At North Carolina State University there’s a lab that has a vomiting machine, but it wasn’t built for grad students to amuse themselves. The device is instead used to study how pathogens, particularly human noroviruses, spread. It’s a quarter in size compared with natural human features, but was scaled down using commonly accepted similitude principles.
Noroviruses can be quite unpleasant, causing emesis in addition to other maladies, but it’s also famous for its ability to spread from one person to another even when reasonable precautions are taken. The NC State researchers used their vomiting machine to simulate real emesis to see what happens to a norovirus surrogate, the bacteriophage MS2, as it exits the mouth at high velocity.
Turns out that the virus actually aerosolizes and takes flight to land on just about everything nearby. This has been suspected to be a common route for the disease to spread, but was not proven until now thanks to the vomit machine. Hopefully this knowledge will lead to better methods of controlling the spread of the disease, and perhaps some kind of devices that allow us sick humans to vomit in a more civilized way.
As noted before, the technology behind this machine is not brand new, having long been a central feature in a popular animatronic installation at New York City’s Coney Island:
Source: North Carolina State…