank God. I thought you're going to say some sort of chemical. I'd be like oh no.
And this is very interesting. You know, now it's dangerous. We don't want to promote. No, we're not saying it exists. Scientifically proven.
By the way, this is true. A massive what's called a meta analysis, which means lots of clinical trials combined into one.
The healthiest people in this group were the ones with a little glass of wine, occasionally the least healthy with the teetotallers and the big drinkers, obviously. Now the big question is, why is that? Yeah, the reason is it's not just the alcohol which alcohol in moderation. Those are beneficial effects stuff.
It does tell me. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Well, it's got various beneficial effects to do with your immune system.
Even right now.
It's mainly to do with social activity, it turns out, because if you meet your friend for a drink, it relaxes you a little bit because drink. We know how it works, by the way. It suppresses, I think, of glutamate in your brain and boosts the thing called GABA. We know the chemistry of alcoholic wine and relaxes you, OK? And then you've got a little bit of social activity and you can you can bond with your child more, I suppose.
And we seem to need it as a species. So can you imagine having a a function where no wine is served? It'll be over in ten minutes and nobody would.
You know, and networking is all about getting to know people, and that's why they serve a little bit of alcohol, do these things because it loosens people up slight because we're all a bit anxious, you know, kind of that we should be nervous.
So I think, yeah, a little bit of alcohol I would advocate acceptable at risk of various things and everything in moderation, of course. So there you have it. If it wasn't laughter, I'd say. And they often go together anyway.
Absolutely. Would you be a red or white drinker?
Red, I think. Yes, it's a bit more robust. Yeah. Although one of my one of my favorite things and we're all like this, a nice meal with a nice glass of wine. There is a fantastic pleasure.
And it goes back to the Stone Age in a way that we're all around the campfire chewing on a piece of bison and having a chat. You know, it seems to be built into our our behavior going back tens of thousands of years, you see.
So why, while I have you, what will be your death row? Will my death row main deserve my death row meal? What have to be the starter would probably be chicken wings. You know, the divine.
What are you serious about? The main course would have to be a nice steak.
Oh, you know, with washed lamb on the side chips to buy a nice onion and a nice peppers family and a great Irish beef.
You can't beat it, you know, bottle of red, a bottle of red, the best red to go with the steak.
We're allowed the bottle for death row. Indeed we are. Indeed we are. Yes. No health consequences here.
Three bottles then back to back and then the dessert. Well, now what would that be? That would have to be a nice bit of traditional apple pie, you know, steaming hot with cream. OK, keep it.
Keep it straight. Give it easy. But that'll be one option.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. OK, I like those to have an appetite though.
Yes, that's true. That's true. OK, are you ready for the quickfire. I yeah. The actor you always laugh at.
Well the comedian is Tommy Tiernan. I know that's a separate question. You part of the as an actor is. Oh that wasn't easy is it. The actor I always laugh at Michael Caine.
Oh very good. When he's in his comedy roles, his timing and his comedy skills.
That's a good answer. He had that before. The actress. You always laugh it.
Oh, the actress. I always laugh. I'd have to be Joanna Lumley. Excellent. And AbFab and I'm dating myself. No, but. But isn't that a superficial unreal. Just fantastic.
These are great to get. Gets me every time. So comedian Tommy Tiernan. Yeah, definitely.
And then finally, Luke, your best or worst joke. My best or worst joke is as follows.
Three Non's. I'm in a car crash, OK, and they go to the pearly gates and St. Peter is their sisters are very welcome because you've had a good life and I'm not coming. But just to be sure, I need to ask you some questions to make sure you know what's going on with regard to God and everything. And they say yes. And then he says that the first nun what was the name of the first man on the nun?
Says, Adam, correct.
Your sister. You're very welcome. Heaven forever for you. And then the second nun, he says. Now, what was the name of the first woman?
That was Eve St. Peter Eve. That's exactly right. Fantastic. You come in and you're welcome. Now, the third one is the Mother Superior. You're a bit more, you know, seeing your I ask you a tougher question. When I've met Adam, what was the first thing she said to him? Oh, that's a hard one you're in.
Oh, yeah. Professor Lakotah is Dawn French.
I'll get kind of Professor Luigino, thank you so much for sharing the last of your life.
Thank you very much. That was great fun. We had a good laugh as well. That's the main thing.
Thank you for listening to the laughs of your life with Professor Luke O'Neill. I hope you enjoyed gentle reminder that this week's episode is brought to you by Science Week 20/20, which is running from November 8th to 15th with hundreds of virtual events taking place online. You can check them out. SFI, dorahy forward, such events, lots more brilliant episodes to come this season. So don't forget to like subscribe res review and all those other things. This podcast is brought to you by Collaborative Studios.