The Universe of Discourse

Tue, 14 Feb 2023

Congested geese

Today Toph had a runny nose, and at breakfast she blew her nose loudly. Involuntarily, I said “HONK!”

“What do you think a goose would sound like blowing its nose?” she wondered.

I couldn't guess. If they already honk even when their noses aren't stuffed up, does a congested goose make some sort of unimaginable second-order honking noise?

She continued: “Do their noses get stuffed up?”

Here I was on firmer ground. “I think so,” I said. “Your nose gets congested because you inhale viruses, your body makes this sticky stuff that the viruses get stuck in, and then you can expel the sticky stuff to get rid of the viruses. Geese have an airway too, they inhale viruses, they want to get rid of them, I see no reason why the same strategy wouldn't work.”

Plausible, but this technique can take you only so far. For example, the same type of reasoning would lead us to conclude that rats vomit, but they don't.

[Other articles in category /bio] permanent link