Summary: A group of world-renowned researchers at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics with expertise from cosmology to quantum gravity are using physics to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Original author and publication date: The Daily Galaxy – November 18, 2020
Futurizonte Editor’s Note: As above, so below. We are part of the Universe and we are the universe. We are literally a microcosmos.
From the article:
“People are kind of like galaxies. They are gravitated towards each other.”” said astrophysicist Niayesh Afshordi, who collaborated with fellow physicists and with researchers from the computational science giant Wolfram Research.
Like astronomers researching dark matter by studying many different galaxies, reports Perimeter, the team analyzed the entire set of local COVID-19 epidemics in the United States. They included a broad selection of demographics, as well as population density, climate factors, and local mobility data in an attempt to discover what makes a difference to the disease spread, and what doesn’t. Afshordi has created a public dashboard aimed at making predictions on COVID-19 mortality rates changing based on external factors.
“I think there is a lot in common between epidemiology and cosmology,” Afshordi says. “In both, we have a large component of a mysterious and invisible ‘dark matter’ that surrounds us, and we can only infer its properties indirectly, via incomplete and biased tracers.”
According to Perimeter, the team used statistical techniques from cosmology to build a model that can make predictions of how the COVID mortality rate might change in response to external factors. The model is now available as a public dashboard, and the team hopes communities can use it to develop good policies – and maybe even save lives.
“The math skills, the ways of thinking, the data analysis that people do in a different field, that has applications and that experience is useful,” said quantum physicist, Robert Myers, director of the institute.
Data-oriented cosmologist Kendrick Smith, a world expert in developing mathematical techniques that extract fundamental physics from astronomical data, is bringing his skills to mutation tracking. Smith, who’s work is a mixture of theoretical physics, phenomenology, computational physics, statistics, and data analysis, holds the James Peebles Chair in Theoretical Physics. One of his most recent projects,” reports Perimeter, “was creating the software pipeline for the CHIME (Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment) telescope to find fast radio bursts.” That skill set is a perfect match for sequencing the genome of the coronavirus, a computationally intensive process – not just because there’s a lot of data, but because the process involves “amplifying” the viral genome and reading it out in small pieces.
“Imagine there’s a whole book you want to read, and someone has made a million copies of a few hundred words, and from that you have to reassemble the story,” says Smith.