The Curious Science of Bodily Functions

A new book explores why our bodies do the things they do

In Curious Behavior: Yawning, Laughing, Hiccupping, and Beyond, which published last week, Robert R. Provine, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County sets out to answer some of biology’s burning questions: Why are yawns contagious? Why do we cry tears? Why does light make (some of) us sneeze? And my personal favorite: Why don’t we talk out of our butts?

_Click here to enter the gallery_

“My book is a catalogue of human mysteries, solved and unsolved,” Provine says. “Most such human acts have been mysteries since antiquity, and remain so. Scientists neglect the commonplace.”

The book aims to change this by bringing little-known experiments about everyday acts like itching and farting into the light of day.

Click through to the gallery to find out how — and why — our curious behaviors exist.

Jennifer Abbasi is a science and health writer and editor living in Portland, OR, and PopSci_’s Sex Files columnist. Follow Jen on Twitter @jenabbasi ._