A question regarding the coronavirus

Update: Do read the big “Caution” section too!

Regarding the coronavirus:

It’s well known by now that soap kills the corona-virus. The science of it has been explained at many places, e.g., a tweet here [^], and a news article here [^].

The operative words here are: the lipid bi-layer, and the absence of covalent bond.

If I get the mechanism right (and please do correct me if I am going wrong in any detail), the virus carries a protective membrane of lipid bi-layer on the outside. This membrane is not monolithic. It consists of many smaller fragments loosely held together (may be like what happens with van der Waal’s forces). When a coronavirus is surrounded by soapy water, the lipid particles from the soap compete with the lipid-fragments of the virus’ membrane. So, essentially, the loosely held pieces of the virus’ membrane get preferentially stuck with the lipid particles of the soap, and they remain more strongly stuck with the soap particles. Therefore, when the soap’s lipid particles move away (at the nano-level, may be like in the Brownian motion), the virus membrane falls apart. In short, the lipid particles in the soap literally tear apart the virus’ outer cover.

Now, lipids are basically fats. There are fats in many substances other than in soap, e.g., in vegetable oils like the coconut oil.

There seem to be a lot of naive articles on the Internet about the health benefits of the coconut oil. (“Alternative medicine” etc.) However, no hard or well established facts. The best I could get to was this news article: [^].

No, I am certainly not jumping to any conclusions. More important, I am not recommending anything to any one. Not right away, anyway.

All that I am doing is to ask this specific question: Are there any peer-reviewed and replicated results regarding destruction of the viruses belonging to the coronavirus family, by coconut oil?

Realize, I am not asking for reports on the health benefits/hazards of eating coconut oil.

What I am asking for are some in-vitro trials in which a certain viral load is mixed with some small quantity of coconut oil, and the growth or otherwise of the virus is observed over a passage of time.

If such trials are encouraging enough, then the implication is obvious. After washing your hands periodically, apply coconut oil. (This way, the skin wouldn’t turn too dry either.) Other possibilities exist. Apply a mild (non-irritating) oil like a somewhat diluted eucalyptus oil to your nose. Etc. Even a mild—but well-established—improvement would only be too welcome, given the potential magnitude of this global pandemic.

But, of course, first, there have to be well done trials following some strict protocol. I wanted to know if there have been any such in the past, for the other corona-viruses, and if some are being planned for the current one (covid-19).

I wrote this post just for this one purpose.

Addendum after publication:

I had noticed just one link to some Filipino study in my initial Google search (before writing this post). However, I didn’t put the link here when I wrote the post. The tone of that particular link was not very clear, and frankly, in pursuing many different links, I came to gloss over this study. I just kept the general sense that the coconut oil could be fitting.

Anyway, looks like they in The Philippines are seriously considering such trials. See a university research announcement here [^], and a news article about it, here [^].

…Initially, when I read Ash Joglekar’s tweet [^] some 8–10 days ago, I had begun wondering about the lipids in oils and spices. But I thought that people would sure be pursuing such ideas anyway, and so didn’t write anything about it. I was also busy with my data science trials, and so was mostly away from the ‘net (see the section below).

After waiting for a while, when I didn’t notice any one talking about oils (like the eucalyptus oil), I decided to do a search on this topic today. There were quite a few blog posts or write-up about using essential oils and all. Various google searches throw up links to them. But I think that those ideas are not on the target (and may in fact introduce skin irritation!).

But the Filipino study seems to be different. I would like to see how their trials are progressing. Benefits of ingesting (eating) coconut oil was also a new thing to me.

I also think that others (say Indian scientists) could easily take up the necessary in-vitro observations, regardless of how the clinical trials in The Philippines progress. In fact, they should. The study won’t be very expensive, I think.

Further addition:

Come to think of it, my suggestion might look ludicrous. “Coconut oil? stopping viruses? Hah! Coconut oil has been in use for thousands of years. Why didn’t it help in all those plagues of the past?”

Ummm… My point is simple. Today, we understand the roles that different measures have to play in public health systems. We do advise frequently washing hands with soap water. We do acknowledge that the lowly soap-water works better than the much more costly hand sanitizers. The mechanism for the effectiveness of soap is known. The knowledge naturally leads to searching for other materials that might perhaps offer a similar mechanism, and are otherwise safe and suitable for adoption.

Yes, using coconut oil does look like a nutty idea, on the face of it. But then, come to think of it, soap was available in 1918 too, when the Spanish flu struck. Should we therefore have refused testing soap-water against the coronavirus? …

… All that I am saying is what holds for the simple soap can perhaps also hold for other suitable materials, which are otherwise quite safe on us. Coconut is known to be one of the safest “material” there is. Also other fatty substances.

Here, Indians might perhaps think of घी i.e. “ghee”, the clarified butter. The clarified butter obtained from cow’s milk, when seasoned for several years (simply by letting sit on the shelf) is known to be an effective remedy. It can be applied directly even to open wounds, and it does help wounds, scars, scabs, etc. heal. When I was young, people in the villages would use it. I was told by the elders that in the olden days, soldiers relied on precisely such things. And, even after seasoning, it still remains safe enough to be ingested too.

If such materials can help, not as anti-viral agents at par with, say Remdesivir or so, but at least as mild but provably effective preventive measures, well and good. If not, keep them aside. (I have no hidden agenda whatsoever about it all, one way or the other.)

But we should at least be willing to test their efficacy, if any. At least in the in-vitro trials. I am not even suggesting the in-vivo trials. The medical community will have to take that call—provided the in-vitro trials do show something promising. But I do suggest the in-vitro trials. These could be done very fast, wouldn’t cost a lot, and perhaps may throw up something really valuable. That’s my point.

So, there.



This post is not at all meant for advising application of coconut oil! Understand this part well!

Oils are sticky. This can fact can make for a huge risk factor if the coconut oil / similar substances do not show any anti-viral activity. In fact, in such a case, begin sticky, they may perhaps make a bad situation worse by accumulating bacteria/viruses!

So, don’t make worse of an already bad situation. Don’t interpret this post as advising any practice. This post is meant only to suggest undertaking the kind of research that has been outlined. It is only if (and when) that the suggested research shows any promising results that further actions, such as developing the right kind of a protocol for usage, will have to be developed. That’s the job for the medical research community.

Research is not the same as a well established and safe technique

So, for now, in practice, stick with only the tried and true: Wash your hands with soap frequently, for at least 20 seconds at a time, as has been advised. Do not start applying the coconut oil/etc. on hands.

An aside:

These days, I am busy conducting trials for testing some of my data science-related ideas.

I have only one machine. It’s a CPU-only machine. (There is a GPU in it, but it’s Radeon. I couldn’t get TF to run on top of it). So, even for relatively smaller tasks, the trials go on for very long times (2–5 hours is common, sometimes even more).

When a trial is in progress, all the 8 virtual cores are boosted to 100% load. So, it’s not possible to do anything else, such as blogging or checking emails. (FireFox in fact sometimes crashes the machine, and I don’t want to lose data or compromise the integrity of the trials.) That’s why, these days, I am mostly not available on the Internet.

These trials should go on for quite some time (at least a couple of weeks if not more). Therefore, my blogging and Internet presence is going to be minimal. Just to let you know.

I deliberately took an interruption today, just to write this post, because of its obvious topical importance.

A song I like:

(Western, pop) “Looking alive”
Singer: Madison Cunningham

[I happened to listen to the “Live from here” version first [^]. I like it better than the “Warehouse” version [^].

Anyway, see if you enjoy the song, take care, and by for now…may be for days or a couple of weeks or so—I have my data science trials to run.]

— First published: 2020.03.15 16:36 IST
— Added the “addendum” section: 2020.03.15 18:41 IST
— Added the songs section: 2020.03.16 14:17 IST
— Added the “Further addition” section: 2020.03.16 19:28 IST
— Added the “Caution” section: 2020.03.16 21:31 IST


“shoonya. … shoonyaatoon he jag utpanna zaale.”

(Marathi) “shoonya. …shoonyaatoon he jag utpanna zaale.”

That’s what our (retard/retarded/idiotic/idiot/moronic/cretin-some/even worse, but mostly more European-looking, e.g., “goraa”-looking by skin-color (etc.) than otherwise) Brahmins have always told us—all of them. And, our casteist-Brahmins have always taken the fullest advantage of the same. Especially if they went to an IIT to get a JPBTI. (What makes you think that attending IIT is enough to eradicate caste-ism out of one?)

An English translation of “shoonya”: the Zero/the Naught.

An English translation of the full statement: “The world [actually, thereby meaning, the entire universe] came into being from the Zero / the Naught.”

Always pick this one up for your meditation, even just for deep thought (and not a systematically trained meditation), whenever you think of the casteist-Brahmins, especially those from Pune, India (my birth-place and home-town).

… And you will do that, won’t you? [And, don’t say back: “But I don’t think of them!”]

Here is one of the zillion references to the position. (Pune casteist-Brahmins (rich and all) are emphatically not alone.): [^].

Update on 2019.06.12 14:59

Turns out that this post has come out to be a bit too rant-some for my liking. Also, when I wrote it last night, I thought that the philosophic position from which I wrote it would be clear enough! Yes, I really did think so, last night! But this morning, I figured out that it wasn’t so. Further, the issue is also is of a great philosophic importance. So, today, let me note at least the bare essentials of the philosophic analysis which had gone before I wrote the above post.

The quote actually commits only one error, but it also paves a way for another, grave, error. They in turn lead to a lot of other errors, including legitimizing the pure evil of casteism. Let me explain how.

Consider the quote again: The universe came into being from the Zero / the Naught.

The first error—one that is more easy to pick out—is that some precondition is being prescribed for the entire universe, i.e., for Existence as such. That’s all that the quote by itself states.

Since this is a metaphysical statement, and not mathematical, The Zero here means Non-Existence. So, no, the Zero here does not by itself mean some supposed Mystical Consciousness that created the Existence.

But note the context here. Since the concept of Existence is the most fundamental one of all, since it encompasses literally everything that ever exists, has ever existed or will ever exist, even just the simple device of importing into an argument a contra to Existence, an alternative to it, and according this alternative the same epistemological status as that of Existence, by itself leads to horrible consequences. The act is horrendous only because the concept of Existence is so fundamental—it’s the most fundamental concept. Given the proper hierarchical place of the concept of Existence, positing something—anything—alternative it, therefore, by itself has the effect of making the entire knowledge-hierarchy superfluous, with an alternative being thereby being made to lie at an even more fundamental level.

So, the issue subtly shifts, without the speaker having to explicitly name it, to a question of figuring out what this alternative could possibly be.

Given the nature of the things, the only alternative that could possibly make any sense to anyone would be: some or the other consciousness. The road is therefore paved for legitimizing the primacy of consciousness—a hallmark of mysticism.

Since men do sense, through a direct grasp, that their consciousness is not so capable that they could make Existence dance in accordance to their wishes, and since the proceedings now are being conducted firmly in the abstract terms, and since the layman is unable to counter it at the same level of abstraction, a further road now gets paved, viz., that for welcoming some mystical, Super-etc.-Consciousness.

All that the quoted formulation seeks to do is for you to grant legitimacy to this mystical formulation, viz., there is some mystical Super-Consciousness that preceded, and thus produced, Existence.

Got the trick?

Study the method of the Brahmins. They don’t name the issues directly. And especially if are like the irrational Brahmins of India, they also ensure that the entire proceedings occurs at an abstract level. And that makes it worse.

A mystic is always bad. But he could be as lacking of consequences as some random trickster who performs road-side shows. The mystic becomes bad, horrendous, only when he practices his art in the intellectual, abstract terms, in this world. A “sanyaasee” who retires to Himalayas doesn’t usually engage in abstract intellectual matters, and anyway is removed from the mundane world. So, any mysticism that he carries too doesn’t matter to the rest of us.

But a Brahmin who stays in the mainstream society, and intellectualizes, does matter. Afterall, in India, traditionally, the only men who were charged with (and allowed) dealing with abstractions were Brahmins.

The membership to this group was, for at least a couple of millenia if not more, on the basis of birth alone. … Sure, not all people born into a given caste are bad. But that is besides the point. The premises and the fact of abstract intellectualizations, and their consequences, is what we are concerned with, here.

So, once again carefully observe the role of abstractions—and the consequences of making, and keeping, mysticism abstract.

The Indian term for the aforementioned kind of a mystical Super-Consciousness—one that precedes Existence—was (and is): “bramha” (and not “bramhaa”). A “braamhaNa” was one who had a knowledge of (and therefore had a special access to) the Super-Consciousness that is the “bramha”. That’s what the literal meaning of the Sanskrit term is. “Brahmin” is just an Anglicization of “braamhaNa”.

If everything in existence is produced by “bramha”, so is every living being—including every human being.

Since all the proceedings are conducted without physical violence, and purely and perfectly at an intellectual plane alone, one “desirable” side-effect it produces is that the layman does not come to doubt that the intellectualizations being offered are not part of rationally acquired and valid knowledge.

It is an objective fact that reason is man’s fundamental means of survival. It therefore is an objective fact that knowledge does mean efficacy, a mastery over the matters it subsumes. In any demonstrable hierarchy of skills, knowledge—properly including also its application—is the most valuable one. It’s a crown skill. (Aristotle called rationality the crown-virtue.)

However, in India, it always was only a Brahmin who was charged with all matters concerning knowledge. And, membership to the class of intellectuals was via birth. That’s what casteism basically boils down to.

Therefore, any random guy, so long as he was born into the Brahmin caste, would necessarily have access to “bramha”. If all stars and mountains and rivers and trees and cats… are produced by “brahma”, and if all people too are produced by “brahma”, and if only a caste-Brahmins has access to “bramha”, and if a caste-Brahmin still was a human being too, then, given the fact that the position of knowledge as a crown-virtue is not being directly challenged at all, is it any surprise that every random caste-Brahmin guy would have to be taken as having “come” from the head of the Super-Consciousness that is the “bramha”?

(Don’t ask me what the term “head—a bodily organ—of a Super Consciousness” mean. I don’t know. Chances are, they might locate the actual living bodies of all caste-Brahmins to constitute the supposed head of that Super Consciousness, too. Who knows. But they certainly are that capable.)

While writing this update, I had said that there were several errors implicit in that statement. The one easiest to make out was: Denying the primacy of Existence. The consequent error, I said, was not as easy to make out. The reason it is difficult to figure out is that it is not directly named in that quote (i.e. the title of this post). But the second error becomes easy to grasp once you figure out that it is Brahmins who have always repeated this quote. The second error actually is a transformation of the first error. It is: the Primacy of “bramha”’s Consciousness. Introduce the third error: That only caste-Brahmin has access to “bramha”, and the lethal weapon is completed.

And what is “brahma”, you still ask? Easy enough. In practical terms, it means whatever it is that happens to constitute the contents of consciousness of any of the caste-Brahmins—including casteist-Brahmins.

And yes, there is ample evidence—for those willing to see it—that caste-Brahminism is not only wide-spread in Indian IT industry (especially that in Pune), but also that it has in fact been on the upswing for quite some time by now. I, for one, certainly do believe that if I were a Brahmin, I would have progressed much more rapidly, far more easily, in the Indian IT industry. At any rate, I wouldn’t go jobless even as irrational Brahmins in Pune kept on amassing money.

To conclude: Yes, it was a rant. But no, it wasn’t just a rant.

No songs section for this time around. I go jobless.

BTW, for cross-reference, cf. an American poem from (I guess) the mid-20th century: “The world began when I was born…”


My new approach to QM—an update, and a request (May 2019)

This post has reference to my earlier post of 30th March 2019, here [^]. Being busy mainly with learning Data Science, I didn’t subsequently find the time to systematically study the papers and the book which were suggested by the IIT Bombay professors back in March-end.

However, in the meanwhile, thinking about the whole issue independently (and on a part-time basis), I have come to work through a detailed scheme for calculating the wavefunctions for the case of a 1D helium atom.

In particular, the abstract case I have worked through is the following:

A single helium atom placed in a 1D domain of a finite length, and with either reflecting boundary conditions (i.e. infinite potential walls) at the two ends (i.e. a 1D box), or possibly also with periodic boundary conditions imposed at the two ends (i.e. an infinite 1D lattice of 1D helium atoms). The problem is to find the energy eigenstates for the system wavefunction, assuming that the electrons do interact with each other.

The electrons are spinless. However, note, I have now addressed the case of the interacting electrons too.

I have not performed the actual simulations, though they can be done “any time.”

Yet, before proceeding to write the code, I would like to show the scheme itself to some computational quantum chemist/physicist, and have a bit of a to-and-fro regarding how they usually handle it in the mainstream QM/QChem, and about the commonality and differences (even the very basic reasonableness or otherwise) of my proposed scheme.

I can even go further and say that I have now got stuck at this point.

I will also continue to remain stuck at this same point unless one of the following two things happens: (i) a quantum chemist having a good knowledge of the computer simulation methods, volunteers to review my scheme and offer suggestions, or (ii) I myself study and digest a couple of text-books (of 500+ pages) and a few relevant papers (including those suggested by the IIT Bombay professors).

The second alternative is not feasible right now, simply because I don’t have enough time at hand. I am now busy with learning data science, and must continue to do so, so that I can land a job ASAP. (It’s been more than a year that I have been out of a job.)

So, if you are knowledgeable about this topic (the abstract case I am dealing with above, viz., that of 1D helium atom with spinless but interacting electrons), and also want to help me, then I request you to please see if you can volunteer just a bit of your time.

If no one comes to help me, it could take a much longer period of time for me to work through it all purely on my own—anywhere from 6–8 months to a year, or as is easily possible, even much more time—may be a couple of years or so, too. … Remember, I will also be working in a very highly competitive area of data science too, during all this time.

On the other hand, to someone who has enough knowledge of this matter, it wouldn’t be very strenuous at all. He only has to review the scheme and offer comments, and generally remain available for help, that’s all.

(It would be quite like someone approaching me for some informal guidance on FEM simulation of some engineering case. Even if I might not have modeled some particular case myself in the past, say a case of some fluid-structure interaction, I still know that I could always act as a sounding board and offer some general help to such a guy. I also know that doing isn’t going to be very taxing on me, that it’s not going to take too much of my own time. The situation here is quite similar. The quantum chemist/physicist doesn’t have to exert himself too much. I am confident of this part.)

So, there. See if you can help me out yourself, or suggest someone suitable to me. Thanks in advance.

A song I like:
(Marathi) “vaaTa sampataa sampenaa…”
Lyrics: Devakinandan Saaraswat
Music: Dattaa Daavajekar
Singer: Jayawant Kulkarni