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Coronavirus could survive for LONGER in humid conditions, study finds

Daily Mail - Science & tech

The novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19 can survive in the air for longer in humid conditions, a new study has reported. SARS-CoV-2, which has killed around three-quarters of a million people worldwide, is carried in microscopic droplets emitted during natural respiratory activities, such as breathing, and talking. But in an environment with high humidity – a high concentration of water vapour present in the air – droplets can travel up to 16 feet away. High humidity can extend the airborne lifetime of medium-sized droplets by as much as 23 times, the US researchers claim. Dry air with a low humidity, on the other hand, can accelerate natural evaporation of the droplets and restricts the distance they can travel.


Fat stores in our cells also hold immune proteins to fight infections

New Scientist

Tiny fatty droplets in our cells are part of the immune system and help fight off bacterial infections. Until now the droplets were thought to be among the most vulnerable parts of the cell. Lipid droplets are found in the cells of all complex organisms. They store fats and other lipids, which are essential nutrients. In humans, specialised cells called adipocytes store body fat in the form of lipid droplets. For many years, biologists thought lipid droplets were "just an inert structure, just a storage site", says Robert Parton at the University of Queensland in Australia.


Homemade cotton masks can prevent 99.9% of coronavirus droplets from spraying into the air

Daily Mail - Science & tech

More evidence has emerged that wearing masks can prevent an infected person from spreading the novel coronavirus to others. A new study found that homemade cotton face coverings stop 99.9 percent of contagious droplets from spraying into the air when someone coughs or speaks - and surgical masks prevented 100 percent of droplets. Tests showed a person standing six feet away from someone without a mask was up to 1,000 times greater risk of inhaling droplets than someone standing 1.5 feet away from a coughing person wearing a mask. What's more, even the homemade single-layer cotton mask reduced the number of infectious droplets by more than 1,000-fold. The team, from the University of Edinburgh's Roslin Institute in the UK, says the findings show the importance of wearing a face covering in public so that, if you are infected with COVID-19, you are not sickening others.


Bandana-style masks 'significantly worse' than homemade cotton coverings

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Cone-style well fitting masks and home-made coverings made from multiple fabric layers are the best designs for stopping the spread of coronavirus, study shows. Researchers from Florida Atlantic University examined different materials and designs to find the best option for slowing the spread of virus carrying droplets. These droplets are expelled when someone with COVID-19 coughs or sneezes and tests show loosely-folded masks and bandana-style coverings perform the worst. According to researchers this is because those designs provide minimal stopping-capability for respiratory droplets which can spread up to 8ft if unobstructed. They found a simple bandana-style mask can stop droplets going more than 3ft but a homemade well-fitting cotton-fabric stitched mask stops droplets at 2.5 inches.


How Did Life Begin? Dividing Droplets Could Hold the Answer

WIRED

A collaboration of physicists and biologists in Germany has found a simple mechanism that might have enabled liquid droplets to evolve into living cells in early Earth's primordial soup. Origin-of-life researchers have praised the minimalism of the idea. Ramin Golestanian, a professor of theoretical physics at the University of Oxford who was not involved in the research, called it a big achievement that suggests that "the general phenomenology of life formation is a lot easier than one might think." The central question about the origin of life has been how the first cells arose from primitive precursors. What were those precursors, dubbed "protocells," and how did they come alive?