Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Plastic pollution - a possible solution.

Isn't it time that some bright spark produced a solution to the plastic pollution problem we face? Almost all of the plastic we produce eventually ends up as landfill or makes it's way to the sea to eventually produce microplastics.

Relatively little plastic is recycled. A whopping 91% of what is collected isn't. Some is burnt. Some can't be burnt without producing toxic gasses. Most goes into landfills.

Plastic is everywhere. It wraps our food, it forms the seal inside glass jar lids, some cans have a plastic lining. Our clothes lose plastic fibres when we wash them and when we dry them.

The water we drink has microplastics in it. The fish and other food we eat has microplastics embedded too. We don't know how this will affect us.

So what's the answer? What can WE do? I suggest there's a need for a plastic concentration device. Something which will get hot enough to melt plastic without creating fumes. Possibly something like an electric kettle?

Once molten, the plastic can be poured into a mould to solidify or possibly allowed to solidify in the device and the solid block removed later - that would be safer. Don't worry if the plastics used are mixed because the blocks produced can be reprocessed further and ground thermosetting plastics added. We then use this as a substitute for the asphalt used on roads. There are firms already doing this https://macrebur.com/ for example. The resultant road surfaces are:

  • Up to 60% stronger and last up to 10 x longer
  • cheaper
  • We get rid of a LOT of plastic and produce less carbon dioxide emissions at the same time
  • Plastic roads can have a hollow space to allow for pipes, wiring etc. That reduced roadworks which dig up the surface.
  • Plastic roads can be heated which could prevent them from freezing and also evaporate surface water
  • Plastic roads can be manufactured in interlocking sections which are easily assembled or disassembled

The process isn't perfect though. Some plastic particles may still make their way to the sea but the problem should be greatly reduced.

Experiments have found that the plastic road should still contain some asphalt to add to its strength.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Ebook or Paper books - Which is better?

 Books are nice but each time you buy one you are faced with a choice - ebook or paper book. I choose ebooks in preference now. This is why:

  • Whilst I too love the smell and feel of a book, we buy them for their content not their smell and feel. If the lack of 'paper smell' bothers you you can buy a 'book smell' perfume to spray on your e-reader.
  • "I prefer real books" is a phrase I often hear. Usually I hear it from those who have not yet got an e-reader, Every time I hear it I imagine those people who first came across bound books. Did they think "Nice, but I prefer scrolls."?

  • My mother was 96 and spent a lot of time reading. She found it easier to read large print and preferred thinner books - easier to hold. You can change the text size in an e-book and they are much lighter. I'd much rather carry an e-reader than the complete Encyclopaedia Britannica. I think my library of 3,000+ paper books probably weighs about a ton. Most of them could fit on my ancient Kindle Keyboard e-reader. A few years ago I read a hardback book I'd had since 2009. Stephen King's 'Under the Dome.' I had not read it because it weighs 1.3 kilograms (2.3 pounds) - too heavy to read unsupported. (Enjoyable book if you want to read it) I'd looked for it as an e-book but due to the Amazon/Hachette dispute couldn't find it. In the end I read it in bed before sleeping with it supported on my knees.
  • Putting another book on the bookshelf may satisfy some people but I have trouble finding a space for an extra book on my shelves. I've used up all the normal space (two books deep) and have run out of space between the book tops and the next shelf! 
  • I like to read relaxing in a bath. I may fall asleep and a soggy book is not easy to salvage. Your e-reader may not like water either but you can read it inside a ziplock plastic bag far easier than a paper copy! 
  • My e-readers play music and can read my book to me. The only paper book I have that does that was bought years ago for my children. 
  • Can you get Internet on a paper book? Maybe this will be possible in the future when flexible screens become available. My smartphone has full Internet, plays movies, makes video calls and takes pictures also. It's easy to read ebooks on it.
  • Do you feel the author needs rewarding for the time they spent writing your book? If you do then be aware that authors earn more money from e-books than from paper books.
  • Price? In general e-books cost less than a new book. Second-hand paper books may cost even less but your choice may be limited. You can go to a library for a huge choice of paper books but most libraries offer ebooks now too. There are a huge number of ebooks available online free also. Talking of libraries, many of them are shut now due to Covid-19. Libraries are still providing ebook services though. You won't have to travel to get them. Check the library website or make a phone call to ask.
  • When you buy an e-book you buy a licence to read it. Most people are not keen on this but if you face a disaster which destroys your library - a fire,  your ebooks will still be there in the cloud whereas your paper books will be in the smoke.
  • The 'wicked bible' error.
    Few books are perfect. They contain typos, spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes, timeline errors, sentences which could be phrased better. Once you've bought a paper book - you're stuck with the errors but ebooks can be updated.

The environment - Ebook and paper book compared
Paper booksE-books
Requires an authorRequires an author
Requires an editorRequires an editor
Requires formattingRequires formatting
Trees need to be felled (requires oil)Not required
Timber needs to be transported to papermill (requires oil)Not required
Papermill manufactures paper with some waste sludge (requires some oil)Not required
Sludge needs to be disposed of (requires oil)Not required
Paper needs transporting to printer (requires oil)Not required
Ink needs manufacturing (requires oil)Not required
Books need to be printed (requires oil)Not required
Books need to be transported to distribution depot (requires oil)Not required
Sales team need to visit retail outlets (requires oil)Not required
Books need to be transported to retail outlets (requires oil)Not required
Customer needs transport to bookstore and back (requires oil)E-books are delivered direct to reader electronically.
Surplus unsold books need transport back to printer (requires oil)Not required
Surplus requires storage or redistribution or pulping (requires oil)Not required
Book pulp requires cleaning of toxic ink and disposal of the toxins (requires oil)Not required

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Everything you need to know about COVID-19

 Yes - I know, you are probably sick of reading about Covid-19. In this post I plan on telling you how to protect yourself and how to protect others. In addition I'd like to squash a few Covid-19 myths and point out a few truths about Covid-19. Let's start in reverse order.

Truths about Covid-19

Only a third of people infected with Covid-19 show the symptoms we've been told to look out for - a fever, a dry cough, loss of taste and smell. These are far from the only symptoms and some of the other symptoms are common. Here's what to look out for
• Headache • Chest pain• Difficulty sleeping • Abdominal pain/tummy ache
• Sneezing • Achy muscles• Runny nose • Red/purple sores or blisters on your feet (including toes)
• Diarrhoea• Loss of sense of taste • Loss of sense of smell• Shortness of breath affecting normal activities
• Sore eyes• Sore throat• Hoarse voice • New persistent cough
• Blocked nose• Chills (feeling too cold)• Fever (feeling too hot) • Raised, red, itchy areas on the skin
• Tightness in chest• Felt more tired than normal • Severe fatigue (e.g. inability to get out of bed) • Nausea and/or vomiting
• Dizziness • Decrease in appetite • Numbness or tingling somewhere in the body • Feeling of heaviness in arms or legs
• Sudden swelling of the face or lips• Brain 'fog' - inability to think clearly.• Stroke, heart attack, kidney and other organ failure.
At some time we've all had some of these symptoms so having one of them doesn't mean you have Covid-19
Wearing a mask won't protect you from Covid-19. It's true that wearing a mask offers YOU little protection. However if other people around you wear one that will protect you if they wear the mask properly. More on that later. If everyone wore a correctly fitted and effective mask the pandemic would quickly fizzle out.
The virus can survive on some surfaces. Metal, glass, and plastic surfaces can be contaminated with the virus. It won't survive long on porous surfaces such as fabric, paper, cardboard and wood. Brass, silver and copper surfaces will quickly destroy the virus if they are not protected from tarnishing using a clear lacquer.

Shouting, singing and talking increase the risk of spreading the virus
. Each increases the number of droplets sprayed from your mouth. Normally we are not aware of these but there are videos showing what happens when you speak, with and without a mask. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNeYfUTA11s When you are out shopping, stopping to talk to friends you meet isn't such a good idea. Singing in church or taking part in a protest are good ways to get infected. The image below shows droplets, normally invisible, when speaking the word "two" in a normal voice
The picture above shows the droplets emitted. We don't normally see these unless you are out in cold weather. Then you will see condensation from your breath. That quickly evaporates and at a distance of 2 metres (6.5 feet) you won't see it. That evaporation process explains why in most cases a mask fails to protect the person wearing it. Masks are designed to protect others from YOU. Recent information indicated that 40% of people infected with Covid-19 have no idea  they have it.

The virus can infect anybody - not just the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions. C
ertainly the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions are the most likely to fall severely ill, but any age group can be infected and those without pre-existing conditions can still die.

Some ethnic groups seem to be more vulnerable. People of African, Asian and American Indian descent seem to be more vulnerable. Scientists are not sure yet whether this is due to genetics or socio-economic factors.

Some blood groups seem to be less likely to suffer severe illness from Covid-19. If you are blood type O you appear to be less at risk than other blood groups (by 35%). Those who are Rhesus negative also seem to have reduced risk. Those who are blood type A seem to be most at risk (by 45%) of developing severe symptoms.

Some people suffer very long term effects from Covid-19. 'Long Covid' is now fully recognised. According to the British medical Journal 45% of those infected do NOT fully recover in two to three weeks and 10-20% do not fully recover in months. This is true for both mild cases and of those who needed hospital treatment. Four different syndromes of long term Covid make diagnosis difficult. Dr Claire Steves, from Kings College London said that people who displayed five or more symptoms of Covid-19 in the first week where at greatest risk of long term Covid. Women too were more vulnerable.
Some people will never recover fully due to organ failure.

We are getting better at detecting and treating Covid-19

The charts above show this clearly. More  cases are being detected and the death rate from these detected cases has dropped.

The 1918/1919 flu outbreak taught us a lot about how to deal with a pandemic
We expected a second wave of the disease and know it will be worse than the first wave.
We know that wearing masks will cut down the rate at which the disease spreads.
We know that lockdowns and social isolation work. This was graphically demonstrated by the different approaches taken by Philadelphia and Seattle in the US. In Philadelphia it was business as usual. In Seattle strict lockdowns were prepared and put into action before the outbreak reached the city. Philadelphia suffered badly. Seattle did not. Source
One key difference between these pandemics though is that the 1918/1919 pandemic affected the young whereas the Covid-19 pandemic hits the elderly harder.

Children should be encouraged to wear masks. The CDC says:
"Children 2 years of age and older should wear a mask. Help your child (if 2 years of age or older) wear a mask correctly when in public and when around people they don’t live with." That goes against what governments advise should happen in schools where children have been told they need not wear masks in classrooms.

You can re-use disposable masks but you need to know how to do this. Masks should be allowed to dry out thoroughly for at least three days before being re-used. If you can, leave the mask where it will be exposed to direct sunlight that will help since ultra-violet light destroys the virus. Know that glass is an effective UV light filter though so a window ledge won't work. The best way to dry out a mask is by sealing it in a plastic bag with a desiccant. Again Amazon is a useful source of this. https://amzn.to/38i3KHP The desiccant can be periodically regenerated in an ordinary household oven.
SAGES, a worldwide medical association,  say these masks can be re-used up to five times if they are not contaminated visibly. link Take care when removing and storing the mask though.

The Covid-19 Myths

5G mobile networks DO NOT spread COVID-19 of all the Covid-19 myths this is clearly the most rediculousThe World Health Organization points out that viruses cannot travel on radio waves/mobile networks. The only possible justification for this theory would be if 5G networks made you more susceptible to the disease. However, if that were the case then countries without 5G networks would be less impacted by the disease. The WHO points out that COVID-19 is spreading in many countries that do not have 5G mobile networks. 

Hydroxychloroquine does NOT cure the disease. Hydroxychloroquine, a drug much touted by President Trump in the US, is a treatment for malaria, lupus erythematosus, and rheumatoid arthritis. It has been under study as a possible treatment for COVID-19. Current data shows that this drug does not reduce deaths among hospitalised COVID-19 patients, nor does it help people with moderate disease. This drug can have some quite nasty side effects. (headache, dizziness, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, vomiting, rash - all symptoms of Covid-19.)The ONLY possible justification for taking it as a 'treatment' for Covid-19 is that it helps the body take up vitamin D. However there are much safer substances to do this. Quercetin and green tea will do this without the nasty side effects.

Drinking or inhaling a mist of bleach  will NOT protect you from the virus. Drinking bleach is likely to poison you. Inhaling a mist of it is likely to damage your lungs. Read the labels on bleach bottles - they clearly warn against this.

Covid-19 is not spread on your shoes. The virus is unlikely to be spread on shoes. If you are at all concerned or have children who crawl/play on the floor then this tiny risk can be eliminated by taking off your shoes when you enter the house.

Drinking methanol, ethanol or hydrogen peroxide DOES NOT prevent or cure COVID-19 and can be extremely dangerous. All these chemicals are poisons in pure form (yes even the ethanol in alcoholic drinks) Alcoholic drinks do not contain enough alcohol to destroy the virus and drinking an excess of it will make you less likely to treat the disease with care.

'A mask is as effective at protecting you as chicken wire is good for keeping out mosquitoes.' I've already dealt with this in a previous blog post here. The fact remains that masks are designed to stop the spread of the virus from infected people to non-infected people. If you refuse to wear one because of your 'rights' then you are being selfish and prolonging the pandemic. When you exhale virus contaminated droplets the reality is that the mask to droplet size is the same as chickens to chicken wire. Chicken coops are effective at containing chickens.

Wearing a mask does NOT cause oxygen deficiency or carbon dioxide poisoning. Think about it. medical professionals spend much of their day wearing masks. They suffer neither oxygen deficiency or carbon dioxide poisoning. Even if masks are worn daily for years their life expectancy does not seem to suffer. In a recent statement the WHO suggested masks should not be worn while exercising but in one test I've seem A mask was worn during a 20 minute workout but oxygen levels never dropped below 93%

How to protect yourself

1. Social isolation. 

If you never come into contact with infected people or items then you cannot catch the disease. of course isolating yourself like this is not always possible but there are things you can do to minimize the risk Here's what you can do to help:
Wash your hands more often. If the virus gets on your skin then it's quite easy to transfer it to your face. We frequently touch our face, especially lips, nose, eyes and ears. We do this without being aware of it. Soap and water destroys the virus quickly. Of course it's not possible to carry soap and water and use it away from the sink so:

Use hand sanitizer. This should be a mixture of 70% ethanol and 30% water and other substances. 100% alcohol is too strong and makes the virus 'hide' from it. Less than 70% alcohol is too weak to destroy the virus. Note the alcohol in spirits is usually described as 70° proof. This is NOT 70% alcohol by volume. It's 40% alcohol and too weak to destroy the virus.

If you do have to go out:

Wearing gloves does help. They act as a barrier between you and contaminated surfaces. Ideally get hold of gloves which are thin and which can be sanitized. Gloves which work with touchscreens help too. I found some on Amazon which check all the boxes. They are protected on the palms by a nitrile plastic layer and can be washed, used with hand sanitizer, work with touchscreens and the reverse side can be used to clear condensation from a face shield.  https://amzn.to/352dPqt

Protect your eyes
. As previously said a mask does little to protect you. By the time droplets carrying the virus get to you they will probably have evaporated and got small enough to pass between the fibres of a mask. If inhaled or landing on a moist surface then you can be infected. Your eyes provide such a surface. protect them by wearing at the least glasses. You can get clear glasses designed to protect eyes from dust and sparks but ordinary eye glasses will help. Better still wear a face shield. Again Amazon is a good source https://amzn.to/2I7MKt2 Note however, a face shield does not protect others much  so wear a mask also.

Rather than shopping in person see if you can shop online and get things delivered. When things are delivered:

Wipe down items with sanitizing wipes.
Look at the labels of these wipes carefully. If they say something like 'Kils H1N1 flu virus' then they will do the job of destroying Covir-19 also. Items made of glass, metal or packed in plastic are the most likely to have contaminated surfaces. Under ideal conditions the virus has been fount to remain infective for up to three weeks. However those ideal conditions, cool, damp and dark are not common. The risk is small  but worth taking precautions against. You do not know how the person packing and delivering the products from manufacturer to retailer to you handled these things.
paper and cardboard wrapped products will quickly dry out the virus making it harmless but wipe them if you wish.

Stay back from other people. Try to stay 2 metres (approximately 6 feet) from other people. Virus laden droplets exhaled by these people will have fallen to the ground or dispersed before they get to you. Think about the condensation you see from your breath on a cold day. Does it spread more than 2 metres?

DON'T stop to talk to a friend you meet. Such conversations are usually done within 2 metres. Tell them you'll call them and move on.

DON'T go anywhere where people are shouting, cheering or singing. Each of these means more viral particles being spread. Avoid protest marches, concerts or sports events and churches! By now you must have heard of the super-spreader events organised by politicians and churches.

Consider taking a Vitamin D3 supplement. If you spend a lot of time indoors and don't get much sunlight you may be deficient in this vitamin. It's important for proper immune system support and while it won't stop you getting Covid-19, it may well make the difference between a mild case or a severe case. I read a report recently where doctors found most of their severe Covid-19 cases were vitamin D3 deficient. The trouble is that the human body is not good at taking up vitamin D3 in tablet form. The health food Quercetin helps vitamin D3 be absorbed. So does drinking green tea but you may have to drink more of that than you are comfortable with.

Consider taking a Zinc supplement. Zinc supplements also help the immune system. Researchers from Spain reported finding an association between low zinc levels in the blood and poor health outcomes among patients with Covid-19. In severe cases monitored those with low zinc levels died, those with normal levels survived. if you do take a zinc supplement make sure it also contains traces of copper.  These two minerals must be kept in balance for optimal health source Too much zinc in the body is simply excreted.

Why did I write this?

Ten years ago I and my wife were researching a book series where we suggested that the only way of getting people to take notice of an impending asteroid impact thousands of years in the future was to make people immortal. It's actually not just science fantasy but based on real science today. We postulated a genetic  fix to do that and suggested using a virus to spread it. We had to do a LOT of research into how viruses spread. Corona viruses such as colds and flu were part of this study. Ideas which spread or prevent the spread of these viruses are equally effective at spreading or preventing Covid-19. I wrote a blog about this  (bio-terrorism and the cure for the common coldin 2011. The lessons we learnt from this have been protecting us from colds and flu ever since and now protect us from Covid-19 too.

In the last few weeks has come the announcement that vaccines have been developed which are 90-95% effective at preventing Covid-19. I find it remarkable that this has been achieved in so short a time. Normally vaccines like this take years to develop. I also find it encouraging because in theory, the same technique could be used to develop a vaccine against cold and flu. Each year pharmaceutical firms make a small fortune from the sale of cold and flu relief medication and therefore do not have an incentive to develop a vaccine against cold and flu. The trouble is that these similar diseases are not normally  considered killers and as a result do not get the same level of  funding. BUT - the cold and flu diseases ARE killers. Each time your body is infected by a virus some cells are destroyed and replaced. Some cells are only slightly damaged and when they eventually are replaced they are replaced with equally damaged cells. It's this process which makes us age and aging kills everyone! We consider this normal but there is growing evidence that this need not be the case.

Update Dec 20th 2020
A new variant of Covid-19 has been identified. (Source) Corona viruses normally mutate, making them difficult to produce an effective vaccination for. Covid-19 has shown little sign of this but in the last few days a new variant has been found in southeast England. It's spreading rapidly and has forced the UK government to greatly restrict movement in the area and re-think their planned relaxation of the rules for mixing over Christmas. This new variant appears to be MORE infectious than the existing one. It's led to two European countries shutting down air travel from the UK. More will follow but this is not likely to stop the new variant infecting the rest of the world. At the moment it seems to have about the same mortality rate.

One last thing - You can get the first book of the book series, 'Immortality Gene,' free at books2read.com/immgen. It works on all ebook readers.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Mosquitoes, chicken wire, COVID-19 and masks

Is wearing a mask to stop the spread of COVID-19 really pointless? Let's take a look at one of the objections in detail.

By now you've probably heard some people say that using a mask to stop COVID-19 is like using a chicken wire fence to keep out mosquitoes. In some respects that’s true. The virus is tiny, 120-160 nanometres in diameter where a nanometre is one billionth of a metre. A top quality medical mask can trap particles as big or bigger than 2.5 micrometers. The virus is about 21 times smaller than that so it seems that it can pass through a mask easily.  HOWEVER it’s not quite so simple.

To remain capable of infecting, the virus must be in droplets of water. When we sneeze, cough, shout, pant, talk or even breath we emit such particles with the smallest being two micrometres in diameter. Each can contain hundreds of viral particles. These droplets would seem to still easily pass through the gaps between the mask fibres. BUT it’s not as simple as that.

The mask fibres carry a small electrical charge and they attract the water droplets. When they touch, they absorb the water and with it the virus. Few viral particles will get through in theory. Those who complain against mask wearing say this is theoretical and no one has proved this.


If those against mask wearing are right then what harm will be done? - a slight bit of inconvenience. It would make no difference to the number of people infected.

If those against mask wearing are wrong then what harm will be done? - the disease will spread more and a greater number of people will die.

Wearing the mask is the least risky option. If everyone wears one then there’s a good chance of stopping this virus spreading.

Saturday, July 04, 2020

I wear this mask...

COVID-19 has caused a lot of controversy and upset. The latest being that in many areas people are being required to wear masks when out in public. Some people see that as an infringement on their rights.

What symptoms can I get if I am infected with COVID-19?
Good, bad and terrible news.

Protecting Others

Take a look at this picture:
Now I have to admit it's not a real picture. It's cobbled together from different images to illustrate a point. Look closely and you'll see tiny droplets of spittle from the shouting man. We probably all know that these droplets are produced when we sneeze or cough. We probably all know that 'coughs and sneezes spread diseases' too. BUT it's not just those who cough and sneeze that produce these infective droplets. We all produce them when we shout, talk, breath heavily (think joggers) or even breath normally. This means if you are asymptomatic - are infected but show no signs of it - you can spread the disease without knowing it and this disease can kill people! Are you OK with killing others?

This is where wearing a mask helps. It traps any of these infected droplets and stops others from catching it from you. If you are near others then wearing a mask, even a cloth over your mouth, can prevent the infection spreading.
Image from Reuters

Do masks protect YOU?

A simple cloth mask is unlikely to offer much protection to the user.
A mask with an exhalation vent may give the user some slight protection but won't help others.
A medical N95 mask, the right size and properly fitted may offer protection to the user and others.

ANY mask is better than no mask.

What are the best types of mask?

Buy at least five N95 masks. If you can, avoid those made in Asia since they are probably made to fit Asian faces which tend to be flatter. Your mask should have a metal strip at the top which you can shape to your nose. The best ones have three layers and the outer layer will be water resistant. Some have a soft plastic strip inside at the top which acts to help seal the gap around your nose. The straps should not be too tight or they will distort the metal strip over your nose. They will also irritate your ears.
Dust masks will help protect others but not those masks which have an exhalation vent.
You can make your own masks which will certainly help prevent spreading the virus and might help you if made properly. Spray the outer layer with a water repellent solution but not the inner layers.

How do you wear a mask properly?

  • Wash your hands before putting it on or use hand sanitizer.
  • Metal strip at the top. 
  • Place the mask over your nose and mouth then loop the straps over your ears.
  • Using both hands at the same time mold the metal strip over the bridge of your nose. The straps should not stretch this strip out of shape. If they do, consider extending them somehow.
  • Add glasses or safety glasses over the top of the mask. If the glasses fog up then consider using an anti-fog spray from an optometrist or washing the glasses in soapy water then allowing them to air dry. 
  • Use the mask when you are out and in contact with other people. Remove it when you are alone, in your car or at home.

Can I re-use a mask?

The virus is inactivated if it is allowed to dry out. Detergents will destroy the virus.
  • If your mask is home made then wash it after each use and by all means re-use it. You probably can't wash bought surgical masks.
  • When you have used a bought mask, let it dry for at least three days before re-using it. You can re-use masks described as 'single use' provided you are not someone like a doctor or nurse in constant contact with patients. Drying masks in sunlight works but glass windows filter out the sun's UV rays which kill the virus.
  • Drying a mask using silica gel drying packets with mask and drying agent in a sealed plastic bag works well.

What other steps can I take to protect myself?

  1.  Wash you hands often. If you can't do that use an alcohol based hand sanitizer 65% to 70% alcohol works best. 100% alcohol (meths) and alcoholic spirits such as vodka don't work.
  2. Wear glasses or some eye protection. Your eyes are protected by very thin membranes which are vulnerable to viral infection. Ever notice a cold can make your eyes sore?
  3. DON'T touch your face while out. Easy to say but not easy to do. We normally constantly touch our faces to make ourselves feel secure psychologists say. Most times we are not aware of this. Wearing gloves and glasses can help break the habit, so can wearing make-up. If you simply MUST scratch that itch use a knuckle rather than a fingertip.
  4. Wear gloves. They act as a barrier between you and things other people have touched. That includes door handles, shopping cart handles, buttons, magazines, books, money. After wearing gloves remove them without touching the palm side of the glove and either wash them or leave them in a sunny place to dry out.
  5. If you have long hair fasten it up and consider wearing a hat. 
  6. When you return from shopping wipe over metal and plastic coated products with a disinfecting wipe. Paper and card objects will probably be OK by the time you get them home. Then wash your hands.
  7. After shopping take a shower and wash your hair and clothes.

What symptoms can I get if I am infected with COVID-19?

According to New Scientist it's not just a matter of a cough, fever and difficulty breathing. 
  • You may have no symptoms at all yet still be able to infect others.
  • You probably (but not always) will get a persistent dry cough.
  • You probably will develop a fever.
  • You may be sneezing.
  • You may lose your sense of taste and smell.
  • You may suffer from exhaustion, numbness or diarrhoea
  • Some people have excessive weight loss (but it's not a good way to diet)
  • Some people complain of brain fog.
  • Muscle pain seems fairly common
  • In many cases people develop rashes
  • In a few people there are hallucinations. It appears that this virus can cross into your brain.
  • It can cause lung failure but also heart attacks, strokes, kidney damage and other conditions involving blood clots.
  • Whilst most people can shrug off many symptoms in about two weeks there are symptoms which can last months.

And finally the good and bad and terrible news

The good news is that unlike the other corona viruses, colds and flu, this virus is beginning to show that once you recover you may be relatively immune from catching it again. It's early days to tell that for certain though.

The bad news is that although it first appeared that the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions were worst affected there are now many cases of young, healthy people who have either died or been left with failing hearts, lungs, kidneys or other organs. Unlike flu this virus seems quite happy to spread during the summer months.

The terrible news is something that science has known for a while. All viruses cause harm. The cells of your body they kill will usually be replaced. Some cells survive with damaged DNA and as you accumulate more of them these cause you to age.

 Where did all  this come from?
Back in 2007 my wife and I were doing research for a novel 'Immortality Gene'. We explored science journals for how different viruses spread and what their long term effects were. We explored how a virus could be used for gene therapy. In the process we learnt what could be done to protect ourselves from colds and flu. I started shopping at quiet times during the night. I wore gloves and glasses. I used hand sanitizer. We didn't catch colds or flu. With COVID-19 we put our experience to use again. This time we could wear masks since it became socially acceptable to do so.
We hope you find this information of use and if you want to repay us, download a FREE copy of our book Immortality Gene. It's the first book of a series. It's long and it has been a #1 top technothriller at Amazon.

Sunday, June 07, 2020

If you could make all 7.5 billion people on Earth sit down and read a book of your choosing, what book do you choose and why?

It would be an optimistic book. One which points out what’s wrong with the world today but which suggests how we can fix things.

It would require a different political system. One which fulfills the needs of the people rather than the profits of the rich. It would mean raising the living standards of the poor. That would lead to more industry and higher profits while also reducing crime.

It would draw attention to the fear that we needlessly face. For example you are ten times as likely to drown while taking a bath as you are to be killed by a terrorist.

It would point out that evolution has engineered us to be nice to each other. We work together better to improve things - that has survival value, rather than work against each other. We hear a lot about the ‘bad’ because our media considers bad news is more interesting. Bad news generates fear. Fear makes us demand action. Idiot politicians pander to this and their actions generate more bad news.

Sorry religion - you would be required to justify your existence. It’s not enough for you to defend your ‘faith’. Let’s look at ‘faith’ in terms of what it really means - a belief which does not depend on evidence, one which is not open to reason and discussion. Faith has no right to being secure from being questioned. Faith can’t move mountains but we’ve seen what it can do to skyscrapers. We may blame the Islamic faith for acts of terrorism but other religions cannot say their ‘faithful’ followers did not carry out brutal acts.

The book would draw attention to how we are damaging our planet and suggest ways we can fix this. We cannot continue to treat finite resources as though they were infinite. We need those resources to look further for new resources and we are unlikely to find those on earth.

Instead of war I would propose we work together on expansion into the last frontier. Space. We must colonize space to ensure the survival of our species. Certainly we can look to the moon and Mars but that’s NOT enough. We need to move further to the stars. When we do so we should take with us all the lifeforms we can collect. When we have moved out a radius of 30 light years from earth, then and only then can we think of Earth’s life being secure.

Is this all a pipe dream? It is until we make the effort to start.

Sunday, March 01, 2020

How humans and computers follow instructions

Image result for computer brain

Years ago, when I taught Information technology, I used two stories to explain the difference between how computers and people followed instructions.

1. People are rubbish at following the simplest of instructions.

I'd ask the class to all point at the brainiest pupil in the room and then select that person as my victim to demonstrate. I'd bring them out in front of the class and tell them:

Teacher "I'm going to say three simple words with a pause between each word. All you have to do is repeat the word. Here's the first - Cat."

Pupil  "Cat."

Teacher "Rhino"

Pupil "Rhino"

Teacher "WRONG!"

Pupil, looking flustered "What was wrong? I said Rhino."

Teacher You failed. The third word was the word 'WRONG'.

People think about their answers - computers just do what they are told to do.

2. Computers do EXACTLY what you tell them to do.

Imagine a boy with a computer instead of a brain. he is woken up one morning and told the following by his mother.
"Run down to the shop and get a loaf of bread. Take £2 from my purse on the kitchen table. And for heavens sake - Get dressed"
The boy immediately runs to the nearest shop. It's a butcher's shop and doesn't sell bread so he waits there until someone comes in with a loaf of bread. That may take a while. Eventually a little old lady comes in with a loaf of bread in her shopping basket.
The boy wasn't told to pay for the bread so he 'gets' it. Effectively he steals it from her.
The boy wasn't told to come back but the next instruction was to get £2 from the purse on the kitchen table so he does come back.
The purse isn't on the kitchen table. it's on a work surface at the side. So he waits again for the purse to move to the table. He doesn't put the bread away because he wasn't told to do that.
When the purse is eventually on the table he tries to take £2 from it. If the purse only has five pound notes in it he is again stuck waiting.
When the boy eventually has a £2 coin only then does he get dressed.

Humans take bad instructions and correct them. They decide the best order to do them in and include missing instructions. Computers can't do that. We won't have true Artificial Intelligence until a computer can follow the second task and get it right.