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Zombie attacks and epidemics
A new mathematical model looks at what a zombie attack can teach us about a lethal outbreak of infectious disease
 

“The zombies are coming!” said Jacob Goldstein in The Wall Street Journal. “Quick, call the mathematicians!” Specifically, you’ll want to call Robert Smith? (the question mark is not a typo) and his colleagues at the University of Ottowa, who crunched the numbers on how humans could survive a zombie attack, as part of a book on modeling infectious disease. “Be warned: The tone is light, but the mathematics are heavy.”

And the results aren’t pretty, said Tim Cavanaugh in Reason. The pessimistic scientists concluded that unless the zombie outbreak were "dealt with quickly and aggressively,” it would “lead to the collapse of civilization.” But able-bodied people would never let themselves be bitten and "turned" by a slow-moving ghoul. "A zombie outbreak would result in a lopsided victory for the living, for purely tactical reasons." (watch how the living fight back in the upcoming film Zombieland)

You joke, said Chris Davies in SlashGear, but Smith? is serious—kind of--as his point is that a zombie “plague” would be similar to a lethal outbreak of an unknown disease, like swine flu, and that neither quarantining nor curing the zombies would save us. A depressing thought -- but at least the study allowed “staid, sensible scientists the opportunity to talk about zombie hoards, and for that it must be praised.”

 

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