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Tracking the spread of disease with the help of money

Dirk Brockmann, a theoretical physicist at the Max-Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Gottingen conducted a study which helped the researchers to understand the spread of the disease by tracking the spread of humans with the help of money trials.//

He tracked more than $450000 worth of $1 bills through US using an online game. This study’s main aim is to understand the human dispersal which would help the scientist fight against easily transmissible diseases like flu etc.

He says now people travel a lot and help in spreading the disease which later becomes very difficult to contain. Hence to understand the epidemic spread one has to make assumptions about how humans spread.

Brockmann and two colleagues obtained the data from an internet source www.wheresgeorge.com and published their work in the journal Nature.

This internet source is an online game which allows users to specify where they found a pre-marked bill.

Then each bill is given a unique diary and its travel course is recorded. For example one bill passed through eight different states, assorted restaurants, a racetrack and a strip club completing a journey of at least 4,191 miles.

Brockmann and colleagues scrutinized the locations of 464,670 Dollar bills. This study helped them to analyze how Dollars moved within two weeks from three major cities: Seattle, Jacksonville, Fla., and New York City.

A number of bills reappeared within six miles of their origins, while a small but significant number had journeyed about 500 miles or more. This shows how humans travel widely and very often to many different places.

By studying the movement of the Dollar bills the scientists have come up with a mathematical model of the movement of people.

Brockmann also said that the model breaks down if population densities become too low or travel options are too limited.

But this is the first model which g ives us an insight about how a particular disease in any part of the world spreads.

Thereby this model can be used very efficiently by making some assumptions and thereby taking all the preventive measures to contain the disease.


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