Monday, July 11, 2005

Apple #88: Sneezing


A baby came to visit today, and while she was here, she sneezed. It made her smile. Her parents said she likes to sneeze. She gets distressed when they sneeze, but she enjoys her own sneezes.

This woman's name is Annabelle Glass, and she is sneezing.

  • The average sneeze travels 40 mph. Some sneezes shoot out at speeds of 100 mph, which, if this speed could be sustained, would be fast enough to qualify as a category 2 hurricane.
  • Sneezing involves numerous muscles in the face, throat, abdomen, diaphragm, and neck. Because the muscles that close the eyes are also activated, it is impossible to keep your eyes open while sneezing.
  • Another name for sneezing is sternutation.
  • One out of 3 people are photic sneezers, meaning that when they step into bright light, they sneeze. This happens because of a faulty connection between the optic nerve and the nerves associated with the sneeze response.
  • If you ever feel a sneeze coming on but then it stops, look toward a bright light to re-trigger the sneeze.
  • It is a specific alkyloid called piperine in pepper that irritates the membranes in the nose and makes us sneeze.
  • Our noses produce, on average, one to two quarts of mucus each day.
  • The tradition of saying "bless you" after a person sneezes dates back to 590 AD, when Pope Gregory became Pope while a plague was going on. He recommended that people pray unceasingly for God's protection against the disease. One of the ways that people followed his advice was to say the little prayer "God bless you" whenever someone sneezed, in the hopes of warding off the plague.
  • The world record for sneezing is held by Donna Griffiths from Worstershire, UK, who sneezed for 978 days in a row. When the sneezes first started, she sneezed about once a minute, but eventually they slowed to about once every 5 minutes. She was 12 years old when the sneezes started, and 14 when they stopped, over a million sneezes later.

Geocities, Useless Facts About the Human Body
Kids Health, What Makes Me Sneeze?
Marilyn Haddrill, Sunlight Triggers Sneezing
Everyday Mysteries from the Library of Congress, Why does pepper make you sneeze?
Absolute Astronomy encyclopedia, Sneeze entry
Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy, Sneezing
Guinness World Records, Longest Sneezing Bout

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