Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Some more recent selfies

Interestingly, despite the lockdown, I've been getting a fair number of video auditions.  I even booked a virtual gig.  I decided to take some stills from those videos, to show my new COVID hair. I'm putting my favorite on top.













Friday, April 24, 2020

Why is a virus innocent until proven guilty?

Here is the text of some e-mails that I just sent.

To my college roommate who is an oncologist:

I hope you won't mind me asking you a question.

This pandemic has gotten me interested in the mechanics of viral transmission. I've been reading with great interest about the research of Lydia Bourouiba at MIT.  She has demonstrated with mathematical models, in peer reviewed research, that respiratory droplets travel much further than 6 feet, yet Anthony Fauci refuses to believe her -- when he's not a mechanical engineer.

In looking at the papers on viral transmission, there seems to be an assumption that viruses are not transmissible by aerosol until proven to be transmissible.  In the law, we would call this "innocent until proven guilty."  That's what we would call an issue of "burden of proof." Who has the burden of proving someone or something guilty? In the law, the burden is on the plaintiff or the prosecutor to prove the defendant guilty.

But why do we give the virus the benefit of the doubt? It seems to me, looking at news stories, that this assumption has gotten people in a lot of trouble both with Ebola and with this latest novel coronavirus.  Medical personnel went in with inadequate PPE and got sick... until they were in hazmat suits.

Why don't we assume that the virus is capable of aerosol transmission and even of penetrating the skin, until the virus is proven innocent?  The virus is not a human being with constitutional rights.  Why not guilty until proven innocent?

To the chair of the physics department of Dartmouth College

I got your name off the Dartmouth website as chair of the physics department.
I am an alum.  I majored in physics.  I was a TA in pre-med physics.   I have a question about the mechanics curriculum.
When I was in freshman physics, I remember quite vividly using a little spring loaded device that shot a steel ball.  We stopped the ball at several points and demonstrated that its arc of flight was a parabola.
I think we had the pre-med physics class doing that same experiment.

We didn't, as I recall, get into the mechanics of flight -- or aerodynamics.  That was deemed too complex, I believe, for pre-meds, who would struggle with the idea of a parabola.
Now, I'm seeing what I think are bad consequences of this curriculum decision.  Doctors assume that a round object, like a coronavirus, will fall like the steel ball within 6 feet. When Lydia Bourouiba of MIT does fluid mechanical modeling and demonstrates in a peer reviewed paper that respiratory droplets can travel up to  27 feet, due to turbulent flow, Anthony Fauci does not believe her.
To me, looking at the images of the coronavirus, given it's size and weight, it seems fairly clear that the little projections would make it capable of flight, like dandelion fluff -- at least for a while, until it dries up.   It's small and light, so it would not require big wings like a helicopter or an airplane, and not even as big of tendrils as dandelion fluff.

Yet doctors don't think that way.  They remember the steel ball falling along the parabola. They've made assumptions about the behavior of viruses in air that are unjustified, given fluid mechanics. They've repeatedly sent medical personnel into harm's way with inadequate PPE and those personnel have died as a result -- both in the Ebola situation and the COVID-19 situation.j



I am concluding that the pre-med physics curriculum needs to be drastically revised.  It is unlikely that a doctor would need to calculate the trajectory of a cannon ball, unlike Isaac Newton. It is much more likely that they would need to calculate the trajectory of something that can be blown about in air currents. 
To my sister-in-law who has a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from CalTech.  This was a cover letter to forwarding the e-mail immediately above.

I am forwarding to you a copy of an e-mail that I just sent to the chair of the physics department at Dartmouth, where I went to college, about the curriculum of pre-med physics.
I'm remembering an interchange you and I had back when I was doing natural childbirth.  At that time, obstetricians were still doing episiotomies. This was a procedure where they would cut the tissue around the vagina during childbirth, on the belief that this would reduce tearing, or make tears easier to repair.
 It was your opinion, at the time, that this procedure was unjustified in view of mechanical engineering principles -- that the procedure would make tears worse, not better. I'm noticing that now, 30 years later, episiotomies have finally been discredited, though some doctors *still* do them.
I'm seeing something similar in the medical literature that I'm seeing about the transmission of coronavirus. They're making assumptions based on faulty understanding of fluid mechanics. 
I'm wondering if you've been following the research of Lydia Bourouiba at MIT -- and her modelling of the mechanics of flight of respiratory droplets -- and the rejection by Anthony Fauci of her conclusions.
I'm proposing to the chair of the physics department at Dartmouth that the curriculum of pre-med physics needs to be drastically revised.


*****

Here's another example of the virus being presumed innocent until proven guilty. This is in the question of whether pets can transmit the virus to humans.

 https://now.tufts.edu/articles/can-pets-get-or-spread-covid-19

Despite the fact that the virus is believed to have jumped from animals to humans in the first place, and the fact that infection in animals from humans has been documented, people don't believe the virus could still jump from animals to humans, because there is "no evidence."

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Fluid Dynamics and virus transmission

Here are some articles that I want to remember

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2020/03/30/coronavirus-social-distancing-mit-researcher-lydia-bourouiba-27-feet/5091526002/

Bourouiba models exhalation gas clouds and finds that they can travel up to 27 feet.  The CDC poo-poos this and says it's misleading.

In a Journal of the American Medical Association article published last week, Bourouiba said peak exhalation speeds can reach 33 to 100 feet per second and "currently used surgical and N95 masks are not tested for these potential characteristics of respiratory emissions."

Pottinger says that if the virus were effective at 27 feet more people would be sick. But we don't know how many people are sick. There are so many who are not being tested. This is a specious argument.

https://www.propublica.org/article/what-we-need-to-understand-about-asymptomatic-carriers-if-were-going-to-beat-coronavirus?fbclid=IwAR26XkDAb_EfR-SPnlu-v2_ilBD_05JzuxtRlupaat6fB4ccubCy-LLghJ4

https://medium.com/@jurgenthoelen/belgian-dutch-study-why-in-times-of-covid-19-you-can-not-walk-run-bike-close-to-each-other-a5df19c77d08

https://cee.mit.edu/people_individual/lydia-bourouiba/

*******

Statement by one interlocutor

The Media has done exactly what it intended to do invoke FEAR in everyone.. I advise everyone to do your own research on the subject of viruses... this virus is not AIRBORNE!! Additionally, for those of you who think the masks are a shield here is another tidbit the size of the virus is so small it can easily goes through these masks... nothing other than a hazmat suit will protect you. Again, that is if its airborne.
I suggest that you ask our
Heavenly Father to give you clarity on this. I assure you He will.
For God has not given us the spirit of Fear but of power, and of love and of a sound mind
Timothy 1:7
Believe & Receive!

My response

There is an issue of wording here.  This virus is larger and heavier than, say, the measles virus.   The measles virus is considered "airborne" in the sense that it can rise, unaided, into the air and move freely about.

This virus is heavier than air and tends to want to fall on the ground.  It is believed to travel on respiratory droplets, not to be independently airborne, unlike the measles virus.

However, how far respiratory droplets can travel, how long they can stay airborne, and how far a virus can be effective on such a droplet is still a matter of active research.

This peer-reviewed study cosponsored by several prominent research institution found that the virus could be effective in the air on respiratory droplets for three hours.

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2004973

However, Lydia Bourouiba, an MIT researcher in fluid dynamics, has found that respiratory droplets can travel up to 27 feet. Fauci, who works for the CDC, which you so distrust, discounts this research as misleading, because he doesn't believe that the virus could be effective on droplets that travel so far.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2020/03/30/coronavirus-social-distancing-mit-researcher-lydia-bourouiba-27-feet/5091526002/

In fact, the CDC and the WHO are conservative about how far the virus can travel in air.  Many researchers think it can go farther than what they say, as in the article that I cited above.

In the USA Today article, Pottinger is cited as saying that if the virus were effective at 27 feet more people would be sick.  But we don't know how many people are sick.  There are so many who are not being tested.  This is a specious argument.

Also, because the virus travels on droplets, which are larger than the virus -- its travel, upon exiting the mouth and nose, is limited. The masks are not to protect the wearer. The masks are to protect others.

*****

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

FB Discussion about Biden & War

One of my FB friends expressed puzzlement at how 15% of Bernie supporters said they would vote for Trump rather than Biden, given that Trump is so opposite Bernie when it comes to social welfare programs.  This was my response.

I know from having read the comments of Tulsi supporters, who were big peaceniks, like me, that their primary concern was Biden's hawkish record.  One thing that was cited to me was his strong support of cluster bombs, which often mutilate innocent children. This was a concern that many Trump supporters had with Hillary as well, that her record was hawkish. 

One thing that frustrated me with Tulsi's exclusion from the debates was how that kept the debates focused on domestic policy. The parochial myopia of many Americans with respect to our disastrous foreign policies, particularly with respect to military activities, is very disturbing.  Moreover, the Iron Triangle wants it that way.  They want everyone arguing about health care -- not about the kids we are killing in other countries, which is a profit center for big corporations.

Bernie was not just a socialist.  He was also anti-war. 

Many Trump supporters are anti-war as well. Some of them have been really disillusioned by his taking on military adventurism in Iran.  Anne Coulter said "We thought he was different, but he isn't different." I feel that this was a highly significant statement.

People who are opposed to Trump would do well to recognize that the way he has been attacked is not reaching the voters who support him. We need to look more intelligently at what groups we can lure away.

Nominating someone who vigorously supported cluster bombs was a mistake.

#Tulsi2020 #TulsiGabbard #JoeBiden #Biden #RegimeChangeWars #Hawks #Hawkish #Hawkishness