Ping Pong Pandemic
April 19, 2020 7:00 PM   Subscribe

How to convey the importance of social distancing in 30 seconds. The Ohio Department of Health nails it.
posted by storybored (15 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

mecran01: I just swing a six-foot chain around my head when I go out. It works a treat.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:23 PM on April 19, 2020

Last time I saw this visual aid, it was being used to demonstrate how it only takes a single neutron to start the chain reaction that makes a nuclear bomb go boom. Whether an explosion of energy or an explosion of illness, exponential growth makes things dangerous.
posted by wierdo at 12:04 AM on April 20, 2020 [6 favorites]

These dominos definitely failed to social distance. :(
posted by sexyrobot at 1:04 AM on April 20, 2020

A Youtube search shows a great many attempts at trying to demonstrate the importance of social distancing - from hour long medical presentations to songs for children. The real challenge is to make something that is concise and visceral enough to get the message through - which is tricky. Juan Delcan's Match video is example of this being done effectively. The Ohio Department of Healths attempt (created for them by Dayton-based agency @Realart) is even better (Twitter thread from them on this video)

I do like XKCD's virus perspective cartoon on social distancing as well.
posted by rongorongo at 2:52 AM on April 20, 2020 [4 favorites]

I found having a 9' ping pong table between me and another player was a reasonable distance.
(At least it was 4 weeks ago. The distances seemed to have lengthened since then)
posted by MtDewd at 5:30 AM on April 20, 2020

"Oops, I didn't hit record. Back to one, everybody."
posted by entropone at 6:09 AM on April 20, 2020 [4 favorites]

This reminds me of an Xbox demo from GDC back in 2000.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:12 AM on April 20, 2020

This actually would have been more effective if the second part of the video showed at least one trap being set off
posted by piyushnz at 11:21 AM on April 20, 2020 [3 favorites]

Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure at least one iteration of the mouse trap nuke demo included a run with some kind of (what in a real reactor would be a) moderator that could serve as a striking visual analogy for how social distancing enables us to keep an outbreak from spreading through the whole population.

They're somewhere on YouTube..I guess I should go find them..
posted by wierdo at 12:03 PM on April 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

The mousetrap system can only grow quadratically. Exponential growth is much much worse.
posted by sjswitzer at 6:16 PM on April 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm not an avid follower of all CoronaNews so I might be mis-perceiving the situation but I feel like there is a substantial hole in the PR/communicating around stress on our health care system. I mean sure if I read parts of the NY Times there is plenty of pathos but a sense of how dire things are in terms of our health care system overall seems hard to come buy. I would like to see a graphic indicator of something like what the normal load on the system is, what the load is now, what the load would be if cancellations of "elective" procedures etc. were not in effect. The hospitals are like big blank boxes, there is a slightly inchoate sense that they are in dire need of PPE but there isn't really any picture of how close to wheeling people out to the parking lot to die they are. I am frustrated at how risk is being so personalized, I find the term "shelter in place" to be a mischaracterization of what social isolation is trying to do. Maybe it is better if people are terrified that they will get sick and die as it is a motivator of sorts but I cannot help feeling that once this passes there will be a lot of "what was the big deal?" and belief that the restrictions were nothing but "there you go again with those libtards."

I imagine something like a tachometer with a redline. I wonder how much message control is coming from the suits in the hospital system hiding behind HIPA trying not to damage their brand.
posted by Pembquist at 9:35 AM on April 21, 2020

The mousetrap system can only grow quadratically. Exponential growth is much much worse.

I'd appreciate a mathematician's take on how accurately the mousetrap demonstration might reflect a real-life covid-19 outbreak. Many of the attempts to demonstrate the importance of social distancing have focussed on the possibility that just one person - say the viewer - might start off an infection chain that spreads exponentially (original infection on day 1; 1,022 subsequent infections on day 45 - as implied by this one, for example).

To me - that seems a little dishonest: because it assumes that by passing on the virus, one is likely to be the originator of an ever-growing exponential wave of infection - very unlikely to a specific individual. But the risk of any infectious person triggering an unpredictable, rapid, outbreak of the virus in a previously calm but socially crowded community - seems bang on the money. The growth pattern is not so much an perfect exponential growth or even a breakable chain - as it is a capricious forest fire.
posted by rongorongo at 3:25 AM on April 22, 2020

To be sure, "exponential" is oversimplification and I do like your "capricious forest fire" metaphor. A virus can "burn itself out" if it runs out of hosts. But also, just like lofted embers can travel far and start fresh blazes, modern travel makes "fresh fuel" easily available to the outbreak. Not a mathematician or epidemiologist here, but that is exactly what epidemiologists study.
posted by sjswitzer at 10:27 AM on April 22, 2020

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