This Week in VomitingS

It's hard to believe that only yesterday io9 introduced us to "Vomiting Larry,", the mannequin-like robot designed to vomit on command "not just forcefully, but in an anatomically accurate fashion." In some ways it feels like old Larry's been with us for years, teaching us all how to vomit correctly. But he's not just a novelty vomiting robot; he's here to help scientists stop the spread of the stomach flu:

On average, someone infected with norovirus spreads it to about seven other people through direct touch or contaminated surfaces and food. The virus sickens as many as 21 million Americans each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leading to 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths.

Researchers at the Occupational Hygiene Unit at the Health and Safety Laboratory in Britain created "Vomiting Larry" to get a better idea of how the virus is able to spread so easily and quickly from person to person.

One in five Scots were struck with the vomit bug last year. Last month, fumes from a poisoned dog's vomit (sorry sorry sorry) sent four people in Colorado to the hospital with respiratory ailments. Early this morning, a man in Wheaton, IL, pretended to vomit, then ran away from the cab he had hired to avoid the $39 fare. And only a few weeks ago, Christmas was ruined for hundreds of Caribbean cruisegoers when an outbreak of norovirus turned their ships into floating vomit prisons.

Larry, can you fix this?

"Under normal lighting, you can only see the main area where Larry actually vomited," Catherine Makison-Booth, Larry's creator, told ABC News. "However, under UV light, you can see the particles spread much further than that – in excess of three meters."

That means the area that needs to be sanitized when someone with norovirus throws up is bigger than previously thought.

If someone who doesn't have norovirus throws up, of course, you can just leave it on the floor like you normally do.