Monday, March 8, 2021

On the Nature of Filtration

I want to believe in masks, as in, not as prescientific talismans to ward off the invisible spirits intent on doing me in, as in, not as political symbols which declare me in one tribe or another, but as a reality altering device that really does filter out the airborne virus that will surely make me get sick. 

My problem is filtration, or at least my understanding when it comes to how filtration works. I made coffee this morning. The filtering medium that works with my drip coffee maker is made of paper, the fibers of which are sufficient to block the passage of coffee grounds but allow the molecules of the water to pass through. I also have a water filter that I take on hiking trips, and I was careful to buy one that was based on a medium that could block the microscopic bacteria that I don't want to drink. When I bought it I paid attention to microns.

Given my understanding that the thing being filtered must be larger than the filtration medium, I find myself having thoughts like this: Masks used to filter viruses out of the air is the single most-retarded phenomenon I've ever witnessed as a walking human being on planet Earth.  Masks are far, far more retarded than monster trucks or fidget spinners.

Surely, I'm missing something, and I just want to understand what it is. I want to believe in masks, but I just need someone to explain it to me so that I can understand. How can a mask filter out airborne viruses when the filtration medium is so much larger than the thing being filtered?

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