Scientists at Virginia's George Mason University are running the 3-5-year studyTheir simulation puts up to 20 million 'agents' in a simulated New YorkEach one has family members, needs, jobs, and personal reactions to events Their reactions will be modeled over 30 virtual days, in 5-15-minute 'steps'Some may try to reach loved ones, while others will help injured strangersResearchers are using personal testimonies of disaster survivors to make agentsBy the end it should take a bank of computers two days to run the full simulation
Scientists are conducting a massive computer simulation to work out how New York would respond to a nuclear attack in the heart of Manhattan. The three-year, $450,000 project will simulate two nuclear detonations and their effects on up to 20 million virtual 'agents' each representing civilian, first responder or other official over the course of 30 days. But first they need to input data - a lot of data, taken from disaster reports across the US - to figure out how individuals really react to catastrophe. 'Computational social science is not experimental.' Professor William Kennedy (pictured inset) of Virginia's George Mason University told The Atlantic. 'We don't terrorize people and see how they behave.' The simulated explosions will be half the size of the one detonated at Hiroshima (right).
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