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.
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Finalist: Greater Commons - Todd McLeod
Greater Commons, founded by Todd McLeod and Andrew Cull, is an organization that helps people live happier, more successful and fulfilling lives through agile learning. The current education system is inefficient and exclusionary, in which many students who end up earning a degree, if at all, enter a career not related to their field of study. Greater Commons solves this problem and gap in post-high school secondary education in a variety of ways. Passionately and diligently, Great Commons helps others obtain skills, knowledge, wisdom, motivation, and inspiration so that they may live better lives.
Finalist: PeerFoward - Keith Frome
PeerForward is an organization dedicated to increasing the education and career success rates of students in low-income schools and communities by mobilizing the power of positive peer influence. PeerForward works with partner schools to select influential students as a part of a team, systemizing the "peer effect." Research in the fields of sociology of schools, social-emotional learning, adult-youth partnerships, and civic education demonstrates that students can have a positive effect on the academic outcomes of their peers. PeerForward is unique through its systemic solutions to post-secondary education.
Finalist: Cogniss - Leon Young
Cogniss combines technology and best practice knowledge to enable anyone to innovate and share solutions that advance lifelong learning. Cogniss is the only platform to integrate neuroscience, through which it solves the problem of access by providing a low-code platform that enables both developers and non-developers to build sophisticated education apps fast, and at a much lower cost. It addresses the uneven quality of edtech solutions by embedding research-based learning design into its software. App creators can choose from a rich set of artificial intelligence, game, social and data analytics, and gamification to build their perfect customized solution.
Finalist: Practera - Nikki James
Practera's mission is to create a world where everyone can learn through experience. Today's workplaces are increasingly dynamic and diverse, however, costly and time-consuming experiential learning is not always able to offer the right opportunities at scale. Many students graduate without developing the essential skills for their chosen career. Practera's team of educators and technologists see this problem as an opportunity to transform the educational experience landscape, through a CPL pedagogical framework and opportunities to apply students' strengths through active feedback.
Thank you to our judges!
Our expert judges are Lorna Davis, Dan Rosensweig, and Stuart Yasgur.
Lorna Davis is the Senior Advisor to Danone CEO and is a Global Ambassador for the B Corp movement. Lorna has now joined B-Lab, the non-for-profit that supports the B Corporation movement on an assignment to support the journey of large multi nationals on the path to using business as a force of good.
Dan Rosensweig joined Chegg in 2010 with a vision for transforming the popular textbook rental service into a leading provider of digital learning services for high school and college students. As Chairman and CEO of Chegg, Dan commits the company to fulfilling its mission of putting students first and helping them save time, save money and get smarter.
Stuart Yasgur leads Ashoka's Social Financial Services globally. At Ashoka, Stuart works with others to initiate efforts that have mobilized more than $500 million in funding for social entrepreneurs, engaged the G20 through the Toronto, Seoul and Los Cabos summits and helped form partnerships with leading financial institutions and corporations.
Again, thank you to our incredible expert judges.
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