Purdue University researchers built this bizarre crawling robot baby to study how real infants kick up dirt and bacteria from carpet that they then inhale. Engineer Brandon Boor and his colleagues ran the robot over carpet samples removed from people's homes and then analyzed the particulates that were stirred up. Turns out that the particle concentration is as much as 20 times greater than higher up in the room where we adults breathe. That isn't necessarily bad though, Boor says.
"Many studies have shown that inhalation exposure to microbes and allergen-carrying particles in that portion of life plays a significant role in both the development of, and protection from, asthma and allergic diseases," says Boor, an assistant professor of civil engineering and environmental and ecological engineering. "There are studies that have shown that being exposed to a high diversity and concentration of biological materials may reduce the prevalence of asthma and allergies later in life."