Saturday, August 15, 2009

Scientists Model Zombie Outbreak

I recently reported on a few troubling signs that the robocalypse may be closer than we think. However, there are other equally serious apocalypse scenarios that we should also be concerned about. I’m talking, of course, about zombies.

Especially zombie strippers

Never you worry though, teh scientizts are at work. A chapter in Infectious Disease Modelling Research Progress published by researchers at Carleton University and the University of Ottawa, is titled

When Zombies Attack!: Mathematical Modelling of an Outbreak of Zombie Infection

The abstract of the paper pretty much says it all:

Zombies are a popular figure in pop culture/entertainment and they are usually portrayed as being brought about through an outbreak or epidemic.  Consequently, we model a zombie attack, using biological assumptions based on popular zombie movies.  We introduce a basic model for zombie infection, determine equilibria and their stability, and illustrate the outcome with numerical solutions. We then refine the model to introduce a latent period of zombification, whereby humans are infected, but not infectious, before becoming undead.  We then modify the model to include the effects of possible quarantine or a cure.  Finally, we examine the impact of regular, impulsive reductions in the number of zombies and derive conditions under which eradication can occur. We show that only quick, aggressive attacks can stave off the doomsday scenario: the collapse of society as zombies overtake us all.

And a snippet of the reference list, for where they draw their assumptions:

[6]  Capcom, Shinji Mikami (creator), 1996-2007 Resident Evil.
[7]  Capcom, Keiji Inafune (creator), 2006 Dead Rising.
[8]  Pegg, Simon (writer, creator, actor), 2002 Shaun of the Dead.
[9]  Boyle, Danny (director), 2003 28 Days Later.
[10]  Snyder, Zack (director), 2004 Dawn of the Dead.

Very likely the first time Simon Pegg has been cited in a scientific publication. Hopefully not the last.

We need more publications like this is we’re to combat the stereotype of scientists as boring, stuffy people who don’t have any sense of humour. Hats off to Nova Publishers and the authors for doing the scientific community a service here.

Wired Science: Mathematical Model for surviving a Zombie Attack
Publication in Question: Infectious Disease Modelling Research Progress
Corresponding Author: Robert Smith? (read his bio – it’s worth it)

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