Thursday, August 18, 2011

Nerds and their (our?) love of zombies - evidence that I can write far too much about the reanimated dead

In the past couple of days the topic of zombies, mostly in the form of zombie movies, has come up frequently. First, it was on a podcast. This led to my brother and I have an extensive conversation about zombies and our strategies in the zombie apocalypse. Then I found the most perfect business cards ever! It was around this moment where I started to wonder why nerds love zombies so much. Does my affinity for them make me a nerd? Is that my contribution to the nerd society? Because honestly, I don't think I have enough nerd-cred to be legitimate. The closest thing I have is maybe movies, with a great love of the horror genre in all of its greatness and terribleness.

The podcast zombie reference involves a debate about the differences between zombie films, highlighting a common discussion about zombie speed and what makes a true zombie. The podcast participants were arguing whether 28 Days Later is actually a zombie film. One person argued it was; the other claimed that it was an outbreak film and as such was not necessarily a zombie movie. The points were well argued and the ending sentiment was to agree to disagree (and I think they both settled on it being a great film regardless). I mention this to my brother, who is like minded in his appreciation of the zombie genre and a willing participant in discussions about a zombie apocalypse. And this is where the true nerd aspect of it all comes in and is maybe why I think nerds in general are zombie enthusiasts. We (yes, I have accepted to just rope myself in with them) are fascinated by the physiology behind zombies and analyze them based on our understanding of biology.

Now, I'm not a biologist, but I do know some of the basics. Brother and I were discussing the mobility of zombies, and the lore that surrounds the possibilities of their speed. I informed him that on the podcast they mentioned muscle deterioration as a limitation on the speed of a zombie. Very legitimate point. Basically, upon reanimation, a zombie would have the same muscle mass and therefore capacity as it did at death, which would have implications on how quickly it could move. As the zombie continues its quest for brains, it would wear out the muscles and not be able to rebuild them. In the end, the slower zombies must be those that started with less muscle mass or those that have been zombies for longer. Brother brought up an equally valid point about how it would take some time for a zombie to relearn how to move. I suggested it might take a while, but muscle memory is a pretty powerful thing. That, and zombies are bipedal organisms so walking upright would be their natural instinct. The phrase "it's like riding a bike" was thrown about as one tends to do in these types of conversations, which led us to pose an even more interesting question. Could zombies ride bikes? How good would their muscle memory be?

If our zombie mobility theory is correct, you could use zombie power to your advantage. Brother had the brilliant idea of using a tandem bike to get around (presumably to get to your safe house). Have the zombie be in the back and it would continue to pedal in order to catch up to you and your delicious brain. To fully take advantage of this situation, you would need to be prepared. I suggested practicing this tandem bike riding, using a really drunk person as your zombie. I assume that zombies have the bicycle balance of a drunk person, so it makes sense. It really is a logical choice. So add that to your zombie survival kit, nerds. A tandem bike. Now go drink some beers and practice!

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