The outbreak of COVID-19 at a restaurant in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou was a puzzle.
The suspected index patient was a visitor from the coronavirus’s epicentre in Wuhan. But the eight other customers who later tested positive were not sitting close enough for droplet transmission, and most of the patrons and staff avoided infection altogether.
A team of local scientists eventually came to an eye-opening conclusion about the episode: tiny particles of virus had hitched a ride on currents created by the eatery’s air-conditioning.
For a group of civil engineers at the University of Alberta, the finding was no surprise. In their world, they say, it’s well known that building ventilation systems are efficient discriminators of virus and other pathogens, and believe the COVID-19 bug is no exception.
Aided by a $440,000 federal-government grant , they’re now working on ways that buildings could change their HVAC set-ups to curb the risk of infection, what the researchers call a “non-pharmaceutical” intervention against the disease.
We want to save lives, let’s cut right to the chase
“We want to save lives, let’s cut right to the chase,” said Prof. Brian Fleck, part of the project. “There are so many, many, many buildings … This effects absolutely everybody. Billions of people. If we are able to cut down the transmission rate by a per cent, that’s a lot of people.”
The engineers’ belief in the importance of building ventilation as a transmitter of the COVID-19 virus is not universally held.
The World Health Organization and other public-health bodies , citing the science to date, say the pathogen is spread almost entirely by droplets, heavier particles emitted mostly when infected people cough or sneeze, and which fall down within a short distance. Hence the two-metre rule for social distancing.
“The HVAC systems in most non-medical buildings play only a small role in infectious disease transmission, including COVID-19,” argued the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers last month.
But Chinese and Australian air-quality experts, citing in part the experience with SARS, another coronavirus, argued in a paper earlier this month that as droplets from an infected person start to evaporate, the resulting smaller particles can indeed become airborne.
They point to evidence that passengers confined to their cabins on cruise ships like the Diamond Princess were infected through the vessels’ air ducts.
“It is highly likely that the SARS-CoV-2 virus also spreads by air,” they conclude, urging “all possible” action in response, including modifications to ventilation systems. “We predict that … failure to immediately recognize and acknowledge the importance of airborne transmission and to take adequate actions against it will result in additional cases.”
Then there was the Guangzhou restaurant case, detailed in a U.S. Centers for Disease Control online journal recently. Researchers concluded flow from an air conditioner moved over three tables, carrying virus from the infected patron at the middle one to the far table, then back to the diners closest to the air conditioner.
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) engineers have long known that tiny particles of pathogen can be carried in the air that is circulated, heated and cooled in modern buildings, said Fleck. He pointed to Legionnaires disease, a bacterial pneumonia first traced to a hotel’s air-conditioning system.
The particle can stay airborne long enough to go all the way through the system and then pop out in somebody else’s office
“This has been on people’s radar for quite a while,” he said. “Somebody on a different floor sneezes …The particle can stay airborne long enough to go all the way through the system and then pop out in somebody else’s office.”
There are various ways that risk can be lessened, including use of filters that catch a greater number of those particles, and drawing more fresh air into a system. It also is likely that higher levels of humidity – a factor that only some Canadian buildings can adjust – will help kill off the virus, said Fleck.
But each of those changes carries a cost. Adding more fresh air can require additional heat or air conditioning. Heavier filters means more energy is needed to push the air through them. And more humidity can lead to mould, he noted.
“This will make for difficult decision making.”
Funded by the Canadian Institute for Health Research, the University of Alberta project is led by engineering professor Lexuan Zhong and also involves pediatrics professor Lisa Hartling. It consists of three phases: systematically reviewing literature on air circulation and viruses, determining what strategies would be effective and then carrying out a detailed audit of all the buildings on the Edmonton campus to create a real-world model of what should be done.
The team hopes to have solid results by the summer of 2021, said Fleck.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020
‘Strawberry Moon’ to rise with a special eclipse for some skywatchers – Globalnews.ca
The phenomenon, known as a penumbral lunar eclipse, occurs when the Earth comes between the sun and the moon, thereby casting a faint shadow on the moon. This penumbral lunar eclipse will make the full moon look slightly darker on part of its surface, although only some portions of the world will see it.
The penumbral lunar eclipse will only be visible from parts of Australia, Asia, Africa, Europe and South America, according to NASA’s charts.
In other words, North Americans will need to watch a livestream on the internet to catch a glimpse of the event, which starts at 3 p.m. EDT. Nevertheless, the so-called “Strawberry Moon” will be visible to everyone.
That name comes from the time of year and not the expected colour of the moon. There are farm-related nicknames for the first full moon of every month, and the strawberry nickname originated from the Algonquin First Nation, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac. The first full moon of June often coincided with the harvest season for wild strawberries in North America, the Almanac says.
Although skywatchers in Canada and the U.S. will miss out on this penumbral lunar eclipse, they’ll only have to wait a month to catch the next one. Another penumbral lunar eclipse is slated to happen on July 5, and that one should be visible from North America. The darkest penumbral lunar eclipse of the year is expected on Nov. 30.
A penumbral lunar eclipse also happened on Jan. 10, coinciding with that month’s “Wolf Moon.”
Timelapse captures moment sky darkens for total solar eclipse
Not to throw shade at the penumbral lunar eclipses, but they’ll likely pale in comparison to the annular solar eclipse predicted for June 21. That’s when the moon will pass between the Earth and the sun, making the sun look like a ring of fire for viewers in parts of Africa, China, northern India and Pakistan, according to TimeandDate.com.
Again, it won’t be visible from North America — but you’ll still be able to watch the whole thing online without risking eye damage from staring at the sun.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
In Space No One Can Hear You Campaign: Trump Team Pulls Ad – NDTV
President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has pulled a video featuring the SpaceX launch and astronauts which appeared to violate NASA’s media regulations, reports said.
The “Make Space Great Again” YouTube ad posted on YouTube showed footage from the Apollo program, as well as video of the landmark SpaceX Demo-2 mission and NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, the SpaceNews.com website said.
YouTube shows the video was removed by the uploader.
NASA generally allows use of its images and video but prohibits the use of its insignia and photographs of its astronauts in advertisements.
“As a government agency, NASA will not promote or endorse or appear to promote or endorse a commercial product, service or activity. Therefore, there are strict limits placed on the use of any of the NASA identities and emblem imagery in advertisements,” the space agency’s advertising regulations say.
“Astronauts or employees who are currently employed by NASA cannot have their names, likenesses or other personality traits displayed in any advertisements or marketing material.”
Hurley’s wife Karen Nyberg, a retired astronaut, and their young son were also reportedly shown in the clip.
“I find it disturbing that a video image of me and my son is being used in political propaganda without my knowledge or consent. That is wrong,” Nyberg tweeted.
A Change.org petition to “Stop Donald Trump politicizing SpaceX and NASA accomplishments” has attracted more than 6,000 signatures so far.
The New York Times described the video as “the latest effort by the president to parlay his stewardship of American space policy into an upbeat campaign issue.”
The SpaceX mission, which blasted off from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center on May 30, was the first crewed US spacecraft in nearly a decade.
Trump, who witnessed the liftoff, has relaunched the race to re-conquer the Moon and to journey onwards to the Red Planet.
But the deadlines — 2024 and 2033 respectively — appear unrealistic and have caused turbulence within the space agency.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
Donald Trumps campaign team pulls ad featuring NASA astronauts after backlash – Republic World – Republic World
US President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign pulled a video featuring the historic Dragon Crew launch after backlash from astronauts and NASA officials. Trump has been trying to project the success of NASA and SpaceX as an achievement of his administration and the latest video appeared to be in violation of the space agency’s policy.
Advertisement video posted on YouTube reportedly showed the footage of the Apollo program, and the Demo-2 mission, which resurrected the human spaceflight capability of the United States. NASA prohibits the use of any of the NASA identities and emblem imagery in advertisements. NASA’s advertising regulations say that the space agency will not promote or endorse or appear to promote or endorse a commercial product, service or activity.
“Astronauts or employees who are currently employed by NASA cannot have their names, likenesses or other personality traits displayed in any advertisements or marketing material,” the regulations read.
Retired NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg, the wife of Doug Hurley who flew in the Dragon Crew spacecraft along with Bob Behnken, raised strong objection to the used of her photograph in the advertisement. Taking to Twitter, Nyberg said that she finds it “disturbing” that the video image was used without her consent.
A Change.org petition was initiated to stop Trump from politicising accomplishments of SpaceX and NASA and has attracted nearly 7,000 signatures so far. The petition argued that the NASA Commercial Crew Program has been around in its current form since the Obama Administration, and its roots go back to the Bush Administration.
It said that NASA and the space industry as a whole have long tried to stay out of politics, and, until this Administration, that goal was at least partially attained. The petition further added that implying any one person was responsible for the SpaceX-NASA Crew Demo-2 launch is an “insult to the work of the teams” that meaningfully contributed to its success.
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