Well, ain’t this clever…

This has already been written up by the MSM (such as this article), so I’ll just quote a bit from them:

Circulation of money may predict pandemics

A popular U.S. Web site that tracks the geographical circulation of money could offer new insights into predicting the spread of infectious diseases like bird flu.

Money, like diseases, is carried by people around the world, so what better way to plot the spread of a potential influenza pandemic than to track the circulation of dollar bills, researchers reasoned.

Researchers in Germany and the United States did just that to develop a mathematical model of human travel that can be used to plot the spread of future pandemics.

To model transmission, they used data from the Where’s George website, where people can enter their location and bill serial numbers to track them around the country. It’s obviously not a perfect model–there will be some bias as to who enters their money, so some areas may show up more frequently than others–but it’s a neat trick and a novel way to use that information.

You can find the original article here.

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Comments

  1. #1 GrrlScientist
    January 26, 2006

    dang, you beat me to this story! i am bummed! it is such a cool story, too! i was trying to download the PDF this morning but couldn’t find it (bummer) and then was distracted by the LabLit story that I ended up writing about.

  2. #2 Tara
    January 26, 2006

    Sorry! If you have some better insights, please, go ahead and blog it. I read the paper but much of it was a bit over my head, so I figured I’d just let msnbc speak for me instead. :)

  3. #3 Stigg
    January 26, 2006

    Interesting, it reminds me of the scifi novel White Plague, by author Frank Herbert of Dune fame. In it, a despondent geneticist, after the death of his wife and child by an act of terrorism, vows revenge on the perpetrators; the IRA who plant the bomb and their Libyan backers who supplied it. He devises a method by which he impregnates money with a genetically modified disease that he has created in a make-shift lab, then distributes it by awarding the tainted cash as prize money to unsuspecting Irish and Libyans. Its only suppose to kill Libyans and Irish, but somehow things go terribly wrong and of course,.. well you dont need me to tell you where this story goes.

  4. #4 paul
    January 26, 2006

    This makes me think, for better or worse, of the infamous Literary Digest poll that declared Alf Landon the next president. But I’ll be interested to see what it looks like when the local copy of Nature filters down to me.

  5. #5 MT
    January 26, 2006

    What would you have us do, give up currency and go back to bartering ducks and chickens directly? Actually, Americans at least are safe, since we buy everything on credit.