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Follow the money

Data from the Where's George money tracking web site is being used by epidemiologists to track just how people move around the US (and the world).

The results of their research are a new set of models for handling the movement of viruses - based on simple scaling laws.
Hufnagel said that the group's findings were surprising because the bills moved along a simple mathematical model, called universal scaling laws. In this case, scaling laws describe movement from local areas to regional to long-distance lengths, but they have been applied to biology and physical systems.

Using data from half a million bills tracked on the site, the scientists developed a scaling law theory that describes the observed movements of travellers over distances from just a few kilometers to a few thousand. For example, most money travels locally, but there is a small likelihood it will move across the country.
Fascinating stuff, and all from what began life as a simple idea.

rowanf'll certainly find this interesting...


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 26th, 2006 11:24 pm (UTC)
I heard a teaser on Radio 4 about "what banknotes might tell us about avian flu", and I assumed they were actually swabbing the notes themselves for viruses.

Which may not be such a bad idea. I've heard about the cocaine thing, where chemicals now freely available for detecting cocaine show pretty much all banknotes are covered in it, plus journalists like going to swanky locations and laughing at how the chemicals show posh people are doing drugs in the toilet (I don't even get how that's supposed to be a surprise). So maybe they *could* track strains of bugs that people have sneezed onto their money.
Jan. 30th, 2006 03:31 am (UTC)
Fascinating! Thanks.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )