Mythbusters have fun with fake nasal secretions and sneezing

Mythbusters have fun with fake nasal secretions and sneezing

I just caught the Fever Pitch episode of Mythbusters on repeat last night. Of particular interest is their testing of the myth (which they confirmed), that "Nasal secretions from a person with a cold can spread so far and so quickly that anyone in the vicinity can become contaminated." Unfortunately, their testing showed that it is far easier for an infected person to prevent the spread of infection, than for someone to avoid contamination from the infected person.

Episode summary:

There are some short video segments from this episode available on line at:

Segments of particular interest to those of us that have low immunity are:

1) Fever Pitch Aftershow

Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage reveal whether they get sick more often now that they're famous, and whether the results of this episode changed their behaviour at all.

2) Slow-Motion Sneezes

Watch Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman's sneezes for science completely UNCUT, at 3,000 frames per second.

3) Flu Fiction MiniMyth

See how far Adam Savage's pseudo snot traveled over a single hour, and be very afraid the next time you're around a sick person.

4) Snot Meter

Jamie Hyneman experiments with ways to measure the distance of snot expelled by Adam Savage when he sneezes.

5) Snotty Savage Set-Up

Will a sick and snotty Adam Savage infect his fellow partygoers?

6) Sneezing for Science

Watch Adam Savage sneeze for science as he and Jamie Hyneman explore whether a sneeze can truly travel 100 mph.


6 Replies

  • I think I'm glad I missed this. I'm pretty careful about being around sick people, which is easier now that I'm not teaching elementary school aged kids. I've always had a low tolerance for people who share germs because "they can't miss work" or whatever, but now I'm one of the extra cautious ones who avoids door handles when possible, uses towels or a sleeve for them and hand railings, carries gel and always has wipes in my car, walks out of a restaurant if I don't see people washing their hands, finds seats away from others, especially in a doctor's office, etc. Maybe I should have a few "lab coats" to wear over my clothing when in public during flu season that can just be taken off as I get in my car and dropped in the trunk (boot) or enter my house when I've been out and around lots of people????

    How do others deal with being germophobic?


  • Adults will often put their hand in front of their face when sneezing.

    Children almost never do this.

    Children are germ factories.

    One thus has to conclude that those with CLL should stay away from children..??

    For myself, I have had three hospital visits for simple blood draws or a skin cancer check this year and each and every time after 48 hours I go down with the flu.

    This flu then lasts for 8 weeks before a full recovery..

    I thus postponed my last hospital visit as I refuse to waste these nice summer days suffering with the flu for 8 weeks.!


  • Sounds a good trade to me Dick. I reckon respiratory illnesses are worse in the warmer months too. Thankfully, I haven't had the flu since diagnosis, but I'm getting tired of these colds that last a couple of months or more...

    I definitely stay away from children - the younger, the further away I stay. They are developing their immune systems by sharing germs; I'm trying to conserve what I have left.

    A while back in Australia, there was an attempt to get people to cough/sneeze into their elbow rather than into their hands (and then shake hands with the next person they meet). Unfortunately, that hasn't really caught on - perhaps because it is easier to wipe your hands than change your shirt/top?


  • Dick, I can certainly relate to what you say. I've noticed that after contact with children, I often get some sort of cold or virus, that can drag on for weeks. I now avoid most children, unless it's my gorgeous little great-nieces when they run up to me for a hug. So hard to refuse... But maybe if my immune system gets worse, I'll have to explain to them and their parents that it's not a good idea.. Sad...

    About the risks from hospital visits - like Pat I'm extra cautious about touching door handles, sit as far away from others as I can, don't pick up magazines to read from the well-used pile (take my own book to read instead), and use gel alot (on my hands). And I try not to touch my face till I've got home and washed my hands (no eye rubbing or nose picking!).

    To cut down down on hospital visits, I get my bloods taken by the nurse at my GP surgery. I think that cuts down a bit on the bugs, especially if I get the first appointment of the morning. I used to get the bloods taken at the hospital, until I asked if it could be done at my GP surgery instead. They looked a bit surprised but agreed. I don't know about the system in the States, but it might work for you in the UK, Dick.

    It's not easy, always having to think about possible infections and dire consequences. We'd all like to forget our CLL and just enjoy life and spontaneity, and yet.... have to be realistic...


    P.S. Neil, I didn't see your post when I wrote the above. I agree about the younger the children, the greater the risk. And there was a similar thing here in the UK, about sneezing into the elbow, that hasn't really caught on.

  • I meant to add too, that I really admire those that continue in their career with children when they've been diagnosed with CLL, particularly where it involves young children that are still developing good hygiene habits and often seek physical contact for reassurance. It must be very difficult facing a potential career change, particularly if you really love working with children.

  • I continued to teach third grade (8 and 9 year olds) after my diagnosis, but added hygiene into every lesson I could. We also stopped to use the restroom and WASH HANDS before going into the room in the morning, and after any breaks. Tissues were by the sink, and the kids knew that they were expected to dispose of them and wash their hands after using them. I did not react well to tissues lying around.

    The elbow thing is being pushed here, too, and I sometimes see people doing it. Almost every doctor's office and hospital has readily available gel and face masks. In the US we can go to labs for blood draws, which do only that - a little better germ wise than hospitals. When I've had to go into an ER I tell the people there that I am immune compromised and can not sit in the public room. I have stood in the hallway, stood next to the door where there was more fresh air coming in when people entered, or sat in an open area of the hospital and just told the desk where to find me. So far, I have found that if I am polite, but forceful, I don't get an argument.


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