Wednesday, August 19, 2009

new advice on surviving the zombie apocalypse, this time with math!

the second in a two-part series on how to survive a zombie invasion

As I've mentioned in previous posts (here, here, here, and here), I believe that an all-out zombie apocalypse is likely to wipe out the vast majority of humanity, with the exception of those armed with guns, food, and new media.

Forewarned is forearmed, I always say. Which is why it's worthwhile to examine a recent article that considers various zombie survival scenarios through a mathematical lens.

The article, "When Zombies Attack!: Mathematical Modelling of an Outbreak of Zombie Infection," argues this:

An outbreak of zombies infecting humans is likely to be disastrous, unless extremely aggressive tactics are employed against the undead. While aggressive quarantine may eradicate the infection, this is unlikely to happen in practice. A cure would only result in some humans surviving the outbreak, although they will still coexist with zombies. Only sufficiently frequent attacks, with increasing force, will result in eradication, assuming the available resources can be mustered in time.

Further, the authors agree with my argument that previously successful responses to widespread and contagious infectious diseases will be ineffective against a zombie invasion.

You have to have some basic expertise in reading mathematical equations to parse the results of the various models the authors present, as the article is populated with such arguments as this:

In fact, while the models presented are intended to offer realistic analyses of efficacy of various zombie-attack responses, the authors point out that the odds of a widespread zombie infection are fairly low. Still, they argue that this article does have its value even given the low risk of zombie attack. First, they write, "possible real-life applications may include allegiance to political parties, or diseases with a dormant infection."

Additionally, the authors explain:

This is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the first mathematical analysis of an outbreak of zombie infection. While the scenarios considered are obviously not realistic, it is nevertheless instructive to develop mathematical models for an unusual outbreak. This demonstrates the flexibility of mathematical modelling and shows how modelling can respond to a wide variety of challenges in ‘biology’.

It's a pity these mathematicians, who have clearly completed some of the best scientific work to date on the zombie apocalypse, fail to recognize the plausibility of a zombie invasion. Still, despite their cavalier approach to the subject matter, they are willing to end with this:
In summary, a zombie outbreak is likely to lead to the collapse of civilisation, unless it is dealt with quickly. While aggressive quarantine may contain the epidemic, or a cure may lead to coexistence of humans and zombies, the most effective way to contain the rise of the undead is to hit hard and hit often. As seen in the movies, it is imperative that zombies are dealt with quickly, or else we are all in a great deal of trouble.

1 comment:

YRG said...

Hey, thanks for the link to the paper. I read about this in wired and was looking for it again...


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