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New MIT Model Shows The Top Contagion-Spreading US Airports

We live in a very connected world. And in this connected world, a contagion or a disease spreads from one part to the other like wildfire. Now, an MIT model shows which US airports top the list in spreading different diseases. New York’s John F Kennedy airport and Los Angeles airports sit squarely at the top of the list.


During the course of their research, the team at MIT took into consideration the 40 largest American airports. The relevant data about these airports was then used to create a new computer model which predicts the most influential airports when it came to spreading diseases.

One of the key elements that the researchers considered was that of ‘early spreaders.’ This refers to the origin of the outbreak of different diseases. A rather interesting finding of the research was that the third airport on the list was Honolulu airport. It is a much smaller airport compared to many other American airports. In fact, it is not even in the top 20 biggest hubs. Yet it is highly influential in spreading different diseases.

The reason is probably the location of the Honolulu airport. According to the research article, “Its location in the Pacific Ocean and its many connections to distant, large and well-connected hubs gives it a ranking of third in terms of contagion-spreading influence.”

This is a very significant study. The similar research approaches can be used to create models for many other fields. According to the Gilbert W. Winslow Career Development Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, “The study of spreading dynamics and human mobility, using tools of complex networks, can be applied to many different fields of study to improve predictive models. It’s a relatively new but very robust approach. The incorporation of statistical physics methods to develop predictive models will likely have far-reaching effects for modeling in many applications.”

The video gives a brief glimpse at how and why the model was created:

Source: MIT news

Courtesy: The Verge

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