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Sneeze Imaging

November 23, 2015

Tracking the trajectory of germs in a sneeze.



A sneeze captured in real time.


Revealing the details of a sneeze. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Everyone knows that sneezes can spread germs. But now, using high-speed video, researchers at MIT have shown precisely how a sneeze unfolds, millisecond by millisecond. Within the sneeze cloud, droplets continue to form and evolve, based on temperature and humidity. MIT researcher Lydia Bourouiba says that that complex process determines how long germs stay airborne and how far they travel—information vital to public health organizations.

LYDIA BOUROUIBA (MIT Fluid Dynamics of Disease Transmission Laboratory):

If we understand how these emissions propagate and get suspended and potentially be sucked in ventilation systems, then we start having more insight into how to redesign indoor spaces, for example: you can start rearranging the air ventilations and etc.


She and her colleagues presented the findings at a meeting of the American Physical Society. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.