Student Science Communication Grant Competition

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$2,500 in funding available

Background: Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a failure to adequately disseminate accurate and actionable information has made our present situation far worse than needed. This is a separate problem from that of fake news with intransigent people who are resistant to information. This is a problem where managers of private equity firms, executives in large corporations, administrators of k-12/colleges, and municipal politicians (all of whom have roughly an elementary school level science education) are unable to figure out what it is they need to do. Although various scientists have made valiant efforts to educate the public (including such people), there has not been an integrated response connecting the scientific information to the "boots on the ground" so to speak. This disconnect has led to widespread hygiene theater, which may be better than nothing since some portions of it end up being correct even by mistake. This is a high level systems integration problem we are attempting to resolve with this grant competition.

Although many people's first thought is that a biological response must be the focus of a biological threat, but as we have seen with masks, this is not necessarily the case. A mask is made from textiles with machinery made from steel, transported on ships made of steel, fueled by gas or diesel. Though a mask might seem like a simpler technology than the sophisticated approaches needed to advance the biological response with vaccines, we may be better prepared to work on vaccines. There is a massive workforce of experts working on vaccine development, who before COVID-19, may have been focused on problems of a very similar nature. We have the infrastructure to do biology, and we are even able to anticipate the possible outcomes so that we can build the production capacities for multiple possible vaccines ahead of time. But war-like efforts of ramping up manufacturing of simple products is not something we do on a regular basis.

Additionally, for the non-biological response, most people have not reached the equivalent level of understanding that a vaccine is what we need. For those that are not aware, the non-biological response that is needed is indoor air circulation that inactivates viruses. At a systems level, that would be a vaccine-grade response in efficacy. In particular, we know that more air flow is better than less air flow, that a less expensive system is better than a more expensive system, that quieter is better than louder, that compact solutions are better than bulky ones, and that inducing turbulence in a room with high velocity air is better than low velocity air. These requirements follow directly from what scientists have concluded abour airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in a workshop covering all the key aspects. This set of requirements led to the machines Reflow Labs is building, and they are rather different from existing machines that were built to meet the needs of hospitals (bacterial threat, primarily) and were built with the economics of hospitals in mind, which is not scalable to the greater economy.

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