20 March, 2009

Story of Toaster: Self Experimentation #1

Looking back, even though I sometimes wanted to be an astronaut or an architect, it becomes apparent that I was fated to become a scientist. And it manifested rather early. For evidence of that, here is the story of Toaster's First Experiment.

Or, well, at least the first experiment that I clearly remember doing. There may have been others before that, but as I was a child prodigy at dropping heavy things onto my own head I don't remember them.

Young Toaster, aged ~5. Hot Southern summer*, I was left to play alone in the backyard. I was very good at this, busily digging holes, hoarding things in the shed, and collecting pillbugs. I had recently tried to dig a tunnel under our neighbors' yards (this failed).

So I was casting around for something to do when I noticed that it was difficult to breathe in the very hot humid summer air (typically >40C + 70%+ humidity). I noted that air was coming out of my mouth and my nose, but not the other holes in my head.

Because the holes for my eyes are already filled up with my eyes, I logically cannot breathe through them. However, there is nothing filling up my ears, so I should be able to breathe through them.

Test 1:
I held my breath very tightly and even closed my eyes to make sure no air leaked out (just in case). I pinched my nose shut and tried to force air out my ears.

Result 1:
No air went through my ears.

OK, it's not easy, but that doesn't mean it's not possible.

Revision Tool:
Piston-style air pump found in shed**!

Test 2:
I held my breath again like before. And I held the air pump to my right ear and tried to pump air in mechanically.

Result 2:
Young Toaster runs into the house trying to scream over the sudden painful ringing in his ears. A visit to the doctor revealed that I had managed to puncture my eardrum membrane when I didn't account for the pointy tip of the air pump moving toward my ear when I pushed down on the plunger. The tinnitus lasted for 2 weeks and thankfully my eardrum healed. Interestingly, my balance was off during the entire acute phase of the tinnitus. Incredibly (because walking was [and is still sometimes at any level of sobriety] a dangerous undertaking for me), I managed to not further injure myself, I think. Sometimes I still get transient tinnitus.

Once cannot breathe through their ears, either unassisted or with mechanical help, no matter how much they may wish to.

**One of the few days where we weren't inside hiding from these.
*At this point you probably already knew how this was going to end: Badly.


PhizzleDizzle said...

oh TS, that is one of the funniest kid stories I have ever heard (since there was no permanent damage). Hahahaha, definitely made me smile.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Delurking to say that this is an awesome story! It goes way beyond my own experiments with frogspawn.

Science Bear said...

I attempted to fly using large pieces of a box and string... I of course experimented on my little sister, and she was sucked back a few feet, but didn't remain air born (and thankfully wasn't injured.. though my only concern was what I did wrong).

You are way more thorough than myself, since I gave up on the second try, mainly due to loss of participants (my sister and our neighbor's grandkids who were our same age didn't want to do it anymore).