This makes the study that led to banning plastic straws look small-time. But don’t blame her–it’s not her fault. Her research was taken out of context.
Did one high-school science project in New Mexico, fourteen years ago, lead to the global shut down today?
Social distancing was the accidental brainchild of a teenage girl working with computer models for her science project.
The daughter of someone who works with mathematical models, she worked alongside with him to flesh out some ideas she had already been working on about the interactions of people and groups.
She applied a very simple question to what was already being studied about these interactions… ‘what about diseases’?
That led to a computer model studying the interactions of people in a hypothetical viral outbreak.
Her project, based on computer simulations of human interaction, impressed the judges enough to win her third place in the medicine and health category at the Intel fair that year.
But amazingly, and much more significantly, her work motivated research that resulted in the social distancing and self-isolation policies now being used to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
“The inspiration, the sparks came from my daughter,” said Robert J. Glass, a retired Sandia National Laboratories senior scientist. Glass was among those who built on Laura Glass’s project to develop the vital strategies that are employed today.
…What she discovered was that school kids come in contact with about 140 people a day, more than any other group.
Based on that finding, her program showed that in a hypothetical town of 10,000 people, 5,000 would be infected during a pandemic if no measures were taken, but only 500 would be infected if the schools were closed. — ABQJournal
In the model she ran, she saw a marked difference in the spread of the viral outbreak when you changed just one variable — close the schools.
In 2006, during the H1N1 epidemic, Dubya asked his staff for strategies they might want to implement if the illness got out of hand and exceeded the ability to provide antiviral therapies.
Doctor Glass, the girl’s father, built upon and shared his daughter’s insights in a paper of his own:
Laura’s name appears on the foundational paper arguing for lockdowns and forced human separation. That paper is Targeted Social Distancing Designs for Pandemic Influenza (2006). It set out a model for forced separation and applied it with good results backwards in time to 1957. They conclude with a chilling call for what amounts to a totalitarian lockdown, all stated very matter-of-factly.
“Implementation of social distancing strategies is challenging. They likely must be imposed for the duration of the local epidemic and possibly until a strain-specific vaccine is developed and distributed. If compliance with the strategy is high over this period, an epidemic within a community can be averted. However, if neighboring communities do not also use these interventions, infected neighbors will continue to introduce influenza and prolong the local epidemic, albeit at a depressed level more easily accommodated by healthcare systems.”
He did not write this as a medical paper, having no background in medicine or, for that matter, epidemiology. His background, as you might expect, was that of a complex-systems analyst with Sandia National Laboratories.
No less than the NYTimes published an opinion critical to this idea by someone who DID have some background in medicine, “the leader of the international effort to eradicate smallpox” to be precise:
Dr. Henderson was convinced that it made no sense to force schools to close or public gatherings to stop. Teenagers would escape their homes to hang out at the mall. School lunch programs would close, and impoverished children would not have enough to eat. Hospital staffs would have a hard time going to work if their children were at home.
The measures embraced by Drs. Mecher and Hatchett would “result in significant disruption of the social functioning of communities and result in possibly serious economic problems,” Dr. Henderson wrote in his own academic paper responding to their ideas.
The answer, he insisted, was to tough it out: Let the pandemic spread, treat people who get sick and work quickly to develop a vaccine to prevent it from coming back. —Aier
Again, that was what the NYTimes published.
But wait, there’s more. Note the comments…
Laura M. Glass' stellar work was eventually hijacked by policymakers and govt. officials without EVER consulting economic and legal experts about the ramifications of expanding shutdowns beyond schools.
Policy created in that vacuum has
— Michael Patrick O'Connor (@TsarMeesha) May 18, 2020
That’s right, Laura’s idea was ‘close the schools’. And even that faced some logical pushback by experts who figured teens would just find other ways to congregate.
It took the combined incompetence of bureaucracy to compound and multiply the errors of the original high school science project into a global-economy-destroying ‘cure’ that became arguably more dangerous than the problem it set out to solve.
As for the teen who started this off?
Science project winner or no, Laura went on to follow an altogether different career path. She studied theology.
That makes Pelosi’s rant about ‘believing science’ that much more ironic, somehow.