How germs travel on planes — and how we can stop them | Raymond Wang

How germs travel on planes — and how we can stop them | Raymond Wang


Can I get a show of hands — how many of you in this room
have been on a plane in this past year? That’s pretty good. Well, it turns out that you
share that experience with more than three billion
people every year. And when we put so many people
in all these metal tubes that fly all over the world, sometimes, things like this can happen and you get a disease epidemic. I first actually got into this topic when I heard about the Ebola
outbreak last year. And it turns out that, although Ebola spreads
through these more range-limited, large-droplet routes, there’s all these other sorts of diseases that can be spread in the airplane cabin. The worst part is, when we take
a look at some of the numbers, it’s pretty scary. So with H1N1, there was this guy that decided
to go on the plane and in the matter of a single flight actually spread the disease
to 17 other people. And then there was this
other guy with SARS, who managed to go on a three-hour flight and spread the disease to 22 other people. That’s not exactly my idea
of a great superpower. When we take a look at this,
what we also find is that it’s very difficult
to pre-screen for these diseases. So when someone actually
goes on a plane, they could be sick and they could actually
be in this latency period in which they could actually
have the disease but not exhibit any symptoms, and they could, in turn,
spread the disease to many other people in the cabin. How that actually works is that right now we’ve got air coming in
from the top of the cabin and from the side of the cabin,
as you see in blue. And then also, that air goes out
through these very efficient filters that eliminate 99.97 percent
of pathogens near the outlets. What happens right now, though, is that we have this
mixing airflow pattern. So if someone were to actually sneeze, that air would get swirled
around multiple times before it even has a chance
to go out through the filter. So I thought: clearly, this
is a pretty serious problem. I didn’t have the money
to go out and buy a plane, so I decided to build a computer instead. It actually turns out that
with computational fluid dynamics, what we’re able to do
is create these simulations that give us higher resolutions than actually physically going
in and taking readings in the plane. And so how, essentially, this works
is you would start out with these 2D drawings — these are floating around
in technical papers around the Internet. I take that and then I put it
into this 3D-modeling software, really building that 3D model. And then I divide that model
that I just built into these tiny pieces, essentially meshing it so that
the computer can better understand it. And then I tell the computer where
the air goes in and out of the cabin, throw in a bunch of physics and basically sit there and wait until
the computer calculates the simulation. So what we get, actually,
with the conventional cabin is this: you’ll notice the middle person sneezing, and we go “Splat!” — it goes
right into people’s faces. It’s pretty disgusting. From the front, you’ll notice
those two passengers sitting next to the central passenger not exactly having a great time. And when we take a look
at that from the side, you’ll also notice those pathogens
spreading across the length of the cabin. The first thing I thought was,
“This is no good.” So I actually conducted
more than 32 different simulations and ultimately, I came up
with this solution right here. This is what I call a — patent pending —
Global Inlet Director. With this, we’re able to reduce
pathogen transmission by about 55 times, and increase fresh-air inhalation
by about 190 percent. So how this actually works is we would install this piece
of composite material into these existing spots
that are already in the plane. So it’s very cost-effective to install and we can do this directly overnight. All we have to do is put a couple
of screws in there and you’re good to go. And the results that we get
are absolutely amazing. Instead of having those problematic
swirling airflow patterns, we can create these walls of air that come down in-between the passengers to create personalized breathing zones. So you’ll notice the middle passenger
here is sneezing again, but this time, we’re able
to effectively push that down to the filters for elimination. And same thing from the side, you’ll notice we’re able to directly
push those pathogens down. So if you take a look again now
at the same scenario but with this innovation installed, you’ll notice the middle
passenger sneezes, and this time, we’re pushing
that straight down into the outlet before it gets a chance
to infect any other people. So you’ll notice the two passengers
sitting next to the middle guy are breathing virtually
no pathogens at all. Take a look at that from the side as well, you see a very efficient system. And in short, with this system, we win. When we take a look at what this means, what we see is that this not only works
if the middle passenger sneezes, but also if the window-seat
passenger sneezes or if the aisle-seat passenger sneezes. And so with this solution, what does
this mean for the world? Well, when we take a look at this from the computer simulation
into real life, we can see with this 3D model
that I built over here, essentially using 3D printing, we can see those same
airflow patterns coming down, right to the passengers. In the past, the SARS epidemic
actually cost the world about 40 billion dollars. And in the future, a big disease outbreak
could actually cost the world in excess of three trillion dollars. So before, it used to be that you had
to take an airplane out of service for one to two months, spend tens of thousands of man hours
and several million dollars to try to change something. But now, we’re able to install
something essentially overnight and see results right away. So it’s really now a matter of taking
this through to certification, flight testing, and going through all of these
regulatory approvals processes. But it just really goes to show
that sometimes the best solutions are the simplest solutions. And two years ago, even, this project would not have happened, just because the technology then
wouldn’t have supported it. But now with advanced computing and how developed our Internet is, it’s really the golden era for innovation. And so the question I ask all
of you today is: why wait? Together, we can build the future today. Thanks. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “How germs travel on planes — and how we can stop them | Raymond Wang”

  1. Excellent solution, actually steering the air the right way avoiding whirls with this. Kudos to young mr Wang!

  2. 3 billion people traveling by air every year is a perfect way to spread diseases all over the world in hours.
    Raymond Wang's speech should be a warning to us all. He's solution seems should be taken into account.

  3. I was about to lose faith that Ted actually talks about real stuff. This is interesting. I'd need to see the simulations myself to entirely believe it, but from what's being shown, it's promising.

  4. at 40.000 feet they should turn off the aircon and open a window and door to let in the 50 cold air. will that work? :)))

  5. It's 17 people before disease is detected. With this thing in airplanes it may stay undetected and there probably will be more infected people after plane lands. Am I wrong?

  6. Scrolling through my subscriptions and read "How Germans travel on Plains and How to Stop Them"
    Kinda dissapointed now…
    Stay on the ground Germans!!! Nobody wants you in the air apparently….

  7. Dear TED
    Notice the discrepancy between the likes and dislikes when you decide to show us "ideas worth spreading", not this spree of SJW garbage you've taken up with of late. Maybe there's something to be learnt from this?
    Great talk for a change by the way, very interesting.

  8. Great example (for a change) of a new technology that predictively won't hurt us. The clean air they pump in, however, could immediately kill everyone on the plane. Planes are as susceptible to poisoned air as cars, garages, kitchens, convention halls & showers. They now want to monetize & privatize the air (that's right) & everything else on your property that's above & below the ground & then tax you into quitting your property & its air & moving into some preplanned Megapolis far from home (UN Agenda 21 & 30). At least, the airlines will then be even more actionable when they are held responsible & accountable for anything that goes wrong on their slovenly secured planes.
    Yeah, I liked what this kid did. He's still a good scientist & not a mad scientist.

  9. This guy needs to slow down his speech a little…fascinating topic though. I hate sitting near sick people on planes.

  10. but this guy forgot that, in commercial airplanes, we have air outlets blowing air direct to your face… I guess that already spread the air everywhere else, and maybe it goes directly to the filter.

  11. Is this really an idea worth spreading or just somebody trying to pitch his personal invention in the hope that it will make him a lot of money? This presenter's "patent pending" disclaimer clearly made this more like a "product worth spreading" rather than an "idea worth spreading". Or, in other words, an infomercial. If this would have been a non-profit organization trying to combat the spread of pathogens on airplanes it would have been a different story.

  12. I'm German, and I've only been on a plane two times in my life, a few days apart. Once to go from Cologne to Vilnius, and back a few days later.

    Oh wait, you said "germs".

  13. Qwestchun , Can it filter out Sticky Icky , ㎄ya a㎄ ㍲nk skunk ʸᵃ ᵏᶰᵒʷ ᵗʰᵉ bong Ыasʦ o' chronic ? Serious answers only please

  14. Maybe we should do exactly the opposite and spread as many germs as possible around the globe. Let the germs fight against each other instead of helping one particular germ trunk to spread because it's considered 'not harmful' yet but exactly this germ may mutate and become the ultimate killing germ.

    It's the same in a house hold – if you disinfect an area completely then it doesn't take long and a new germ will appear – without any competition it will multiply very fast and then it's pure luck if this particular germ trunk is harmful or harmless.

  15. this guy raymond wang actually got his website named ray corp global, seems like a typical asian ambitious ego freak with typical tiger mum whom enjoys bragging about her son more than anything. You will notice that how this dude is just trying to market himself other than the "invention". Simply put, this guy is kind of like Tai Lopez. If you still don't understand, lemme ask you, do you know who is Palmer Luckey? Probably not. Do you know Oculus rift, the thing that revolutionizes VR? Yes, you heard of it cause its everywhere. My point is that you don't see Palmer Luckey's name going everywhere cause Palmer Luckey is really all about inventing something good unlike this raymond dude whom just wanted to market himself.

  16. This guy is a god. Absolute brilliance. I'm in my third year of engineering at university and only now am I dealing with finite elements, airy's functions, and the computer programs he's been working with. Amazing.

  17. Not an inspiring idea for me, but a cliche/nugatory one(using the computer and Internet..).. Or an ads for airline companies . .. And together? Damn it the elite of few..

  18. Make sure you lodge a patent in China asap. Many inventors just lodge one in their own country and then find out ( too late) that someone else steals their idea and lodges it in China and starts mass manfacturing etc.

  19. A trillion dollar problem solved by a 5 dollar solution… My question is: how much is this guy actually gonna get paid for figuring this out?
    My guess is: not a lot (no "illions" at least).

  20. Innovative Raymond Wang created a solution to stop the germs travel on planes and spreading diseases. His idea is absolutely brilliant, cost-effective, and very easy to handle. I think, the aircraft companies and regulatory authorities should closely study this patent-pending technology and help him to make the world better and safer. Extremedly wonderful idea and highly recommended to everyone.

  21. HA….initially I thought he is a US citizen but NOOOO…..he is Canadian.  Fortunately for him because affirmative action in the US means his idea would just be binned early on.

  22. Would this work in a 3 4 3 configuration on say an Airbus A330 or Boeing 777. Because those middle 4 seats wouldn't have an outlet nearby.

  23. As a dinosaur with respect to computers ( I still know how to use a slide rule and log tables)…..I applaud these young minds using the ever expanding globe of technology to make their ideas come to life in a matter of minutes as opposed to years of frustrating "research".

  24. Great idea, but wouldn't one need to discover the way air moves before being able plot this sort of data? What about the butterfly effect and what not?

  25. This genius is 17 and figured out a way to lower the infection rate that could make him lots of money while i cant get a good grade on my maths exam…

  26. Cannot solve 100%, what if a passenger sneezes right in ques for baggage check-ins, walking in tight airplane door passage. and in ques for security checks. you might get infected too while your're not in the plane yet.

  27. This idea does make sense when you consider how weak your immune system will be on long flights due to not being able to sleep much…

  28. With respect, this is ridiculous.
    He is trying to point the air outlet directly to the person in the middle seat.
    Sit there for a 9 hours flight and you will know what I mean, but I'd doubt anyone will make it past an hour.
    There's a reason aircraft designers don't do that because that's not comfortable, plus the flight velocity and maneuverings will affect the actual airflow in the cabin, and not as simple as anything he said in this video.
    I'm VERY surprised that no one thought about this.

  29. He needs to calm down while speaking… his idea will definitely help, but it doesn't prevent the spread of disease. There's additional movement on the plane he didn't account for such as flight attendants and other people walking back and forth along the isles.

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