How fluid dynamics is helping orchestras to fight COVID-19


When the pandemic hit, many musicians were forced to take their work home. 

For an industry that needs both an audience and close collaboration to survive, this was particularly hard. So when Mele Willis from the Minnesota Orchestra wanted to find a safer way for musicians to return to the stage, she turned to the study of fluid dynamics to try to get some clear guidance, joining forces with Jiarong Hong, an associate professor from the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering. 

Their research team studied how far wind instruments spread aerosols before modeling patterns of airflow and exchange. They found that wind instruments do not spread aerosols farther than about 30 cm, which helped them to establish new protocols for rehearsals and performances including social distancing, using portable air filters and putting masks over instruments.

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