How to reuse an N95 mask

When it comes to wearing masks during the pandemic, not all masks are equal in the protection they provide. From what I have read, cloth masks seem to provide the least protection, though they allow the wearer colorful options and the ability to make some kind of statement, though why some people feel the need to make statements through their attire is something that I find puzzling. The blue surgical masks appear to be better than cloth and the N95 masks are the best. But while the surgical masks are relatively cheap, the N95 masks are pricey (ranging from $1 to $3 each) and that raises the question of how long one can use them and whether they can be reused.

The good news is that the answer is yes, based on the fact that the coronavirus has a survival time of about 72 hours when outside a host.
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Why so many Sri Lankans have foreign names

My father’s first name was Leo (short for Leonard). His three brothers were Reggie (Reginald), Benny (Benedict), and Archie (Archibald) which made them sound like they could be Bertie Wooster’s pals in the Drones Club. How did they come to have such typically English first names? It was because their father (my grandfather) was working as a civilian administrator for the British army in Burma (now Myanmar) at the time they were born. My grandfather was a great admirer of the British and as befitted such an Anglophile, giving all his children English first names (his only daughter was named Eta after an English nun, I believe) would have come naturally to him. He went further and Anglicized his last name from Nallasegarasingam (polysyllabic names are not uncommon in Sri Lanka) to just Singham, relegating the Nallasegara part to a middle initial. While he gave his children that middle name and initial, the subsequent generation (mine) dropped it altogether.
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Someone seems to be gunning for Boris Johnson

I have been observing the goings on over in the UK where prime minister Boris Johnson is under fire for having parties during the lockdown, thus breaking the covid-19 restrictions that his government had put in place that severely restricted the number of people who could attend indoor gatherings. These revelations have generated fury and reinforced the strong sense that elites feel that rules are for other people, not for them. This has led to a senior civil servant named Susan Gray being given the task of evaluating the charges and her report was initially expected to come out this week. If it turns out to be damning, Johnson’s job could be on the line.

The latest revelation concerns a surprise party thrown for his 56th birthday.
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Webb telescope reaches destination

The space telescope has reached its destination of the second Lagrange point.

The mirrors on the space observatory must still be meticulously aligned and the infrared detectors sufficiently chilled before science observations can begin in June. But flight controllers in Baltimore were euphoric after chalking up another success.

“We’re one step closer to uncovering the mysteries of the universe. And I can’t wait to see Webb’s first new views of the universe this summer!” the Nasa administrator, Bill Nelson, said in a statement.

“Wow, what a ride this last month it’s been,” said Amber Straughn, a deputy project scientist for Nasa.

The telescope has been described as a “time machine” by scientists and will enable astronomers to peer back further in time than ever before, all the way back to when the first stars and galaxies were forming 13.7bn years ago. That’s a mere 100m years from the Big Bang, when the universe was created.

The Webb will also hunt for signs of extraterrestrial life.

Considered the successor to the Hubble, which orbits 330 miles (530km) up, the Webb is too far away for emergency repairs. That makes the milestones over the past month – and the ones ahead – all the more critical.

Whether chasing optical and ultraviolet light like the Hubble or infrared light like the Webb, telescopes can see farther and more clearly when operating above Earth’s distorting atmosphere. That’s why Nasa teamed up with the European and Canadian space agencies to get Webb and its massive mirror – the largest ever launched – out into the cosmos.

So far, things have gone really smoothly for this highly complicated mission but there are still challenges ahead. One can only hope that now that the major hurdles have been overcome, especially the whole business of unfolding of a tennis court size structure from the small confines of a rocket nose cone, that some small glitch does not ruin things.

The whole operation reflects great credit on all the engineers and scientists who were involved in designing, building, and launching it.

Don Wilson of The Ventures (1933-2022)

The co-founder and rhythm guitarist of the highly influential instrumental surf-rock guitar group known as The Ventures has just died. According to NPR, to this day, The Ventures are the best-selling instrumental group of all time, known for their up-tempo, driving, pulsating beats. Bass player Nokie Edwards died in 2018.

Here are three examples of their music.

Here is their version of the theme from the popular TV show Hawaii Five-O.

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Radiation paradoxes 15: Some final thoughts

(Previous posts in this series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14)

This series started by asking a simple question, whether a charged particle and a neutral particle would fall at the same rate when dropped from the same height and reach the ground at the same time. You would think that it would have a simple answer. But no. After a fairly long journey, we arrived at the conclusion that they would. But in the process, the series had to address a whole host of related issues along the way. While many of those were seemingly resolved, there are some fundamental questions that remain murky.

We saw in part #13 that the mass of a point charge like an electron is not a simple thing, because an electric charge has an associated electric field that itself has energy and thus should be thought of as contributing to the mass, except that the field energy density goes to infinity at zero distances, which is of course awkward for point-like charges. By looking at the radiation reaction force created by an accelerating charge, we learned about something called the acceleration energy Q that increases with the speed of a charge, and the energy radiated by a linearly accelerating charge comes from this source.
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The Havana Syndrome mystery continues

I remain intrigued by the so-called ‘Havana Syndrome’, the strange affliction reported by some (mostly) US government and embassy officials when they are in other countries. Starting in 2016, these people reported hearing ringing or chirping sounds and headaches and the like. Since the first reports came from US embassy personnel in Havana, people jumped to the conclusion that the Cubans or Russians were trying out some new kind of weapon using targeted microwaves or ultrasound. But that theory always seemed implausible, both for technical and geopolitical reasons.

The US government has devoted considerable effort to try and identify the cause with little success. Now the CIA has issued yet another report that suggests that the ‘foreign power’ theory is not tenable.
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An airplane is not the same as a football stadium

Shane McInerney, a 29-year-old man from Ireland, was on his way to Miami to start a new job at a football academy but was arrested because of his behavior during the flight there.

McInerney, from Galway, is also accused of repeatedly refusing to wear a face mask and throwing a can which hit another passenger on the eight-hour journey which departed on 7 January.

He is said to have walked from his seat to complain about the food being served before pulling his pants down, exposing his buttocks to an attendant and nearby passengers.

The pilot tried to speak with McInerney who is said to have responded by telling him not to touch him.

He also put his fist close to the pilot’s face, it is alleged.

McInerney is further accused of refusing to stay in his seat as the plane made its descent to JFK – instead choosing to stand in the aisle.

He was taken into custody after the plane landed.

Legal papers filed in New York said: “During the approximately eight-hour flight, the defendant repeatedly refused to wear a face mask despite being asked dozens of times by flight crew personnel.”

He has been charged with interfering with flight crew – a crime that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years behind bars.

My guess is that he thought that actions that would have passed with little notice during a football game were equally acceptable on an international flight.

No word on whether his job offer is still open.

No more daft detectives!

Over a decade ago ago, I wrote a post titled No more daft women! about one of my pet peeves when watching police procedural shows. While I like the detective and suspense story genre in general, one thing that annoys me is the use of a common trope and that is to have a female character, despite being expressly warned to be careful, do something unbelievably stupid that puts her life and the lives of others in danger. The ‘daft women’ phrase was inspired by Alfred Hitchcock asking “Is the woman daft?” to a screenwriter who was describing just such a development when they were working on The Birds.

But what is worse is when detectives, who should definitely know better, do something similar. I noticed this in two shows that I watched recently. In the first, two detectives investigating multiple missing persons whom they suspect were victims of a serial killer, stumble across a trapdoor covered by earth and leaves in the woods and upon lifting open the heavy lid, discover steps leading down and an awful stench emanating, suggesting the presence of decomposing bodies. So what do they do? Do they call for backup? Does one detective stay on guard outside while the other goes down? After all, the killer might be lurking nearby. No, they both climb down into the hole. If the killer had been around, all they would have had to do was simply close the lid, cover it up, and the two detectives would have joined the list of missing persons. Daft detectives.
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NFTs (not) explained

In a recent post, I tried to explain what NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) were. This is another of crazes that arise (and sometimes disappear) so rapidly in the internet age. Reader David sent me a link to this (non) explanation by Julie Nolke that I found pretty funny. I wonder how many people try to bluff their way into looking like they know what they are talking about when it comes to NFTs.

I was impressed with how she played both roles and then spliced the footage. It is not easy to do reaction shots that look genuine. She must be a professional actor that I have not heard of before.