For almost a decade, the Borouiba research group at MIT has sought to better understand the fluid dynamics of disease transmission, and in the last few years this has led them to uncover some intriguing mechanical workings of our sneezes. In 2014, the team discovered that sneezes set invisible gas clouds in motion that stealthily carry small droplets up to 200 times farther than previously thought.
But the researchers were most surprised by the discovery that under the right conditions, the tiniest droplets can remain airborne for several minutes while at the same time drifting several feet. They say that this means a single sneeze in a room could potentially infect every person in that room.
The end game here is to learn more about how sneezes behave so that action can be taken to reduce the risks of disease transmission in places like hospitals. As the researchers work towards this goal, they recommend sneezing into your elbow rather than your hands, something we're sure you'll agree to do after watching the slo-mo sneeze video above.
Full New Atlas article, including videos: newatlas.com/mit-high-speed...
Photo: check out how far nature's sneeze can send airborne water particles. (The brown in the water is partly from tannin from eucalyptus trees. Tannins are also responsible for some of the colour in wines and tea)