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!

5 thoughts on “i am, apparently, ahead of my time”

  1. Best. Paper. Sessions. EVAR!

    I don’t know about that. Five panelists slumped over a table, groaning “Braaaaaaaains” at regular intervals? That doesn’t even stand out from some paper sessions I’ve seen, much less seem like the best.


  2. i’m down Cupertino way this week (centre of all things Apple) and the San Jose Mercury News has zombies on the front page of the paper this morning.

    Zombie pub crawl! Culminating in Shawn of the Dead outdoor viewing.

    Also saw District 9 last night, and while not really a zombie movie, it was awesome. And there were two trailers for upcoming zombie movies.

    And… the audiobook for World War Z is now available. I have read most of it, but i got the audiobook as it features Alan Alda, Rob Reiner, and John Turturro. Plus it seems like a great book to listen to given it’s interview format.


  3. Hopefully you took advantage of this publication opportunity (from the Sept/Oct 2008 issue of Footnotes):

    An Interdisciplinary Collection of Essays on the Zombie seeks proposals for an interdisciplinary volume discussing the zombie from a variety of perspectives and within a range of contexts. Submissions from all disciplines are invited. In addition to theoretical essays on zombies, we also welcome critical discussions of specific zombie films, novels, and graphic novels, including those both pre- and post-Romero. Proposals should be between 200 and 300 words. Include brief author biographical details with their submissions, including name and academic affiliation. Submit proposals either electronically or by regular mail. Deadline: October 31, 2008. Contact: Cory James Rushton, Dept. of English, St. Francis Xavier University, PO Box 5000, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, B2G 2W5, Canada; crushton@stfx.ca; or Christopher M. Moreman, Dept. of Philosophy, California State University-East Bay, 25800 Carlos Bee Blvd., Hayward, CA 94542; christopher.moreman@csueastbay.edu.


  4. Fascinating. I’ve often discussed wanting to teach intro to sociology concepts through joint readings of popular fiction on post-apocalyptic scenarios, and zombies are, of course a favorite.

    But Stephen King’s The Stand also has a soft spot in my heard for its inclusion of a Sociologist in the council for remaking human society.


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