Wednesday, August 09, 2006


There are times and places when I really hate having to sneeze: driving in heavy traffic, while cutting up food that I'm cooking, that sort of thing. I hope that someone somewhere is working on a way to override the sneeze reflex at least temporarily, for times when one is performing a task which one cannot afford to have interrupted.

From what I read on the net, the reflex arc for sneezing and coughing goes through the medulla oblongata and back to the musculature responsible for breathing. If we could put a cutoff switch somewhere in there, whether electrical, chemical, or physical, we should be able to affect the reflex. Alternatively, if someone had this installed and threw the switch hard in the opposite direction, we would have artificial snuff, which might also have its uses.

I can see that the military would be interested in this, thinking of all those scenes in the movie when some spy or scout is skulking around in a clandestine manner, and then his nose begins to twitch, and before you know it, the foe knows that someone is sneaking around, and things go bad.

I probably wouldn't want to turn off the sneezing reflex entirely or for a long period of time, because I am sure it is there for a good survival reason. But I think in most situations if you could inhibit it for a half hour or so that would probably be enough.

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