2355: University COVID Model
|University COVID Model|
Title text: I admit this is an exaggeration, since I can think of at least three parties I attended while doing my degree, and I'm probably forgetting several more.
Cueball begins telling Megan an anecdote about how a college decided to reopen "based on a COVID model developed by two physicists." (The incident in question is likely a reference to this article and tweet about the University of Illinois, that went viral with similar wording the day before the comic was published). Presumably, the model predicted that the university could allow students to return to campus while still keeping cases of COVID-19 under control, perhaps using some combination of reduced classroom and residence hall density, and by implementing policies against large social gatherings.
Before he can get further, Megan interrupts him with "Uh oh," perhaps worried that an epidemiological model created by people who aren't epidemiologists could be ineffective (much like how stock-trading bots created by engineers were too good at making money on high-frequency stock markets, causing a flash-crash). Alternately, she may be expressing concern specifically about physicists' epidemiological modelling. Cueball then confirms her fears by saying that the model underestimated how many parties the students would hold, and so the actual number of cases on campus has turned out to be greater than even their worst-case prediction. Megan facetiously wonders how a physicist could have failed to know how much college kids party, implying that physicists do not attend many parties. Cueball, representing Randall, a physics major, then retorts that he "was invited to multiple parties! And attended both of them!" implying first that he was invited to many parties over an undefined period of time at college, but then admitting it was only two.
In the title text, Cueball (or perhaps Randall, no longer in-character) admits to attending at least a third party, and possibly a few more that have been forgotten, and confirms this was over the entire course of his degree studies, likely 4-8 years or more. This demonstrates, as an introverted physics major who struggles with social interactions, he (and by implied extension most Physics majors) has little interest in attending parties. As many other people go to college for the parties rather than the education, we can only imagine how severely his campus epidemiology model would underestimate the number of opportunities for the coronavirus to spread.
A nontrivial number of colleges followed this trajectory in 2020, such as the aforementioned University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
A different comic with physicists modeling another field is 793: Physicists.
- [Cueball and Megan are talking to each other.]
- Cueball: Apparently some university reopened based on a COVID model developed by two physicists.
- Megan: Uh oh.
- [Cueball raises an arm slightly.]
- Cueball: But even their worst-case model underestimated the number of student parties and they had to shut down.
- [Cueball holds up a finger.]
- Megan: Can't understand why someone with a physics degree would be bad at judging how often college students get invited to parties.
- Cueball: Excuse me, I was invited to multiple parties.
- Cueball: And attended both of them!
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