Categories
GeekWire

Statistician paints grim picture of COVID-19’s rise

Coronavirus research
University of Washington researchers work with the virus that causes COVID-19 in a restricted lab. (UW Medicine via YouTube)

In a newly published study, a University of Washington researcher argues that the eventual death toll from COVID-19 could be more than twice as high as the figures currently being discussed.

The study was written by Anirban Basu, a health economist and statistician who’s the director of UW’s Comparative Health Outcomes, Policy and Economics Institute, also known as the CHOICE Institute.

In his research paper, published online May 7 by the journal Health Affairs, Basu acknowledges there’s still lots of uncertainty surrounding the fatality rate for the disease caused by the coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2. But he says there’s evidence that the U.S. death toll could amount to 350,000 to 1.2 million.

“This is a staggering number, which can only be brought down with sound public health measures,” Basu said in an interview with MedicalResearch.com.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

Celebrate Pi Day with 31.4 trillion digits

Emma Haruka Iwao writes down pi
Google’s Emma Haruka Iwao dashes across a whiteboard to write down the first digits of pi. She used Google Compute Engine, powered by Google Cloud, to calculate pi to an accuracy of 31.4 trillion digits. (Google via YouTube)

What’s the best way to celebrate Pi Day? That’s the geeky holiday that takes place on 3/14 … in other words, today. For some, it’s a day for baking geeky pies, or getting a $3.14 deal on slices of pizza. For Google, it’s a day for breaking a world record, by calculating the irrational number’s value to 31.4 trillion digits of precision.

31,415,926,535,897 digits, to be exact.

Pi enters into every walk of life, if that walk happens to be circular. On one level, it’s the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. On another level, it’s a mystical number to contemplate, because the digits just go on, and on, and on …

Physicist Larry Shaw invented a ritual to celebrate that mystical value, and that ritual was first celebrated at San Francisco’s Exploratorium for the first time 30 years ago. It involves walking in a circular procession on 3/14 at 1:59 p.m. (in honor of 3.14159), singing happy birthday to Albert Einstein, and reveling in a pie feast (fruit and/or pizza). The ritual is celebrated at the Exploratorium to this day.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

This Pi Day, remember the reason for the season

Pi Day pie
The Pie shop in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood goes all-out for Pi Day. (Pie via Facebook)

Maybe it’s time to put the pi back in Pi Day.

I remember a time when 3/14 really stood for something: namely, the calendar date that came closest to the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.

Yes, I’m talking about pi, or π for the purists out there. 3.14159… Arguably the best-known irrational number in mathematics.

That was the reason why physicist Larry Shaw came up with the traditional Pi Day ceremonies precisely 30 years ago, in 1988. He and his disciples celebrated the first Pi Day at San Francisco’s Exploratorium by consuming slices of pizza and fruit pie, and marching in a circle at 1:59 p.m. (Get it? 3/14 1:59?)

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

Pi Day mashes up math and munchies

Pi Day pie
Pi Day is a big pie day as well. (Pie via Twitter / @sweetnsavorypie)

Pi Day plays off the fact that March 14 – 3/14 – is a numerical pun on math’s best-known irrational number: pi, or 3.14. But there’s nothing irrational about punning pi, the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, with pastry as well.

The day has come to be known as a celebration of pie as well as pi (and, coincidentally, Albert Einstein’s birthday). In Seattle, pie tends to trump pi.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

Scientists work on formula for a cup of coffee

Coffee
The grain size of a coffee grind plays a key role in the taste. (Credit: Starbucks)

One coffee drinker’s perfect brew may be another drinker’s battery acid, but mathematicians say they’re zeroing in on the equations behind the taste of drip coffee.

The University of Limerick’s Kevin Moroney and his colleagues lay out the state of the art in the SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics. The findings could well spark a buzz in coffee-crazy Seattle, the birthplace of Starbucks.

“Our model describes flow and extraction in a coffee bed, specifies extraction mechanisms in terms of the coffee grain properties, and compares the model’s performance with experiment,” Moroney said in a news release from the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.

One of the conclusions can be boiled down to a simple rule: If the coffee tastes too watery, grind the beans more finely. If it tastes too bitter, go with a coarser grind.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

Powerball math mistake fires up the Internet

Image: Mind boggled
Powerball math can be mind-boggling. (Credit: @Esteyban)

The math behind this week’s upcoming $1.4 billion Powerball drawing boggles the mind, but at least a few minds were boggled beyond the bounds of arithmetic.

One photo posted to Facebook and Instagram claimed falsely that if the Powerball pot – which was $1.3 billion at the time – were divvied up among the United States’ 300 million residents, each one would get $4.33 million. “Poverty Solved!!” the blackboard graphic read.

The photo earned more than 580,000 Facebook likes and more than a million shares. Only problem is, the math is wrong. The payoff per person would actually be $4.33, or a little more than my winnings in Saturday’s $900 million Powerball drawing.

Get the full story on GeekWire.