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[PDF] The Walking Dead and Philosophy: Zombie Apocalypse Now (Popular Culture and Philosophy)
Those receiving the next round of bands can also choose how many others to infect and so on until all bands are accounted for. Each game kit includes a scanner so that the barcodes can be scanned and linked together in a database to show a visualization of the resulting transmission tree, as well as other statistics about the epidemic.
Each participant can find his or her place in the tree, and trace the transmissions backwards to find patient zero. The game kit itself is free and includes the needed software, scanners, barcodes, instruction manual, and suggested curriculum materials. White Zed is designed to allow for interactive exploration of mathematical models of disease, and is a starting point for introducing zombie epidemics into class work.
Students use sliders to adjust disease parameters and the makeup of the population at time 0. The resulting epidemic is visualized by a graph that plots the number of individuals in each category versus time. This graph updates every tenth of a second so students can see the effect of their parameter changes in real time.
Screenshot of the White Zed simulation website. The graph displays population dynamics of a zombie apocalypse. The left control panel allows users to specify the population makeup at the beginning of the simulation, while the right control panel allows users to specify the infection parameters of the disease. This model was chosen to allow instructors the flexibility to start with simple models and expose students to more complicated dynamics by enabling additional features. Several common epidemiological models can be modeled within White Zed by setting only specific parameters to non-zero.
These models and more like them are fully described in Appendix 1. A sample student worksheet appropriate for a standalone lecture introducing mathematical modeling is included in Appendix 2. Models of infectious disease play an important role in our understanding of how pathogens spread through populations. Important concepts like herd immunity and critical vaccination thresholds, the role of social structure in the spread of disease, and the potential effectiveness of many public health interventions can be easily demonstrated using mathematical and computational models.
Treating mathematical models as more than simply a black box from which results emerge is essential for critical engagement with the infectious disease literature.
As such, it is important that students of biology, epidemiology, and public health be conversant in their use, interpretation, and limitations, whether or not they intend to use models in their own work. We have described the use of zombie epidemics to introduce fundamental concepts in infectious disease modeling and epidemiology in three different settings with students at very different levels. In each setting, we sought to use a familiar cultural reference point in order to help students engage with the concepts behind infectious disease modeling without the barrier of extensive disease-specific expertise.
The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or the National Science Foundation. The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. J Microbiol Biol Educ. Published online Mar 1.
Eric T. Collins , 2 Tara C. Smith , 3 and Reed A. Cartwright 4. Kristy M.
Tara C. Reed A. Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Mailing address: Paul G. Phone: Fax: E-mail: moc. Published by the American Society for Microbiology. Abstract Mathematical models of infectious diseases are a valuable tool in understanding the mechanisms and patterns of disease transmission. Open in a separate window. Each group was given one of five zombie scenarios: Island Zombies: the outbreak occurs initially on an island, which has a sister island. Anderson PWS.