Saturday, September 17, 2011

zombie saturday - zombie science

Today let us dive into the zombie as a matter of scientifc interest. Altough ficiton, the spreading of undead diseases and the survival after aggressive encounter are topics which can be adapted to normal settings as well...

This pdf tells us how a zombie endemic will spread over earth and how chances of survival are under different conditions. Even a setup with a cure for zombie-ism (which most movies leave out except the Resident evil series) is included in their mathmatical view on zombies:

"Zombies are a popular figure in pop culture/entertainment and they are usually
portrayed as being brought about through an outbreak or epidemic. Consequently,
we model a zombie attack, using biological assumptions based on popular zombie
movies. 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."
In addition to zombies in maths, some more or less scientific survival guides have been published, including one of Mel Brook's son

Zombies also serve as a measure of society's anxiety. I never thought so until I read this publication about how movies about original zombies - dead people controlled by another person, their master- were mirrors of society's fear of being controlled by other people. Nowadays the zombies - infected human hunters and brain eaters- represent what aliens were in old movies, the "other", superior culture which tries to overtake humanity but has to be defeated by humans relying on their own strengths.

Even the question of self and being undead is a matter of science: How do you actually know that you are not a zombie? Ever since watching "Wasting away" I am not sure if this question is easy to answer. Do zombies themselves feel undead? Does a hunger for brains give you away? Brain has been source of nutrition to many cultures... Although mostly animal brains, but the brain of a warrior was supposed to give you his abilities if you eat it after you killed him in many wilder cultures. The question "What is it like to be a zombie?" and consequences of being not entirely sure of one's own personality seems to be a very interesting subject for philosophers...

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