Nine Worlds, One Zombie Apocalypse

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One of my favourite talks at this year’s Nine Worlds was Ric Crossman’s presentation on the mathematical modelling of a zombie apocalypse. It’s sadly not a talk I can do justice to. I’m not enough of a mathematician to coherently explain the models, and half the joy of the talk was Ric’s entertaining delivery. That said, here are three points I thought were worth sharing for zombie fans out there:

  1. If you get a chance to hear Ric’s talk, go to it. It’s very entertaining.
  2. If you’re interested in accurately modelling a zombie apocalypse (and who isn’t?) there’s a whole book on that out there. It turns out that quite a few serious statisticians are also the sort of geeks who like zombies (surprise surprise), and Robert Smith? (the question mark is part of his name) edited a book of essays on the subject. If you’re researching for your planned book on the zombie apocalypse, or you like to be able to bring pedantic details to pop culture conversations, this is one for you.
  3. If human beings survive a zombie apocalypse, there’ll be two phases – one where things are changing and one where we reach an equilibrium, a balance between the zombies and humans that is self-sustaining. A stable place, if you will. So as a writer, you can focus on the period of collapse or the period of stability and rebuilding, or one after the other. But be aware, not all equilibriums are stable. In an unstable equilibrium, if something disrupts the equilibrium then that same balance can’t be achieved again. And how people cope with that, as they frantically try to restore something forever lost, could be a story in itself…