Scientists seeking to understand the spread of norovirus (a contagion that causes vomiting and diarrhea and spreads via contaminated surfaces) have developed a projectile-vomiting robot to accurately model the splashing of human barf. His name is Vomiting Larry, and he is your new hero:
Researchers at the Occupational Hygiene Unit at the Health and Safety Laboratory in Britain created "Vomiting Larry" to get a better idea of how the virus is able to spread so easily and quickly from person to person.
Vomiting Larry consists of a cylinder body filled with water mixed with florescent liquid, a head with an open mouth, and a pump to shoot the water through the mouth, similar to projectile vomit.
After Larry throws up the florescent water, researchers measure how far the airborne vomit particles travel.
"Under normal lighting, you can only see the main area where Larry actually vomited," Catherine Makison-Booth, Larry's creator, told ABC News. "However, under UV light, you can see the particles spread much further than that – in excess of three meters."
Norovirus can spread rapidly, particularly through facilities that house a lot of people in close quarters, such as schools and military barracks. The hope is that Vomiting Larry can help health care professionals understand how large an area needs to be sanitized after an infected person sprays norovirus chunks all over the lunch room. Yum. Hork. Blerk.
The Skymall corporation says they hope to release a Vomiting Larry for home use by 2015 (doubles as a toilet paper caddy!).