The sword swallowers and their day

Ig Nobel Prize winner Dan Meyer is the originator and prime mover behind International Sword Swallowers Day, which is today, which means that most of the world’s approximately 55 (somewhat) organized, professional sword swallowers are or will be swallowing swords in public, which is something they would do pretty much every day if they had their druthers.

The 2007 Ig Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded to Brian Witcombe the UK, and Dan Meyer of the US, for their penetrating medical report “Sword Swallowing and Its Side Effects” (published in the British Medical Journal, December 23, 2006, vol. 333, pp. 1285-7). Here’s video of their one-minute-long acceptance speech at that year’s Ig Nobel ceremony:

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Time Magazine is celebrating the day with an essay about the professionals who use large, pointed objects to practice catch-and-release fishing with themselves. The essay features Dan Meyer, and a portion of the talk Dan gave one year at the Improbable Research session at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science”

“When I put the sword in my mouth, I will repress the gag reflex in the back of the throat. Then I have to go behind my Adam’s apple, my prominentia laryngea, behind the voice box, the larynx, down about through the crichopharyngeal sphincter, up in the upper part of the mouth here. Then down into the esophagus, repress the peristalsis reflex, [muscular contractions] that swallow your food. From there relax the esophageal muscles, relax the lower esophageal sphincter, and slip the blade down into my stomach, repress the wretch reflex in my stomach.”

BONUS FACT: Dan Meyer and his sword will stage a triumphant return appearance at this year’s Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony — the 25th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony — on September 17, 2015, at Harvard University.

BONUS: In this video, Dan Meyer, sword in throat, presents his personal answer to the seldom-asked question: How many pushups would a sword swallower do if a sword swallower did do pushups while swallowing a sword?