New zombie-fighting weapon invented

This is all assuming the zombies don't have guns: But they rarely do. See Day of the Dead (original version) and Land of the Dead for exceptions.
This is all assuming the zombies don't have guns: But they rarely do. See Day of the Dead (original version) and Land of the Dead for exceptions.Courtesy Suitov
Remember in 8th grade, when you were taking geometry or pre-calc or whatever, and some cleverboots in the back row asked the teacher when anyone was every likely to use math in real life? Your teacher probably said something like, “Do I have to shake the answer into you, numbskull? You’ll use it every day! What if you want to figure out the rate of wear on your tires based on circumference? What about when you want to figure out the height of your favorite tree, using only the length of its shadow?” And because everyone involved could see the hollowness of this answer, you went home feeling a little darker.

But, see, what your lousy teacher should have said is that when the zombie apocalypse comes, math is what’s going to drag us out of that corpse-filled scenario and into a brighter, infection-free future. Because, when it comes to zombies, math is the real weapon.

JK, of course. Claw hammers and chainsaws will still be the real weapons. No getting past that—even the trickiest math problems will hardly destroy the brain, much less sever a spinal cord. But mathematical models will provide a strategy for survivors.

Mathematical models for vampire scenarios are old hat. They’re old, boring hat, in fact, on account of how people can’t agree about the methodology, and because vampires aren’t that great in the first place. But a practical zombie model is making the rounds in the popular press, because this is the sort of thing we need to know.

Taking into account infection rates, and the relative numbers of “suseptable,” “zombie,” and “removed” individuals, the model confirms what we have long suspected: that a zombie outbreak would suck. The model is, of course, much more complicated than this, and it has lots of fun little symbols and graphs, but that’s the long and short of it.

However, the model does leave room for hope. Putting victims into quarantine could eradicate the infection, but only under ideal circumstances (i.e., not in the real world), and a while a zombie cure could ensure the continuing existence of humanity, survivors would need to coexist with zombies. The remaining solution, and the only practical one, it turns out, is the old fashioned one: head smashing. As the paper puts it, “only sufficiently frequent attacks, with increasing force, will result in eradication.”

We’ve got to hit the zombies where they live. Or where they undead-live. Or whatever. The point is that when the time comes (any day now), we have to take the fight to the zombies, and we have to do it fast. So prepare your bite-guards and blunt instruments, and put them next to your fire extinguisher and emergency blanket. Be a survivor.

Here’s the original paper in pdf format.

A quick note: To all of you who are thinking, “Puh-leaze, JGordon. Zombies are played out like Super Bowl XLIII,” I respond with a puh-leaze of my own. I say y’all are the ones played out, played out like Mario 3, and I think y’all should check yourselves and just go watch Transformers 2, or whatever it is you people are into.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Where did you get this information? This seems really farfetched.

posted on Sun, 02/07/2010 - 2:31pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Which part?

The original paper evaluating zombie scenarios came out of (I believe) the University of Ottawa, and I'm inclined to trust them. I trust Canadians so much, in fact, that I would trust them with a baby. Not even my baby; I would trust them with some stranger's baby. When the stranger freaks out over where his baby is, I'll just point out that a Canadian has it, and the stranger will be all, "Oh, good. The Canadian had better keep it, because I trust them more than I trust myself!"

Powerful stuff.

The rest of it came from me, so obviously the info is good.

posted on Tue, 02/09/2010 - 10:00am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

are you trying to scare people?

posted on Sat, 02/20/2010 - 4:16pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Congrats, Captian Obvious. A study really needed to be conducted to point out the logical.

posted on Thu, 02/25/2010 - 2:45am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i hate zombies

posted on Fri, 05/07/2010 - 1:32pm
joe kleckner's picture
joe kleckner says:

awesome. why isint this on the market yet?

posted on Sun, 08/29/2010 - 11:08am
Mr. I-like-zombies's picture
Mr. I-like-zombies says:


posted on Sun, 10/30/2011 - 1:18pm
Michael's picture
Michael says:

Allegedly, it's possible to improve contingency operations by running exercises to see how people respond to a zombie infestation. Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Greenbelt, Maryland, is running their second so-called 'Zombiefest' live exercise as part of their Contingency Operations Plan (COOP), according to Alex Antunes' article, Zombies: The Safer Terrorists on the Science 2.0 website.

According to sociologists, it takes a certain length of time before human beings register that an emergency situation is occurring. Some people are better at responding quicker than others. Erica Kuligowski explains why there is delay in NIST Technical Note 1632: The Process of Human Behavior in Fires.

posted on Wed, 11/02/2011 - 1:47pm

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