COVID-19 in Winter, Acoustics of Stonehenge and Dog years

BBC Inside Science

By BBC Radio 4

COVID-19 in Winter, Acoustics of Stonehenge and Dog years

Thursday, 17 September

As it starts to get colder and we crank up the central heating in our homes, what will the effect be on the SARs-CoV-2 virus? As a respiratory virus like the common cold and influenza, will the coronavirus have a distinct season and will the incidence of COVID get worse in the winter? A pre-print study of over 7000 hospitalised patients across Europe and China during the early days of the pandemic plotted severity of the disease with outside temperature. In European countries as we came out of winter, into spring and then summer, Professor Gordan Lauc, lead researcher on the study, found that the severity decreased as it got warmer outside. He took outside temperature as a proxy for indoor humidity (as it gets colder, we turn on our heating, stay indoors more and the humidity in our homes, and especially our bedrooms drops). He explains to Marnie Chesterton that the subsequent drying out of our mucosal membranes in our noses and throats could be the reason we might expect things to get worse over the winter. We learn a lot about what our ancestors got up to by visualising a scene. Take Stonehenge for example, years of detective work has ascertained that 4,000 years ago, Stonehenge was made up of an outer circle of 30 standing stones called ‘sarsens’, which surrounded five huge stone arches in a horseshoe shape. There were also two circles made of smaller ‘bluestones’ – one inside the outer circle and one inside the horseshoe. But what did it sound like if you were in the middle of all these stones in prehistoric times? Last year, acoustic engineer at the University of Salford, Trevor Cox, and his team built and measured a 1:12 acoustic scale model of Stonehenge to find out. They've now completed the full analysis of those first measurements and Trevor caught up with Adam Rutherford to find out whether knowing the acoustics of a monument can tell us anything about how it might have been used. If you own a dog and like to calculate the equivalent human age of your pup, you might think that every year of your dog’s age equals 7 years in humans. So a one year old hound is 7 years old. Not so! As Geoff Marsh investigates - it’s much more complicated than that. Of course it is! Presenter – Marnie Chesterton Producer – Fiona Roberts
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