Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Little Man Living in Your Pocket

On the drive home last Wednesday, my iPod spontaneously died. I tried poking it, shaking it and spinning the wheel, all to no effect. In the end, I had to listen to a relic of my years riding in my parents' cars — KGO, all talk news radio, AM 810 San Francisco.

Despite nearly putting me to sleep on the King City backroads, the folks at KGO did tell me about this website, A simple idea: You check your dollar bills for serial numbers, type them in and then say where you are and where you picked up the bills. If someone else checks out the website and registers their bills — and apparently people often do — you can find out where your money ended up. Small bills, I learned, tend to stay in the community they're originally spent. Large ones, however, tend to travel quite far.

The news angle of this little story is that the National Institute of Health, otherwise known as former roommate Meghan's employer, has asked the site's creator to see his data. Purportedly, studying how money travels can give scientists a notion of how people travel on a weekly basis, and, thus, how disease might travel.

So there you go. Log in. Register your money. Save the world.

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