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Show me the deadly avian flu virus!; A new study uses money to predict how a pandemic might spread
[ONT Edition]
Toronto Star - Toronto, Ont.
Author: Siddiqui, Tabassum
Date: Jan 29, 2006
Start Page: D.03
Abstract (Document Summary)

[Dirk Brockmann] and his team spent two years evaluating what turned out to be a goldmine of data from the website wheresgeorge.com (there's a Canadian equivalent called whereswilly.com), on which visitors can register a dollar bill's serial number and monitor where it ends up. Some 50 million banknotes have been registered on the site, which operates on a simple premise If a person receives a banknote marked with the website address, he or she can register its current location online and send the bill out into the world again.

"In a number of contemporary models of the spread of disease, people think that travelling plays an important role in the spread of disease, which is the case, but our study suggests maybe we can develop a model for the spread of disease based on more simple mathematics, and not on the premise that everything has to be so complicated," Brockmann says.

Brockmann, who examined the rapid worldwide spread of SARS in a 2003 study, found that most current models had not been able to quantify the characteristics of human travel at various scales of distance, thanks to our diverse means of transportation over different distances (cars and trains for medium distances, for example, and airline travel for longer ones).

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