The Neatest Little Paper Ever Read ®

Issue 974

TIDBITS® CONSIDERS

NOSES

by Janet Spencer

Come along with Tidbits as we consider what the nose knows!

MADE TO “ODOR”

• Behind the bridge of the nose and below the brain, two small pieces of tissue dangle in the nasal passage. They’re packed with ten million receptor cells and covered with mucus. Nerve fibers connect them to the two olfactory bulbs below the brain. Airborne chemicals are carried up the nose, mixed with warm humid air, trapped by mucus, and sampled by these sensors. The signals are sent to the brain which identifies the odor. Nerves in the nose are the only nerves in the human body that regenerate. This may be due to the fact that they’re the only nerves that are out in the open, protected only by mucus.

• The average person can name more than 2,000 odors. Trained experts can recognize over 10,000. The power of the nose peaks in middle age and then fades. About half of people over 80 cannot smell, which may account for the high number of accidental gas poisonings each year among the elderly. People with Alzheimer’s disease are likely to have smelling deficits. One out of every 15 victims of head injury wakes up in a permanently odorless world. Accidents are the leading cause of the inability to smell, an affliction suffered by 2 million Americans.

MECHANICS OF THE NOSE

• When you inhale air that is 10°F, it will be warmed to 91°F inside your nasal passages before it ever reaches your throat.

• The mucous lining catches debris like flypaper attracting flies and it manufactures more than a pint of mucus a day. The mucus also keeps the humidity in your nose at 80%.

• Suppressing a sneeze has been known to damage ribs, facial bones, cartilage, and ears. Anything so powerful it can propel droplets 6 feet at 100 mph should not be stopped.

NO NOSE BLOWING

• According to legend, Frederick the Great of Prussia was inspecting his soldiers when he noticed their sleeves were dirtier than the rest of their uniforms. When he asked why, he was told that the men used their sleeves to wipe the sweat from their brow and to blow their noses on. To stop this, he ordered that buttons be sewn on the sleeves, giving the men a nasty scratch whenever they used their sleeves as hankies. Today men’s suits are still adorned with useless buttons.

UNUSUAL NOSES

• Junius Brutus Booth, father of John Wilkes Booth, was a famous stage actor. His handsome appearance was marred by a broken nose. Once a female fan gushed, “You’re such a wonderful actor, but I just can’t get over your nose!” He replied, “Well, no wonder! The bridge is gone!”

• When Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe lost the tip of his nose in a duel, he had it replaced with a silver one.

• Sir William Davenant, a British writer, lost his nose due to illness and his appearance was very disconcerting. An old woman once blessed his eyesight. When he enquired why, she replied that if his eyesight ever failed, he would have no place to prop a pair of spectacles.

 

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