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Science Figures Out How to Deal With the Zombie Apocalypse

| 19 Aug 2009 20:01
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Thanks to two Canadian researches who ran mathematical tests on a hypothetical zombie attack, we now know what exactly is the best way to deal with the walking dead. And it isn't playing nice.

We all have our own ideas about how best to deal with the onset of the inevitable zombie apocalypse. Some say a chainsaw and shotgun are the best way to go, others prefer flamethrowers. I myself would simply give up, being the pessimist that I am, but maybe now that there's a scientific study suggesting how we might best handle a zombie attack, I would consider my options.

Published in a book titled Infectious Diseases Modelling Research Progress, the study from rsearchers at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University models a hypothetical zombie attack and mathematically comes up with possible solutions. "We model a zombie attack using biological assumptions based on popular zombie movies," Professor Robert Smith said. "We introduce a basic model for zombie infection and illustrate the outcome with numerical solutions."

The zombies used in the study are your classic horror movie clunkers, not the Speedy Gonzalez types seen in flicks like 28 Days Later and games like Left 4 Dead. Nevertheless, even with this comparatively harmless species of zombie, the chances of our survival are still slim unless we "hit them hard and hit them often."

Expediency is the key to success, apparently. Simply capturing them won't work, and Shaun of the Dead style recuperation of zombies for use in the real world wouldn't fly either. The only thing that works is to get rid of the damn things. "It's imperative that zombies are dealt with quickly or else... we are all in a great deal of trouble," Smith said.

It sounds like a joke, but the study is a way of considering methods of disease control. Professor Neil Ferguson, who advised the UK government on the swine flu, said that a zombie attack does hold some similarities to real world epidemics. "None of them actually cause large-scale death or disease, but certainly there are some fungal infections which are difficult to eradicate," Ferguson said, citing chicken pox as an example.

So what's the conclusion? It sounds like mankind would be fighting a real uphill battle if zombies were for real. But Ferguson does have some hope that we would stand a fighting chance. "My understanding of zombie biology is that if you manage to decapitate a zombie then it's dead forever," he said. "So perhaps they are being a little over-pessimistic when they conclude that zombies might take over a city in three or four days."

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