The department traditionally holds a public lecture every Christmas and invites local schools to come along and learn from some of our leading academics about the science we do and the issues it affects.
In the most recent Christmas lecture we talked about the construction of a simulation for the spread of epidemics in the population, with the example of the UK. Many of the ingredients rely on a large variety of data, nearly all of them are publicly available. To build our virtual population of about 60 million UK residents, we use data from the last census and the Office for National Statistics, which also provides information about schools, employment and commute patterns. A large variety of data from other sources informs how our model simulates the statistical behaviour of the population: how people socialize, how they spend their free time, how often they shop or go to a restaurant or pub and so on. We will discuss how we infer some of our inputs from census data, and how we validate some of the assumptions that we need to make. The virtual people in the model transmit the virtual disease - Covid-19 - through social contacts, and how we simulate this aspect was shown as well.
View lecture archive
Prof Tom McLiesh
The Subtle Science of Soft Slimy Stuff!
Dr Pete Edwards
Universe Missing! - The 2014 Durham Physics Xmas Lecture