Archive for July 24th, 2010

The Zombie Herd

Posted in Research on July 24th, 2010 by David – View Comments

The latest episode of Eureka (great show, by the way) has the employees of Global Dynamics basically transforming into a zombie horde. Well, they’re not really zombies; they’re just affected by a crowd-control pulse gun that backfires and produces the wrong neurotransmitter by accident. In other words, they’re angry.

But an angry mob is not so different from a zombie horde; they both tend to exhibit herd behavior. If you look at pretty much any depiction of zombies, they’re nearly always all ambling (or running, depending on what kind of zombies they are) in the same direction, and not always just because they’re chasing the same person. This is something my basic model doesn’t take into account, but it’d make an interesting addition, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it qualitatively alters the behavior of a zombie model. Compared to pure randomness, herd behavior tends to amplify the actions of certain individuals at the expense of everyone else’s, so the mob (or horde) is able to reach a consensus on some action much more quickly. You can see examples of this effect all over the place, from stock market fluctuations to the structure of the entire universe. (Like they say, life imitates undeath) This is good, because it means herd behavior has been fairly well studied, so there should be plenty of existing research out there to take and apply to zombies.