Zombie Attack Could Prove Dangerous…Mathematical Proof

Wednesday, August 19, 2009
S=susceptible, Z=zombie, R=removed

The modern craze with zombie stories, first begun by George Romero’s seminal work Night of the Living Dead in 1968, has even gotten into the brains of academic researchers from Canada, who decided to use the undead for a mathematical modeling exercise to better understand the threat of infectious diseases spreading around the globe. After crafting “a basic model for zombie infection,” and refining that model “to introduce a latent period of zombification,” the team from the University of Ottawa and Carleton University concluded that “only quick, aggressive attacks can stave off the doomsday scenario: the collapse of society as zombies overtake us all.”

In their paper, (When Zombies Attack!: Mathematical Modelling of an Outbreak Of Zombie Infection), the researchers compare the mindlessness of zombies to that of those with an undying attachment for politics. They write: “The key difference between the models presented here and other models of infectious disease is that the dead can come back to life. Clearly, this is an unlikely scenario if taken literally, but possible real-life applications may include allegiance to political parties, or diseases with a dormant infection.”
The corresponding author of the study, University of Ottawa professor Robert J. Smith?, added a question mark to his name to distinguish himself from Robert J. Smith, the lead singer of the rock band The Cure.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
When Zombies Attack!: Mathematical Modelling of an Outbreak Of Zombie Infection (Infectious Disease Modelling Research Progress) (PDF)
When Zombies Attack: Science Meets Shaun of the Dead (by Mark Henderson, Times of London)
Science Ponders 'Zombie Attack' (by Pallab Ghosh, BBC News)


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