Follow The Money To Predict The Spread Of Disease

from the contagious dept

If you're not familiar with the site Where's George?, you've been missing out. It's been around for ages, and lets people track where their money travels. Basically, people put in the serial numbers on their cash and their location -- and the site tracks where the money goes over time. There is a core group of folks who are extremely into the site, even stamping all of their money with "wheresgeorge.com" stamps to encourage people to visit the site and let them know where their money traveled to. I've visited the site a few times in the past (usually after receiving bills that had been stamped), but mostly thought of it as an amusing, quirky "time waster" website that has managed to survive for quite some time. However, some researchers realized that the data on the site actually could be quite useful, and have used it to create more accurate models of how diseases could spread through the US. I'm not sure if I should be impressed by the ingenuity of the researchers, or worried about what diseases I could get from the money in my wallet.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    John Doh!, Jan 25th, 2006 @ 7:25pm

    No Subject Given

    The idea isn't that the money is carrying the disease, the idea is that for cash to change hands, there must be face-to-face contact. By the same token, for a virus to spread from one human to another, there must be face to face contact; therefore, to track a dollar bill is, in some ways, much like tracking where a virus would spread.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    dorpus, Jan 25th, 2006 @ 7:26pm

    The Vast Field of Epidemiology

    There has already been vast amounts of research done over the centuries on how diseases spread, given the many parameters. Some computer simulation of a hypothetical disease may earn a publication in a second-rate science journal, but it won't change the field.

    Infectious diseases receive a disproportionate amount of media coverage, and even research dollars; but the biggest threat to mankind, which is predicted to kill at least 200 million people in the next 20 years, will be diabetes. The costs of treating diabetes is enormous; people go blind, lose their legs, get heart disease, require constant medication. A cure will not occur any time soon either; realistically, only massive government intervention will work, as it did for smoking or AIDS.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    MissingFrame, Jan 25th, 2006 @ 7:28pm

    It's the personal contact

    It's not the money that is communicating the disease, it's the personal contact involved with the money changing hands. Actually it's just a similar model, like comparing real life viruses to computer viruses. The model is similar even though the actual transmission is much different.

     

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  4.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Jan 25th, 2006 @ 7:31pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    The idea isn't that the money is carrying the disease

    I was joking... though, clearly, not very well. Oh well.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Ivan Sick, Jan 25th, 2006 @ 7:39pm

    Re: The Vast Field of Epidemiology

    Massive government intervention has cured AIDS and smoking?

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    ZOMG CENSORED, Jan 25th, 2006 @ 7:56pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    That and you obviously forgot about the money given to bums/ winos which have more diseases in them than a McDonald's washroom. They don't have the internet so their data is not accounted for :D

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    dorpus, Jan 25th, 2006 @ 8:18pm

    Re: The Vast Field of Epidemiology

    >Massive government intervention has cured AIDS and smoking?< br>
    The incidence (new infections) of HIV was decreasing in the U.S. for over 10 years, due to extensive public education and preventative measures. AIDS babies, which were once increasing exponentially in the 1980s and early 1990s, are very rare today. The incidence has risen again in recent years, due to lower public awareness. The same story holds true for cigarette smoking, whose rates had enjoyed declines for 30 years through extensive education campaigns, legislation, litigation, and other government-based measures. When fewer government resources have been devoted to the problem in recent years, cigarette smoking rates have risen again.

    If you get an education in public health, you'll learn about the extent to which free-market economics is destructive to a society's health. (Of course, if you go to business school, you'll be brainwashed with the dogma that free-market economics solve all the world's problems.) In the laissez-faire capitalism of the 19th century, poor people were in such poor health, dying by age 30, spreading diseases, unable to work, that governments instituted public health measures for national defense purposes. Even today, one of the branches of the armed forces in the U.S. is the Public Health Service, founded when diseases were killing more American soldiers than bullets.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2006 @ 10:42pm

    Re: The Vast Field of Epidemiology

    If you stop to consider that the earth is over populated by about 4 times what it can sustain then whatever disease might help the problem is irrelevant

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Andrew Strasser, Jan 25th, 2006 @ 11:32pm

    Re: The Vast Field of Epidemiology

    I am holding one for ransom whoever out there who wants to know where he is well too bad he's upstairs....

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Andrew Strasser, Jan 25th, 2006 @ 11:33pm

    Re: The Vast Field of Epidemiology

    Oh and let's not forget the first rollin machine made....

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Julia, Jan 26th, 2006 @ 7:54am

    Re: The Vast Field of Epidemiology

    or might be helpful if the overpopulation is that....bring on the disease!

     

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  12.  
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    Jeremiah, Jan 26th, 2006 @ 8:30am

    ummm

    I guess I've been missing out....

     

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  13.  
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    Rikko, Jan 26th, 2006 @ 8:43am

    Re: The Vast Field of Epidemiology

    I'm guessing dorpus got an education in public health as opposed to being brainwashed with dogma in business school.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    dorpus, Jan 26th, 2006 @ 9:30am

    Re: The Vast Field of Epidemiology

    >or might be helpful if the overpopulation is that....bring on the disease!< br>
    So you don't mind if you, your family, your friends, your children start losing their eyesight or legs, and suddenly find out they have diabetes, when it's too late to do anything about it? Last I heard, about 1 out of 8 people in NYC have diabetes now.


     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2006 @ 9:41am

    No Subject Given

    90% of all U.S. currency tests positive for cocaine.

    Track that!

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    dorpus, Jan 26th, 2006 @ 9:44am

    Re: No Subject Given

    Is there an authoritative reference for this? I recall reading this is just an urban legend.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Adam Whitney, Jan 26th, 2006 @ 9:52am

    Re: The Vast Field of Epidemiology

    first, dorpus, your not a college prof, so stop acting like it, if u want to teach a class, go get a prof degree and such and go for it, otherwsie, lets present ourselves as we are, not as we wish we were, second, My brother died from diabetes, so this brings me to this, 1. id gladly die and let me family and many others die if it meant better health for the world, I BET MY LIFE ON IT, and anyone who wouldnt doesnt understand the problems truly facing the world we live in (overpopulation being the key source of every single one) diabetes (excuse my spelling, but im typing and not looking back, so oh well) is not a historic desease, it has not been around forever, so that make me wonder what causes it, poor eating habits, lack of exercise and such (fast foods and what happens after generations of man manipulated products into our system and the breakdown of our natural structure) that being said, now diabetes has progressed into or morphed or whatnot, to more types then just can be cureable by exerise, but most can, and if u dont like the answer of population control, which i do, then maybe youll like this 1. most people are fat, and thats the cause, so fat asses, start moving around and help yourselfs, if your type is not caued by this, u need not wait till your blind to start getting help, since it is well known its a widly spreading desease GET CHECKED OUT, something my brother was "too tough " to do, see, no matter how u slice it , if you live in america, you control what happens to urself, basically, late

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    dorpus, Jan 26th, 2006 @ 12:49pm

    Re: The Vast Field of Epidemiology

    first, dorpus, your not a college prof,
    Didn't say I am.
    second, My brother died from diabetes, so this brings me to this, 1. id gladly die and let me family and many others die if it meant better health for the world, I BET MY LIFE ON IT,
    How would the death of you or your brother cause "better health for the world"?
    diabetes (excuse my spelling, but im typing and not looking back, so oh well) is not a historic desease, it has not been around forever, so that make me wonder what causes it,
    Oh really? Are you saying we haven't known about diabetes since antiquity, and that we do not know the pathogenesis of its varities today?
    poor eating habits, lack of exercise and such (fast foods and what happens after generations of man manipulated products into our system and the breakdown of our natural structure) that being said, now diabetes has progressed into or morphed or whatnot, to more types then just can be cureable by exerise, but most can, and if u dont like the answer of population control, which i do, then maybe youll like this
    What if Type I diabetes is not caused by these things?

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    dorpus, Jan 26th, 2006 @ 12:50pm

    Re: The Vast Field of Epidemiology

    first, dorpus, your not a college prof,

    Didn't say I am.

    second, My brother died from diabetes, so this brings me to this, 1. id gladly die and let me family and many others die if it meant better health for the world, I BET MY LIFE ON IT,

    How would the death of you or your brother cause "better health for the world"?

    diabetes (excuse my spelling, but im typing and not looking back, so oh well) is not a historic desease, it has not been around forever, so that make me wonder what causes it,

    Oh really? Are you saying we haven't known about diabetes since antiquity, and that we do not know the pathogenesis of its varities today?

    poor eating habits, lack of exercise and such (fast foods and what happens after generations of man manipulated products into our system and the breakdown of our natural structure) that being said, now diabetes has progressed into or morphed or whatnot, to more types then just can be cureable by exerise, but most can, and if u dont like the answer of population control, which i do, then maybe youll like this

    What if Type I diabetes is not caused by these things?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2006 @ 2:33pm

    No Subject Given

    The exchange of illicit cocaine for money by drug dealers is an everyday occurrence in cities in the United States. There is ample opportunity during the exchange, storage, and use of cocaine for paper currency to become contaminated. Because currency is exchanged frequently, it is likely that contaminated currency would be found in common use. We examined ten single dollar bills from several cities in the United States for the presence of cocaine. Individual bills were extracted with methanol (10 mL). Cocaine was purified from the methanol extract by solid-phase extraction (SPE). The SPE extract was analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Standard curves were constructed with new, uncirculated currency. Cocaine was identified qualitatively by full scan and quantitated by selected ion monitoring. Cocaine was present in 79% of the currency samples analyzed in amounts above 0.1 micrograms and in 54% of the currency in amounts above 1.0 micrograms. Contamination was widespread and was found in currency from all sites examined. Cocaine amounts were highly variable and ranged from nanogram to milligram amounts. The highest amount of cocaine detected on a single one-dollar bill was 1327 micrograms. These results indicated that cocaine contamination of currency is widespread throughout the United States and is likely to be primarily a result of cross-contamination from other contaminated currency and from contaminated money-counting machines.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    dorpus, Jan 26th, 2006 @ 5:10pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    Cocaine was identified qualitatively by full scan and quantitated by selected ion monitoring.

    So in other words, you do not have any quantitative data on the specificity of the test, as distinct from its sensitivity; you just looked at waves on a screen to decide what it is. You don't sound like an expert on paper chemistry, either, for you would have described similar chemicals found in currency, and the ways to distinguish them. A sample size of 10 is laughable, by any scientific standard.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Adam Whitney, Jan 29th, 2006 @ 7:47am

    So you don't mind if you, your family, your friend

    this is what i was responding too, so many wrongs i dont know where to start ........u dont go blind before u even know u have it, and i was using the example that ive already lost a loved one to the desease diabetes , and if it helped the earth, id loose more, and myself, thats what i was saying, if its too hard a concept for ya, sorry dorphus

     

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