Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Masks, Revisited

The problem with a postmodern society is a lack of trust. If there is no objective truth, then everything must be consumed with a certain amount of suspicion. Like masking. Dig this. Here's a snippet.

The COVID-19 conversation should have begun with minimum viable particle size under pressure, which for SARS-CoV-2-size particulates is .06 microns. This particle is under 0.3 microns, placing it firmly within the radically behaving particulate range. A single particle cluster can be composed of multiple virions and still fall well under that threshold. Furthermore, current research on aerosol behavior shows that particulates as large as 5 microns can remain aloft for extended periods. 83 COVID-19-size particles can fit in a single cluster and fall within the highest range...

Cloth masks have been shown to have 97% particle penetration, with 44% for surgical masks.

Tyndall lighting used in emissions imaging is capable of showing smaller particle size ranges of aerosols (.04-0.9 microns), but not all imaging uses this, and most studies are not clear about their lighting sources. Most of what you see in an emitted plume begins at the 50 micron+ range – so what is clearly demonstrated by plume emission imaging is that masks are incapable of stopping even the “big guys” (droplet range pathogens) from escaping. 

I've read recently that surgeons wear masks for two main reasons.

  1. To prevent body fluids from the patient from squirting up into their mouth, nose and eyes.
  2. To prevent the surgeon from coughing or sneezing into the wound.

They are not worn to prevent respiratory viruses in the operating room because, as the article linked above suggests, they cannot.

Is any of this true? Beats me. I'm still stuck on the fact that masks aren't serious filters in that they allow direct respiration of the surrounding air through significant gaps in coverage.

All of the duplicity from our "experts" would surprise me if it weren't for the fact that they've kept silent as other "experts" tell us that women can become men and Global Warming Climate Change will destroy the world by 2004 2006 2011 2014 2018 2020 2024 and systemic racism is all around us.

So Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king?”

Jesus answered, “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

What is truth indeed.

Bonus Truthiness

Dig this.

During a recent endocrinology course at a top medical school in the University of California system, a professor stopped mid-lecture to apologize for something he’d said at the beginning of class.

“I don’t want you to think that I am in any way trying to imply anything, and if you can summon some generosity to forgive me, I would really appreciate it,” the physician says in a recording provided by a student in the class (whom I’ll call Lauren). “Again, I’m very sorry for that. It was certainly not my intention to offend anyone. The worst thing that I can do as a human being is be offensive.” 

His offense: using the term “pregnant women.” 

“I said ‘when a woman is pregnant,’ which implies that only women can get pregnant and I most sincerely apologize to all of you.”

But, yeah, masks are totally necessary. It's SCIENCE! 


One Brow said...

Global warming has been degrading the world over the years. The US military certainly recognizes that.

If the measures we took to control covid19 (masks, distancing, etc.) are so ineffective, why did they work? We know they worked because we had an extremely low level of the flu, which spreads by the same method. It's almost as if rationalground.com was less interested in what worked than in generating leading questions.

tim eisele said...

I really, really, really don't understand this endless fascination with trying to claim that masks do nothing, when they clearly and obviously do the following:

They keep you from coughing and sneezing spittle drops into other people's faces.

Spittle droplets can carry orders of magnitude more virus load than a sub-micron aerosol particle. The volume of a droplet scales as the cube of the radius, so if we compare a 6um radius particle (typical for a sneeze) to your 0.03um radius minimum viable particle, it has 6^3/0.03^3 = 8 million times the volume, and a correspondingly larger load of virus. And don't tell me the mask doesn't catch those. They obviously do, otherwise they would not get moist when you breathe through them.

And the load matters. A few tens of viruses, more or less, can generally be mopped up by your inherent immune system without breaking a sweat. A few tens of millions of viruses is another thing altogether, with much, much better odds of enough sneaking through to infect cells and get the ball rolling.

Did you ever stop to think about why respiratory infections make us cough and sneeze? It isn't just to make us unhappy. The viruses have specific adaptations to prompt us to have that reaction, and multiple different lines of disease organisms have all converged on making us do this. Why? Because the big droplets from coughing and sneezing are dramatically more effective for spreading virus than those dinky little submicron droplets. And so the diseases that make us do it vastly outcompete their non-sneeze-making brethren. If the diseases could spread effectively with nothing but submicron aerosols, then there would be no selective pressure for them to make us cough and sneeze.

And empirically, since February of 2020, I have been wearing a mask whenever I am in an area where there is a reasonable probability of someone coughing in my face. So have my wife and kids, and the kids were attending public school all last year. And none of us have caught a respiratory illness in all that time. That's a year and a half of no disease. That's unheard of, particularly since my daughters started school. Before, a more typical time interval between respiratory diseases was more like a month or two.

K T Cat said...

Tim, I'll give you my anecdotes. My wife and I have worn masks as little as possible and we haven't gotten any respiratory illnesses, either. So what does that tell you? Who knows?

The point of my post is that I don't know what to believe from any of the "experts" any more. Glenn Reynolds called it The Suicide of Expertise: https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/03/20/americans-reject-experts-failure-history-glenn-reynolds-column/99381952/

As far as masks go, I keep going back to the fact that I can feel jets of air going past my skin as I breathe while wearing a mask. I know enough fluid dynamics to know that the majority of the air I'm breathing is not going through the mask.

Again, do they work? Who knows? Ohioan, a much better scientist than I am, has become convinced that they're mostly placebos based on the data coming out of the mask-free states.

For the record, I completely believe in the vaccines. I know how they work and I can rely on America's litigation system to have kept Big Pharma from giving us junk. All of our kids have gotten the vaccine, so there's that.

One Brow said...

From your link:
Well, it’s certainly true that the “experts” don’t have the kind of authority that they possessed in the decade or two following World War II. Back then, the experts had given us vaccines, antibiotics, jet airplanes, nuclear power and space flight. The idea that they might really know best seemed pretty plausible.

If you went back to the decade or two following WWII, you'd find just as much distrust of expertise as you do today. The US has a long history of anti-intellectualism.

As far as masks go, I keep going back to the fact that I can feel jets of air going past my skin as I breathe while wearing a mask. I know enough fluid dynamics to know that the majority of the air I'm breathing is not going through the mask.

That means the mask is doing what it is supposed to do.

K T Cat said...

One Brow, imagine that the virions in the air are cigarette smoke. It's swirling all over the place. The fact that the air you breathe is coming almost entirely from the gaps in the mask shows you that it isn't working against them.

Tim is right that the masks stop sneezes and coughs, but I can't remember the last time I was in a store or office space and people were coughing and sneezing.

How is this for a hypothesis: One reason we're not getting sick, with or without masks, is that people are more sensitive to going out in public when they're coughing or sneezing. That alone would cut way, way down on normal infection rates.

I also agree about the viral load argument, but the article seems to deal with that.

One Brow said...

K T Cat,

As is happens, someone linked me to this article yesterday. If you scroll down to the section "Beyond the Well-Mixed Room", you'll find a discussion of how viral load increases in the presence of respiratory jets as opposed to an ambient background. Wearing masks keeps you from exhaling these jets in the direction of people.

Mostly Nothing said...

We stayed pretty healthy all during the pandemic. When it hit, my wife's school did go to distance learning. And they were very inventive in the preschool. They would have packet pickups every other week for art projects etc. And they made many videos reading books (the publishers were very good about allowing that material to be on the internet for 5-6 months). And she did many (pre-school appropriate) science experiments on video for them.

Last fall, they went back to in classroom. pre-k to 8 was in session all year. Preschool had to close down for 2 weeks total, and a couple of grades had to do about the same. K-8 students had to wear masks. Preschoolers did not, since it was pointless. They often would need help putting the mask on, which defeats the purpose.

The biggest factor in my wife not getting sick in that year, was that parents actually kept their kids home when the kids where a massive petri dish of gross. Usually, they would dope them up with Tylenol and be able to get 4-5 hours at work before having to pick them up.

The buzz right now, is that masks are going to be required in schools again this coming year. The difference will be the public schools will be there as well. Also, they are thinking that pre-k kids will have to wear masks too.

My observations with High Schoolers, was that there was no social distancing and masks were rarely properly worn. Those experiences were after school at basketball and baseball games. There was also a pitcher/catcher pair that would share an "energy" drink just before the game started. And water bottles were shared in the dugout. The only major outbreak of Covid at that high school was in the theater department when the spring musical was being run.

Last observation. The govenrment tells us that about 70% of Minnesotans are vaccinated. Menards (home improvement big box) has a sign clearly stating that masks are required if you are not vaccinated. Observation of the people in the store shows that 99% of Menards customers/staff are vaccinated.