The 5th most downloaded (paid) iPhone game of 2013 according to Apple’s “Best of” list was game called Plague Inc. The basic premise of the game is to create and spread a pathogen and infect all 7 billion of Earth’s inhabitants before they can produce a cure. The challenge is picking the plague type, method of transmission, symptoms, and the abilities so that will it spread as quickly and efficiently as possible. Players can give their plagues unique names and strategize so that “Bieber Fever” can eventually infect everyone on Earth.
The thought of Plague Inc.’s premise being a real-life problem and not one carried out fictitiously on your lunch break is terrifying. And threats to global health are very, very real! Sanitization and advances in medicine are our biggest allies in the fight against any wide-spread epidemic. Luckily, our species has (largely) evolved into higher standards of sanitization that prevent the spread of nasty pathogens. We also have the benefit of advancements in technology and understanding that allows brilliant scientist to continue to develop vaccinations and/or cures.
There are also other ways in which our best and brightest are preparing for any potential biological threats. Back in February of 2013, Emily Badger wrote an article on the spatial patterns of how epidemics spread. The main inference in her article, We’ve Been Looking at the Spread of Global Pandemics All Wrong, is that the highest probability of predicting and tracking future outbreaks is by mapping a tree-structure of the world’s air-travel networks. The concept of “redefining the notion of geographical distance” was figured by Dick Brockmann, theoretical physicist and professor of complex systems at Northwestern University, and his colleagues.
There are no shortage of science fiction movies about the spread of a variety of pandemics. Have you ever heard of Zombies? There has only been a couple zombie movies made recently so you may not have *heavy sarcasm*. But if you’re looking for a great movie that really captures the threat and doom of a global pandemic, look no further than Contagion.
Additional reading: Salk, Sabin and the Race Against Polio
Honey Badger Fact O’ The Day:
The Honey Badger is not really a Badger at all but is more closely related to the Polecat. (The Ferret is the domesticated form of European Polecats.) I guess this means next year Kirsten Wyatt will be bringing a Honey Badger with her to the Steampunk Ferret Carnival in West Linn.
What’s your favorite Zombie/Outbreak movie? Tell me on Twitter: @joshg22