The Zombie Apocalypse: Could Science Fiction Soon Become Science Fact?

Even if horror movies are not particularly ‘your bag’, everybody loves a good zombie. In the realms of fiction they have been gradually stumbling their way into our subconsciousness for decades now, ever since George A. Romero popularised the genre with his classic ‘Night of the Living Dead’ in the late 60’s. But what if it wasn’t fiction, what if the zombie apocalypse wasn’t the stuff of fiction, but the stuff of terrifying fact? If certain fringe scientists are to be believed, the zombie invasion might not be quite as unrealistic as you’d think.


Many of the greatest advances of the modern world have their roots in science fiction, so it’s not unthinkable that some of the man-made zombie viruses seen on screens both big and small could eventually become the stuff of harrowing reality. Take the super-fast ‘rage’ inflicted zombies in Danny Boyle’s seminal ’28 Days Later’. The genesis of the idea for the virus came from the very real mad cow disease, an affliction so called as it attacks a cow’s spinal cord and brain simultaneously, rendering them completely mindless. In humans, the disease manifests as ‘Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease’ and causes a rapid decrease in mental and physical functions (sound familiar?). Perhaps most terrifying of all is the process of ‘neurogenesis’, a practice which has been used by Scientists in Russia and the United States to re-grow brain cells. The ability to re-grow dead brain tissue could potentially bring back deceased subjects through a process called ‘reanimation’ and if anybody has ever since the classic 80’s gore-fest ‘Re-animator’, they will know very well that reanimation is far from a good idea.


On the less possible side of the spectrum of course, in many early zombie movies (Romero’s included) the actual source of the outbreak was only ever hinted at but the hints were resolutely supernatural. If (as all evidence points towards, what with the current economic collapse and the worrying ubiquity of reality television) we are indeed facing ‘the end times’, then many religious sorts could see an impending zombie apocalypse as recompense from a vengeful god. There was almost certainly a religious undertone to those early films. Indeed, the original tagline for ‘Night of the Living Dead’ was the menacing “when there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth”. For those of us with strong religious beliefs, the idea of a zombie apocalypse caused by a wrathful god might be a troubling one. For the rest of us though, the science is far more disturbing.

Whatever your beliefs, the idea of zombies causing a societal collapse is a terrifying and surprisingly plausible one. Below, have supplied a handy info graphic that details just a few examples of possible zombie outbreak and just how plausible each example is in ‘real world’ terms. Please feel free to print it out and a keep a copy on your person at all times so that when the worst does happen and the undead start flooding the streets, you’ll be prepared!

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