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The Physics of Good Ol' Snot!


walsh416

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Honking the hooter. Emptying the schnozz. Launching the snot rocket. Everybody blows their nose, but how exactly does it work?

First, you create positive pressure in your lungs by tensing your diaphragm. Since initial PV/T must equal final PV/T, when a larger pressure is created it will result in an increase in the velocity of air exiting the lungs. This fast moving air is then guided up to the nose and out the nostrils.

As the air passes through your nostrils, it must pick up the snot clinging there and carry it out. It does this through drag due to air resistance. As soon as the force on a snot particle is greater than the maximum adhesive force holding it to your nose, the piece of snot will be blown off and carried away.

Thus, it follows that there must be a 'terminal blowing velocity' -- a velocity at which blowing faster will not result in the purging of any additional snot. This author encourages all readers to grab a pack of kleenex, a wind speed gauge, a family member with the flu, and experimentally determine said terminal blowing velocity!

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