Why Are These Two Scientists Sneezing On A Rabbit?

Mechanical sneezer, 1940

Popular Science archives

A bizarre scene from the Popular Science archives

Let’s take a break from trying to wrap our brains around quantum teleportation and robot aliens, and focus on some simpler science: How do sneezes work?

That’s the mystery two researchers are working on in this photo from the April 1940 issue of Popular Science:

Infectious germs are spouted from the mouth of a mechanical sneezer developed for medical research by William F. Wells of the University of Pennsylvania medical school in Philadelphia. By means of compressed air, the apparatus blows air-borne germs through a tube into a glass bell housing an experimental rabbit, to simulate the common method of transmission of germs by human sneezers and coughers.

Hey, it only took us 73 more years to invent a barfing machine! Now that’s progress.


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