Steve Connor: A case of swine flu or the Monday blues?

Science Notebook: The idea that swine flu strikes harder on a Monday than on any other day of the week is hard to believe

We don't like Mondays, right? It goes without saying that we don't like the first working day of the week. Bob Geldof's Boomtown Rats epitomised the belief in their song about a 16-year-old American girl who went on a shooting spree 30 years ago. Asked why she decided one Monday to shoot 11 people, killing two in the high school opposite, she replied: "I don't like Mondays. This livens up the day."

But other than our own anecdotal accounts of not liking Mondays – and this tragically extreme example – is there any scientific evidence showing that we really don't like Mondays? Yes there is, and it comes from data collected on the number of people consulting the National Pandemic Flu Service.

Government scientists call it the "Monday effect" and it clearly stands out on the chart showing the daily rate of consultations for members of the public who believe they may have the symptoms of swine flu. On 27 July, for instance, nearly 80 consultations per 100,000 head of population were recorded, compared to just over 40 consultations per 100,000 for the Friday of the same week.

What the graph clearly shows is that the decline in consultations tails off at a fairly steady rate each day from the Monday to the following Sunday, 2 August, which recorded the lowest consultation rate of the seven-day period, at just over 20 per 100,000. The following Monday, 3 August, the rate shot up again to about 50 per 100,000.

The idea that swine flu strikes harder on a Monday than on any other day of the week, and gradually tails off until the following Monday, is hard to believe. There seems no plausible explanation other than we feel, or feign feeling terrible on a Monday, so terrible that some of us resort to consulting the National Pandemic Flu Service for some relief. This is not anecdote, the statistics show it to be true – but how many of these people really have swine flu is another matter.

Return of the collider

Like a hyper-powerful sports car, the Large Hadron Collider at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research is a dangerously temperamental beast, which is what you might expect of something that has the power of revealing the fundamental forces of nature.

The LHC is designed to accelerate sub-atomic particles to 99.9999991 per cent of the speed of light. But last year's grand opening went belly-up when something went wrong with one of the 10,000 high-current superconducting electrical connections. As a result, the LHC had to be closed down for repairs.

The LHC is expected to be re-started in November, but it will only be operating at half the energy – at least until scientists are sure that everything is running smoothly.

Rolf Heuer, the director-general of the nuclear organisation Cern, said that the softly, softly approach will help the scientists to gain experience of running the machine safely. "The LHC is a much better understood machine than it was a year ago," he explained.

That's a relief.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
health
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn