The Physics of Zombies: Madore’s Rules of Zombie Cohesion, Zombie Cells and Super Cells, Zombie Black Holes, Zombie Cell Stress-Fission and Zombie Quirks, is a scientific paper you should read. It’s a fantastic article that addresses the scientific aspect of zombie behavior. This is part 3 of my analysis of the paper, as part 1 of the review and part 2 were written recently. Also, I’m concluding an interview with the researchers that authored the paper – they’ve given us information about their backgrounds and thought processes that led to the paper’s creation – I should have that posted in a couple of days.
In part 2 of the analysis, the ideas of zombie cells, zombie super-cells, and zombie black holes were introduced. A zombie black hole is a scary thing – once they are created, nothing short of zombie genocide can remove them. The paper moves on, in section 2.5, to explain what a zombie black hole is, and presents three thought experiments to help us understand how this black hole could be created. The first thought experiment examines how a zombie can be fooled by audio signals, for example, a stereo or recording playing inside a closed building – the zombies think there is someone in there.
The second thought experiment deals with false visual clues, and the example given is the zombie standing in front of a store window moaning at an animated manikin thinking it is live prey. It will stand there forever, maybe even long after the animation has ceased, as the zombie still sees prey on the other side of the glass.
The third thought experiment, The Glass Box (the gold standard of thought experiments), is a clever example of how a zombie black hole could be formed. There is a glass box with a survivor inside with a year’s worth of food and water inside with him. He has nothing to worry about, waving at the zombies gathered around outside his glass box trying to get in. Time marches on, more zombies gather, intrigued and hungered by the man in the box. Soon the box is surrounded by a horde of moaning zombies. As more zombies gather, many of them can’t see the man in the box, but they can tell by the moaning and hand thrusting of the other zombies that some kind of prey is there. After a longer time, most the zombies can’t actually see anything, but they are giving off signals they are picking up from the zombies around the box.
Eventually, the man in the box dies, and the zombies immediately around the box stop moaning for a second, but then hear the signals from the zombie crowd around them, and figure there must be prey around – perhaps on the outskirts of the horde they can’t see past. The perimeter zombies pick up their renewed signals and increase their moaning, convinced there is prey in the middle of the circle. A resonance is created, kind of a ghost signal from the past prey, but it is amplified and passed back and forth between zombies. Meanwhile, more zombies hear the noise of the crowd and attach themselves to the outer shell of the group. You can see where this is going – you could end up with hundreds of thousands of zombies in a massively large area – a zombie black hole. Nothing can escape from the center of the hole, and any zombies wandering by are sucked into the black hole.
This is one of the main tenets of the paper – that this is something that has been overlooked by the thinking of the current zombie community and we must understand the science behind this if we are to prevent the black holes from forming – and believe me, we better be prepared to stop these from forming. If they do, we’re screwed. Imagine an area with a radius of 100 miles full of zombies!
Finally, in section 3, the authors give us a little hope by describing how zombie cells and super-cells might be forced to split, or undergo what the authors call cell stress-fission. They describe how if there are two signals in opposite directions on the outsides of a zombie cell with no prey left, the zombie cell may split in two, each going in opposite directions. This process could repeat itself, further splintering the zombie mass into smaller and smaller groups. One can only hope!
The last section of the paper, before the conclusion, talks about zombie quirks, which are zombies that for some reason don’t follow the rules of zombie behavior. Perhaps they are deaf and/or dumb, and can’t hear and/or see clues from other zombies. They may eventually wander into a zombie group by touch, but otherwise are destined to aimlessly wander and therefore do not follow the physics of zombies as presented previously.
The conclusion of the paper does a great job of reviewing the main points presented in the paper, as well as putting out a plea for other scientists to study the problem before it is too late – a valid request. I’m hoping the world hears their plea, and that they don’t have to continue this research on their own – we need more great minds like Dave and Bob Madore working to save us when the zombie apocalypse arrives. Stay tuned for an interview with the authors, which should be posted shortly.