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2020-04-03

smudging and 'entropic' spreading? – a logical, speculative approach to covid-19 transfer

this is an article by NOT a scientist, so, read it like that... :)

illustration

I'm not a scientist or an expert, I'm interested in art and culture, and society, and I'm actually writing about a cultural aspect of the pandemic, a non-academic article, but as I was putting together the pieces, trying to understand the covid-19 pandemic, I came upon conflicting info regarding how the virus (SARS-CoV-2) spreads. And this became really unsettling for me as we can see how governments treat the epidemic, as if it could only transfer from person to person, or person to surface to person, so I decided to put together a logical argument which might end up suggesting that some major part of the virus's spreading is perhaps being disregarded.

So, what we know, from a New York Time article, published also in the Irish Times, by Ferris Jabr, is that this virus is a piece of fat, and that soap “kills” it. Alcohol is also known as a disinfectant, but as it is explained pretty frequently, it only works if it is over 70% pureness, which raises concerns regarding how alcohol based disinfectants are being thought of, like sure to work – I mean, their pureness might be way less than 70%. A great uncertainty, but I'm no expert.

My concern, however, is about how transmission is being handled, and thought to work. Very practically, as I was suggesting my parents to please wipe your feet on a cloth soaking in dishwasher before entering the apartment, they said it didn't spread by shoes, it was said in the television that it goes from person to person, typically from an ill person to an uninfected one. My parents are really sharp, but they trust the government info, which is indeed very precise and well communicated, most of the times. Not always, though. But no complaints, they work hard, and well. I didn't vote for them, I just appreciate their work now. Besides, the WHO website does suggest the exact same thing, that it goes from person to person – you know.

The problem as it appears to me, is that at the same time, door knobs are always being mentioned, and washing hands with soap is the no. 1 protective measure.

It is a problem, in as much as if assume that the virus an transfer from a door knob to a person's hand, and from then on to their face, why do we not assume, too, that it can travel from surface to surface, by someone's hand touching it and carrying it to another place? Cause if that were the reality, it would be a game-changer.

This is really an EITHER/OR. Can it or can it not? Logic suggests that why not? I mean, how on earth not? Science goes on the safe yellow brick road, and only says what's safe to say, what's sure, I mean. For in this case, as Joseph Allen said, taking all the reasonable precautions is the sanest thing, as opposed to waiting for the lab experiments' confirmed and further-confirmed results regarding how it actually spreads. All that we can think of should be deployed, he said (I read it in Hungarian, that's why I don't use quotation marks). Should I mention, that many of us feel that there is something more to it than what we know? Just philosophically approaching the pandemic, the medieval plague is a frighteningly sharp image, and far too glaring to be just ignored, I mean, that they did not know how it spread. And this was the major and fatal vulnerability.

Philosophically approaching the situation, still, looking at them, people in the middle ages, and saying that “they didn't know how it spread”, without thinking that we might be in an analogous trap, too, is a vain thing, to say really just the least. But guess what, our culture with the 'experts' – I use this term exactly in the sense as Theodore Roszak used it in The Making of a Counter Culture, in that chapter, Technocracy's Children – vindicates our position to be supreme compared to earlier time's. That's modernism, right. In the age of 'experts', we think in a “digital” way. Like, one orzero, yes or no. Like, do we know how it spreads from a hand to a surface and to another hand? Cause if we don't, we say “we don't have evidence that …” blah-blah. That is, if we are not sure, we take it like it was NOT true. And this is the result of the digital thinking. If “not yes”, then it means “no”. Whereas in reality, if something is “not yes”, it can still be proved to be “yes” later on, and approaching the situation like “we don't know it yet, but we assume 'yes' ”, could be a wise thing. A safe thing.

This can be dangerous at this point… (of the spreading of the pandemic). Cause people don't gain awareness of what happens in their house. They will think that their house is a safe zone. Which 'might be' a wrong approach. But it is another EITHER/OR, anyway.
That is: is your house is a safe zone, or is it not? Or… do people catch it, contract it outside the house, or could it be that they first only bring it home, and then contract it, while at home already?

“entropic” spreading

If we imagine 'the virus' as a fat ball, a heap of fat balls, like millions of them in just a tiny area, thinking that it can spread in the house really doesn't seem like an illogical thought. Imagine a handful of something, brought in the house, according to the law of ENTROPY, by course of time, that stuff will be spread evenly, that is, all over the place.

Entropy works like there are two rooms, with a door between them, and there are 100 bees in “room A”, and once the door is open, by course of time, in both rooms there will be just about 50 bees. Entropy is quite an amazing phenomenon, by the way. It is disorder, but natural disorder. A very cool phenomenon, you must agree.

Take only that Bartók opera, the Blue Beard's Castle. In that, a poor woman is supposed to live in a big castle without ever entering room 7. From the viewpoint of ENTROPY, this is impossible. Cause it is there, and someone who lives in that house (castle) will have to enter it, sooner or later. So, room 7 is much more like a trap. Cause it is something sure to happen.

So, if it can travel from surface to surface by the help of people living in the house doing their daily routines, walk to the kitchen, to the bathroom, to the study again, then to the kitchen, open the fridge, take something out which hasn't been washed with soap. Etc, etc…

If it can transfer from surface to surface, that is, if this possibility cannot be totally ruled out, then we could say that infection can happen at home. Meaning also, that getting infected can be prevented at home, too.

If 'contracting' it, getting infected, could happen in our homes, a totally different set of preventive measures should be taken, and propagated. If that could happen at home, in our homes, it would mean that our behavior should be rethought, our routines, revised, cause getting home after some work or shopping would mean NOT the end of being exposed but the beginning of a cage fight, with an amount of virus brought home, and ready to spread.

is home safe? or is home possibly stained? this is the question…

When people are at home, should they regard it as a safe environment, or should they work to make it acceptably 'safe'? I'm no expert, and the latter totally sounds cool. To view our houses as the zone where we can actually get infected by the virus stain that we have brought home, really doesn't sound insane idea.

Were this the reality, we could get great improvements – as one layman imagines it – if we started to work on cleaning our homes.

But wait just a second! First define “cleaning”!

For example, it could be that WATER is a very-very good medium for the virus, spreading it, splashing it, all over everything around the sinks, for example.

It could be that sheer surfaces, floors, are like skating pools for the virus stain heaps, and by walking through a hallway, from the kitchen to the living room, we could spread it fast.

Were this the case, sheer floors should be cleaned every few hours. AND it could be also, that carpets, if deep and soft enough, could actually trap the virus clusters, and therefore be a way better alternative than sheer hallways.

It could be that washing your hands could be the move which would sprinkle it all over stuff in the 1-2 meter environment. Various scenarios are possible. Using clean water could be big mistake, for example.

And pillows could be strategic objects which could spread the virus stain from our hair, where water took it, to our face. I'm only pointing at possible scenarios. I tried to find studies regarding clothes, shoes, pillows, but only found speculation – like this one.

But as a result, if it should turned out to be the case that in our homes we have to fight our war with the stains that we have brought home, it could be a game changer, cause so far we didn't really think in this direction. And if this should be the case, we could perhaps win more battles! Perhaps much more battles!

Finally, just imagine someone going to the superstore, and taking home sum scum. She or he is fine. She has made it to the dangerous world out there, and made it back home safe. Now she can do anything. Enjoy life – what we have at avail of it – and unwind. And perhaps that's when the act of infection actually takes place. When we don't even suspect! And really, just look at the situation strategically, where else could your weakest point be, if not where you don't even suspect the enemy?

If some studies were made regarding carpets, water, and smudging and spreading virus stains at home, a whole new series of advice and protective measures could come up, and we could perhaps WIN most of the battles which now perhaps we don't even know we are taking part in.

Let's bear in mind, that “an amount of virus” which we might contact (contact, not contract) is a finite amount, and for the virus to be effective, a minimum number is needed to get in our system. So, when, for example, as I did just imagine it, you sprinkle an amount, with the “HELP” of water all over the things around you at the sink, it could be that those water drops have ONLY an inefficient amount of it. So, it is NOT a clear-cut situation from any angle, really. Even in my layman understanding. BUT, what's sure is that logically, if smudging and spreading can happen, that is, if virus stain can transfer from surface to surface, the next stop is realizing that infection might happen at home. Which means, infection might be eliminated at home.

illustration

Other areas, like air conditioning (!), should be investigated, too, or floor heating (which coud lift particles and keep the in the “air”), as well as masks, cause it could be, for example, that some air-conditioning systems circulate the air without actually pushing it outside. And perhaps that's what's needed. Ventilation, purging the air out of the rooms, to the open, and allowing fresh air in.

Also, since we are here, we could also think of how TB was treated! Think Kafka, or that dear doctor, who wrote that book, and said, today he could heal Kafka. Or think the Zauberberg! What wants to come out, should come out – think the blue glass flasks – and perhaps this is just the case with coughing… which is our body's natural purging mechanism, or healing ventilation… But when people are on respiratory machines, they can't get rid of what their lungs want to push outside… and masks likewise prevent our coughing to be effective! Please forgive my amateurism, and passionate style… I have my dear parents here, and I'm scared as… you know :)

It would be great to see that people are informed – if that is the case in reality, or if the opposite couldn't be scientifically proved – that they have to PREVENT getting infected at HOME. That would double our chances to win! Perhaps, wet hands – which come so NATURALLY when it is about washing hands – are a serious vulnerability. Perhaps washing hands with turning on the tap first and then pouring the soap on our hands is an unsafe practice. And perhaps, wet hands are just really very bad… BUT, ANYTHING could change at this point! Cause we don't know a lot! I mean, regarding the spreading…

(sorry again for my amateurism)

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PS:

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I used “transfer”, after a lot of thinking… as opposed to “transmission”, cause to my logic, that should be kept up for viruses “transmitting” from one species to another, but that was just an intuition-based decision… (I've tried it both ways, several times :))

 

-PJ-
2020-04-03

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