Feeds

Why is it absolutely impossible to sneeze with your eyes open?

The eyes have it

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Also in this week's column:

Why is it absolutely impossible to sneeze with your eyes open?

Asked by Jeff Grisham of San Antonio, Texas

One of the classic Odd Body Questions is why can’t I sneeze without closing my eyes. This question was answered in my first book, The Odd Body. The medical term for a sneeze is the “sternutatory reflex”. Almost all animals sneeze. A sneeze helps clear the nose and sinus regions while injecting oxygen into the cells of the body. A sniff does much the same thing. Nevertheless, a sneeze is a very complicated body action. Technically, a sneeze is produced when an irritant contacts the nasal mucosa, which in turn stimulates the trigeminal nerve, which in turn stimulates the pons and medullai of the brain, which in turn sets off additional nerve reactions, and so on. During a sneeze, tremendous stress is placed on the body. Considerable air pressure is place upon the eyes. This pressure is not enough to pop your eyes out of your head or even make them bulge out, but enough to make your eyes feel uncomfortable from the added pressure. According to Dr. G.H. Drumheller of the International Rhinologic Society in Milan, we close our eyes when we sneeze in order to keep the eyes from “extruding”.

Stephen Juan, Ph.D. is an anthropologist at the University of Sydney. Email your Odd Body questions to s.juan@edfac.usyd.edu.au

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
NASA rover Curiosity drills HOLE in MARS 'GOLF COURSE'
Joins 'traffic light' and perfect stony sphere on the Red Planet
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge
CSIRO's 'missing bushwalker' found and watered
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.