Culture

Catch a cold--in photographs

Virus expert Julian Tay and engineering professor Gary Settles have discovered a way to see how gas travels when a person coughs.

A picture taken using Schlieren photography method.
A picture taken using Schlieren photography method shows a pretty nasty-looking cough. Gary Settles/Pennsylvania State University

Viruses are often known as the invisible enemies that make you weak, but virus expert Julian Tay and Pennsylvania State University engineering professor Gary Settles have discovered a way to see how gas travels when a person coughs in order to find out more about how viruses can spread through the air.

The method the duo uses, Schlieren photography, is not new. It photographs the flow of fluid and is commonly utilized to check the aerodynamics of vehicles in air tunnels. Additional equipment used includes precision optics, a curved mirror, and a razor blade to control how much light passes through to the scene.

In Settles' gas dynamic laboratory, Schlieren photography was used in an experiment to capture the gaseous density of the surroundings of a person who coughed. The slight temperature differences caused by the cough bent light and these were captured on film.

Tay and Settles hope to monitor how airborne diseases can spread in clinical settings such as hospitals and to find a way to battle them. Although it is not a miracle cure, at least we can look at how to avoid catching a cough or cold.

(Via Crave Asia)