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Japan's supercomputer suggests changes to travel, work amid airborne virus threat

29 Comments
By Rocky Swift

Supercomputer-driven models simulated in Japan suggested that operating commuter trains with windows open and limiting the number of passengers may help reduce the risk of coronavirus infections, as scientists warn of airborne spread of the virus.

In an open letter published on Monday, 239 scientists in 32 countries outlined evidence that they say shows floating virus particles can infect people who breathe them in.

The World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledged 'evidence emerging' of airborne transmission, but said it was not definitive.

Even if the coronavirus is airborne, questions remain about how many infections occur through that route. How concentrated the virus is in the air may also decide contagion risks, said Kyoto University professor Yuki Furuse.

In the open letter, scientists urged improvements to ventilation and the avoidance of crowded, enclosed environments, recommendations that Shin-ichi Tanabe, one of the co-authors of the letter, says Japan broadly adopted months ago.

"In Japan, the committee for COVID-19 countermeasures insisted on the 3Cs at an early stage," said Tanabe, a professor at Waseda University in Tokyo, referring to Japan's public campaign to avoid 'Closed spaces, Crowded places and Close-contact settings.' "This is ahead of the world."

The recent study by Japanese research giant Riken using the world's fastest supercomputer, the Fugaku, to simulate how the virus travels in the air in various environments advised several ways to lower infection risks in public settings.

Its lead researcher, Makoto Tsubokura, said that opening windows on commuter trains can increase the ventilation by two to three times, lowering the concentration of ambient microbes.

But to achieve adequate ventilation, there needs to be spaces between passengers, the simulations showed, representing a drastic change from Japan's notoriously packed commuter trains.

Other findings advised the installation of partitions in offices and classrooms, while in hospitals, beds should be surrounded by curtains that touch the ceiling.

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

29 Comments
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So, message is, basically, stop living. I mean, be alive but not living. Don’t do anything that brings you close to anyone you don’t know. Above all don’t have fun. Fun makes you excited - like entertainment. Remove that word from your vocabulary, because “entertainment” means having fun, and fun spreads the virus that you may have. Of course, it’s extremely unlikely that you have it but you should keep fixated on the idea that you do have it, if you are a good person. And don’t touch another human. ( Actually, when is the last time you touched another human?)

About me? Don’t include me in this. I’m going to go on living.

-8 ( +6 / -14 )

So sorry to interrupt your fun.

Science.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Sounds like the Super Computer should be the PM. Actually not a bad idea, let's ask the Super Computer about that?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Humans must adapt to the realities of their environment because the world is the way it is and not how we wish it were. We will all have to live or die with the virus ( even after a vaccine becomes available).

5 ( +5 / -0 )

On his gravestone:

He loved life and living among people, but then he stopped because someone had eaten bats.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

But to achieve adequate ventilation, there needs to be spaces between passengers, the simulations showed, representing a drastic change from Japan's notoriously packed commuter trains.

As I have mentioned many times before ‘get off the trains!’ -glad to see a supercomputer agrees with my past pronouncements...

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

@memoryfix - The message is not to stop living as you say. It's about new studies and data showing that transmission could also be aerosol and not only droplets which is currently being discussed around the world. Please go ahead and keep living, nothing to stop you, but please heed the proper safety precautions. If you choose not to be safe, then please conduct your life in a vacuum because if you're a carrier you could infect someone very close to you. That's the problem, it's not about you. It's about us, it's about someone else, which isn't all too much to ask for until this virus is fully understood and properly contained so that everyone can get back to living. Unfortunately some will not be able to continue living as you say because they will contract this disease and will die. Others will have life long debilitating conditions that we are only now beginning to learn about. Look before you leap bro.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The recent study by Japanese research giant Riken using the world's fastest supercomputer, the Fugaku, to simulate how the virus travels in the air in various environments advised several ways to lower infection risks in public settings.

Is this true? I could not find any publication to support this claim. According to RIKEN's website, Fugaku only arrived in May, 2020. It seems a bit premature to be citing results already.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

dbsaiya. Did you just arrive here from the moon? This has been going on for five months. People in prefectures and states with no case near them are hiding in houses and wrapped in masks, avoiding ( and encouraged to avoid) other human beings.

You think you are so kind, saving human lives. Actually you are complicit in a system which will enslave and ruin human lives. Is doing so now.

You imagine a time soon when life returns to normal. Ask yourself what would be normal. And ask yourself what circumstances would make authorities allow a return to “normal”. What?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

It seems a bit premature to be citing results already.

I'd have serious buyer's remorse if it couldn't cite results already.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

operating commuter trains with windows open and limiting the number of passengers may help reduce the risk of coronavirus infections

to think a supercomputer can figure that out...... gosh!!!!!

8 ( +8 / -0 )

A supercomputer will never think of double-decker train carriages like Osaka’s Keihan line for rush hour.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Really those that be needed a seriously expensive supercomputer to work this out? Idiots.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

CrickyToday

Sounds like the Super Computer should be the PM. Actually not a bad idea, let's ask the Super Computer about that?

As long as nobody asks it for The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, we should be fine.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Memoryfix: Did you just graduate from the millennial college for hyperbole and over reaction? I would suggest you find some hobbies and be kind to yourself for a while. Nobody is telling you to not have fun unless your idea of fun is hanging out on poorly ventilated and densely packed trains. Take it easy...

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Nice! Here is another idea for the Riken lab. Make a computer driven model that shows the possible ways to exploit the "10man yen per infection policy in Shinjuku" and its contribution to the June spike in infections

2 ( +2 / -0 )

SillyMeToday  09:13 am JST

CrickyToday 

Sounds like the Super Computer should be the PM. Actually not a bad idea, let's ask the Super Computer about that?

As long as nobody asks it for The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, we should be fine.

Already been done: 42

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Even if the coronavirus is airborne, questions remain about how many infections occur through that route.

If the coronavirus isN'T an airborne transmittable disease, then why do they keep showing beach scenes whenever they talk about the spread of this disease?

There's hypocrisy here.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Speed. If it isn’t airborne, or hardly at all airborne, what’s wrong with a breezy beach? Oh, because it’s FUN. We don’t want people having fun together.

And don’t sing or laugh. Same reason.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

@memoryfix. Sorry you're agitated bro. No I didn't just arrive from the moon, and yes I do know this has been going on for several months now. I do disagree though that people in prefectures and in states without cases are hiding in their houses, on the contrary I think they are out and about, that's not wrong as long as they are careful. I do see, however people in high case areas also out and about and not practicing safety guidelines, which is a cause of extreme concern. I do not profess to be kind and saving lives, those are the front line medical people who risk their lives and their family's lives by working to save those who have become infected. I'm just trying to do my part to lessen their load and risks. I also never mentioned the word, "normal" which you seem to imply that I have. "After" this pandemic I don't think we will return to "normal" or whatever that means. I do agree with you though that the pandemic could be used by authoritarian regimes to further as you would say "enslave" the populace. Authoritarians would use anything to justify their hold on power so yes, this is a cause of concern. Just keep yourself updated on the facts as it is changing rapidly and try to adjust your life style so as not to endanger yourself or others. The new information seems to be that Japan's supercomputer models substantiate aerosol transmission, something that the global medical community is now saying. That's all I'm saying dude, I'm not your enemy, live your life but be safe and think of others too.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Most trains now have air-conditioning, and windows that can't be opened!

Maybe leave the doors half open?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

dbsaiya

I am ALWAYS careful. I always have carried sanitizer spray all winter - as a teacher, I don’t want a cold. I never ( have never) touched elevator buttons with my fingers, opened toilet doors with my bare hands on exiting - even though Japanese toilets are much cleaner than western country toilets. And all this I ‘ve done before corona.

But I will hug a person - especially someone who needs a hug. And they are many.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@memoryfix

I really like your Posts!

Finally a person who is not undergoing all these fear mongering advices and news.

I am also out every day, for work, for fun, meeting friends...

I do my basic prevention: wear a mask, wash my hands regular, use sanitizers, and keep social distance where it is possible.

Airborne virus threat? Supercomputer?

I 100% agree with memoryfix 1st sentence: So, message is, basically, stop living

That is exactly what the media and the fear mongering people wants from us: Stop Living!

Airborne virus threat? Supercomputer?

Oh my Gosh...give me a break!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@memoryfix

"...because it’s FUN. We don’t want people having fun together."

How true. The metro tennis courts near me are reducing capacity by around 70%, like being off-limits every other booking block, and having half the courts closed completely. This is despite tennis being one of the safest outdoor activities for coronavirus, as players usually need to keep distance from one another in order to play the sport properly.

But hey, it's fun. Which is why the tennis courts are closed,and stuffy crowded offices are operating.

"Why tennis might perfect sport social distancing"

https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/2020/04/30/coronavirus-why-tennis-might-perfect-sport-social-distancing/3052759001/

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Ah, the stupid has arrived en masse. It really is interesting to see how different people can interpret the same information in vastly different ways. It really shows the role that personality and ontogeny has in information processing. This article was about the predictions of a model run using a supercomputer. Yet the comments get twisted by some into how a public health situation is somehow an attack on people's civil liberties. Too bad you can't take your guns into town and parade around town hall. SMH...

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

"In Japan, the committee for COVID-19 countermeasures insisted on the 3Cs at an early stage," said Tanabe, a professor at Waseda University in Tokyo, referring to Japan's public campaign to avoid 'Closed spaces, Crowded places and Close-contact settings.' "This is ahead of the world."

Yeah, yeah. Good job Japan for implementing these guidelines that most people didn't even try to follow for longer than a week or two. Truly a game changer.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Opening windows and ventilation has been known to reduce risk for a while now, that’s why I am avoiding indoor shopping malls and similar places. Aircon is the problem, it means people are sitting in homes, businesses, care homes, day centres etc with the windows shut. Expect a spike in numbers after the humidity kicks in.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Its lead researcher, Makoto Tsubokura, said that opening windows on commuter trains can increase the ventilation by two to three times, lowering the concentration of ambient microbes.

Assuming the windows can even be opened, Japan can get so hot in July and August people might start dying from the heat instead.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Everyone, need not get excite. Supercomputers or not, real science and the results depends on what question were asked using what basis and what kind of scenarios as well as the kinds of results wanted. Also, it does not give the "right" answer to any thing, but the correct answer to what was asked with the kind of data used and the way in which the "if - then" questions are answered by "degrees" of probability determined by the criteria set up by scientist based upon their "estimates" as to importance and applicability to the final answers outlined for the computer and based upon data and statistics and some of the situations and circumstances determined by the scientists as pertinent and relative and meaningful for the results desired. In other words it all depends on the "design".

We still do not know what was asked or the design of the research from this article. As usual it only gives the so called results picked by the scientist as being reliable and trustworthy because it was science and used the supercomputer. As in taking polls, there is a percentage of error to what ever specific question the computers are asked to answer.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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