Monthly Archives: March 2020

Model for Covid-19 in the US

buy Dilantin online Using some assumptions driven from recent data and current response rate, I have built a fairly simple model to predict the number of COVID-19 cases that will be seen in the U.S. The model starts with Seattle which reported its first case around Jan 21st.  It didn’t go into an emergency state till the end of February.

see post The model assumes an average rate of infection after the average incubation period.  It also assumes a ratio of local infection and infections that travel to other areas. This leads to the model’s idea of clusters.  When an infection travels to another area, it creates a cluster.  In a cluster, once a certain number of cases are detected, the area typically goes into a state of lockdown and emergency.   The result of this should be a quickly declining spread and stopping of creating of additional clusters. The model assumes a more and more aggressive reaction response, based on recent data where some places when into emergency or lockdown mode after just 4 reported cases.

The further modeling of areas that are in actual or virtual lockdown is the difficult part as there is no clear data on how quickly the spread will stop. 

The model shows that currently there are close to 19,000 people in the US that are already infected.  Most of them were infected in the 1st week of March and thus are starting to show symptoms now. Thus over the next week or so, the number or confirmed cases will rise dramatically from the last reported 2500 or so.

The model estimates that the total number of infected cases will rise to somewhere between 22,000-25,000 after which the transmission will slow down significantly and essentially be contained. It is estimated that this will happen around the second week of April.

Below is a graph of the estimate from the model.

Of course, no one knows exactly what will happen. The model was built was a rather simple, but logical, set of assumptions and was driven by observed data so far in the US and other countries, but this data is what I found on the internet, which in itself is a bit flawed.

Intelligent design or infinite monkeys

On reading the first dialogues of Hume, I found myself drawn into the argument of the existence of a supreme designer, especially as I was watching Our Planet  on Netflix in parallel.  But during my travels I thought about it vis a vis evolution and was less convinced. This also came out in the later dialogues with Philo’s skepticism. Thinking about it further, we look at nature and its offering essentially at a point in time.  But nature is continuously moving and changing.   To use analogies like that of a well designed watch is wrong, as the watch is a final product and thus has a defined final design. Anything in nature is just it’s current design at that point of time.  So when we look at something spectacular in nature, we cannot thus conclude it was created by intelligent design, but rather that it is part of a continuous process of design improvement that nature is carrying out that has lasted for an almost infinite amount of time and will continue forever.  Thus, there is no deliberate design, and thus a result of the design. I assume this thought essentially describes what we call evolution.

If we take the beginning of life itself and it just keeps taking billions and billions of different arrangements randomly, for which all it needs is time, the abundance of which nature had, the result will be many variations of life form, some which will survive, some which will not – and this just continues. 

So now I find myself in a position in which I am skeptical of an intelligent designer by looking at nature.  However, could it be that the evolutionary process is the intelligent design or is that just the result of randomness of very large numbers (remember the theory of infinite monkeys with typewriters and infinite time will create Shakespeare’s writings).  I am left completely questioning the intelligent design view.

The last generation

Samuel Scheffler’s article “The Importance of the Afterlife. Seriously.” NYU Law Magazine, 2014, describes a scenario from P.D. James’s novel Children of Men, in which humans are inflicted with irreversible infertility and there is no one under the age 25 on earth.  James says that this would likely produce widespread depression, anxiety and despair making some people seek consolation and some to take pleasure in whatever they can – although it would all have the backdrop of sadness and pain.

However, I believe the impact on humans is conditional on the demographics of the existing population.  If the youngest people alive are still near 25, then theoretically there is still a large population of people that have many years to live.  Given our actions tend to be relatively short term focused, there would be many not drawn into despair and will continue to give importance to their activities and projects.  However, if the youngest population was say over 60, it would definitely be a different scenario and all activity would seem total unimportant and futile and there would be widespread depression as everyone just waits for the demise of the human race.

But do assume that the population is currently like the former. It would change most people’s perspective on their activities, but not necessarily make them stop due to the feeling of lack of importance.  Many of our activities revolve around our children and their children.  Creating homes and wealth to pass on; gaining wisdom and knowledge to transfer to them.  All such activities would become totally futile and lose their importance completely.  But the projects and activities that are for ourselves, for our own personal experience and fulfillment – should not be compromised. It will still be a joy to travel around the world and experience nature, it will still be fulfilling to create art and music. We see these activities as part of our life on this earth. This should apply to those who believe in the after life as well as those who don’t.  If you don’t, then you seek these activities for personal satisfaction while alive. If you believe in the after life, you may believe that the after life if not dependent on our material bodies on this material earth and thus the lack of fertility does not matter and our souls will still continue somewhere, somehow, benefitting from the rich experiences we gained while alive.

But then I think of my mother. A famous poet and writer (who passed away recently). It was extremely important that she left an enduring legacy on this planet with her writings so that generations to come could enjoy it. That was her stamp on humanity which created her personal sense of immortality.  If the scenario above happened in her lifetime, there is no doubt she would lose all importance of the value of her writing and fall into deep despair.

While my former argument is based on the assumption that human individualism will allow most to continue to find value in our activities, Mr. Scheffler believes these assumptions are oversimplified and that removing the assumption of an ongoing humanity, the confidence in our purpose will erode .  But from the latter example of my mother, clearly Mr. Scheffler is correct insofar if a person’s purpose is undeniably dependent on the existence of future generations.


I was in Kentucky visiting friends who took me on a short hike on Berea forest trails. These friends are “bird” people – bird watchers and photographers.  So, on the hike, we would stop often when they heard some bird and they would look up to try and capture a photograph – which I also got into and starting pointing out birds in the canopy of the trees. When I saw them my description limited to “…a small black one there..” or “…a large black one over here…”.  They would look at it and say something like, “…that’s a yellow rumped warbler…” and then my friend would take some pictures with the huge lens attached to his camera.

These are what my “little black birds” really looked like!

They live on a 13 acre farm in rural Kentucky, with a view of a pond and lots of trees and vegetation. When I walked down their stairs to their living room I see five cats looking up at me (they are also “cat” people); in the morning the back yard is full of birds looking for food; in the evening the raccoons come around to their porch and eat all the cat food.

My friend, a close buddy from college, got his first SLR a few years ago and now has become a really good bird photographer.  Just around where he lives, and mostly from his porch itself, he has photographed and identified over 130 different bird species.  Some of these are just magnificent, a few pictures below.

The fact that over 130 species in that area of KY alone was mind boggling – well it turns out there are over 10,000 bird species in the world. Add to that all the different mammals, sea creatures, reptiles and the 10 quintillion insects – and we are reminded how vast the living world of nature is.  Human beings share this earth with all these living creatures and only represent one species out of tens of millions.  While it is no doubt that we are the dominant species in modifying, building creating and overcoming our environment to make it easier for us to live, we still only represent a small fraction of all the co-inhabitants of this earth both in numbers and even in actual mass. 

All this is a constant reminder that humans, representing such a small portion of all living beings, have no right to destroy the environment, the nature of this world, due to their activities. As Spinoza says, God is Nature and Nature is God. So, let us never forget the environment and our duty to protect it