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ACHOO

The content below is from Season 2 Episode 23 of the Who’d a Thunk it? Podcast.

RECOMMENDATION SEGMENT

  • This week’s recommendation segment is for Mead!
    • Mead is wine made from honey. It is the oldest form of alcoholic beverage.
    • According to researchgate.net
      • The earliest archeological evidence of mead production dates back 7,000 years.
    • Mead tastes amazing and is one of the simplest alcoholic beverages to make.
    • A few weekends back I decided I wanted to have mead during my Memorial day celebrations.
      • The bottle I picked up was made by Chaucers. It came with a note on it saying it goes really well with IPA beer.
      • The drink they suggested was 1/4 Chaucers mead and 3/4 of a bitter IPA
      • I thought that was nuts and how could it possibly taste good, but I mixed them and it was superb!
      • The sweetness of the mead lessened the bitterness of the IPA while also bringing out some of the more hidden IPA ingredients.
    • Mixing Mead and Beer is called Braggot (AKA Bracket, Bragawd, or Braggaut)
      • Braggot was popular among Viking communities especially.
      • Mead used to be very expensive while Ale was less expensive.
        • So drinkers used to mix the two in order to get the sweet mead taste without having to shell out quite as much money.
        • According to most of my friends and family, Braggot isn’t for everyone. LOL a lot of my friends didn’t like it, but I love it.
        • Just be careful. Mead has somewhere between 10 and 15 percent alcohol content and IPAs usually have somewhere between 6 and 9 percent alcohol content. Mixing the 2 together makes a powerful drink that will put you on your butt before you know it… so sip slowly.
    • Mead is the reason for the term Honeymoon.
      • Mead was a special drink. Irish newlyweds used to be given a bottle of mead on their wedding night and were meant to drink it for 1 full moon cycle afterwards. That is where the term Honey-Moon comes from.
    • So if you are of age, go out and get yourself a bottle of mead!
      • And if you are feeling even more adventurous, mix it with a strong IPA.

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

  • This week I wanted to do an episode about the:
    • Autosomal-Dominant
    • Compelling
    • Helio-
    • Ophthalmic
    • Outburst syndrom
      • Which when made in to an acronym spells ACHOO!
  • A shorter term used for the syndrome is the Photic Sneeze Reflex
    • I have this reflex and that means that going from a dark place to a bright place makes me sneeze.
    • The first time I shared this with anyone was in college back in Slippery Rock University.
      • My buddy Shane Whitacre mentioned how annoying it is that he sneezes every time he goes outside. Everyone else in the room had no idea what he was talking about except for me.
        • Side note: One of the reasons I brought up Shane is because I’m going to his wedding this weekend and I’m very excited to see my good friend start this next part of his life.
      • Up until that moment I thought bright lights made everyone sneeze and Shane thought he was the only person in the world that had the reflex.
      • And that is pretty common. Everyone I’ve met who also has the reflex either thinks they are unique or thinks it happens to everyone.
      • I recognized an interesting phenomenon and realized it had a fun social affect too. That’s why I decided to look in to it!
  • Great minds have pondered the reason and implications of the Photic Sneeze reflex for thousands of years
    • In the 3rd Century BCE, Aristotle hypothesized in his Book of Problems that the sun creates enough heat inside the nose that sweat forms and triggers the sneeze.
    • In the 20th Century, Sir Francis Bacon wrote how Aristotle’s hypothesis couldn’t be right, because when the eyes are closed the Photic Sneeze Reflex isn’t triggered.
      • With this information, Sir Bacon deduced that the reflex must involve the eyes.
      • He hypothesized that perhaps the eyes water and the moisture from the eyes trickles down to the nose where the sneeze is triggered.
      • But it turns out that the process of your eyes watering and pooling up enough moisture to stream down your face takes much longer than the immediate photic sneeze reflex. Plus, there is no evidence that tears cause sneezing.
  • Derek Muller from the YouTube channel Veritasium hypothesized that perhaps the reflex is an evolutionary trait
    • When we sneeze we are expelling tons of dangerous bacteria that can grow and thrive in dark places.
    • He thought that maybe our cave dwelling ancestors benefitted from only sneezing when they were outside the cave to sneeze where those potentially harmful bacteria would be killed by UV rays.
    • But Derek ended up throwing out his own hypothesis when he said there would be a much larger percentage of the population with the reflex if it were an evolutionary thing.
  • The fact is that somewhere between 18-33% of the world population has the gene that makes your brain think it needs to sneeze when actually all it needs to do is tell your pupils to constrict.
    • Allow me to explain:
    • The Trigeminal nerve (the largest cranial nerve) is responsible for most of the feelings in your face.
      • The three branches of the Trigeminal nerve are…. hard to pronounce. There is the Ophthalmic branch that goes to the eye
      • And the other branch that involves the Photic sneeze reflex is the Maxillary nerve that goes to the nose.
    • The current theory is that the intense signal being sent from your brain and eye Ophthalmic nerve causing your pupils to constrict crosses over in to the Maxillary nerve and triggers your nose to sneeze.
      • In layman’s terms, us sun sneezers have our wires crossed.
    • The Crossed Wires hypothesis is the best the medical community could come up for a long time, but there is no solid evidence to support it until just recently.
The Trigeminal Nerve
Trigeminal Nerve branches/divisions
  • Genetics have pin pointed the gene responsible for the Photic Sneeze Reflex and it fits very nicely with the crossed wires hypothesis
    • Located on the 2nd chromosome there is a single letter representing a gene.
      • For non sun sneezers this letter is a T, but for us circus freaks going around sneezing at the giant flaming ball in the sky that letter is a C.
      • This was discovered by the company 23&Me. They got about 10,000 people to go online, and fill out if they had the reflex or not.
      • Then those 10,000 participants submitted their DNA to 23&Me.
      • That data was analyzed and they found this 1 letter of DNA had the most significant correlation with how the participants answered their photic sneeze question.
  • Why did it take thousands of years to figure this out?
    • well scientists try to focus on important problems like curing AIDS or Cancer.
    • While some people were curious as to why some of us sneeze at lights and others don’t, the scientific community was fine with keeping that harmless question on standby.
    • Sneezing isn’t really that harmless unless you are doing open heart surgery or operating some complex vehicle.
      • Side note, sun sneezes have almost made me crash my care like 3 times. Driving down the highway at 80 miles per hour and having the sun peak over the horizon for me is a dangerous combination.
  • But anyway, that’s my episode on sneezing LOL
    • I’m a sun sneezer and I’m not particularly proud of it, but I’m certainly not ashamed of it.
  • Thanks for listening Who’d a Thunkers!
    • Until next week 🙂

CREDIT

I used Derek Muller’s video heavily for this video.

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