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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I am, apparently, ahead of my time.

Some of you who share my fondness for all things zombie may be excited to know that your interests are no longer- technically speaking- purely a hobby. Instead, it's now possible to regard the study of zombies as an intellectual contribution. Am I kidding? Not at all, because I recently became aware of a new book titled, "Infectious Disease Modelling Research Progress." What does that have to do with zombies? Seemingly nothing, until you notice that chapter four is titled, "When Zombies Attack!: Mathematical Modelling of an Outbreak of Zombie Infection." Seriously.

There's a great little article on the chapter at Wired, but the essence is that the authors adapted the classic SIR model from epidemiology for zombies. For those who don't know, "S" stands for susceptible, "I" stands for infectious, and "R" stands for recovered- where recovered can mean either "recovered from the illness and now immune" or "dead." In any case, the authors of this chapter converted SIR into SZR- Susceptible, Zombie, and Recovered. And as we all know, there isn't any "recovering" from zombification, so that R stands for "Really big bullet to the brain."

So what's the prognosis for a potential zombie uprising? Eh. Not good:

“Only sufficiently frequent attacks, with increasing force, will result in eradication, assuming the available resources can be mustered in time,” they concluded.

...

“If the timescale of the outbreak increases, then the result is the doomsday scenario: an outbreak of zombies will result in the collapse of civilization, with every human infected, or dead,” they wrote. “This is because human births and deaths will provide the undead with a limitless supply of new bodies to infect, resurrect and convert.”

How fast do we need to deal with the outbreak? If an infection breaks out in a city of 500,000 people, the zombies will outnumber the susceptibles in about three days.


All I can say is, between the threat of a zombie apocalypse and the new respectability of zombie studies, it's a good thing I keep the Zombie Survival Guide in the methods section of my office bookshelf. Nevertheless, this makes me wonder: how long until we have a "Zombies and Society" section-in-formation at the ASAs?

Best. Paper. Sessions. EVAR!

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2 Comments:

Blogger Practicing Idealist said...

This is awesome!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009 12:39:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Zombies and Society would bring together so many diffuse factions in Sociology! For example:
Marxist interpretations of zombies-as-underclass (see Romero's "Land of the Dead"), Medical Sociology/Science Studies perspectives on the creation of the Zombie as a "(semi)human kind" (cf. Hacking), the obvious demographic papers similar to the theoretical exercise discussed in this post, cultural soc views on the rise of the zombie and the brain as symbol for rationality and modernity (as well as delicious snack), postmodern perspectives on the un-death of the subject...

Now what would an economic sociology of zombies look like? Definitely something to ponder today.

Thursday, August 20, 2009 4:52:00 AM  

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