Why do you Cry?


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Narrator: Hey smarty pants, did you know that you’re mysterious? It’s true! How so, you ask? Well, there’s something you do, maybe a little, maybe a lot, that’s quite mysterious. In fact, it’s not just you that does it. Pretty much every human being who has ever walked the planet, including everyone you know, has done it at some point in their life.
Any idea what I’m talking about? Here’s a hint. Did you say crying? That’s right. Throughout your life, you’ll shed tears about 2 to 4 times a month on average. Maybe you did some crying today or earlier in the week. Maybe you’re doing it right now. I hope you’re not crying now. It’s hard to cry and smart at the same time. But the truth is we could all use a good cry every now and then, right? Now, I know what you’re thinking. Crying is for babies. But it’s also for when you’re really sad or upset. Oh no, I can’t believe my favorite team is going to lose the game. But strangely enough, you might also cry when you’re happy. Oh man, what a comeback! We won! We won! I’m so happy! You might cry if you’re in pain, like getting a shot from the doctor. Ow! That hurt. Can I get a lollipop? Or if you get poked in the eye. Ow! That hurt and it inactivated my tear ducts.
Then again, sniffing onions doesn’t hurt. But it can make you cry. I’m not upset. It’s just the onions. The fact is, crying is a big part of being human. But do you know why you do it? Why are some tears physically different than others? And why do tears come out your nose and taste so salty? It’s time for another whiff of science on
Theme Song: Who Smarted? Who Smarted? Who Smart? Is it you? Is it me? Is it science? Or history? Listen up, everyone! We make smarting lots of fun on Who Smarted?
Narrator: Okay, smarty pants. Let’s start with a fairly easy question. Where do tears come from? Is it
A- Glands by your eyes?
B- A pool in your heart?
Or C- A super soaker in your brain?
If you guessed A- glands in your eyes, you’re correct.
The answer may seem obvious now, but believe it or not, scientists first discovered this less than 400 years ago. Before then, people actually thought tears came from your heart. Huh? That’s right. As in, they thought actual water would rise from your heart to your head, perhaps as vapor, and then find its way out of your eyes. It may seem silly now, but when you consider that we usually associate the heart and tears with emotions, this theory did make some sense, even if it’s not scientific. Okay, next question. True or false? Humans are the only creatures who shed tears because of emotions. The answer is true. Other animals do make tears, but only people cry over their feelings. Yet, that’s not the only reason why we cry.
Sarge: Did you say cry?
Narrator: Well, yes, I, um…
Sarge: Attention! You want to cry? I’ll make you cry.
Narrator: What? Wait, that’s not what I was…
Sarge: Drop and give me 50.
Narrator: 50 push-ups? You think that’ll make me cry?
Sarge: Either that, or it’ll get you in shape. Now go!
Narrator: Okay, okay. One…
Sarge: Ah, you call that a push-up? I call that kissing the floor.
Narrator: Sorry. Two…
Sarge: This is going to take all day. Maybe you’ll speed it up if I blast a hairdryer in your face.
Narrator: What? Why?
Sarge: Ah, see that? I’m making you cry, narrator.
Narrator: He’s right. I am starting to tear up, but it’s not because he’s yelling at me, although I do wish he’d stop.
Sarge: Me? Never.
Narrator: And it’s not because of the push-ups. It’s because he’s blowing a hairdryer right in my face. Smarty pants, do you know why this hairdryer is causing my eyes to tear up? Is it because
A- I’m blinking more?
B- The air dries out my eyes
Or C- the noise bothers me?
Sarge: You better get this right, Smarty pants, or you’ll owe me 25 jumping jacks.
Narrator: Smarty pants, you don’t have to do jumping…
Sarge: Quiet. So, what’s your answer?
Narrator: Hopefully you said B. My eyes are tearing up because the hot air is drying them out.
But it’s not just hot air. Cold air can do the same thing. So can staring at a computer screen.
This causes you to produce what are called basal tears. You might not realize this, but you spread basal tears all over your eyes to keep them moist throughout the day. How do you do that? By blinking.
These tears also provide your eyes with nutrients and oxygen, and they can improve your vision and sharpen your focus. Tears do this with a combination of water, oils, proteins, antibodies, and mucus. Sarge: Mucus? You mean snot? Speaking of which, I know all you Smarty pants didn’t get that question right. If I don’t see some jumping jacks now, I’m going to make Narrator here do them.
Sarge: What?
Sarge: Quiet. I’m not done making you cry, Narrator.
Follow me.
Narrator: Um, why are you taking me into the woods?
Sarge: We’re headed to a campsite. Now sit while I strike a match and light a perfectly safe and enclosed campfire.
Narrator: Ooh, are we going to make some s’mores? No, we’re not going to make s’mores. We’re going to make smoke.
Narrator: This campfire is definitely smoky.
Sarge: Too much for you, Narrator? Are you going to cry?
Narrator: No, maybe I’m just going to scooch back a bit.
Sarge: Now chop this onion.
Narrator: An onion?
Sarge: I said chop, now! Chop, chop!
Sarge: Chopping, chopping, I’m chopping.
Sarge: Ah, that should really get the tears flowing.
Narrator: Yes, but why? Well, for starters, tears from outside irritants like smoke or onions are actually completely different tears than your basal tears. These tears are called reflex or irritant tears, and they don’t coat your eyes like basal tears.
Instead, they gush out from under your eyebrows to flush away irritating or potentially harmful things such as dust and debris, smoke particles, vomit, and certain chemicals.
Unknown Speaker: Ah.
Narrator: One such chemical known as syn-Propanethial S-oxide is a gas that’s released when you chop an onion. The gas won’t harm you, but it does bother your eyes, which is why onions make you cry.
Sarge: Okay, okay, that’s enough onion chopping.
Narrator: Sarge, are you crying too?
Speaker What? No, never! Let’s go, it’s time for some real tears. March!
Narrator: If by real tears you mean the third kind of tears, then you’re in for a mystery.
Sarge: Is that so, narrator? Narrator: That’s right, Sarge. Smarty Pants get ready to learn about a kind of tears that still has scientists puzzled right after this quick break.

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Narrator: And now back to Who Smarted? Hey, Smarty Pants, question. Have you ever cried without shedding tears? The answer for everyone is yes.
And it happened back when you were born. You may think babies shed lots of tears, and that’s true, but not newborns. When you’re born, your lacrimal glands, the glands by your eyes that make tears, are not fully developed yet.
So for about the first month of life, all people cry without tears. But once those glands start up, they really get working. Do you have a big gallon container of milk in your fridge? Or maybe you’ve seen those large containers in the supermarket.
How many of those gallon containers do you think you fill up each year with your tears? Is it
A- 1 to 2 gallons?
B- 5 to 10?
Or C- 15 to 30?
The answer, surprisingly, is C. Your body makes 15 to 30 gallons of tears every year. Whoa. That’s a lot of crying.
Sarge: Get ready to cry a gallon of tears now, narrator. I’m going to insult you right to your smarty face until you’re crying like a baby, but not a newborn.
Narrator: Whoa. First of all, insults are not cool, ever. Second of all, they won’t make me cry. Also, I know you and a lot of other people think crying makes you a baby, but it doesn’t. It makes you a human. Like I said earlier, humans are the only species on the planet that cry over emotions, which is why the third type of tears are called emotional or psychic tears. But while crying is considered a sign of weakness by some people, that’s not the case. Powerful world leaders cry publicly. And some of the greatest heroes throughout history, men and women, featured in medieval night’s tales, epics like the Iliad, and religious stories in the Bible, are portrayed openly weeping. It doesn’t matter how strong you are; as long as you have the capacity to feel, you have the capability to cry emotional tears, whether you are a kid or an adult.
Sarge: Yeah, you’re right. When my pet gerbil Pickles died, I cried emotional tears so hard they came out of my nose. Is that normal?
Narrator: I’m glad you admitted that, Sarge. And yes, nose crying is normal. In fact, your body is designed for that. Near the inside corner of your eyes are ducts. No, no, no, not ducks. Ducts. Tiny passages, which you can actually see if you look in a carefully pull down your lower eyelid a little. Just make sure to wash your hands first and ask for an adult’s help. These ducts drain tears away from your eyes and down into your throat. And yes, out through your nose. Sometimes there are too many tears for these tiny drains to handle, and that’s when they run down your face.
Sarge: I see. Can I ask another question?
Narrator: Of course.
Sarge: Not that I cry often, but I also noticed my tears can taste pretty salty, like the ocean. What’s the deal?
Narrator: Oh, that’s easy. All your body fluids, including your blood, sweat, and yes, tears, contain salt. The salt ions in your bodily fluids are called electrolytes, and they help power your muscles, brains, and nervous system.
Sarge: Nervous? Are you saying I’m nervous?
Narrator: I didn’t say nervous. I said nervous system. But fear can make you cry.
Sarge: Nothing scares me.
Narrator: Of course not. Well, other than being thought of as a cry-baby.
Sarge:So,what else makes us cry emotional tears?
Narrator: Well, sadness and grief, of course, but also happier feelings such as love and joy.
Unknown Speaker: I’m so happy.
Sarge: I don’t understand. Why would being happy make you cry?
Narrator: It’s still a mystery exactly why our bodies need to water our eyes when we experience strong emotions. Scientists have argued over potential reasons. Emotional tears do contain more hormones and natural pain relievers than other tears. Some scientists say these may help soothe us after experience physical pain or any overwhelming emotion, even if that emotion is happiness.
Unknown Speaker: I’m so happy. But there’s another possible reason, too. Emotional tears have more protein in them, making them stick to your skin, allowing others to better see them.
Sarge: Why would you want people to see you crying?
Narrator: Because it helps us connect with each other. Seeing someone else crying communicates that they’re dealing with strong feelings and might need help or just a little sympathy. Seeing other people’s strong emotions can also trigger strong emotions inside of you. That’s why many people cry while watching an emotional scene in a movie.
Sarge: Right, if you say so.
Narrator: It’s also why if you see someone crying real emotional tears, there’s a good chance you’ll end up crying as well. But that’s a good thing. It means you’re showing support, which can make them feel better. That’s how we feel closer to one another.
Sarge: I think I have something in my eye. I’m not crying. You are.
Narrator: Just let it out, big guy. Everyone can use a good cry sometimes.

A long distance shout out to our pal Austin in England. We’re so excited to hear how Who Smarted teaches you all kinds of different things and that you like it when it’s funny.
Well, thanks for listening, learning and laughing with us, Austin. Cheers!
This episode “Tears” was written by Dave Beaudry and voiced by Max Kamaski, Adam Tex-Davis and Jerry Kolber. Technical Direction and Sound design by Josh Han. Who smarted is recorded and mixed at the Relic Room Studios. Our associate producer is Max Kamaski. The theme song is by Brian Suarez, with lyrics written and performed by Adam Tex Davis, who Smarted was created and produced by Adam Tex Davis and Jerry Colbert. This has been an atomic entertainment production.
Theme Song: Who Smarted?

Hey there, it’s trusty. And you know I love sitting at home listening to good podcasts. As much as I love going on adventures. And do I have a great one to recommend to all you Smarty pants and smarty parents from the award-winning GoKidsGo team. It’s called Snoop and Sniffy. What happens when Snoop, an experienced dog detective from London gets sent to small town Pflugerville to train clueless puppy sniffy as an undercover agent, mystery, advent and chaos.
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Search for Snoop and Sniffy on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.
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