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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/507

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491
HOW WE SNEEZE, LAUGH, STAMMER, AND SIGH.

nearest corresponding dates at which comets were seen are also appended:

Former returns
of the comet of 1812.
Corresponding dates
at which comets
were seen.
Former returns
of the comet of 1812.
Corresponding dates
at which comets
were seen.
1741 1742 1456 1457
1670 . . . 1384 1382
1598 . . . 1313 1313
1527 1529 1241 1240


No comets are recorded for 1670 and 1598, and very little is known of those seen in 1742 and 1529. Some of the preceding may have been returns of the Pons-Brooks comet. The comets of 1812 and 1846, as has been shown, are both liable to great perturbation by Venus.

 

HOW WE SNEEZE, LAUGH, STAMMER, AND SIGH.
By FREDERIC A. FERNALD.

THE nose is an organ in more senses than one. From its resonant pipes proceed the sonorous tones which tell of blissful slumber, and the convulsive snort, varying from the mere "cat-sneeze" to the tremendous "Horatio," that has less definite meaning; while the Frenchman and the typical New-Englander (who is nearly as rare as the aborigine in New England, by-the-way) give it an important share in the production of speech. To give some physiological explanation of these and other involuntary actions of the respiratory mechanism is the object of the present article.

Snoring is produced in sleep by the passage of the breath through the pharynx when the tongue and soft palate are in certain positions. The soft palate must have fallen back in such a manner as to nearly or quite close the entrance to the nasal cavity from the throat, and the tongue must also be thrown back so far as to leave only a narrow opening between it and the soft palate. It is by the air being forced either inward or outward through this opening that the noise is produced. A snore results also when, with a closed mouth, the air is forced between the soft palate and the back wall of the pharynx into the nasal cavity. With deep breathing, perhaps accompanied by a variation in the position of the soft palate, a rattling noise may be heard in addition to the snoring, which is due to a vibration of the soft palate. Hence it is evident how flinging a pillow at a snorer, or poking him in the ribs, will often cause him to be silent even when the disciplinary measure does not awaken him, for a change of position that lets the tongue and soft palate fall a little forward secures a free passage for the air.