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Zombie Maths


Essentially the maths of zombies is the same as the maths of flu or maths of measles

On calculating survival of a zombie outbreak

The best use of mathematical biology I’ve seen applied to zombie outbreak.  So, a few years ago a guy called Robert Smith? in Ottawa, Canada, he just…very simple, everyday maths that I would use, he applied it to zombies and he showed that…cause essentially the maths of zombies is the same as the maths of flu or maths of measles or maths of AIDS, you know, it’s just an epidemic flowing through the population.  And he showed that we could not survive a zombie outbreak.  

What he then said was, he sent out an email to all the maths departments saying, OK, I couldn’t make anyone survive, would anyone be interested in doing some work on this and trying what we have to do to see our population survive a zombie outbreak.  And my hand shot up, I love doing outreach, I love doing maths, zombies, perfect.

So I just started applying some of the maths I do to the zombies and still we can’t survive.  Zombies are pretty ubiquitous in our cause of death.  I was once asked, from your maths, what’s the best strategy?  I think, join the winning team, sadly, you know, go and top yourself, maybe!

On the type of zombie

It was Romero zombies, so slow moving, very dumb, essentially moving randomly, so that was a key part of my work.  The original work didn’t have movement; I said, well, one of the things about zombies is that they shuffle round, they crawl, they moan, they don’t know what they’re doing.  And so I added this into the model because, essentially, if zombies move slowly enough, perhaps we can run away.  But the problem is, you can only run so far and zombies will eventually get everywhere, they don’t die out naturally.  Wherever you hide, they will get there.  And that’s sort of the moral of the story, that that’s why we can’t survive.

Factoring in decay

There is a question there, so if you account for the decay, so a human body, the brain decays, I’ve read reports within a month, maybe two months, so if that is true…cause we didn’t have a natural decay term, we said the zombies would survive no matter what, there’s no natural death there.  But if, if you could put in a natural death term, and if that was high enough…so this is the only way we can survive, so here’s the big message: if zombies aren’t very dangerous and we kill more of them than they kill of us, it’s perfectly simple, it makes sense, that’s the only way we can survive.  You know, we really have to wipe them out because any single infection will carry out.