British Scientists discover smallest ever cluster


British epidemiologists have beaten the world to uncover the smallest ever statistical cluster. It was found in the obscure village of Queniborough in Leicestershire by astute scientists. By finding a cluster of only four cases of nCJD, they have beaten the record that was held by scientists in Woburn, Massachusetts in the 1970s. That achievement was so notable that it resulted in Disney's film A Civil Action in which John Travolta starred as a personal injury lawyer crusading for justice, naturally in the form of millions of dollars, against two companies accused of dumping chemicals. Allegedly, the chemicals contaminated drinking water, causing eight children's deaths from leukaemia; four times the average rate. The scale of the British achievement can be judged by the fact that it has halved this record in one fell stroke.

A spokesman said "This wonderful breakthrough shows that epidemiology is up with the rest of science in the trend towards the microscopic. Physicists have moved from atomic to subatomic particles, while electronic engineers have moved from electronics to microelectronics. Today we see the birth of the new science of micro-epidemiology, and it has happened in Britain, the birthplace of epidemiology. Little did the great John Snow, father of epidemiology, realise that his primitive work with the Broad Street Pump, which required hundreds of cases to establish a cluster, would someday become so refined that only four would be needed. Someone once said that an expert is a person who learns more and more about less and less until he knows everything about nothing. Snow’s cluster resulted in the saving of thousands of lives, but now we have so defined the focus of cluster technology that we can identify them without saving any lives at all. The battle is now on to be the first in the world to discover a cluster of only one case, or, dare we hope, no cases at all. The significance of all this should not be underestimated. It will result in the allocation of huge grants from the British taxpayer to ensure the long-term employment of large numbers of epidemiologists."

Meanwhile hundreds of scientists and journalists have descended upon Queniborough in a frenzy that has not been seen since the discovery of Piltdown man. It certainly makes you proud to be British.

Finally, for DIY cluster watchers, without comment here are 75 points placed on a 2x1 rectangle using the random number generator in Mathcad to create random x and y coordinates.






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