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Zombies and the maths of infection

No, no. This isn’t another post about Zafehouse 2. It is zombie-spiced though, and you can’t be sad about that.

There’s a story (it’s a little advertise-y) over at the Wall Street Journal about a fellow called Robert Smith? (the question mark is part of his name, it seems), an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa. He’s putting out a book soon on infectious diseases that’ll include a chapter called – wait for it – “When Zombies Attack!: Mathematical Modeling of an Outbreak of Zombie Infection“.

Gets me randy, it does. A bit from the WSJ story:

If you go for a cure, “unless the cure was 100%, which it would never be in reality, you can’t turn all the zombies back.” You wind up with “this equilibrium where people are always switching back and forth” between human and zombie. Entirely unsatisfactory.

Cure? Pfft, we know there’s no cure. Luckily, it seems there’s another answer:

…the students were interested in a mathematical technique that looks at intermittent pulses of activity. So they modeled a human counterattack that came in multiple waves.

“While aggressive quarantine may contain the epidemic, or a cure may lead to coexistence of humans and zombies,” they concluded, “the most effective way to contain the rise of the undead is to hit hard and hit often.”

The best part? You don’t need to buy the book to check out the research, the chapter is available free as a PDF. I just skimmed it and the amount of numbers mixed with letters mixed with insane is, well, insane. But the References section is packed with everything from Romero and Brooks to Mikami and Pegg, so the pedigree is super-fine.

Be warned, it’s dense as heck.

~ by Logan on August 19, 2009.

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