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Ask Maxim: Bodily Functions, Dream Decoding, and Typewriter History

Answering all the questions you never knew you had (and some you did).


Is it possible to fart, cough, and sneeze all at once?
—Frank Ranallo
Sadly, it’s yet another threesome you’ll never see materialize. Coughing and sneezing use the same muscles and reflexes, so they can’t happen simultaneously, according to Marc I. Leavey, M.D., at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. But happily for our inquisitive readers, he adds, “These same muscles increase intra-abdominal pressure, which could encourage the expulsion of gas.” Two out of three ain’t bad! (Except for whoever is sitting next to you.)


Why do I forget my dreams as soon as I wake up?
—William Khounsombath

Two reasons. One: Since dreams are a function of our unconscious, we can’t directly access them while we’re awake. “If you recall certain fragments, your unconscious is trying to tell you something,” psychoanalyst Carole Lieberman, M.D., tells us. Which brings us to two: So psychoanalysts can get paid for listening to your boring dreams.

Why are letters on a keyboard laid out that way?
—Doug Greenberg
“The theories are that it was created to prevent typewriters from jamming up by separating commonly used letters, or telegraph operators designed it to reduce finger movement,” says Andrew Hsu, Ph.D., product strategist for Synaptics. Either way, it became standard in 1893 after a five-way typewriter-company merger—hot!

Check out Ask Maxim: Envelope Licking and The World's Ugliest Animal Needs Your Help.