Stories tagged zombies

Sep
26
2012

Dead zombie bee: Up to 80 percent of bee hives along the West Coast may be impacted by the "zombie bee" phenomenon. Parasite flies plants inside the bees, like this one, that ultimately kill them.
Dead zombie bee: Up to 80 percent of bee hives along the West Coast may be impacted by the "zombie bee" phenomenon. Parasite flies plants inside the bees, like this one, that ultimately kill them.Courtesy wintersixfour
Zombies are all the rage these days, and not just on cable TV shows or at pub crawls.

There's a growing trend in "zombie bees" working its way around the West Coast. Just this week beekeepers in Washington state report finding evidence of "zombification" of their bees.

The impacted bees get their name for their changing behaviors once they host the parasitic flies that cause the trouble. While most bees spend their nights nestled snuggling in a comb, these "zombie bees" actually go out flying in very erratic patterns. Like many other night bugs, the zombie bees fly to light and usually die quite soon.

What's really at play is that the tiny parasitic flies plant eggs into the host bee. Those eggs grow into maggots that eat the inside of the host bee that ultimately cause its demise.

Evidence of zombie bees was first found in 2008 near Sacramento, Calif., and beekeepers around the west coast have seeing the spread of the problem in the years since.

Researchers are trying to figure out if this parasite problem is a factor in the bee population declines that have been going on nationwide. One researcher has set up a website – ZombeeWatch.org – to allow amateur beekeepers to share information about zombie bees they are finding around their hives. It is also looking for people who want to step forward to be "zombee hunters."

There has been one isolated report of zombie bees in South Dakota. So far, two investigations in Minnesota have turned up no evidence of zombie bees.

Nov
01
2011

Zombies are not real right now because it is impossible. Well, until a scientist screws up. In the movies zombies are people that get infected from a source, it is unlikely that it will happen in our lifetime, but scientifically it will be brains( how ironic ), not bronze that prevails over this threat of zombies. The virus would most likely be like the T virus in Resident Evil, but we probably will never know. What do you think??? I was reading a article from the CDC and they say that it might be possible for a zombie apocalypse to happen! How do you think you would prepare for this??? Well we don't know. We honestly don't. Scientifically we would never truly be ready. And for an Awnser I don't want, "my dad has a gun"!!! Actual science reasons here. Heck, it might be a parasite for all we know, then again, your mom or dad may get it first( that would suck! ), or your sister, or brother. We will never know until we realize that nothing is impossible in science. Scientifically I should say, ELECTRICITY would go down first! Then GAS would eventually run out. Cities would be safe most of the time, because all the people would go out to the country.

Then all the people left would be in shock, and/or, injured and extremely prejudiced, but some will still be sane, like me, I know how to keep alive in a Z.A. but some people would not, but, scientifically someone will be smart and start remaking our civilization, but who knows maybe we will all die? You never know how things will turn out. What are your comments??? I would love to hear them.
EDITED BY LIZA, 11/1/2011: Hey, Buzzketeers! Still need a post-Halloween zombie fix, like ZombieDestroyer here? Head on over to the zombies page. You'll find out about a new zombie-fighting weapon, a real-life zombie-making parasite, and a very long-running thread about whether or not a zombie apocalypse is possible. (And if you feel a need to argue zombie-fighting strategies or likelihood, take it over to that last thread and keep it science-y, y'all!)

Aug
17
2009

This is all assuming the zombies don't have guns: But they rarely do. See Day of the Dead (original version) and Land of the Dead for exceptions.
This is all assuming the zombies don't have guns: But they rarely do. See Day of the Dead (original version) and Land of the Dead for exceptions.Courtesy Suitov
Remember in 8th grade, when you were taking geometry or pre-calc or whatever, and some cleverboots in the back row asked the teacher when anyone was every likely to use math in real life? Your teacher probably said something like, “Do I have to shake the answer into you, numbskull? You’ll use it every day! What if you want to figure out the rate of wear on your tires based on circumference? What about when you want to figure out the height of your favorite tree, using only the length of its shadow?” And because everyone involved could see the hollowness of this answer, you went home feeling a little darker.

But, see, what your lousy teacher should have said is that when the zombie apocalypse comes, math is what’s going to drag us out of that corpse-filled scenario and into a brighter, infection-free future. Because, when it comes to zombies, math is the real weapon.

JK, of course. Claw hammers and chainsaws will still be the real weapons. No getting past that—even the trickiest math problems will hardly destroy the brain, much less sever a spinal cord. But mathematical models will provide a strategy for survivors.

Mathematical models for vampire scenarios are old hat. They’re old, boring hat, in fact, on account of how people can’t agree about the methodology, and because vampires aren’t that great in the first place. But a practical zombie model is making the rounds in the popular press, because this is the sort of thing we need to know.

Taking into account infection rates, and the relative numbers of “suseptable,” “zombie,” and “removed” individuals, the model confirms what we have long suspected: that a zombie outbreak would suck. The model is, of course, much more complicated than this, and it has lots of fun little symbols and graphs, but that’s the long and short of it.

However, the model does leave room for hope. Putting victims into quarantine could eradicate the infection, but only under ideal circumstances (i.e., not in the real world), and a while a zombie cure could ensure the continuing existence of humanity, survivors would need to coexist with zombies. The remaining solution, and the only practical one, it turns out, is the old fashioned one: head smashing. As the paper puts it, “only sufficiently frequent attacks, with increasing force, will result in eradication.”

We’ve got to hit the zombies where they live. Or where they undead-live. Or whatever. The point is that when the time comes (any day now), we have to take the fight to the zombies, and we have to do it fast. So prepare your bite-guards and blunt instruments, and put them next to your fire extinguisher and emergency blanket. Be a survivor.

Here’s the original paper in pdf format.

A quick note: To all of you who are thinking, “Puh-leaze, JGordon. Zombies are played out like Super Bowl XLIII,” I respond with a puh-leaze of my own. I say y’all are the ones played out, played out like Mario 3, and I think y’all should check yourselves and just go watch Transformers 2, or whatever it is you people are into.

Jun
23
2008

It's probably not the worst day in this caterpillar's life: But it's the worst day it will remember.
It's probably not the worst day in this caterpillar's life: But it's the worst day it will remember.Courtesy The Agricultural Research Service
That’s a lie, really—If I suddenly discovered that I had the ability to lay eggs inside a living caterpillar, I would probably have myself sealed in a basement. An eternity of being bricked off in an alcove is probably preferable to an all-encompassing desire to stab an ovipositor into moth larvae.

Unless you’re a wasp. It seems that the world, in its unceasing attempts to gross us out, has come up with something new: a wasp that lays eggs in a caterpillar. That, obviously, is nothing remarkable—all sorts of things stick their offspring in other things. This wasp, however, turns the caterpillar into a zombie guardian of the wasp larvae as they hatch and crawl out of its body. Oh, man! What a trick!

So, the wasp larvae hatch (again, inside the body of the caterpillar), and then chew their way out of its body. Once they’re out, and doing…whatever it is parasitic wasp larvae do (Sega Genesis?), the caterpillar stops eating, remains close to the larvae, and uses its head as a club, thrashing its body to beat away any predators.

I’m sure that all the other little wasplings are super jealous of those who have huge zombie bodyguards, but, more than that, research has shown that zombie caterpillar bodyguards increase chances of larvae survival by 200%.

So, to refine my earlier statement, if I could turn caterpillars into zombie servants, I would. But not if it meant that I had to lay little JGordon eggs in them. Yuck. I don’t think that’s how I was born (although my mother has always been pretty vague on the subject, and my father always refused to discuss it at all).

Zombies - not so impossible?: Image courtesy lebovox via Flickr.
Zombies - not so impossible?: Image courtesy lebovox via Flickr.
Okay, I'll grant that the scientific research conducted by Cracked magazine may not be the most top notch stuff, they do have links to some pretty cool articles that have actual science in them in this totally awesome article about how zombies could actually happen. I love zombies and zombie stories. And Halloween. This article is perfect joy for me. Though readers beware, they do use some off color language occasionally.

UPDATE MARCH 2011: Popular Science answers the question: Could Scientists Really Create a Zombie Apocalypse Virus?

Zombie Update
Ahoy, Buzzketeers, ahoy and aloha. JGordon here.

It’s a zombie heavy time of year. We’re well into the season of Halloweeny, zombie-themed events are happening left and right (apparently zombies are also into getting drunk?), and dozens of zombie apocalypse scenarios are shambling through your heads like so many reanimated corpses. And that’s all great, but I’m updating this post to tell you two things. Briefly:

1) You’re wrong. Y’all are dead.
2) This is a science blog, so lets do our best to rein it in a little. In a sciencey way, you know?

Ok, to my first point—come on, folks, really? A gun shop? Go to a gun shop? That’s the plan? Let’s think about this. What’s more dangerous, a staggering, slack-jawed zombie, or a desperate scared person, who will do anything to get/keep a firearm? Probably the crazy person with the gun. Clearly you aren’t the only person to think, “gun store,” so… you want to head to the place where there will be lots of freaked-out people and relatively few guns? Hmm. You’ll have to tell me about it later, because I think I’ll skip that.

Or a zombie-plow? It’s a delightful thought, but, I dunno… I’ve never actually had to drive plow through a crowd of un-feeling undead, but I wonder how long you could go before that plan fell through. Not to get too morbid, but that stuff is going to get stuck under your car, and some point you’re going to have to deal with it. Plows are for snow, not for hundreds of bony, 160-pound zombies.

Let’s separate ourselves from the future lunchmeat by being a little original. Which brings me to my second point: science, dudes, science!

We’re walking on thin ice already, what with this being a science blog, and zombies not being very sciencey. But perhaps we can use critical thought and scientific reasoning to effectively plan for the coming zombie apocalypse. Think outside the box here, because everyone inside the box is going to get eaten. (And I consider guns to be very much inside the box.)

We can still post zombie plans here, but only if they show a little more creativity and careful reasoning. Here are some things to think about:

Are you really going to pull off that headshot when the pressure is on? Have you ever considered how hard it might be to destroy the brain of a zombie with your old Louisville Slugger? Maybe you’re not the fighting type. (I’m not.) Or maybe you can fight zombies until the cows come home, but what about everyone else in your group? So how are you going to keep yourself alive? Invest some thought into zombie evasion. What techniques could you use to avoid inviting the attention of the hungry dead? Might there be a way to avoid their detection all together? Do zombies find you through sight? Or smell? Do they hear you? How would you disguise yourself, and how would you test out your methods without getting eaten?

Unfortunately, humanity doesn’t have a lot of real-world experience with zombie attack. But maybe we could find a useful analogy in nature. How do other organisms cope with the constant threat of being eaten? What survival techniques have kept them alive? How could we mimic them, or adapt them to the zombie threat?

And what about the endgame? Do you simply run from empty gun store to empty gun store until your luck or your food runs out? If you fortify an area, making it zombie proof (and how would you do that, exactly?), what could you do to ensure that you had food, water, and power for years to come? Or do you want to save the world? How are you going to figure out what’s causing the zombie infection? How are you going to cure it? If most of the world is infect… can it be cured? Or must it be quarantined?

There’s a lot of things to consider here, and “my dad has a gun” isn’t one of them.

So, people, lets use our brains before the zombies do. (As it were.) How are science and scientific knowledge going to get you through the zompocalypse?
Only science will save us from the zombie apocalypse! And only science will save your comment from being deleted. Let's see some zombie science!

**Update: Huge new zombie developments! Zombie problem solved forever?! See this comment for references!**