IHME Seminar: Ambient Air Pollution and Cardiovascular Disease

The semester is starting up again, and that means that weekly IHME seminars are starting up again. This week, we heard from Joel Kaufman, a doctor and UW professor who knows quite a lot about how air pollution is bad for the heart. He had some great historical photos of air pollution from the Great Smog of London, which I had not heard of before. Searching later led me to this collection in the Guardian. Dr. Kaufman also had some recent photos of extreme air pollution, which looked sort of like this one.

I remember when I started this blog, I had a goal to draw connections between the issues in global health and the methods and results of theoretical computer science. What does the air-pollution/cardio-health talk inspire along these lines? Well, there are two “big data” sources going on here: continuously updated measurements of air quality from a number of geographically dispersed sensors, and regularly conducted CT scans of participants in a large longitudinal study. It was only an hour long talk, so I’m not sure what problems arise when you put these things together, but I bet you can’t store it all in memory, even on a pretty large computer. And that’s one definition of big…

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