The Story Behind RABID-19

Our inspiration was drawn from rabbits and bunnies—no no wait—fluff balls of almost impermissible cuteness that offer us human beings both physical and mental comfort. Yes. It is the creature of the rabbit that our Hackathon submission worships.

We stumbled across Fibonacci’s Rabbits while researching what we could explore with bioinformatics. As a team with little experience in this topic, we wanted to push towards a subject that we were more familiar with—and that was COVID-19. We have all seen the neglect some people have for themselves and for others. A maskless get-together. A not-social-distanced line for coffee. It becomes easy to forget the impact that one little change-of-habit has when we cannot visualize the consequences.

With the context of the pandemic and a pile of fluff balls at our fingertips, our group got started with creating our project. The goal was to demonstrate how quickly one infection can affect a population (and unfortunately we had to show this at the expense of our precious rabbits). We realized that we can implement the Fibonacci sequence into a simulation for the coronavirus, and it was just a matter of figuring out how to do that.

And there it was. Our idea of the deadly, not-to-be-overlooked RABID-19.

RABID-19 In Easter Island: How It Works

When you first click on our website, (which is linked below :D), you are taken to the adorableness that is Easter Island, filled with facts about how to stay safe during the pandemic and a too-cute mascot that adorns the webpage—but this cuteness is not all that you will find. Once you scroll through the story, you’ll find that Easter Island has become plagued with the deadly virus RABID-19. Right next to the Rabbit Doctor’s tips on staying healthy, you’ll see the Easter Island simulator—click “Infect the island” to get started!

A single small rabbit (shown as a dot) will be the first generation of your Easter Island simulation. If you notice on the left, a plethora of controls and island customizations await you; from changing the infection rate to changing the death rate, we are able to see how RABID-19 is affecting these poor rabbits. This simulation mimics what happens on Easter Island, with the rabbits reproducing and growing up to them becoming infected and spreading the virus.

How We Made It

Our group began with outlining all of the functions that we wanted to have in our project; from there, we were able to check off each one that we completed. For our website, we used Wix as the main page—this allowed us to focus more on the programming for the simulation page. To create the simulation, we used HTML/CSS and JavaScript (in particular, the p5.js library).

Oh Bugs Bunny, You Wascally Wabbit

We ran into a lot of bugs and issues while we were creating our project; some were simple to resolve, while others required more brain cells. Among the former include formatting and figuring out how to lay out our website and simulation (in a way that made sense and that wasn’t too jarring for the eyes). As time consuming as it was, formatting was an easy fix that just involved a lot of Googling and trial-and-error. On the function side, we came across a couple issues with figuring out how to make the rabbits infect each other. Since this was the bulk of our concept, this was one of the first tasks on our to-do list. Timing also came up as a problem, as we were not sure how to implement it into our program.

Despite all the bugs we had to fix, we finished with a project that all of us were really proud of. Our greatest accomplishment would most likely be the end result of our project, as we were able to get a working simulation with minor bugs (even though we lost some rabbits along the way).

The Next Hops

If we were to continue our project, we would like to integrate more functionality! For example: Generate graphs based on a user’s simulation configurations (similar to the coronavirus statistics and graphs). Implement a genetic algorithm that allows a population of rabbits to reach an optimized size and speed over multiple generations. Given more time, we'd like to refine our simulation code and fix some of the bugs.

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