The Math of Zombies?

Why should you care about zombies?

Well, Robert J Smith, a mathematics professor at the University of Ottawa has created a mathematical equation that describes the rate of infection if a zombie pandemic ever happened.

So what is the equation: (bN)(S/N)Z = bSZ.

Sorry Dr cooper, it had to be done :)
Sorry, Dr Cooper, it had to be done 🙂

Here is the key if you want to play around with it: N represents total population, S the number of susceptible people, Z the zombies, and b the likelihood of transmission.

Smith’s work has inspired other researchers to create zombie mathematical models, which will be published with Smith’s work in the upcoming book, “Mathematical Modelling of Zombies” (University of Ottawa Press, 2014). We can’t wait to see the rest of the theories and math.

So why even create an equation for a zombie pandemic? The main reason is to inspire younger generations to engage in the science & math behind it, even though zombies are a purely fictional occurrence but it also gives scientists a look at how human behaviour effects pandemic models in our ever-increasing urban landscape. If a virus did appear that would cause healthy people to turn on infected people due to fear then thought experiments like this can help scientists and governments in the future.

“Models of disease outbreaks, like the one Smith, developed, play a prominent role in real-life epidemiology”, Smith said. “Unlike most popular monsters, zombies are inherently biological in nature,” said Matt Mogk, founder of the Zombie Research Society. “They don’t fly or live forever, so you can apply real-world biological models to them.”

To ensure the modelling was an accurate portrayal of Human/Zombie interaction Smith used a new mathematical technique called Impulsive Differential Equations which is normally used in satellite orbit modelling.

Math teachers take note, this is how you inspire kids to learn math.

Stay Curious – C.Costigan

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