Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Zombie Apocolypse!


You are SO lucky to have a friend that is a geek. I’m not joking. The Daily Skinny may save your life one day soon.

We all know what people do on the internet when they get bored: read Infectious Disease journals. I was cruising the e-boulevard in geekville when I came across a research paper called, “When Zombies Attack!: Mathematical Modeling of an Outbreak of Zombie Infection”.

As I drooled over the title, I muttered to myself “you had me at ‘Mathematical Modeling’.” (Sometimes I also say this to my wife, Weather Principio, who rolls her eyes.)

As far as I am concerned, math and zombies BELONG together. Because of my concerns regarding an impending zombie apocalypse, I began reading. The purpose of the paper, from my perspective, was to project how fast Zombie-ism is likely to grow (after an outbreak) and what methods would be most successful for stopping it.

In case you are not up-to-date on the latest zombie info, here is the Skinny:

Usually a zombie is someone who has died and been brought back to life by magic, or has skipped the death stage and gone straight to zombie-hood. Normally the latter type of zombie occurs due to a zombie infection (they have a lot of open sores).

The pure, classical school of zombies maintains that zombies have always been a stiff, slow moving monster that is unable to communicate or reason. Some weirdoes have made movies where the zombies were just as agile as the living, but clearly that is nonsense. It has been observed that zombies tend to have no other aim than to eat the flesh of humans (often the brain). Not surprisingly, the zombie infection can be passed to other people through a break in the skin. Although I suppose if you were to kiss a Zombie, that would also do the trick. (Eww…) I am not aware of any successful Zombie-Human relationships, so as a general rule, never date someone who is dead, undead, re-dead, post-dead, or less than alive. Also, I am told zombies have incredibly bad death-breath, so if you plan to give one a serious kiss you may want to think again.

Naturally, zombies are very difficult to kill. They can take 100 times the damage of a normal human and be fine. The tricky part of killing them is doing it without catching the zombie infection from their fluids. It seems that the most effective method for stopping a zombie is to give it a significant head wound. Usually a machete or gun is used, but a few cases of lethal Hannah Montana cds have been reported.

For some reason, zombies tend to move in huge packs, so try to isolate yourself as much as possible following an outbreak.

Most people that read about zombies are glad to have the information for defense planning purposes. But some of you are wondering how to use this to your advantage. So, I have taken the liberty of doing some research.

HOW TO BUILD YOUR OWN ZOMBIE ARMY

It’s really not super hard. First, you’ll need some coup de poudre. If for some reason you have no idea what that is, you can substitute the less effective tetrodotoxin. This is the chemical in puffer fish that kills you if you eat it. Just camp-out behind a sushi restaurant for awhile, and you’ll be able to find a bunch. Absorb the toxin into some flour to get the poison in a powder form. Now mix it with a dissociative drug. I like to use datura when I am working on a zombie army, because it has just a little bit more punch to it. If your supermarket has a deadly plants section, you might find it under the name Hell's Bells.

An ethnobotonist at Harvard says these two powders will cause a death-like state in the person you give it. It seemed like he was pretty smart, until his plumber pointed out that it doesn’t take a PhD to realize that giving people poison causes “a death-like state”. Anyway, once you have administered the zombie poison to the person of your choice, the person will drop dead. Don’t run for garbage bags and circular saws though! They will wake up in a day or so, and be entirely subject to your will. (Bwaah haaah haaah!) That incubation time is important for the zombie infection fluids to become more virulent. When they wake up, the zombie-ism, will spread and your army will grow!

This has been “documented” to work by a man who used it on his brother, Clairvius. The man grew a zombie army to work his farm in Haiti. The trick to being a success is to keep giving your zombies doses of the drugs. However, the poor guy died in 1964 and eventually the drugs wore off on his zombies. (I HATE that!) In fact, after awhile, Clairvius (the brother) went home to live with his family. Surprisingly, most of the other zombies were pretty messed up after being buried alive and then force fed hallucinogens for decades. It seems they never rejoined humanity.

Back to the Mathematical Model!

Their complex equation involved three basic types of people. “Susceptibles” are the normal, healthy people who are being chased. They could become victims of zombification. “Zombies” are obviously, the ones who want to eat your brains. The final group was the “Removed”. This is a nice way of saying: The Zombie scum that we have re-killed or re-deaded”.

The formula takes into account the possibility of quarantine and even treatment. Theoretically some humans survive, but they must learn to coexist with zombies. Personally, I think that only in a Disney movie would the ending include the zombies and the townsfolk becoming friends.

So what does the formula tell us? If an infection breaks out in a city of 500,000 people, the zombies will outnumber the susceptibles (the good guys!) in about three days. Some claim that catching zombie diseases can be avoided if your pineal gland is pure and healthy. Of course, they also claim that in order for it to be healthy you have to buy their expensive solution which comes dangerously close to causing metal toxicity (Gold and Silver). (To be fair, they don’t actually claim their solution is intended for zombies. But if they can make up fake health claims, I can make up fake uses.)

The authors wisely concluded their study with, “An outbreak of zombies is likely to be disastrous, unless extremely aggressive tactics are employed against the undead. It is imperative that zombies are dealt with quickly, or else we are all in a great deal of trouble.”

In their modeling, the only solution that ended favorably for us normal folks involved a massive army sweeping the country and killing all the zombies (including those with dormant zombie infections). Luckily, some healthcare reformers are pushing to get “medical chainsaws” in every home. That way, we can assemble an army quickly.

CRITICISM AGAINST THE MODEL
In feedback to their article, one person asked the one question that matters: “If society begins collapsing into chaos and the world is succumbing to the zombie apocalypse, how long would the internet stay up?”

To stay around long term, the zombies would have to harvest the humans in 15-18 year cycles and provide food, clothing and shelter while they produce the next litter of humans. All the evidence seems to indicate that zombies do not have the patience and cultivation skills necessary to farm humans. Because of this, it is unlikely that any zombie population will sustainable in the long term. So if a zombie outbreak occurs, just plan on hiding for a few weeks while the zombies starve to death.

I searched some medical websites like PubMed and could find no cases of a recovered zombie succumbing to their disease again. This proves that rehabilitated zombies are probably immune, and don’t re-enter the “susceptible” population. But let’s be honest… would you let a “recovered” zombie babysit your kids? Maybe we could have a zombie registry or something…

Oh. Just one more tip from the Zombie Survival Guide (not kidding). Stock up on axes and swords, since guns always run out of ammo. My research also indicates that knowing some kung fu may help.

**For those who wondered: there is no such thing as zombies, big foot, the Loch Ness Monster, El Chupacabra or prosthetic feet with built in gun holsters.**

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