Feeds

back to article Zombie plague analysed by Canadian maths prof

A Canadian infectious-diseases boffin has published an authoritative mathematical model of zombie plagues. He concludes that the only scenario in which our civilisation could survive a zombie outbreak is one in which normal humans react immediately using extreme violence against the undead, without any attempt to cure or …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

WTF?

'Smith?'?

"you have no idea what it's like to be entirely invisible on Google"

I have an idea that adding a question mark won't help. Unless you want to perform some kind of wildcard search. He should've changed his name to Robert Xzvygzax instead.

0
0
Happy

Exactly...

... the sort of research that should be encouraged, no, made mandatory. I can only assume that the other guys in Smith?'s team are solving equally pressing questions such as "In a fight between King Kong and Godzilla...."

1
0
Gav
Grenade

Stop this pussy footing about.

If you really want to tackle the zombie menace you need to stop pussy footing around.

Nuke the planet from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

0
0
Dead Vulture

umm??

what about the threat from vampires? surely they're a bigger threat - having wings and such

0
0
Paris Hilton

Thank god for Canada

If it where not for them, where would we be now...

0
0

Already happening

Only the plague is socialism.

0
0
Pint

Good to know.

It's nice to see that not only is my old University doing something useful, but my natural inclinations on how to react during a zombie apocalypse are correct.

Well, drink a lot first, THEN start busting heads. I am an engineer, after all.

0
0
Grenade

I...

I for one do not welcome any living-impaired, cranium-bothering shufflers attempting to become our overlords.

0
0
Bronze badge

Ashamed to be a Canadian

Anyone who legally changes his name to Smith? is clearly a jerk.

A Smith is only as anonymouse as he or she deserves to be. I cite Will Smith as an example.

'Smith' is a great name. To quote the historian B. Cottrell, in his book on the derivation of surnames:

"The smith _smites_, and his honoured name rings down through the centuries like an anvil."

0
0

Smith?

If he wanted to step out of fat Bob's shadow he could have gone for Robert Smyth and avoided coming across as a complete bellend. Ah well.

0
0
Silver badge
Pint

Don't Stop Me Now

"the most effective way to contain the rise of the undead is to hit hard and hit often..."

Yeah, I know, with backing music by Queen.

I'm off down to the Winchester, to have a nice cold pint, and wait for all of this to blow over.

0
0

I knew this ages ago ...

... after watching George Romero's insightful series of documentaries into the zombie threat to society. I can't be sure, but I think the first episode was called something like "Living Dead". He'll be glad to hear that is theories have been validated by Prof. Robert Smith?

0
0
jai
Silver badge

have a nice cup of tea and wait for all this to blow over

time to re-check my survival plan for the Zombie Apocalypse then.

it's only a matter of time before that ant-zombifying fungus follows swine flu and begins infecting humans

mines the one on the coat rack beside the door at the Winchester

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Really!!!!

"the only scenario in which our civilisation could survive a zombie outbreak is one in which normal humans react immediately using extreme violence against the undead"

Well......duh...has he never played Left 4 Dead?

0
0

Actually

Reading the paper was quite amusing. Any scientific paper that references Simon Pegg deserves a reward: "This may be particularly difficult to do, if identifying such individuals is not obvious"

0
0
Pev
FAIL

Did you even read World War Z

"...books such as World War Z, Resident Evil etc. We do quibble slightly at the movies and books themselves, however, which generally underestimate by a long way the sheer amount of violence that even relatively poorly-equipped armed forces are able to bring into play."

As WWZ points out, to kill a zombie you need to kill the brain. Landmines, just blows the legs off. Automatic weapons, machine guns... you can do a lot of damage but again, unless you get a head shot your not going to stop Mr Z, he'll just keep coming. Even a decapitated head will try and bite your ankles. Nukes? Okay, vapour at ground zero, and burnt to carbon in the fire storm zone but outside that you've still got zombies, radioactive zombies at that. Not a great bang for the buck.

No, the only cost effective approach is an accurate rifle and a head shot. Sure a cricket bat will work, but do you want to get that close?

0
0
Silver badge

What a pointless study!

As we all know, all you need to get rid of zombies (and some humans) is a mob of rednecks. Shown long ago in the Night of the Living Dead.

EA

0
0
Terminator

No Fear

No fear if you are a cricketer and know how to use your bat!

Bring them on!

0
0
Terminator

So we're too late....

... quarantining the Zombies in Westminster won't work after all.

0
0
Paris Hilton

Oh no Captain...

...the eigenvalues have all gone negative again, it's going to be one of those episodes.

Paris 'cos she likes her Markov chains.

0
0
Flame

@Apocalypse Later

With all the eloquence of a drunkard, the American Republican shambles forward...

2
2

zombie squirrels

This research is a good model for the eradication of the red squirrel by those dratted zombie greys!

0
0
Happy

good one james!

... the sort of research that should be encouraged, no, made mandatory. I can only assume that the other guys in Smith?'s team are solving equally pressing questions such as "In a fight between King Kong and Godzilla...."

ROFL.

good point , well made

0
0
Bronze badge

Does it work for zombie novels

If so, there may be hope for us yet.

0
0
Bronze badge
Alert

Hang on a minute...

... er, actually, don't. You'll be dead by then.

There are so many small points of differentiation in the source material that it's impossible to say how effectively the Z-plague would spread or how efficiently it could be combated by the Forces of Order(TM). For a kickoff, what if they were "sprinters" instead of "shamblers"? Your vector just got a lot more scary, Prof.

Also, an actual disease has a Patient Zero or at least just a small group of individuals at the point of emergence (where the disease jumped the species-barrier or evolved from harmless to deadly). Zombie fiction (Resident Evil notwithstanding) usually originates the plague from some form of global event, e.g. a passing comet. This means any stiffs not buried too deep to pop out of the ground instantly become vectors - again, big problems. Think how many corpses lie undiscovered in a modern city at any one time, not to mention the local woods...

And that's just the already dead. Other sources suggest the plague may have a low-level effect on those already gravely ill or weak, enough to finish them off. In that case, don't find yourself anywhere near a hospital, nursing home or Eastbourne.

Fundamentally, however, the paper's advice will fall on deaf ears in many, many cases, a bit like "don't surf warez/pr0n sites using IE6 under an Administrator account" (there, IT angle - phew). These films should have taught us all by now that bloodthirsty violence is the only survivable solution, but are you sure you'll react any differently than that hapless schmoe in the movie when it's *your* 4-year-old daughter you're being ordered to decapitate just because her eyes went a funny colour?

0
0

What Pev said

Exactly right, Pev.

One of the key moments in WWZ (spoiler alert!) is when the army takes on a zombie horde with their conventional weapons, and end up overrun by... a zombie horde full of bullet holes.

Mankind have made lots of weapons that are very good at perforating human beings, or tearing them apart. Traditional film/book zombies, they don't mind that so much.

0
0
Silver badge
FAIL

A counter-example? Which we are living with.

Does AIDS plus this proof mean that the human race is doomed?

AIDS is, after all, a killer plague that leaves its victims free to wander around for a number of years, in many cases not knowing that they are infected and infectious. The saving grace is that it's not very infectious. It requires blood or sexual contact to be passed on, which limits its spread. Hepatitis-C is similar.

Leprosy and TB were similar slow killers, before the advent of antibiotics. THe human race survived them. TB can be spread merely by close proximity to an infected person. TB is becoming drug-resistant and within decades, it may again become an untreatable killer with low infectivity and a long incubation period.

And then there was the SARS outbreak, which was a lucky break for humanity. It wasn't slow, but it was sufficiently low in infectivity that small changes in human behaviour (face masks, not shaking hands, etc.) drove it to extinction.

So isn't the actual Z-plague story that we could not co-exist with *sufficiently infectious* zombies? But that's then so bleeding obvious, why bother saying it? And they've made the movie (the one where the human race loses) several times over.

0
0
Coat

but what about....

getting rid of the zombies who are squatting in westminster...

i got one of those living (or is it un-dead'ing) camped out next door!

i'm all for preemptive off with thier head action!

now who's handing out the firearms so we can deal with this national menace...

mines the one(bio-haz suit) with the uzi's in the pockets.....

0
0
Silver badge

And in the virtual world?

What advice can wetake from this for zombie bot-nets? Or thier 'hosts'?

0
0
Stu
Pirate

I'm liking this study a lot.

Theres nothing quite like a bit of hypothetical study here or there, especially when it comes to the excellent subject of Zombification. However I've just got one question.

How much funding did your department pull in this year 'Smith?'?

Oh well, at least it wasn't British tax payers who foot the bill, I'm sure all he must have done was read the zombie survival guide by Max Brooks and put it into report form.

1
0

Lighten up!

To the (surprisingly few) who've made disparaging comments about this paper: lighten up!

They're having a laugh while exploring the extreme limits of current epidemiology models. They could have made their own doomsday scenario, but this is far more engaging.

And for those who've made disparaging comments about *that* name: quite right. If he wanted to write papers about zombies, he should have called himself Rooobert Smiiiiiiiith.

1
0
Grenade

World War Z lovers

Not at all. In high-intensity warfare, when the enemy isn't hiding from you and you can use all your stuff (eg World War II, Gulf War I) hardly anybody gets hit or killed by bullets. Artillery, mortars, airstrikes, tanks etc. The zombies won't have bullet holes in them, they will be blown to bits or incinerated and then the bits run over by tanks. Their brains will be fried/scttered all over the landscape at once. Plus the idea of "bullet holes" is misleading when you're talking about high-velocity rifle bullets - the exit wounds are such as to blow big chunks of the body away. A good squirt from a high-velocity automatic weapon doesn't make holes in a human body, it tears it to pieces. Let alone once we get into cal-.50 rounds etc

That was what was wrong with WWZ and similar stuff - they are written by someone who had basically very little idea about what happens when ordinary humans go to war. People thjnk zombie films are violent, but they're nothing compared to what a realistic war movie would be like.

Nothing that the zombie/horror writers can imagine is as bad as ordinary human war

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Combine the following into a sentence

time hands on much too their

FFS.

0
0
Pint

I always thought

some sort of armoured combine harvester coupled with a pair of forward mounted bark chippers would do the trick.

The thing is, the military would adapt pretty quickly and employ a load of FPS geeks then sit back listening to the cries of 'HEAD SHOT'.

0
0
Big Brother

I have a cunning plan...

Why not take away their driving licences?

0
0
Silver badge

@AC 18th August 2009 13:30

and we all laughed at the Swiss militia and its members storing their weapons at home. Mind you they don't even have an undead Scot as president.

EA

0
0
Unhappy

Oh no!

Not another overlord story.

0
0
Welcome

no way

How many comments and no one has done it.....well I for one welcome our brain eating undead overlords +p

0
0
FAIL

"The disease-free equilibrium is always unstable"

Err, bollocks. The "disease-free equilibrium" is exactly where we are right now in the *real* world, and it's going to stay that way: zero current zombies = zero infectors = zero new zombies = no zombies overall.

You can only claim that it's unstable by hypothesising that zombieism can spotaneously arise de novo, but if you do that you've just assumed what you set out to prove and got a circular argument.

0
0
Linux

Post-Secondary Education

No wonder most people back home in the Great White North have gone off for some fine polished Post-Secondary Education.

0
0
Pirate

this guy is a genious "possible real-life applications may include allegiance to political parties,"

read paper down to 7. discussion

"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."

this paper shows how math works and it probably makes easier to teach it (consider last hour of the day, two hour lessons, you need to wake up the students) - I am surprised by so many bad comments about it.

1
0
E 2

@Apocalypse Later

Yes indeed. George W. Bush handing Wall Street one trillion dollars with essentially no strings attached was a complete betrayal of small-c conservatism.

0
0
Grenade

Humans are amazingly good at killing.

28 Days later is as close to a real world example of a Zombie Viral outbreak as you can ask for.

The UK is a very densly packed country, an outbreak would spread fast creating Millions of Zomibes.

Imagine if swine flu mutated, it destroys the higher brain functions leaving just primal instincts including massive hunger pains that never stop, sending the human into a constant fit of rage!

You now have a human who is basically an deadly animal who cant stop eating!

Humans are quite capable of killing Bears, Lions, Tigers, Hedgehogs, Sharks and Wolves etc in fights to the death with thier bare hands.

Short of carpet boming everything, Zombies and uninfected Humans alike, a Zombie Viral outbreak would be devastating in the UK.

Look at America, it took them 5 days to get water to New Orleans after the hurricane hit!

The military is a big lumbering machine, too slow to stop a Zombie outbreak.

If the Z-Virus is not airborn then humans have a good chance if they just stay put, board up windows and doors, stock up on water and tinned food and make some make shift weapons!

If the Z-Virus is Airborn, well unless your immune then I suggest using salt and pepper on your human meat!

Happy eating!

Be Prepared!

Emergancy Response Plans to date:

1001 Zombie Plague

1002 Warewolfs

1003 Vampires

1004 E.L.E Event

1005 Alien Invasion

1006 Mother In-Law Vist

1007 Global Flooding

1008 Global Warming (ERP Not to be used, Global warming is unlikely in this century)

1009 Insect rebellion

1010 Supernatural/Hell on Earth

1011 Machines Take Over (There is no Spoon)

1012 Pandora Event

1013 UK Military Project "Alpha-9RE4Z3V77-Omega" Failure

1014 G.O.D Event

0
0
Linux

Well if they'd just used linux....

they never would have become zombies in the first place.

0
0

@GrahamC

Ad hominem attacks are a specialty of those who have no argument on the merits. One of the reasons Obama has hit a rough spot recently is that, with Bush gone, he has no obvious opponent to savage (and of course he has no arguments to muster in support of his policies).

Once again I must inform the forum that I am neither an American nor a Republican. I am a British citizen, born in Britain, and belong to no party (though I see nothing wrong with the aims of UKIP).

0
0
Grenade

Academia supports...

... overeducated shitheads who get paid to ponder worthless crap that often has little or no usefulness in the real world.

Some may protest, "But if we didn't study it, we wouldn't *know* whether or not it's worthless!"

There's some truth to that.

Nevertheless, some academics are so completely out of touch with reality, living in their little myopic sheltered academic worlds, that it reduces their chances of making truly meaningful contributions to society.

Or else they make contributions that are fraught with serious design flaws due to the designers' ignorance of the big picture and real-world concerns - for instance, internet security comes to mind ("Gee, why would anyone want to try to break into someone else's computer; that would never happen") - there's my IT angle ;)

BTW, it's similarly unimpressive when namby-pamby profs and such seek to *artificially* *create* risks in their overly-safe and sheltered lives. So the public not only has to pay for these people's salaries, but then has to pay for their doctor and hospital bills when the bastards get injured while attempting to climb Mt. Everest/Rainier/whatever (not that there's much comparison between the two, so I've heard) or engaging in any number of other pathetic attempt at artificially-induced thrill-seeking in their off-duty hours.

If they wanted REAL challenge and danger, they'd move out of their million-dollar homes in their lovely gated communities and go live in a bad part of town for a few years (overnight doesn't count), find out about the real world for a change, and maybe see why it's not such a good idea (after all) to be quite so fucking LIBERAL about tolerating crime, drug abuse, etc. Sorry if anyone's ideals get shattered, but life is more than about campus.

And some people wonder why "kids are so stupid nowadays," well it's because far too many of their parents and elders are stupid. Can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

- Written by an old fart who's old enough to know better, but not too old to... to... um... sorry, senior moment there ;)

0
0

World War Z

The point of the stories surrounding the Battle of Yonkers is that the higher ups were underestimating the enemy. They told their men to wage not just a conventional war, but a showy, flashy war designed to impress the population, not to kill zombies.

The soldiers knew better. They knew they were f'd. They knew a handful of snipers on the roofs would be better than fancy missiles that shower shrapnel and suck the oxygen out of an area.

But the brass didn't care.

It was a slaughter because the men on the ground were burdened with heavy, unnecessary gear and told to use tactics that would not work.

0
0

Automatic rifles + Zombies

= a virus saturated blood vapour cloud.

And now your front line of soldiers are feeling a bit woozy.

Consider if birds or rodents become a vector: Fallout from nuking a city is bad, having to nuke some rainforest too.

Just get lots of thick, bite-proof jumpers and leg it!

0
0

zombies wow

this could happen anythings possible voodoo or whatever its called all thease infections and bugs and stuff going around this could be a night of the living dead or dawn of the dead earth before long. zombies eating warm human flesh hum reminds me of dawn of the dead movie lol anyway but you never know or it could be worse it could be 28 days later and infect the uk ouch that would be bad no government or anything no police or healthcare yikes

0
0
Terminator

Doctorate in

Zombology anyone?

My advice is to stay out of the shopping malls.

Feed zombies on [[insert fast-food chain here]] and wait for them all to die.

So why are they being released into the wild in the first place?

Follow the money trail.

The UN will have a memo somewhere on how the media should handle this.

0
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.