Winter colds can give you a blocked up nose that stops you smelling chimney smoke, roasting chestnuts, warming winter puddings and the other seasonal scents. Now researchers funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) have not only discovered how air moves through the nose bringing you those smells but their work may lead to new ways of unblocking it and helping you to breathe more easily. They have even found that the airflow through the human nose is more complicated than that over a jumbo jet’s wing.
The scientists at Imperial College London have combined biological mechanics and aeronautical engineering to construct transparent 3D models of the nose. By running water or a special refractive-index-matched fluid through the models they have been able to map the flow pattern through the nasal cavity to work out where air goes when you breathe in. Tiny coloured beads circulate through the model nose to simulate airflow and this is captured on fast digital cameras. Professor Bob Schroter who jointly leads the research said, “From quiet breathing to rapid sniffing, we want to know exactly what is happening.”
The fluid dynamics of the nose is one of the most complex in the body, even more so than the flow of blood through the heart, with anatomical structures that cause eddies, whirls and recirculation.
Matt Goode | alfa
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