The seven-term Drake equation is used to estimate the number of intelligent civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy. While humanity has not yet found any presence of aliens, the famous mathematical equation now serves humanity in a different way: estimating the odds of COVID-19 transmission.
The equation has been used to inspire a new model, Contagion Airborne Transmission (CAT) inequality, to determine if anyone is likely to “capture” COVID-19, according to a recently published study in the scientific journal Physics of Fluids.
“There is still a lot of confusion about COVID-19’s transmission pathways. This is partly because there is no common ̵
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The CAT inequality divides the risk of transmission into 10 variables, including the breathing rates of both the infected and non-infected individuals, the amount of virus-carrying droplets, the surrounding environment, and how long the person is exposed. When multiplied together, these inputs provide “a calculation of the possibility that a person will be infected with COVID-19,” the statement added.
By comparison, the Drake equation includes factors such as shaped stars and their planets and the average number of planets that could potentially support life. Other factors include a fraction of the planets that can develop life and a fraction of these civilizations that have become intelligent.
“CAT inequality is particularly useful because it translates the complex fluid dynamic transport process into a series of simple terms that are easy to understand,” added study author Charles Meneveau. “As we have seen, it is clear to communicate science of paramount importance in public health and environmental crises like the one we are facing now.”
The researchers also estimate the risk in certain scenarios, including when people exercise or when masks are worn (or not). When training in a confined space, the researchers found that the risk of transmission “increases by a factor of 200,” Mittal said.
Conversely, if people wear N95 masks, the risk of transmission decreases by a factor of 400, or the risk of someone getting the virus is less than 1%. Clothing masks also significantly reduce the likelihood of transmission, the researchers found.
Social distancing also has a “linear correlation” to risk, meaning that doubling the distance between an infected person and an uninfected person reduces the risk by half.
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