Fugaku’s simulations reinforce effectiveness of masks . . .
The world’s efforts to identify effective ways to contain the spread of COVID-19 got a boost this week from the world’s fastest supercomputer, Fugaku, which has declared masks essential. Simulations conducted at Japan’s government-backed Riken research institute tested the effectiveness of cotton, polyester, and non-woven fabric masks in blocking spray from a cough by the wearer. The results showed non-woven fabric masks – such as blue disposable polypropylene medical-style masks – to be most effective, blocking almost all droplets over 50 microns in diameter, and almost 90 per cent of droplets under 20 microns (1 micron=1 millionth of a metre). Cotton and polyester masks were found to block about 80 per cent of droplets larger than 50 microns.
Ventilation also key . . .
In further simulations, researchers found that ventilation is also vital in preventing the virus’s spread. Researchers ran models to identify optimal classroom ventilation while maintaining a comfortable ambient temperature. Fugaku determined it was ideal to have a door and window in opposite diagonal corners of a classroom open by 20 centimetres each, with an HVAC system operating. Fugaku has also run ventilation simulations for auditoriums, partitioned offices, and train cars, with more simulations planned for buses, airplanes, and shopping centres. According to the team’s head researcher, the results suggest that crowd restrictions could be somewhat eased, but only if mask use is universal.
A super supercomputer . . .
Capable of 415 quadrillion computations per second, the C$1.6-billion supercomputer was named the world’s fastest in June. Although not expected to be fully operational until 2021, in June, researchers began using Fugaku to test models for preventing the spread of the coronavirus. In other tests, Fugaku isolated several possible COVID-19 treatments from over 2,000 existing drugs. The drug identified as having the greatest potential had not previously been thought to be effective against coronavirus, and researchers are currently in negotiations with the drug manufacturer to begin clinical trials.
- The Mainichi: Japanese supercomputer finds 30 existing drugs potentially effective to treat COVID-19
- Nikkei Asian Review: Do cloth masks work? Supercomputer Fugaku says yes
- Popular Mechanics: Meet Fugaku, the new fastest computer in the world