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September 04, 2009

Mathematically modeling the proper response to Zombie outbreaks

It officially Friday night now, a long weekend as well and many of us will be having cookouts, frolicking with the family, going to the beach or mountains, torching billboards, sticking it to "the man", swindling seniors out of their life savings, wrecking the country(this activity is reserved for administration officials and congressmen) etc. Obviously, we all need to be prepared for a possible Zombie outbreak that could really spoil the festivities.

The good news, is that science has now provided us with a "best practices" way to deal with the ever present possibility of a Zombie outbreak. Dr. Robert Smith? (yes, his last name includes the question mark) at the Mathematics department of the University of Ottawa has done a scholarly published analysis of how civil society should handle the Zombie question. First, I'll allow Dr. Smith? to say a bit about his academic journey.

...After my PhD, I did a postdoc at the University of Western Ontario, where I discovered infectious diseases. At first it was just the one, you know? A little HIV, you know you want to, all your friends are doing it... Before I knew it, I was studying malaria, then it was human papillomavirus. After that, it was all a blur of neglected tropical diseases that kept coming and coming and, oh god, then I was into some really hardcore stuff, man. And once you've tried modelling zombies, you can never go back... *sobs* ...
Now on to the good stuff - how do deal with these Zombies. The abstract from his paper:
...We introduce a basic model for zombie infection, determine equilibria and their stability, and illustrate the outcome with numerical solutions. We then refine the model to introduce a latent period of zombification, whereby humans are infected, but not infectious, before becoming undead. We then modify the model to include the effects of possible quarantine or a cure. Finally, we examine the impact of regular, impulsive reductions in the number of zombies and derive conditions under which eradication can occur. We show that only quick, aggressive attacks can stave off the doomsday scenario: the collapse of society as zombies overtake us all.
The good news is - being Americans, we know all about blasting the crap out of stuff. We make bombs and flame throwers in our garages for fun and post the trial run videos on YouTube, stockpile all sorts of ordinance, and generally are more prepared for implementing a fast violent response to Zombie breakouts than almost any other western nations now that professor Smith? has shown us what the only option really is.


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posted by Purp at 08:16 PM

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