Jeff Heys: What is Calculus Used For? (Transcript)

But sometimes that circulation of fluid gets messed up and that leads to glaucoma. Now we don’t really understand how all these different forms of glaucoma develop. So we have two options. Option number one is I can get some really thin pressure transducers, maybe a dozen of them and put them in your eye and I can measure all the forces, the fluid inside your eye experiences. Do we have any volunteers for option one? I can’t see you very well but I’m guessing there’s not a lot of hands up.

So I’ll give you a second option. We developed a mathematical model that could make those same predictions about how various forces impacted the eye and that model gave us insights into the development of a couple different forms of glaucoma.

Another interesting question is there’s a lot of inhalable drugs already on the market and more being developed all the time. For example, they’re developing inhalable chemotherapy drugs to maximize delivery to where you need it most, the tumor that’s in your lungs. But everybody’s airways are different. Your airways are different from a seven-year old, especially, right?

So what size particle and density of particles should you inhale for your unique airways? Again, there’s two options. Option number one is you can inhale some radioactive particles and using an X-ray we can see where they go. Probably not a good option, right?

Option number two is we can develop a mathematical model and we’re working on this right up the road at MSU that will predict where different size particles will be deposited, so we can determine for your unique airway geometries what’s best for you.

Another example: I met an echocardiologist once upon a time and learned that they have developed micro-bubbles that they can inject into the blood stream and using just a standard ultrasound they can actually visualize these bubbles moving with the blood in your heart. They can see what the blood flow in your heart looks like. Well, that’s nice.

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But what the echocardiologist really wants to know is, is your heart healthy, how efficiently is your heart operating? And they can’t get that information just from looking at some bubbles moving around on an ultrasound screen. So what we are working on is combining this very valuable data with a mathematical model so that we can someday add — to this someday add to this ultrasound display a health gauge or an efficiency gauge, so the echocardiologist will be able to use this data more effectively in designing treatments.

So I’d like to close just with sort of a challenge and this is a challenge no matter what your age is. But especially if your age is 7 or 10, which happens to be the ages of my two children, I’d like to just challenge you to consider learning math, consider learning Calculus, because there are so many things out there that we still need to develop mathematical models for because the experiment is impossible. One we’re working on right now, for example, is we’re working on using higher temperatures hyperthermia to kill cancer cells. We need better models of that process simply because the experiments are too difficult. So please consider learning Calculus.

Thank you.

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