I assume everyone is familiar with the concept of “going viral” and that you’re paying attention to the SARS-Cov-2 outbreak. So you understand the importance of social distancing. When it comes to conferences, they’re not quite what you’d call social distancing, are they?
Well then, Harvard’s Michael Baym puts 2 + 2 together in the way that physicists-turned-biologists seem able to to do with ease and elegance:
“The reason to cancel meetings and seminar visits is the same reason we have them in the first place: by establishing long-distance connections and high-connectivity nodes, we help ideas spread much faster through our social networks. It’s the same for a virus.”