Swine Flu and the Next Pandemic
Paul Hoffman is an award-winning journalist and biographer. But there are 168 hours in every week, and so he is also a budding restaurateur (at Rucola in Brooklyn) and evangelist for the new Museum of Mathematics. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he is the author of a memoir called King's Gambit: A Son, a Father, and the World's Most Dangerous Game and two biographies, The Man Who Loved Only Numbers and Wings of Madness.
Formerly the editorial chairman of Big Think, the publisher of Encyclopaedia Britannica and the long-time president and editor in chief of Discover magazine, Paul has performed mathematical paper-folding tricks on David Letterman and strapped Oprah into a virtual hang-glider while she accused him of ogling her butt. The winner of the first National Magazine Award for Feature Writing, he has written for the New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, Time, New York Times, Seed, and Wired. He has delivered essays on NPR's "All Things Considered" and hosted the five-part PBS series "Great Minds of Science."
Under the pseudonym Dr. Crypton, he has created mind-numbing puzzle contests. Chicago magazine once called Dr. Crypton "the smartest man in the world," but they evidently caught him on a particularly good day.
Follow him on Twitter @hoffmanpaul.
Paul Hoffman: We are here now for our second panel, which we’ve called “Swine Flu and the Next Pandemic.”
Back in the Middle Ages, there were probably infectious diseases that hit a village and wiped everybody out. And then there were no humans near enough for the virus to jump to, so it’d just die out.
Now in this day and age, where the earth is much more populated than it was in the Middle Ages, where we have jet travel, where we’ve moved into areas like the rain forest, where there is a lot of species of microbes and things that we come in contact with that we didn’t in the Middle Ages, there is much more likelihood that new diseases will spring up.
We saw this even before jet travel really took off, and that was in 1918 where we had the influenza epidemic, where 50 to a 100 million people was the estimate that died. That’s a third of the population of Europe at the time. And 500 million people were infected, that’s the third of the population of the world; the population was 1.6 billion back in 1918.
The reason we are here today is of course to discuss swine flu, and understand what the latest thinking is about whether it’s a threat to public health, to understand what we learned from it, meaning what medical scientists have learned from it, what our public health system has learned from it. So we will ever be more prepared when we have the next public health crisis.
Recorded on: July 14, 2009.
Paul Hoffman, Big Think's Editorial Chairman, sets the stage for a panel discussion on global epidemics.
The ability to speak clearly, succinctly, and powerfully is easier than you think
The ability to communicate effectively can make or break a person's assessment of your intelligence, competence, and authenticity.
Researchers discover a link between nonverbal synchronization and relationship success.
- Scientists say coordinating movements leads to increased intimacy and sexual desire in a couple.
- The improved rapport and empathy was also observed in people who didn't know each other.
- Non-verbal clues are very important in the development stages of a relationship.
What defines a dark horse? The all-important decision to pursue fulfillment and excellence.
When we first set the Dark Horse Project in motion, fulfillment was the last thing on our minds. We were hoping to uncover specific and possibly idiosyncratic study methods, learning techniques, and rehearsal regimes that dark horses used to attain excellence. Our training made us resistant to ambiguous variables that were difficult to quantify, and personal fulfillment seemed downright foggy. But our training also taught us never to ignore the evidence, no matter how much it violated our expectations.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.