What’s up with all these models?

Here we are, in the middle of dealing with COVID-19. We’re stuck at home, trying our best to deal with a bad situation. We naturally want to know when things will go back to some semblance of normal.

To do this, we need models. In science, a model is a way to make some part of the world easier to understand. In this case, how dangerous COVID-19 is. We hear about esoteric things like R0 (R-naught), which is how many people an infected person infects. But that’s hard to figure out. So we predict what the things that make up R0 are. That means that different people/organizations come up with different values of R0. The same things go into trying to determine how deadly this blasted disease is. Just what goes into making these predictions anyway?

Well, the author of the webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal has a really good explanation of what scientists are dealing with trying to come up with a good model. You can read it over here. It gets into the nitty-gritty of what is going into the models for COVID-19. As such, it is pretty technical. But worth reading if you want to know more about why R0 seems to be different in the US than in Italy.

Visualize distancing with avatars

Right now, with COVID-19 wreaking havoc on our communities, it is important to be physically distancing ourselves from others. This is hard to do. Humans are social animals, and we crave contact with others.

Here’s a site that uses avatars that you customize that will help explain why distancing is important, and why we need to keep doing it until we have a way to get immunity.

And here’s a video I made on why it is imporant to keep distancing ourselves.