2014's fast food atrocities
Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.
As the flu spread across the U.S. last winter—earlier and more seriously than usual—several computer models were watching. There was Google Flu Trends, which famously went awry that season. And there was a nameless model, built by researchers at several U.S. universities, designed not only to track how many people have the flu, but also to forecast when flu instances will peak in individual cities across the U.S.
By the last week of December, the model was able to guess cities’ peak week 63 percent of the time, the researchers wrote in a paper published today in the journal Nature Communications. Of course, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as Google Flu Trends, keep close tabs on how many people have the flu in the U.S. at any given time. And researchers have long known that in temperate regions, there’s a flu season that peaks somewhere between December and April. But this is the first time scientists have predicted when the flu will peak as the season progressed.
In some cases, the model worked up to nine weeks in advance, which is long enough for cities to stockpile flu medicines or launch a it’s-coming-get-vaccinated campaign. The model’s data didn’t go to any policymakers last year, but its creators say they hope their work will eventually help officials reduce the number of Americans who get the flu every year. Even a prediction just a few weeks in advance could trigger cities to tell their residents to wash their hands more frequently.
Although most healthy, young people weather the flu just fine, it can be serious or fatal to babies, elderly people and people with weakened immune systems. Depending on the year, anywhere from 3,000 to 49,000 Americans die from flu infections annually.
The new predictor combines numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Google Flu Trends, and a basic flu model the researchers created. It predicted flu peaks for 108 American cities, some with greater accuracy than others. (The predictor fares better with cities that have smaller populations, higher density and smaller areas.) The forecaster has been in the works for a while. Its creators tested a previous version of it on data on flu in New York City.
This article originally appeared on Popular Science
Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.
KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.
Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.
Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.
Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.