Doctor Eclectic

Doctor Eclectic
Doctor Eclectic

Monday, January 27, 2014

Examples

As I was waiting to get my car washed a few days ago, I sneezed, which prompted the common response, "God Bless you!"  Which prompted my thoughts to remember that phrase came from the days of the Black Death when a sneeze was an indicator that you had only a few days before you would meet your maker.

My second thought, if I have time and the attention of the commentator is to ask them, "Do you know why the sun can initiate a sneeze?"  Which often, and in this case elicits, "No.  Why?"  And I'm off to tell my story.

When I was in graduate school at Bethesda, having been out of Dental School for eight years, I was much more receptive to the lectures than when I was at Marquette.  Our Anatomy professor, from Georgetown Faculty, was a great storyteller, to a point where after yet another anecdote about how during a surgical procedure he was involved in, the sheath of the throat being breached and blood spurting out so fast the patient died from a tonsillectomy.  One of my classmates asked, "Do you consider your presence during surgery to be bad luck?"

The story I remember was in response to my long-held and unresolved question as to why I could trigger a sneeze by looking at light and my wife could not.

Turns out that when we all were walking like Neanderthals; hunched over and shuffling around, wary of dangers around us, our olfactory senses needed to be at high alert and if our eyes watered, the moisture just dripped on the ground.  As we evolved and began to stand erect an anatomical deviation became of more consequence: about half of us have the tear duct above the nerve that triggers a sneeze and about half below. Those above would have tears pass the nerve and stimulate a sneeze.  Those with the opening below, just pass the tear into the mouth.

Interesting but as the classic joke about the stutterer who learned to say, "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers", it is hard to work into a conversation.

I'm sure there are many other examples of questions which haunt us, and one example of one recently was debunked by Snopes: Why are railroad tracks the same width apart? Turns out it is not because of the width of Roman Chariot wheels.

The Knight's Dream
Two that remain unanswered in my mind are: Why do some people remember dreams and others not?  And the related: Are dreams in color or black and white? The second is: Do we learn language from different parts of the brain as we age?

Those questions need someone like my Anatomy Professor to answer because even current research seems divided as to the answers. Perhaps some of you know the truth.  If so, please Comment.

Phil Everly recently passed away, which probably didn't hurt the sales of Norah Jones and Billie Joe Armstrong's new album Foreverly.  In my next Post I'll discuss why the Everly Brothers were so special.  Please join me.

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