We already knew, from the infallible source of George Romero, that ultraviolence is the only defence against zombies. Well, now it’s been mathematically proven. My good friend (and invaluable IT support guru) James pointed me in the direction of this article in The Register.


Professor Robert Smith? of Ottawa University, an infectious-diseases specialist, has published an authoritative mathematical model of zombie plagues. Firstly, let me point out that this profs name is actually Robert Smith?, question mark included. It was a name he legally adopted because “you have no idea what it’s like to be entirely invisible on Google… at least it differentiates me from that guy from The Cure. It’s been 20 years now and sadly his career shows no sign of drying up.”

Seriously, I really like this guy.

Anyway, his modelling was based on the fact that zombies don’t die. Obviously. That’s why they’re zombies. But the point is that most infectious diseases kill their host. The most virulent, like ebola, kill their host very quickly and there’s only so much the disease can spread. So containment is possible. Zombies, however, carry on shambling about after they’re dead, eating more brains and spreading more zombification. This makes the concept of a zombie plague utterly devastating for humanity. Smith? describes that point like this:

Human-zombie coexistence is impossible… Since all eigenvalues of the doomsday equilibrium are negative, it is asymptotically stable. It follows that, in a short outbreak, zombies will likely infect everyone.

He has a way with words. And he maintains that a cure for “zombie-ism” is only going to be effective if it’s also a vaccine, meaning the cured zombie can’t become re-zombiefied.

Therefore, only instant, targetted and relentless violence would save us against a zombie plague. According to Smith?:

An outbreak of zombies infecting humans is likely to be disastrous, unless extremely aggressive tactics are employed against the undead… In summary, a zombie outbreak is likely to lead to the collapse of civilisation, unless it is dealt with quickly… the most effective way to contain the rise of the undead is to hit hard and hit often… Only sufficiently frequent attacks, with increasing force, will result in eradication, assuming the available resources can be mustered in time.

So there you have it. Mathematical proof that should a zombie plague ever break out, absolute violence is the only sensible recourse. Marvellous.

Kill them all, with extreme prejudice!

Read the whole article here, which even includes a link to a PDF of the maths paper in question, which is in itself a truly remarkable document.