Robert Smith Prepares Canada for Zombie Apocalypse


OK, so he's not actually involved in this story. But I think this image suits the article on several levels. (Lyle A. Waisman/FilmMagic/Getty Images)

If you're on the same wavelength as me, then that slightly misleading headline probably summons images of The Cure front man flanked by Mounties, their ranks of cavalry charging rotting hoards of undead on the plains of Saskatchewan. Will our smokey-eyed hero stand a chance at conquering these reanimated cannibal legions?

The actual story on BBC News is nearly as odd.

You're all familiar with the fictional world of zombies, I trust. Essentially, they're the walking dead and every time they bite someone, they transmit their unliving condition to the victim. While there's no percentage in actually preparing a country for a zombie outbreak, it does provide an engaging case study in preparation for rapid, lethally spreading infections -- which are all too real.

So that's exactly what some researchers at the University of Ottawa are doing. The team published its report in "Infectious Diseases Modelling Research Progress." The authors' names? Philip Munz, Ioan Hudea, Joe Imad and Robert Smith.

Actually, the last professor's surname has a question mark on the end of it -- Robert Smith? -- but I knew that would only further confuse the headline. Co-blogger Sarah Dowdey mused that his name might always have an inquisitive inflection: "Hello, my name is Robert Smith?" If you're reading this and have this last name, please fill us in.

But back to the zombies. The study went with the classic "slow zombie," not as much to keep the purists from griping, but to make sure humanity had a chance in the study. The prognosis? Well, we're kind of boned -- they're predicting the rapid collapse of civilization as we know it. Cities would fall in mere days. That is, unless we "hit them hard and hit them often."

The original paper is actually a very interesting read -- an actual mathematical study of how a zombie outbreak might go down. The team also takes into account the possible uses of quarantines and research for a cure. So if you're interested in the spread of transmittable diseases, a zombie fan or just a mathlete with a passion for the undead, do check it out

My personal prediction is that the zombie equation will wind up on T-shirts before the year is out.

Move like cagey zombies at HowStuffWorks.com: How Zombies Work How Zombie Computers Work 10 Worst Epidemics Physicists to Vampires and Ghosts: Don't Be Stupid


About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.