When It Comes To Masks, Physics Will Always Trump Politics
Since the onset of SARS-CoV-2 (hereinafter the CCP-virus) various figures on the political left have issued proclamations unsupported by science. Experts have asserted things that contravene long-established infectious disease precepts, statements an uncritical press, eager to support the Left’s preferred narrative, freely mimics.
Reputable professional sources have produced one-sided opinions only to have to retract them later. Authoritative sources have made statements in this time frame that have been flatly contradictory. (Dr. Fauci co-authored a paper stating that most deaths in the 1917-1918 flu pandemic were due to bacterial pneumonia, not the virus; he has since changed his position on the risks of bacterial infection from wearing masks.) Public reactions to this “authoritative” roller coaster have ranged from confusion, to blind deference, to challenging authoritative pronouncements and, finally, to resisting actions and policies that are at odds with reality.
This information mash-up was coupled with the scientific and media communities simultaneously, and in a coordinated fashion, suppressing dissent from other credible sources. In consequence, expert credibility that has been built up over decades has been substantively eroded in the collective public mind. Media credibility, already waning prior to the pandemic, has recently hit new all-time lows.
Why would any professional class permit such trends to start, let alone persist? The short answer is power. Politics is the study of power -- its origins, accrual, and use. Expertise and gate-keeping are both primary sources of power and, in the 21st century, empower the medical establishment and media, respectively. Therefore, political explanations provide the logic necessary to comprehend otherwise incomprehensible actions on the part of experts and the media. The saga of non-surgical masks in the Age of Covid serves as an example.
Basic microbiology informs us that disease pathogens exhibit consistent properties and characteristics that permit their being usefully categorized. Viruses are among the smallest pathogens. The CCP-virus is a coronavirus due to its exhibiting defining characteristics of that class.
Before 2020, we could rely on medical authorities to provide the straight dope on what to expect from a coronavirus with respect to its infectious trajectory, typical symptoms, likely treatments and their efficacy, etc... The CCP-virus changed that. We’ve been advised that it’s novel as no other coronavirus has been and that nothing can be assumed about it. This is misleading.
In reaction to this virus, we’ve had unprecedented, very probably illegal, government edicts that have up-ended millions of lives and fortunes. As the typical course of CCP-virus mutation proceeds, we’re expected to swallow ever more of this power abuse without questioning it.
This hyperbole is not only misleading but politically motivated misinformation. Those abusing their power are loathe to give it up. Perpetuating the “crisis” that enabled their power-grab is as attractive to them as a drug to an addict. The fact that the Age of Covid coincided with the extremely improbable 2020 election, gave the abusers an unprecedented opportunity to consolidate their power.
If they must ignore reality while imposing a fantasy on others, they’ll do it. It’s necessary to bear in mind, however, a simple axiom: sooner or later reality trumps everything else, every time. What follows is real.
The CCP-virus’s diameter ranges from 60-150 nanometers (nm = billionth of a meter). As a basis of comparison, the thinnest hair on your head is about 80,000 nm. That’s over 600 times the mean diameter of the CCP-virus (120 nm). We’re talking small.
A mask that’s effective against the CCP-virus must reliably stop the passage of 120 nm objects. This is no mean task. Such a mask will likely not be made of everyday materials nor be fabricated using common methods. It will have to be fitted and worn carefully to maintain its integrity against such minuscule particles. It will have to be maintainable in order to guarantee its effectiveness over time or be inexpensive enough to replace when its efficacy lapses.
These are not trivial concerns, either practically or medically. The CCP-virus’s size is the determining factor in all of them and is the single factor that all parties, both lay and professional, most often and egregiously ignore.
Masks have proliferated in the last 18 months. Everybody and his dog sells masks. Most people wear masks made of cloth, typically cotton or a cotton-poly blend. These cloths’ properties are well-known.
A strand of cotton -- not a thread, but a strand from which threads are spun -- consists of numerous cotton fibers. Cotton is absorbent due to the abundant space between these fibers. The spaces vary between these fibers from tens to hundreds of times larger than the CCP-virus. It should go without saying, but does not anymore, that the CCP-virus can readily pass through these between-fibers spaces.
It follows that the same virus can readily traverse the even larger spaces between cotton strands that are spun into cotton thread. These cotton threads are, in turn, woven together into cloth used in non-surgical masks. The spaces between the threads in that cloth are visible to the naked eye and are, comparatively speaking, multi-lane freeways to the CCP-virus.
Therefore, to believe non-surgical cloth masks can stop the passage of 120 nm particles like the CCP-virus is not rational. In a marvelously Orwellian statement, the CDC’s guidance on wildfires advises that “cloth masks used to slow the spread of COVID-19 offer little protection against wildfire smoke.” As the smallest smoke particle’s size is at least four times greater than the CCP-virus a mask that provides little protection against smoke particles provides less from the CCP-virus.
Elementary physics makes it impossible for masks to work as claimed. Mask proponents object to comparisons saying that a 2” chain-link fence “stopping” mosquitoes more effectively than a cloth mask stops a virus. They assert that the comparison doesn’t consider factors such as porosity, microstructure, and electrostatic attraction.
A little back-of-the-envelope math informs us that to make a chain-link fence as ineffective against mosquitoes as a non-surgical cloth mask is against the CCP-virus, its 2” openings would have to be enlarged to 17”. With disparities of that magnitude porosity, microstructure, and electrostatic attraction introduce secondary effects, at best.
An enterprising Democrat might be able to sell such “anti-mosquito” fencing to a relative who is a blue-state mayor or governor but he wouldn’t have much success elsewhere. Nonetheless, that’s what’s being peddled by our government and medical establishment, with the willing compliance of social media and tech-pharma oligarchs who have benefitted enormously from the policies implemented since 2020.
We can be confident that Dr. Fauci was being straight when he said masks were useful only in stopping virus-laden respiratory droplets from being expelled by infected people. That’s true because most of those droplets are large enough to be stopped by non-surgical cloth masks. How do we know that?
Physics -- but only the apolitical pre-Covid kind.
Alexsandar Markovic is a pseudonym.
To comment, you can find the MeWe post for this article here.