The Science Behind the Sneeze

If you’re gonna sneeze, make it a doozy. MIT scientists have concluded that the smaller the particle, the further it flies. And that’s in part because that high speed cloud of ooze provides the necessary aerodynamics to keep the sneeze aloft.

The slightly dense but fascinating MIT News reports:

Indeed, the study finds, the smaller droplets that emerge in a cough or sneeze may travel five to 200 times further than they would if those droplets simply moved as groups of unconnected particles — which is what previous estimates had assumed. The tendency of these droplets to stay airborne, resuspended by gas clouds, means that ventilation systems may be more prone to transmitting potentially infectious particles than had been suspected.

It’s the smaller droplets you need to be worried about because they can reach the ventilation systems in the office. From there they get sucked through the entire building.

Read on, just sneeze into your sleeve if you don’t have a tissue at hand.


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