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## Mathematical Model of Zombie Epidemics Reveals Two Types of Living-Dead Strains163

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the brraaiinnss dept.
KentuckyFC writes "Epidemiologists have long known how to model the way disease spreads through a population using a computer simulation. This generally involves three populations of individuals: those who are susceptible to disease, those who are infected and those who recover, return to the population and are no longer susceptible. Researchers then feed data about the number of infections and so on into the model which can then work out the disease characteristics such as infection rates. And with this information, they can predict the future evolution of the disease. Now researchers have used a similar model to simulate the spread of infection during a zombie epidemic. They've gathered infection data from real zombie movies, put this into the model and used it to predict the disease characteristics. The results show two clear types of zombie infection which differ in what happens to people after they die. In the first, epitomized by Night of the Living Dead, everybody who dies becomes a zombie. In the second, as in Shaun of the Dead, not everyone who dies becomes a zombie--contact with a zombie beforehand is required. This allows the interesting dynamic of escaping zombification by committing suicide. It also shows how close these zombies have come to winning. The research isn't entirely frivolous. The researchers say exactly the same process of model-building, data gathering and simulation works equally well on real diseases such as influenza. So their approach is a useful teaching tool for budding epidemiologists of the future."
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## Mathematical Model of Zombie Epidemics Reveals Two Types of Living-Dead Strains

• #### Re:End of the Epidemic (Score:4, Insightful)

on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @06:38AM (#45582261)

What always bugs me about the zombie meme is the forced idea that heavy weapons are ineffective against them.

I can see where spraying an M-16 in full auto at a crowd of zombies would be ineffective, but I would think that anything above a medium machine gun would be fairly devastating. One you start talking 20mm or 30mm rotary barrel guns it's not hard to see a lot of dead zombies.

From there, stuff like any kind of conventional bomb, especially cluster bombs, seems like it would neutralize crowds of thousands very quickly.

• #### Re:On the surface, this report seems absurd (Score:2, Insightful)

by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @06:53AM (#45582301)

But this kind of pop media exposure is manna from heaven for researchers. The research itself is fatuous and risible, but the simple fact that a lot of eyes are now focused on these people means that the exposure of their "serious" work has been increased by several orders of magnitude. And often that's what really matters - not the underlying scientific value of your work - but that that work is attuned to tackle problems deemed more fashionable and relevant to society as a whole. Lacking a direct profit motive, fellowship committees have other priorities which are nevertheless rather worldly when determining the allocation of grant money.

I don't think that tackling zombie infection models is either fashionable or relevant in determining priority or justification. Seems a few "fellows" have been watching way too many horror movies. This report seems absurd because it is absurd, and the only way it hints at justification is if "they" know something "we" don't about a potential zombie outbreak, which does nothing but feed into the overall government conspiracy/paranoia bullshit (which ironically is fashionable right now)

I suppose I should expect another few million wasted modeling how we humans will develop fish gills after the polar ice caps melt. After all, we have Waterworld to reference as fact...

• #### Enough with the Zombies (Score:5, Insightful)

on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @07:07AM (#45582339)

I think I've said it before, but it only keeps getting truer.

The whole "let's pretend that zombies are real" lark got old very quickly. It was hardly hilarious at first and now it's just very unoriginal.

Maybe we leave it where it belongs in the realms of fiction now, and get back to researching/discussing actual diseases that affect real people?

• #### Re:End of the Epidemic (Score:5, Insightful)

on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @07:08AM (#45582341) Homepage

I think you are overlooking the fact that EVERYONE is infected with a version of the zombie virus. It doesn't matter HOW you die, when you die you come back a zombie if any significant portion of your brain stem is intact. In a post-apocalyptic event there will be a significant percentage of people that die without a zombie doing the killing. The latest few episodes of The Walking Dead addresses this pretty well... a simple flu bug (albeit a nasty one) has a very high mortality rate, and sometimes within minutes of succumbing the dead rise up and attack the living. You are also assuming that everyone knows exactly what is going on and how to 'kill' the zombies. It always did aggravate me that there were no military enclaves that survived long term; they should have the training and perspicacity to remain organized enough to survive.

• #### Re:End of the Epidemic (Score:3, Insightful)

on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @10:22AM (#45583957)

Best I remember, Brooks' explanation for why your suggestion above proved ineffective is a combination of two things: 1) amount of ammunition available and 2) fear and confusion.

I absolutely agree that large-scale munitions are going to do structural damage to multiple targets. That's a given. Brooks' point was that it simply didn't do *enough* to stop a steadily-advancing horde with a large population difference between the attackers and defenders. If you have a thousand troops trying to fight off a million or more zombies, then the question becomes more about how quickly and effectively you're using those heavy munitions and are you slowing down their advance quickly enough with structural (rather than lethal) damage to keep them from overrunning your position.

Also, Brooks did keep the genre-standard of the concept of a "zombie" being largely absent from the collective awareness. Those previously-mentioned thousand troops, then, not only have to deal with the possibility of running out of ammo and not stopping the advance, but also the uncertainty of *why* their munitions seem to be so ineffective. Troops, not understanding what's going on, have their nerve break, and then you have collapsing formations and the zombies pushing a wedge through your protections.

With more experience later in the book where humans start pushing back (after years of learning what does and doesn't work), then military encounters *do* become effective with only slight modifications to their tactics. So you're speaking from their perspective, and you're right. It does work, and you can take down a massively-imbalanced zombie horde with even just a small, organized military force. But you have to know what you're doing first.

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