Science, Nature and Tech

Why do we get Hiccups?

why do we get hiccups

Everybody gets hiccups (also sometimes spelt ‘hiccoughs’). Even when babies are still in the womb they hiccup, which can feel very odd to their mother! But why do we get them and how can you stop them?

What are Hiccups?

Hiccups are caused by the diaphragm (pronounced DYE-uh-fram). This is a large, dome-shaped muscle that sits at the bottom of your chest cavity, below your lungs. When we breathe in the diaphragm tightens, helping to pull air into the lungs, and when it relaxes it forces the air back out again. Sometimes the diaphragm becomes irritated and instead of tightening smoothly it does it in a jerky way, which makes air suddenly rush into your throat. This air is stopped when it hits the voice box and makes the opening between the vocal cords close very suddenly. This is what produces the sound of the hiccup.

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Travel

Exploring Australia: Specsavers, Sunshine and Sexism

Do you recognise this building?

When I found out I was coming to Australia for two weeks, I was so excited. Australia’s completely the other side of the world to my home in Birmingham. I fantasised about what it would be like: kangaroos hopping round, koalas on every corner, barbecues every night. It would be so different to what I’m used to.
But when I got here, the first thing that struck me was how similar everything was. Getting the bus from the airport, I noticed they drive on the same side of the road as us. When I got to the bus station, the first shop I saw was a WH Smiths. In fact, lots of the shops are the same: Specsavers, Zara, Laura Ashley, Vodafone, Starbucks, McDonald’s, KFC. The first night I was here, I was truly adventurous and had tea at Nandos (although it wasn’t as nice as the ones in the UK and they didn’t have my favourite Wild Garlic and Herb sauce) and then went back to the hotel and watched Homes Under the Hammer, Time Team and Coronation Street.

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Language & Literature, Science, Nature and Tech

Where did the Word Butterfly Come From?

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Millie explained recently what etymology means, and fitting to this week’s theme of Jump! Into Biology, we are are asking ‘where did the word butterfly come from?’.
Who hasn’t seen a butterfly flitting by and  enjoyed seeing the flutter of its wings? But have you ever considered why it came to be called “butterfly”? Perhaps you have wondered whether there used to be a large number of yellow, butter-coloured butterflies who gave their name to the whole species?

Well, there is a nice little story attached to the name of the butterfly. In the past, there was a general belief that butterflies ate milk and butter. This probably came about because of the way that flies hover over any food at all that’s left out, and butterflies may have been seen hovering over uncovered pails of milk and butter. Not only that, but this belief developed to encompass the idea that butterflies were either sent out by witches to steal butter, or were in fact, witches themselves, disguised as butterflies. Quite why the witches were out to steal the butter, we don’t know!

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