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Researchers Build a Projectile Vomiting Robot

To understand how certain viruses spread disease, researchers have developed a robot that vomits just like a human

2 min read
Researchers Build a Projectile Vomiting Robot

Until today, the grossest robot we'd ever had the pleasure of meeting was Ecobot, which poops. This robot is much, much grosser. Its name is Vomiting Larry, and it's designed to do one thing: puke just like a human.

Vomiting Larry is a humanoid simulated vomiting system. He may be the only humanoid simulated vomiting system in existence, but we certainly don't need more than one, and even just one may be one puking robot too many. Vomiting Larry is doing some important work, though: he's being used to research the spread of noroviruses, which cause humans to projectile vomit, spreading the virus all over the place. This is no joke; here's a description from Wikipedia:

"Vomiting, in particular, transmits infection effectively. In one incident a person who vomited spread infection right across a restaurant. 126 people were dining at six tables; one woman vomited. Staff quickly cleaned up, and people continued eating. Three days later others started falling ill; 52 people reported a range of symptoms. More than 70% of the diners on an adjacent table fell ill; at a table on the other side of the restaurant, the rate was still 25%."

Noroviruses can be aerosolized in vomit, and all it takes is a handful of virus cells to infect you. Vomiting Larry's job is to puke its lack of guts out, and then researchers get to measure how far the virus travels and at what concentrations over a variety of surfaces to be better understand how it's transmitted.


Watch the action in the video below, starting at around 2:40:

Noroviruses are responsible for 21 million illnesses in the United States every year, second only to the common cold. If you get one, it probably won't kill you, but you can look forward to nausea, watery diarrhea, abdominal pain, loss of taste, general lethargy, weakness, muscle aches, headache, coughs, and a low-grade fever. Oh, and of course, "forceful vomiting."

[ BBC ] via [ PopSci ]

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The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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