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A Mathematical Model For a Spreading Zombie Infestation

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the integrating-by-parts dept.

Math 121

cloude-pottier writes "What do you do when zombies attack? Turn to a mathematician to come up with a model for the spread of a zombie infestation, of course! Students at Carleton University and the University of Ottawa have published a paper in a book titled Infectious Disease Modelling Research Progress detailing how to model the spread of a zombie population and various complications in managing the spread of the infestation. They even give humans a fighting chance in some cases! The original paper (PDF) can be found at their professor's website."

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121 comments

Been done by computer scientists already (4, Informative)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073293)

Prior art: http://kevan.org/proce55ing/zombies/ [kevan.org]

Re:Been done by computer scientists already (0, Troll)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073303)

even older prior art older_zombie [76.177.238.60]

Re:Been done by computer scientists already (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29073357)

How lame. I can tell you one useful thing though, in case you haven't seen the new Battlestar Galactica: Adama, Lee, Laura, Starbuck and Tigh are the final 5 cylons. This is kept secret through most of the series.

Re:Been done by computer scientists already (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073457)

It's hard to find a geekier programming topic than zombies. Maybe Star Trek. Or the Babylon 5 space fights (you know, the one where you obey Newton's laws).

Re:Been done by computer scientists already (1)

exploder (196936) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073665)

It was done already by one of the groups in a mathematical modeling course I took, too. And I'm sure they weren't the first to consider the problem. I suspect there's a ton of prior art here.

Re:Been done by computer scientists already (2)

HidingMyName (669183) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073785)

Perhaps the parent comment should have been rated funny, the zombie simulator at kevan.org is a model of a city where humans are getting infected. However, the work by Kephart and White [ibm.com] is prior art which wasn't cited. However, the models used in this paper are pretty standard fare for population dynamics and epidemiological modeling, and use the classical simplifying modeling by treating the population as continuous (i.e. they aren't using a discrete individual based modeling approach). Additionally, these are homogeneous mixing models (every host can reach every other host with equal intensity). I'll need to look closer, they did ask an interesting question about how to model a system where some of the infected machines are repaired, I'm not sure that this is truly novel (Bilogists have Susceptible Infective, Susceptible Infective Removed models and Susceptible Infective Removed Susceptible models) so this may be old hat.

Re:Been done by computer scientists already (1)

Spacelem (189863) | more than 4 years ago | (#29075311)

Heterogenity and stochasticity are very important in modelling. Diseases are far less likely to die out in a deterministic model, and you end up modelling infinitesimally small individuals which can still affect the disease, such as "atto-foxes" allowing the persistence of rabies (Mollison, 1991).

Space is important too, as predator prey cycles seen in deterministic simulations (which are fairly similar to an SI model) don't occur in a stochastic model, unless you include space, and then you only get localised cycles.

Finally the most common model I've seen is actually an SEIR model, where the E is an exposed group, who are infected and infectious, but who are not yet symptomatic. They're the tricky group who can make stopping a disease very difficult. In zombie terms, it's the ill looking guy in your group who has been following you for the last 2 hours holding a bloody rag around his arm.

--
Mollison, D. (1991) Dependence of epidemic and population velocities on basic parameters. Mathematical Biosciences 107, 255-287.

Re:Been done by computer scientists already (1)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073795)

be more fun if some of the humans could get to tool sheds with chainsaws

Re:Been done by computer scientists already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29075113)

I built a fairly decent zombie mod file for Enigma Sand 4, one of those Falling Sand Games.

There are some bugs though. BIG bugs. Never bothered finishing it.

I created the humans with traits similar to ants, ie leaving trails for other ants. (also the same for the zombies)
All this talk of it makes me want to continue it again, that thing was fun, but i'm busy... doing nothing.

Re:Been done by computer scientists already (1)

kybur (1002682) | more than 4 years ago | (#29075655)

I don't like how in that simulation, there is a 0% chance of a survivor killing a zombie. How about some hope!

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Re:GNZAA (1)

Hellhog (1617707) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073501)

The zombies are already here - only in this case, they spam racist troll bullshit instead of eating brains. I'd rather have the brain-eating, thank you.

Re:GNZAA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29073655)

Don't feed the trolls.

Sick of zombies (5, Funny)

lyinhart (1352173) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073309)

I am officially sick of the concept of zombies. Yes, they used to be cool and frightening, but nowadays, they're everywhere. In video games (Left 4 Dead, Dead Rising, Plants vs. Zombies (what the heck?), etc.), lots of movies (movies about Nazi zombies, Woody Harrelson versus zombies, even another Romero movie), comics books (Marvel Zombies), and even classic literature (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?). Now they're in math too?

It's time that someone called for a moratorium (no pun intended) on zombies in the media.

Re:Sick of zombies (2, Insightful)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073379)

But its on digg, and therefore Slashdot is required to post it...

Maybe I'm trolling here, but it seems like a voluminous number of articles these days are already on diggs front page. Not sure whats so hard about finding new and interesting things to post.

Re:Sick of zombies (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 4 years ago | (#29074389)

But its on digg, and therefore Slashdot is required to post it...

Maybe I'm trolling here, but it seems like a voluminous number of articles these days are already on diggs front page. Not sure whats so hard about finding new and interesting things to post.

That's the point. It's not hard at all. Just check digg. :p

Re:Sick of zombies (5, Funny)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073413)

You're just jealous because none of them think your brain is worthy of eating.

Re:Sick of zombies (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#29075101)

Actually, it's the other way around - we're saving the tastiest brains for the dessert.

Re:Sick of zombies (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29073425)

Don't worry, the Decade of the Zombie is nearly over (also, I think it's clear that 2009 is the Year of the Twat).

Except in this scenario: people obsess so much over how to protect themselves from zombie infestation that scientists, possibly working for the military or NIH, start working on serious protections from zombie-like scenarios. In order to realistically simulate cures and containment tactics, of course, one will need working models... But these tests will all be safely under the control of experienced security experts. Like anthrax.

Yup, we're boned.

Re:Sick of zombies (5, Interesting)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073461)

Outside of entertainment, Zombies are a metaphor for social unrest. When I was house shopping, my girlfriend asked me what criteria I was using to evaluate properties. I explained that there was price, location, condition, number of bedrooms, yard space, parking, garage space, and defensibility in the event of a zombie holocaust. She thought that I was joking with that last one. Then I explained that I wasn't talking about movie zombies. I was talking about small to medium sized groups of attackers in the event of widespread social unrest. If the economy goes south and we have people robbing and looting, how well can I defend this property? The house that I eventually chose wasn't the highest on the zombie defense mark, but it was in the top third.

LK

Re:Sick of zombies (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073923)

Sounds like the train of thought the Militia type in Michigan go through.

Re:Sick of zombies (3, Insightful)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29074597)

Sounds like the train of thought the Militia type in Michigan go through.

Or shopkeepers in Los Angeles.

Or anyone who's aware of events that took place in the 1960s.

LK

Re:Sick of zombies (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 4 years ago | (#29074207)

Defense against zombies is actually trivial if you know what you're doing. All you need to do is put out bowls of potato chips, popcorn, pork rinds and other salty snacks. Once they eat them and taste the salt, they'll remember that they're dead and go back to their graves forever.

Re:Sick of zombies (1)

bogjobber (880402) | more than 4 years ago | (#29074555)

I prefer tall nuts, gatling peas, and flame bushes. Of course you have to strategically place some magnets to defend against football players and diggers, but you should be able to last 12-13 levels at least.

Re:Sick of zombies (1)

Vahokif (1292866) | more than 4 years ago | (#29074761)

Zombies don't have guns, or ladders, but rioters do.

Re:Sick of zombies (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 4 years ago | (#29074991)

I was talking about small to medium sized groups of attackers in the event of widespread social unrest. If the economy goes south and we have people robbing and looting, how well can I defend this property?

Well, in that case, get a house that's in the middle of a thick forest, as far from any civilization as possible. You can't defend a house in urban areas, not only because there's too many attackers and widespread fires but also because there's no source of food or water in the case of social meltdown. Oh, and make sure that your neighbours like you.

Re:Sick of zombies (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29077375)

Well, in that case, get a house that's in the middle of a thick forest, as far from any civilization as possible. You can't defend a house in urban areas,

Compromise my friend. Suburbs. My neighbors are far enough away that a fire at one of their houses will not easily spread to mine. I live in an area that could be defended by a handful of motivated individuals. Rioters or looters would simply move on to easier prey.

Re:Sick of zombies (4, Funny)

Trogre (513942) | more than 4 years ago | (#29075343)

FREE O.J.

Where? And do we need to bring our own cups?

Re:Sick of zombies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29075499)

Same deal here. When looking at Real Estate with my wife, for our next residence, she asked me about one and my answer was something like:

"Nice. Looks defensible. High street-facing balcony, I can see them coming from a mile off and drop them before they get to the front door."

My main concern is actually protecting against robbery rather than armed defense of my property. What we actually bought is reasonably secure; people won't be able to just walk into our property.

Re:Sick of zombies (1)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | more than 4 years ago | (#29075719)

My main concern is actually protecting against robbery rather than armed defense of my property. What we actually bought is reasonably secure; people won't be able to just walk into our property.

You bought Mordor? Dude, doesn't work. Last owner had a valuable gold ring vandalized by two short guys with body hair issues and their freak friend.

Re:Sick of zombies (1)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 4 years ago | (#29075799)

people won't be able to just walk into our property.

You have a moat, I take it?

Re:Sick of zombies (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29077351)

There's an easy way to deter burglary. Dogs. Even little dogs make enough noise to alert you to unwelcomed visitors.

LK

Re:Sick of zombies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29075707)

I'd love to hear a realtor pitch that one.

"Yes, this house needs a bit of tender loving care. But with some bars on the windows and a few autoturrets, it has excellent zombie apocalypse defense potential."

Re:Sick of zombies (1)

twoblink (201439) | more than 4 years ago | (#29076171)

You simply need more guns, with higher kill efficiencies, and learn to shoot.

I have an M1A, and generally I think a 308 will put a zombie down if hit center of mass. scatter gun for CQB, but definitely a lot of ammo and a few good rifles. Your GF should be able to shoot as well, and should be watching your flank..

Re:Sick of zombies (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29077331)

I have enough. All of the guns in the world will be useless if the structure you're defending has blind spots that attackers can use to get close.

OK, we'll delve a bit into make-believe here just because I enjoy that sort of thing. The vast majority of damage done by a high velocity rifle bullet, like a .308, is the result of hydrostatic pressure. Basically the water inside of a body transfers the force of the bullet to the surrounding tissue. That's not an issue for zombies. They don't drink water, but they're subjected to the same environmental factors as everything else, as a result they'd dessicate. There's be less water inside of them to transfer the force. So, perhaps a fresh zombie could be incapacitated by a .308 in center of mass, but one that's been undead for a while would be unaffected. It would be like shooting into a bag full of raisins.

I have a good deer rifle, it's a 30-06 so the bullets carry a little bit more kinetic energy than a .308.

LK

Re:Sick of zombies (1)

greyhueofdoubt (1159527) | more than 4 years ago | (#29076345)

I second your usage of 'zombies' but I think there is a darker side to it... I wind up on various libertarian/survivalist/gun-related forums every now and then trying to find obscure information (how to remove front post sight from AK-47, for example. Innocent little things). Something I noticed, and it took me a while, is that 'zombies', for them, is a euphemism for minorities.

Now, there is a distinction here- You and I using it as a euphemism for civil unrest and they using it for civil unrest of dark people. It's something that always kind of bugged me, and part of why I don't post on those forums.

It's sort of like how Urban has come to be a blatant euphemism for african american/black. I mean, there are sections in music catalogs, "Urban", where all the black artists' music goes. If you're proud of your beliefs and one of your beliefs is that you don't like black people, then have the balls to just come out and say it.

Anyways, yeah. My house has poor zombie defensibility (too many windows at ground level, only one level, forest comes almost up to the house) but because of my neighbors the zombies might go elsewhere looking for brains.

-b

Re:Sick of zombies (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29077277)

This must be a recent phenomenon, I spend a fair amount of time on survivalist forums back in the mid 90s. The thing that stands out most in my mind was the advice I gave some people on avoiding lice. The reason it stands out is that there was a typo in my post and for some reason it was copied and mirrored all over the place. If I'm really inclinedBeing that I am a member of a minority group, I'm sure that I would have noticed such usage.

I see "Urban" as being an accurate representation of a certain segment of the black community. I grew up in the suburbs, there are profound differences between me and even some of my relatives who grew up in "Urban" settings. I don't take offense when people say Urban meaning a certain kind of black people. It's a fairly accurate way to say it.

LK

Re:Sick of zombies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29073471)

That's because the democrats are in power. It's time to break out the vampires movies and stories.

Re:Sick of zombies (1)

Hellhog (1617707) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073483)

That's because the democrats are in power.

Yeah uh.. this has what to do with anything?

It's time to break out the vampires movies and stories.

No, as much as I hate to say it, we're getting vampires as the Next Big Thing because of Twilight.

Re:Sick of zombies (2)

vantar (1123257) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073759)

That's because the democrats are in power.

Yeah uh.. this has what to do with anything?

There is a frequently referenced correlation between the political party in power and the popularity of vampires or zombies. Source: [signonsandiego.com]

Re:Sick of zombies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29074649)

Which of course is utter BS. Just because events SEEM correlated, it doesn't mean that they ARE. This is statistics 101, but also forgivable since it is often hard to find the cause of correlation. And to be true, it is more fun to have a juicy statement than a true statement, no?

Check out Freakonomics [wikipedia.org] . It has some really interesting points.

Re:Sick of zombies (2)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073899)

I refuse to accept anything that "sparkles" in sunlight as a true vampire.

Re:Sick of zombies (2)

Hellhog (1617707) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073481)

If I had mod points, I'd be giving them. Amen to everything you said. Zombies are abso-fucking-lutely played the hell OUT. Sadly, it seems we're going to be back on overusing vampires very soon. This stuff's cyclical, you know.

Re:Sick of zombies (1)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073969)

Zombies and Vampires, and maybe some others. But one thing that makes zombies the most overused cliche evah is that ALL these zombies are just a subset of Night of the Living Dead's zombies. The whole sudden lunges, eat brains, massively multiplying zombies trend ignores Zombies as they used to be in film and print fiction before Romero. The only films I can think of offhand that portrayed old fashioned Zombies after NotLD is the two Phil Lovecraft Private Eye movies made for HBO - "Cast a Deadly Spell" and "Witch Hunt". Even though those two films went straight back to old shambling occultly animated corpses for the zombie parts, they also had more originality, novelty and style overall than a whole host of modern zombie flicks put together.
      It's like somebody (the George Romero equivalent in my car analogy) had the idea to make NASCAR, and practically everybody else on the planet took one look, and stopped doing Formula One racing, Drag racing, Motocross, and even the Olympic Luge to take their best shot at creating a thousand identical clones of NASCAR.
      Something that has the potential to either eat or infect you may stay frightening for a long time, but they lost any traces of cool remaining about 20 years ago, in the same way that you can't have a guitarist, a bassist, a keyboard player and a drummer in your four guy group, record a bunch of tracks that are all 3 min. 14 sec. long, and still be cool. A moratorium hell! - somebody needs to tell these people they are so far from cool they would barely approach lukewarm if somebody gave them a liquid helium enema on Pluto.

Re:Sick of zombies (1)

Eudial (590661) | more than 4 years ago | (#29074979)

Fortunately, a silly concept like "zombies" is not the only application for this theory. As far as I understand things, it should work perfectly well to simulate the much more realistic spread of an infection of Borg nanoprobes in a society as well.

Re:Sick of zombies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29075731)

Almost anything is better "...with zombies". I mean, look how much it helped "Pride and Prejudice"! It's like "...on the internet" years ago.

I'm sorry, but the zombie meme is an unstoppable horde.

Hum.... (1)

Mishotaki (957104) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073339)

Somebady got too much time on their hands....

Oblig. (3, Funny)

dln385 (1451209) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073351)

Re:Oblig. (4, Funny)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073545)

Oh great. Earlier I worried about zombies. And I worried about velociraptors. Now I need to worry about zombie velociraptors? How about I just curl up under my covers and pretend the world isn't out to kill me.

Re:Oblig. (2, Funny)

sconeu (64226) | more than 4 years ago | (#29074017)

Probably more appropriate: http://xkcd.com/348 [xkcd.com] .

Re:Oblig. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29074209)

http://xkcd.com/599/ [xkcd.com]

right (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29073361)

Where's the mathematical model of hunky and hung black men stretching out my asshole in the restroom at 8 on the Break?

"Turn to a mathematician..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29073445)

In case you wanted to know _exactly_ how screwed you are.

Oh please .... (1)

taniwha (70410) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073447)

This is just posturing - when the zombies come the mathematicians will be the first to go - the human race will be repopulated by whoever can run the fastest

Zombie Modelling (2, Insightful)

BrightSpark (1578977) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073449)

Many of today's top models look like zombies. :-p I have had many zombies on my unix systems and Wikipedia here shows how to kill them.. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zombie_process [wikipedia.org] Not as satisfying as Left 4 Dead, but it does the job.

Interesting, but... (4, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073451)

Until we manage to create real zombies and release them on the population, we'll never be able to test the model.

Re:Interesting, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29073577)

Until we manage to create real zombies and release them on the population, we'll never be able to test the model.

Ya don't think so, do ya? Well let me give you some "straight talk." *wink* We've got an army of supporters who believe in my common sense message, you betcha!

Re:Interesting, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29073579)

be careful what you wish for [vancouversun.com]

Re:Interesting, but... (1, Troll)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073585)

Until we manage to create real zombies and release them on the population, we'll never be able to test the model.

There are already three different test cases that have been released into the populace: teabaggers, birthers and deathers.

In all cases, mental activity is absolutely zero, yet they keep moving around, menacing the living, going after anyone who looks like they have a brain. The teabagger test case flamed out fairly quickly, the birthers took quit a bit longer, and the deathers are still going.

There's even a new game coming out, a sequel to the Left 4 Dead franchise, to be called 'Jingos 4 Jesus'. Can't wait!

Re:Interesting, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29074593)

Anon because I've already modded a few posts in this thread: I was going to mod you too, but I couldn't find "+1 I want what he's smoking" in the drop-down.

Re:Interesting, but... (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073597)

Rabid animals are probably the closest subjects in the real world for candidates of such testing.

Re:Interesting, but... (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073751)

Zombies aren't the threat people make them out to be. Under the rules in the Zombie Survival Guide (if you get bitten, you feel symptoms in 4h, fall unconscious in 16h, become a zombie in 24h; zombies move at 1.5 feet per second (45cm/s) and their gait makes it easy to tell them apart; zombies have the brain of an insect, so they can't use guns or even knives; the zombie's brain (the only way to kill a zombie is by taking out the brain) is located in the frontal lobe), even if 5% of the population instantly became zombies and started biting people the military would quickly kill them all.

Re:Interesting, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29074125)

As long as this greedy government withholds our funding, we may never know.

Re:Interesting, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29075415)

I take it you haven't been to a town hall meeting on health care reform in a district with a Democratic Congressperson.

Convergent serie (4, Funny)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073489)

It grow fast but always is limited by the absolute numbers of installed windows PC.

Re:Convergent serie (2, Interesting)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073821)

Oh, good! It's nice to see that I wasn't the only slashdotter to read the summary and think it referred to zombified PCs.

Re:Convergent serie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29074769)

Sorry, I didn't read the article, summary, or even really the title. Isn't the story about zombified computers?

If movie studios pick up on this (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29073557)

...it should make zombie movies more interesting, not to mention more scary. Human brains (at least the ones not eaten by zombies) are usually fairly good at determining when something is logically consistent.

They're wrong... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29073569)

If Shaun of the Dead (movie) is any indication, being aggressive and fast isn't the way to go about defeating hordes of zombies.

1) Relax, ignore them at first. Be completely oblivious, not knowing they're even around is useful.

2) Once they can't be ignored anymore, stand back a little and have a pleasant conversation with a friend about it if you have any left. Maybe throw a few vinyl records.

3) Don't try to survive by staying somewhere safe like a hi-rise flat, head to the nearest pub with easy to break windows and poor locks.

4) Walk, don't run and bicker a lot with the other survivors, shouting helps.

5) If someone gets bit, keep them around a bit, even drive with them or hug them if you can.

6) Try playing dead, moan and walk like a zombie this always tricks them.

7) Wait for the calvary to arrive, your government is probably playing it cool. They'll be around in due time.

Noted... (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073575)

In summary, a zombie outbreak is likely to lead to the collapse of civilisation, unless it is dealt with quickly. While aggressive quarantine may contain the epidemic, or a cure may lead to coexistence of humans and zombies, the most effective way to contain the rise of the undead is to hit hard and hit often. As seen in the movies, it is imperative that zombies are dealt with quickly, or else we are all in a great deal of trouble.

Hummm so the moral we should all take from this is if you are in an area with a zombie outbreak you should get the fuck out before the nukes start falling...

Good to know...

Ahhh the possiblities... (2, Insightful)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073591)

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.

Did anyone else RTFA? Note the bold part... I always knew there was more to political fandom than met the eye. Apparently it involves your brain being consumed...

Re:Ahhh the possiblities... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29075011)

I assume you haven't talked to neo nazis. Completely brainless, yet somehow able to infect other people with their ideas.

Or just wait until winter... (1)

Dr. Manhattan (29720) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073615)

...and go out and smash up the corpsicles.

(Okay, yeah, tropical zones, waves of reinfection, etc. But there's a reason zombie movies always take place in the summer.)

Re:Or just wait until winter... (1)

Jarlsberg (643324) | more than 4 years ago | (#29074885)

The new norwegian zombie movies takes place in the winter, with nazi zombies crawling out of the snow.

Pass along to Obama (2, Funny)

Rehnberg (1618505) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073641)

Once we get done reforming healthcare, perhaps someone could pass this up to Obama and get a plan for a zombie infestation drawn up. Never a bad idea to have one of those...

Re:Pass along to Obama (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29076989)

I prefer it if the government were drawing up a plan for dealing with zombie infestations.

Missing variables... (5, Funny)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073649)

Unfortunately, after reading this study there seem to be several missing elements:

1. zombie speed and effectiveness. Are these 28 Days Later psycho zombies or Shaun of the Dead shambling loser zombies? And sure, they modeled an "encounter" but it's a simple one-on-one winner takes all. Any good zombistician knows most zombie encounters are between a small band of survivors and a horde. It needs to be modeled!

2. It appears that any individual can transition between the "Zombie" and "Removed" state. There needs to be a 4th (end) state: "Brains Splattered By Shotgun".

3. Bruce Campbell.

Re:Missing variables... (1)

Cramit (609487) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073813)

3. Bruce Campbell...and his boom stick!

Re:Missing variables... (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073995)

Good. Bad. I'm the guy with the gun.

Re:Missing variables... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29074451)

1.) They explicitly state that these are not intended to be 28 Days Later style zombies.

2 & 3.) Agree.

Re:Missing variables... (1)

schmu_20mol (806069) | more than 4 years ago | (#29075751)

1.) 'Shaun of the dead'-style, page 2 second to last sentence.

2.) Already there. Zombies can be 'killed' and then enter the Removed group, final defeat is modelled by the parameter alpha (page 3).

3.) Touché.

Z-Wars (1)

Archfeld (6757) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073695)

Do you have your Redeker Plan ?

Senior author (2, Informative)

plasmidmap (1435389) | more than 4 years ago | (#29073765)

The senior author is a professor at the university I attend--he is a super nice guy and does very interesting non-zombie related research too.

Re:Senior author (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29073865)

To think I almost missed this vital clue... Thanks!

Let us (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29073807)

Consider a spherical zombie in simple harmonic motion...

Re:Let us (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29075899)

Consider a spherical zombie in simple harmonic motion...

Only if you ignore friction.

Ho80 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29074227)

are about 7000/5 be on a wrong your spare timE parties, but here

Re:Ho80 (1)

IRoll11!s (1609859) | more than 4 years ago | (#29074287)

are about 7000/5 be on a wrong your spare timE parties, but here

Thanks, until I read your post the universe was starting to make sense. I'm going to go crawl into a corner and cry a little now.

The Lucifer Effect: How Good People Turn Evil (1)

ciaran.mchale (1018214) | more than 4 years ago | (#29074699)

There is a great book called The Lucifer Effect: How Good People Turn Evil by Philip Zimbardo. The author was the guy who conducted the Standford Prison Experiment [wikipedia.org] a few decades ago. The book discusses that experiment and how it relates to other well-known acts of evil that have occurred, such as massacres during war, genocides, and abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

In the book, the author argues against the idea that some people are intrinsically good and other people are intrinsically evil. Instead, the evidence from the Stanford Prison Experiment indicates that if you put good people into an evil situation then they will behave in evil ways. Of course, this viewpoint is exactly the opposite of the assumption made by the person who wrote the AI program in the article.

Spatial stochastic disease modelling (3, Insightful)

Spacelem (189863) | more than 4 years ago | (#29075277)

Modelling a zombie outbreak?

That's entirely similar to the work I've been doing for the last year, modelling the spread of a disease among an animal population. I've been trying to work out under what situations culling will lead to an increase in the number of infecteds.

So, if I name the particular species I've been working on "zombies", and adjust some of the parameters, I've got an SI model that is not only very similar to this, but also includes spatial structure and stochasticity, which is crucial for describing the stability of the disease, and modelling the spread when the population size is low.

Now we know for sure... (1)

koolfy (1213316) | more than 4 years ago | (#29075765)

...from computer simulation, that this year is going to be the year of Zombies on the Desktop !

Trivial mathematical modeling (1)

magi (91730) | more than 4 years ago | (#29075945)

Nothing scientifically interesting here. This is just basic 101 mathematical modeling, straight from the text book. They start with the most basic SIR model, building it from the elementary reactions and do the basic analysis: solve the equilibria and determine their stability with eigenvalues. They have just renamed the generic "infected" as "zombies". We did these calculations for dozens of different models as part of course exercises. For some reason, they don't do phase plane analysis, which is a very basic method, for any of the models, which is a bit strange.

I don't see why any scientific magazine would publish such basic text book stuff, except for fun. Sure, it's fun.

One of the best scenes... (1)

VinylRecords (1292374) | more than 4 years ago | (#29076119)

One of the best scene in the film 'The Thing' (1982) was when the scientist realizes that they are dealing with an alien foe who can replicate and imitate other species. He rapidly writes a computer program and creates his own equations within it to accurately calculate, based his cellular observations of the alien organism, the best projection of how quickly the alien could take over earth's population should it reach mainland (they are stranded on an arctic base with the alien creature).

Below is the IMDB link to the movie (and as a /. user if you haven't seen The Thing yet please deactivate your account and hand in your geek card) and the exact start of the scene in question courtesy of YouTube.

http://www.imdb.com/find?s=all&q=the+thing&x=0&y=0 [imdb.com]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUxPer4lmGo&feature=related [youtube.com]

but...it's wrong! (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 4 years ago | (#29076379)

Okay, I know the first rule of slashdot is that you don't read TFA. But I did, and they messed up. On p. 135 they describe a process that occurs at rate alpha where normal humans decapitate or destroy the brains of zombies. This reduces the population Z of zombies, and increases the population R of "removed" individuals. But they also have a process that occurs at rate zeta, where "removed" individuals are resurrected and become zombies. No way! Once you decapitate the zombie or destroy its brain, it can't be resurrected! R should just be the group that's dead with an intact brain, and then the R'=...+alpha SZ ... term shouldn't be there. There should only be a -alpha SZ term in the Z' equation.

FTA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29076607)

But possible real-life applications may include allegiance to political parties

As I suspected, he was under contract from Obama to develop this.

Problem. (1)

Nekomusume (956306) | more than 4 years ago | (#29077241)

Meh. Zombies are mostly a problem due to horror movie tropes like "running away never works", "the authorities are useless when it comes to anything important" and "nobody in the movie has ever seen a zombie movie". Chances are it wouldn't get beyond a small initial outbreak.

Even if they get established in a city, once the military gets called in, tanks and other armored vehicles will make short work of the milling throngs - if the "zombies are attracted to noise" rule is in effect, you could get them all by just driving tanks through the streets constantly for a few weeks.

Modern zombies pretty much always stem from a single case 0 and don't have an airborn infection vector, so unless you get really unlucky, you're looking at losing one city at most.

That said, if animals can spread it, you're hosed. Forget about packs of zombie-dogs, what you'd have to worry about is crows...

Been there (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29077373)

What do you do when zombies attack?

Most people buy popcorn.

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