PHOTON TORPEDOS by Amber Poer and Jeremy Hess

Ever felt like sneezing when you looked up at the sky, lying on your back, or looked at a bright light and just had to let an achoo rip? This phenomenon has stumped a lot of great minds, like Aristotle and Francis Bacon. Modern science has dubbed this bright-light-inspired mucus “The Photic Sneeze Reflex”. We put HHS’ Keaton Lindner under the bright lights to find out.

Scientists still aren’t completely sure why light triggers this effect in certain people. The current theory is that the optic nerve, responsible for dilating and constricting the pupils crosses signals with a nerve, which controls facial movements and sneezing. The trigeminal nerve reads the misfire as an irritant in the nose, and lets a sneeze rip as a response. It looks to be genetic, with a 50% chance of parents passing the fluke on to their kids depending on their genetic makeup.