Editorial | Published:

Don't overdo it

Nature Physics volume 5, page 613 (2009) | Download Citation

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'Fun' science may grab summer headlines, but only the real thing has a lasting effect.

The summer months are typically a 'silly season' for the media, when journalists look to lighter-weight, less-mainstream stories to fill their air time or column inches. Science also benefits from this opportunity to steal some headlines — although, as befits the season, those headlines may end up being slightly silly.

Last month, a group of Canadian scientists created a buzz with their publication, in Infectious Disease Modelling Research Progress (ISBN 978-1-60741-347-9), of an epidemiological study entitled 'When zombies attack!'. Although complicated by quarantine or treatment, the basic model for a population to be overrun by zombie hordes follows det(J−λI) = −λ(−βZ̄λ)(−ζλ), where J is... well, that doesn't really matter. The conclusion is that a sequence of “quick, agressive attacks” would be the only means of saving our civilization.

It's entertaining, but now the silly season is behind us let's not overdo it with the fun stuff. Scientists have got far better stories to tell.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nphys1379

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