Ever wonder how far vomit could travel? You aren't alone!
Researchers designed a vomiting robot to find out the answer. And no, not just because it is cool. Their experiment helps determine how far away you might still find viruses after somebody vomits. This is especially important when that person has a highly contagious virus - like Norovirus - or the stomach flu.
What they found will help keep everyone safer after an infected person is sick.
Warning: The experiment highlighted in this episode will test the strength of your stomach. If you get sick easily, you might want to look away. If you think gross stuff can be cool (WE DO!) then check this out.
We talked to Anna Rothschild, the host of Gross Science, about Vomiting Larry. Larry was designed by Catherine Makison-Booth of the Health and Safety Laboratory. Made from a maniquin head and a robotic gut system, Lary showed scientist all the far and unexpected places vomit actually travels.
Watch the full experiment here:
Yes, you might be thinking that is so gross. It is indeed! But scientists don’t shy away from gross stuff. They can’t. There are important discoveries to be made by studying bizarre creatures, weird behaviors, and so, so many bodily fluids. Like vomit.
Vomiting Larry is just one example of how getting gross makes for good science. The fact that Anna is nowhere near running out of Gross Science video topics proves that there’s a lot more gross discoveries to be made. Check out her Youtube Chanel.
"When you really scratch the surface of a lot of things in science you find that there's like something a little bit gross. Especially when they have to do with the human body," says Anna. " If you just stay away from gross things you're missing this much bigger picture of life on this planet that's like really kind of beautiful. It can reveal all these insights that you never saw before so."
Scientists aren't afraid of getting gross - they’re like pioneers of grossness, wading into the murky depths of our bodies. Experiments that sound icky or silly - like Vomiting Larry - contribute to scientific knowledge that could ultimately save lives. And it helps us understand OURSELVES better.
Anna thinks everyone, not just scientists, should be comfortable talking about gross stuff. It is a big part of being human. "You should feel comfortable talking about your own body," says Anna. "Especially if you have a problem like if you have a really bad stomach ache you want to be able to tell somebody about it."
Teachers and parents - want to do more with this episode? We have additional educational materials for this and other episodes on our Patreon site! Make a pledge and check it out.