Wednesday, March 22, 2017

WATCH: Raindrops Catapult Bacteria Into The Air, And It's Beautiful

When you step outside after a big rainstorm and take a deep whiff of that fresh, earthy smell, you're mostly smelling a chemical called geosmin.
It's a byproduct of bacteria and fungi. And something about rain lofts the chemical — and sometimes the organisms themselves — into the air, a process that not only helps release that earthy smell but may, in very rare conditions, spread diseases.
Somehow raindrops launch tiny living things off the ground.
Wind can pick bacteria up from the ground and bring into the sky, sometimes settling in clouds thousands of feet above us. Sea spray can also send bacteria flying. The mystery has been, how does rain do it?
Now, mechanical engineers writing Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications say they've figured it out. It has to do with tiny bubbles.
Using high-speed cameras and fluorescent dye, the researchers filmed drops of water as they fell on different types of soil infused with bacteria. They watched as the drops delicately catapulted the microbes into the air. WATCH!

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