If you were born again as a machine, you couldn’t do much worse than North Carolina State University’s purpose-built puke machine.
It’s made of a few PVC pipes hooked up to a pressure gauge and pump. Topping off the projectile end is the likeness of a face to really drive home the fact that it’s all a replicate of the human as vomiter (at 1/4 scale)
“In the device set-up, a slight curve (flexion) was designed in the upper esophagus and “throat” to simulate the flexion of the neck during a vomiting episode”, the study (published in PLOS One) explains. Lovely.
The vomited mixture ended up in a chamber, from which a device grabbed samples for analysis.
It was built to give researchers insight into how viruses – specifically, the norovirus, which one study blames for more than half of all foodborne disease outbreaks – spread when yakked up.
Pretty well, it turns out. The study says the norovirus can do harm even after a low infectious dose of 20 to 1,300 virus particles, whereas a single vomiting episode can spew 30 million of these.
So making you vomit isn’t an idle side effect for the norovirus. It’s a survival strategy.
Researchers used surrogates for both vomit and the virus, since these are gross and dangerous to handle, respectively. Vanilla pudding was used instead of vomit, and an easily cultivated bacteriophage called MS2 instead of the norovirus – it’s about the same size and has a similar genetic structure to its deadlier peer.
You can see it in action here: