Some points to consider from the NPR interview on the novel coronavirus with science write David Quammen from a couple days ago:
- 2019-nCoV case fatality rate of (currently) 2% is in the range that should be taken seriously.
- The limited number of masks should be reserved for those who are sick and health care workers. They are not that effective in protecting healthy people.
- The chances are there – how big we don’t know – that a pandemic will one day infect and kill a large percentage of the world population.
Of these points, all involve probabilities. Nearby universes surround us with slight changes in probability. Farther away universes have larger changes in probability. So, a nearby universe would be one where the 2019-nCoV case fatality rate is 3% instead of 2% and a farther away one would be where it is 20% instead of 2%. The effectiveness of people wearing masks can also be similar or different in near and far universes, respectively. And the chance a pandemic will one day infect and kill a large percentage of the world population can also be used to order universes along a continuum. Each of these three measures can be thought of as a different dimension in the parallel universe space. As an example, considering only these three measures, one could visualize a 3-D space of universes by assigning number 1 to the X-axis, number 2 to the Y-axis, and number 3 to the Z-axis.
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