Category: Data Analysis
Suitable for Grade Level: Elementary and Secondary
The Math in this Problem:
Operations Research is a branch in mathematics, which uses skilled methods to obtain optimal decisions to problems. These include those concerned with minimizing costs or maximizing profits, which are also correlated with amount of time research takes. In this investigation, students are presented with the challenge of strategic planning and carefully allotting the time it takes to thoroughly complete a research project.
In 1979 death struck the city of Ekaterinburg. Without warning, people suddenly started to get sick. At least 94 people were stricken and at least 64 died over a period of six weeks.
The Soviet version of events maintained maintained that there was an outbreak of Anthrax on farms close to Ekaterinburg. Infected sheep and cows had entered the food processing chain and the meat ended up being sold in Ekaterinburg. The deaths in the human population resulted when the people ate this tainted meat.
The Western democracies were not sure if this explanation made sense since the outbreak seemed faster and more deadly than they would have expected.
You are sent in to discretely interview surviving family members, farmers, or veterinarians to find out what happened. Can you find out what happened before your trip is over (30 days)?
2 days: Research Anthrax
Researching Anthrax, you find that is an acute infectious disease caused by the bacteria Bacillus anthracis (below left) and is highly lethal in its most virulent form. Anthrax most commonly occurs in wild and domestic herbivores, but it can also occur in humans when they
- touch infected animals (most common)
- eat meat from infected animals
- inhale high concentrations of anthrax spores
There are no cases of people who got sick through contact with a diseased person. The word anthrax is derived from the Greek word anthrakis, which means ” coal “, and is used because victims develop black skin lesions (below right).
2 days: Research about the Anthrax outbreak on the farms
Veterinarians in the countryside South East of Ekaterinburg reported multiple deaths of sheep and cows due to Anthrax.
Documents indicate that a large forced slaughter of sheep had occured on March 28 in Rudniy, a town in the centre of the animal epedemic.
Interview the farmers whose livestock had died of Anthrax. (5 days)
The red towns are one where veterinarians reported Anthrax deaths in sheep and cows. No deaths of livestock were reported in the other 16 towns on the map.
The earliest deaths that you could confirm through interviewing farmers were a pair of sheep on April 5th. Your interviews with farmers and vetinarians revealed that on April 10th, 298 sheep were given anti-anthrax serum in Abramovo after 7 sheep and a cow had died there. You interviewed farmers and vetinarians in other towns and confirmed livestock deaths in the six towns shown.
Documents indicate that a large forced slaughter of sheep had occured on March 28 in Rudniy. Certainly a large number of sheep were killed in the farms around this village, but there is disagreement among farmers about when this happened. A couple agree that it happened on March 28, but most insist it was more than a week later.
There were no human deaths in any of these villages.
Interview the butchers in Ekaterinburg who sold meat from this area. (5 days)
Eight Butchers sold meat from the infected area. Of the 64 people who died, nearly all of them got their meat from a butcher called “Potyr” or the most southerly of a chain of 4 stores called “Ek”
|Butcher||Number of customers||Percent of Beef and Lamb from infected area||Number of deaths among regular customers|
There is a map below if you wish to plot the position of the listed butchers.
2 days: Interview the Soviet official in charge of Ekateringburg’s emergency relief
The Soviet official is very helpful in helping you pack your bags and leave Ekaterinburg for Moscow and from Moscow to the West. Your exploration of this problem is over.
In 1979, the world was in the middle of the Cold War between the Western democracies led by the U.S. and the Soviet Union with her East bloc allies. The soviet official did not want you poking around.
2 days : Research the weather in Ekateringburg during the time of the epidemic
2 days: Research the apartment buildings around Ekateringburg
In 1979 the apartment buildings in Ekaterinburg are noticably drab, but this one is made exciting by a mural.
Three of the dead people (Volodymyr, aged 43, Roman, aged 27, and Simon, aged 28) lived on the Northern side (the side shown) of this apartment building. The building held many researchers working with the military.
2 days: Research the fashion trends in Ekateringburg
In 1979, the people in Ekaterinburg are not at the height of fashion, but are helpful and warmhearted. There are exceptions: After 2 days, you snap a photo of the trendy woman (right) in downtown Ekaterinburg.
20 days: Interview family members of those who died
After 20 days of research you have established (from talking to friends, family and peers) the following information about 64 of the people who died in the epidemic. There is a map below if you wish to plot any of the results.
|English Name||Age||Gender||Date of hospitalization||Weeks of hospitalization before Death||Butcher’s Address||Home Address||Work|
|1||Anna||24||F||April 3||3||J14 (Ek#3)||L14||–|
|4||Polina||39||F||April 3||1||M11(Potyr’s)||K12||K12(Commercial Store)|
|6||Veronika||40||F||April 4||1||M11(Potyr’s)||L13||L13 (Odessa Tourism)|
|8||Diana||32||F||April 3||2||J14 (Ek#3)||L13||L13(Sverdlovsk Government Office)|
|14||Iskra||20||F||April 3||1||M11(Potyr’s)||L12||L7 (Hotel)|
|17||Lada||64||F||April 3||1||M11(Potyr’s)||M14||M14 (Hospital)|
|18||Larisa||47||F||April 3||3||J4 (Basyl’s)||J4||L13(Sverdlovsk Government Office)|
|22||Marina||29||F||April 3||2||M11(Potyr’s)||N6||M14 (Hospital)|
|23||Nelly||38||F||April 6||4||J14 (Ek#3)||L14||–|
|24||Nina||54||F||April 3||1||J14 (Ek#3)||L14||–|
|25||Olga||37||F||April 3||2||K7 (Baba’s)||K6||L13(Sverdlovsk Government Office)|
|26||Svetlana||48||F||April 4||2||M11(Potyr’s)||L12||L12 (School)|
|31||Elvira||38||F||April 3||1||M11(Potyr’s)||L12||M14 (Clothing factory)|
|33||Yana||42||F||April 3||1||M11(Potyr’s)||L13||L12(Commercial Store)|
|34||Adam||38||M||April 4||2||M11(Potyr’s)||K11||K11 (Military Compound 19)|
|36||Anthony||39||M||April 4||2||M11(Potyr’s)||L13||P8 (plastics factory)|
|37||Bogdan||71||M||April 3||1||J14 (Ek#3)||L14||–|
|38||Demetri||51||M||April 5||4||J14 (Ek#3)||L12||L12(Gavryusha Ceramics Factory)|
|39||Theodore||49||M||April 4||1||M11(Potyr’s)||M13||L12 (School)|
|40||Gregory||55||M||April 3||1||M11(Potyr’s)||K11||K11 (Military Compound 19)|
|41||Ivan||48||M||April 3||2||J14 (Ek#3)||L14||–|
|42||Cyril||23||M||April 3||1||M11(Potyr’s)||K11||K11 (Military Compound 19)|
|43||Mark||39||M||April 3||2||M11(Potyr’s)||K11||K11 (Military Compound 19)|
|44||Martin||50||M||April 4||2||J14 (Ek#3)||L14||–|
|46||Michael C.||57||M||April 4||1||M11(Potyr’s)||K12||–|
|47||Michael J.||62||M||April 3||1||M11(Potyr’s)||M15||–|
|48||Nicholas||59||M||April 3||1||J4 (Basyl’s)||J8||L12(Gavryusha Ceramics Factory)|
|49||Alexander||38||M||April 5||5||M11(Potyr’s)||L13||M14(Ekaterinburg Cement Factory)|
|50||Alexius||50||M||April 4||2||M11(Potyr’s)||M14||N7 (Railyard)|
|51||Paul||43||M||April 4||3||M11(Potyr’s)||L12||L12(Gavryusha Ceramics Factory)|
|52||Philip||52||M||April 3||1||M11(Potyr’s)||M14||L10 (Car Factory)|
|53||Roman||27||M||April 3||1||M11(Potyr’s)||K11||K11 (Military Compound 19)|
|54||Simon||28||M||April 3||1||M11(Potyr’s)||K11||K11 (Military Compound 19)|
|55||Basil||40||M||April 3||2||M11(Potyr’s)||N14||L13(Sverdlovsk Government Office)|
|57||Vladimir M.||46||M||April 3||1||J14 (Ek#3)||L15||L14(Engineering Firm)|
|58||Vladimir P.||51||M||April 4||2||K14(Ivan’s)||H14||L12(Gavryusha Ceramics Factory)|
|59||Vasyl||49||M||April 4||3||J14 (Ek#3)||L14||–|
|60||Volodymyr||43||M||April 3||2||M11(Potyr’s)||K11||K11 (Military Compound 19)|
|61||Jacob||58||M||April 3||1||M11(Potyr’s)||K12||M14(Ekaterinburg Cement Factory)|
|62||Eugene||24||M||April 4||2||J14 (Ek#3)||L13||N12 (School)|
|63||Joseph||45||M||April 4||2||M11(Potyr’s)||L13||N7 (Railyard)|
|64||Yana||53||M||April 3||1||M11(Potyr’s)||M14||J7(Ekaterinburg University)|