By Dr. Arnold T. Blumberg
Zombies in space?! It’s the clichéd out-of-ideas horror franchise pitch that never actually happens (until Jason X, that is), but now it’s…science fact? While others search the stars for signs of intelligent life, Stephen Kane of the San Francisco State University and the Center for Global Extinction Pandemic Control (sounds like our sort of fellow) and Franck Zelziz of the Planetary Defense Institute (do they know something we don’t?) published a study that turned quite a few heads.
The two scientists used the Drake Equation for seeking life in space – a mathematical approach that enables one to calculate the likelihood of where extraterrestrials might be found – and applied it to the undead. They came up with the conclusion that when Man finally moves into the universe, we might encounter upwards of 2,500 planets overrun by zombies within 326 light years (or 100 parsecs) of Earth. Too close for comfort!
But how is that possible? Simple, they said: Since life on Earth has evolved via a complex interaction between multiple species, bacteria, and viruses, the numbers strongly indicate the possibility that alien processes following the same basic pathways might have given rise to more than just the garden variety pandemics we’ve seen on our planet and instead led to Spontaneous Necro-Animation Psychosis or SNAP. Further, it answers an ongoing conundrum referred to as the Fermi Paradox, which addresses the question of why we have yet to encounter other intelligent life if math tells us the probability for that life is so high. The answer: They’ve already fallen to their own local zombie apocalypses.
As the report explained:
One may well point out that there are numerous scenarios other than a zombie apocalypse that could equally quell all life on a planet. However, we argue that none of those scenarios are anywhere near as scary as being eaten by a zombie and so we justifiably ignore those other possibilities.
Seeing this not only as a scientific matter but of vital importance to our security, the team published their findings to warn us that future exploration of space must exclude planet fall anywhere harboring hordes of SNAP-altered aliens.
There’s just one catch to all this: It’s not true! As with so many things on the Internet, it’s just an April Fools’ prank that went viral (appropriately enough) and we’re here to reassure you that as far as we know, scientists have not yet confirmed the existence of undead in our universe. Publications like Sky & Telescope pointed out that although the paper itself was a joke, the archive where it was posted is indeed a legitimate source of valuable astronomical research. You can view the actual (fake) report as a PDF at this link: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1403.8146v1.pdf
But if you’re a student of the latest theories in quantum physics, you know many experts believe we may live in a multiverse – an endlessly branching collection of universes in which every possibility happens somewhere in some reality. That means there is most definitely a universe out there with zombies roaming free, and perhaps an alternate version of you is already one of them! Food for thought…and yes, we meant that.
DR. ARNOLD T. BLUMBERG is the “Doctor of the Dead” – a publisher (www.atbpublishing.com), author, book designer, educator, pop culture historian, and internationally recognized zombie expert. He co-authored Zombiemania (2006), one of the first exhaustive guides to zombie cinema (a revised, expanded edition is on the way); his University of Baltimore course “Zombies in Popular Media” has garnered worldwide press coverage since its launch in 2010; he has contributed chapters to Triumph of the Walking Dead, Braaaiiinnnsss!: From Academics to Zombies, and The Undead and Theology (which was nominated for a Stoker award); his lecture “Zombies: Monsters with Meaning” has been presented at symposia and conventions; he appears in the EPiX documentary Doc of the Dead as well as on TV, radio, and online; and he has two ongoing podcasts – Doctor of the Dead (www.doctorofthedead.com) and The G2V Podcast: The Pop Culture Audio Magazine(www.g2vpodcast.com). Find him on Twitter @DoctoroftheDead. And don’t even get started on his work in Doctor Who…