Welcome to Physics 101. Let’s get started with today’s lesson on vomit.
As I pointed out in my Beijing Baba Column in the November issue of beijingkids, we have been blessed with three children who, despite occasionally being inflicted with food poisoning, rarely vomit. Relative to the statistical child norm, at least. Whether this is due to their strong digestive genes (their Mama’s, not mine), their hygiene habits (doubtful), or simply the luck of the baby draw, I cannot say for certain.
What I can tell you is that their general lack of “pukeyness” tends to build up a bit of parental complacency on our part, since we are rarely prepared when vomit strikes in our home. And sometimes it strikes a mighty blow.
The other night, one of our three lovely children awoke with a general tummy complaint. To protect this child’s privacy, we will just call her the oldest. She often has stomach woes wholly unrelated to the digestive reversal process (DRP), so this was not necessarily troubling. However, after a minute she cried out: “Oh, not that pain!”
A split second before she issued this scream, I began to move her towards the bathroom in some primeval act of impending DRP doom. Alas, we were one step away from clearing our rug (the nice hand-woven one) when vomit came a calling. Out of self-preservation of her clean feet she came to a standstill two steps from the bathroom and let go of what appeared to be more than two meals’ worth of stomach content.
Meanwhile, safely in the bathroom and within reach of the trashcan, my beloved wife proceeded to stare in shock and awe at the scene until I calmly roused her from her inertia by yelling, “Get the can!” But by then it was essentially over, except for the hour-long cleanup. But please, allow me to explain why.
As you might recall from surfing sites like wiki.answers.com, vomit travels at 62 feet per second (about 18 meters per second, but doesn’t 62 sound more impressive?). That leaves little time to react mid-stream. If you add that to the accelerating force of gravity at the child’s height, factoring in the volume of the stomach’s contents, you get Newton’s little-spoken equation: V+G+ic/F=DM.
This, of course, is where V = vomit, G = gravity, ic = icky contents (Newton’s words), and F represents the floor or other surface materials. All of which yields the answer DM = disgusting mess.
Well, that’s all we have time for today. Next week, we will study how children attain ear-piercing decibels whilst screaming.
Photo courtesy of eriwst (Flickr)