Check your wallet or purse, please. How many dollar bills do have? Ever thought about where they might have been before now? You might not want to know the details, but seeing what city they have been in is a neat thing.
Well, thanks to Hank Eskin (LinkedIn) you can track your dollar bills through Where’s George. The data that Eskin is collecting is really intriguing, so much that a couple of smart guys decided to use techniques that escape most of us and make an awesome video about the flow of bills. Those really smart and creative guys are Christian Thiemann and Daniel Grady from Northwestern University. The webpage that outlines their work can be found at the Research on Complex Systems website.
Winners of the NSF/AAAS Visualization Challenge, they produced an engaging video to explain their project and animate the results. Tiny bills stretch out from county to county on a map of the contiguous United States. Some places, such as Los Angeles, California, have many bills passing through it from across the nation, while others, such as Anderson County in Tennessee – Grady’s home – have bills circulating mainly within a more local neighborhood. Shown here are images from the video.
The data from the Where’s George? project is in fact so pertinent that is also being used by researchers to predict the spread of flu across the United States.