The Big Idea Behind Big Data

In the Spring of 2009, the H1N1/09 virus — dubbed “swine flu” — made the jump from pigs to people and began claiming its first victims. Fearing the beginning of a global swine flu pandemic, terrified health officials began planning for the worst.

Shutting down the world’s major airports became the nuclear option of their arsenal — the last hope for halting the virus from reaching unstoppable thresholds of contagion. That, though, was before two Italian scientists demonstrated that shuttering the air-transport system could delay the dreaded epidemic threshold by, at most, a few weeks (while also leading to economic chaos).

Author: Adam Frank


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