Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Questions for Dr. Karl, part I

Dr Karl (short for Karl Kruszelnicki) is a well known Australian-based scientist, author, radio commentator and generally, a man of many many talents. He hosts a science radio show ("Science on mornings") on an Australian radio station called "Triple J" where listeners call in and ask science-related questions for him to answer. I thought i would start an on-going piece called "Questions for Dr. Karl". These are the question for which i want to know the answers to; question which i cant find answers to. I have many but i usually forget what they are. I'll start with this question, which i came up with recently.

Question: If the hearty nature of a sneeze is meant to release any irritants that have built up in our respiratory system, why is is that some people sneeze gently or internally or make squeaky sounds when they sneeze. How does a person who sneezes in this way release anything within their respiratory system.

PS: I have considered the actions of coughing and the mechanical actions of cilia but how could these possibly create the outcomes of a violent sneeze.


KittyMeow said...

Hi fellow Voguette - syntech here! I'm no scientist but I'll be adding your very interesting blog to my Google Reader. :-) I love reading about science even though I don't know all the technical stuff that actually requires brains. Lol.

You posted it a while back - about the gaia I crazy that I think the entire universe(s) is a "living" organism? I dunno - I think life is much more successful than often believed/apparent and would it be such a stretch to apply the our definition of life to the entire cosmos?

As for sneezing - I think those "internal" sneezes are a product of modern society cos its not polite to loudly explode your mucus everywhere....Back at the dawn of man before we had so many silly social "rules" I'm sure people sneezed with full force. I could be entirely wrong though! :-)

The Afro Scientress said...

Hi Kittymeow, thank you for the comment. Yeah, i agree with you that quiet sneezes could be a product of modern society's etiquette and i am aware of people who do everything in their power to suppress them. What i was curious about was people who have naturally quiet sneezes. I know a violent sneeze can feel as if it has cleansed both the nasal tract aswell as the lungs. How does one who sneezes gently clear their lungs? One of the Voguys stated that he was able to sneeze both ways (i.e. violently and gently) and still feel the benefit of both.