Strategic CIO // IT Strategy
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8/29/2014
08:06 AM
David Wagner
David Wagner
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Geekend: Fight Zombies, Or Go To Mars?

It's the most divisive question in all of geekdom: What do you do when the zombies invade?

Geek's Guide To NYC Travel: Interop Preview
Geek's Guide To NYC Travel: Interop Preview
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Bear with me as I paint a picture of how I came across the geekiest question ever asked. I was at a party with 20 or 30 of my oldest friends, mostly from college, all with serious geek cred. In the room were engineers, IT pros, writers, and sci-fi fans galore. On most questions throughout the night, there was generally a consensus -- except one.

That one burning question had the room nearly evenly split. Not only that, but everyone at the party was convinced there was no room for discussion; the other side was clearly insane. Never have I seen a question so excite geeks and so divide them at the same time. So it occurred to me I had to share this question with an even bigger Geek community:

If a Walking Dead-style zombie apocalypse began and you and your family were invited on to a spaceship that could take you to a zombie-free Martian colony, would you take the ship or stay and fight the zombies?

Before you jump to a conclusion, let me explain what you are up against:

If you stay and fight the zombies, a huge percentage of the population will become mindless, flesh-eating, dangerous predators. You may be infected by the same thing that infected them. They will hunt you down, because they are voracious, tireless eaters who swarm their prey.

[Scared of zombies? Here's to your health! Geekend: Scare Yourself For Health.]

You might think you'll be able to outsmart them or outrun them. You might be right. But don't forget -- even if the zombies don't get you, other humans will. You'll be forced to scavenge for the last vestiges of resources from a dying civilization. You'll be breaking into every convenience store on Earth, looking for that last pack of Twinkies. You'll be living off vodka and old cans of Spam. You'll be breaking into Walmart, fighting your way through hundreds of zombie customers who spent their last moments of consciousness trying to save 10 cents on a bar of soap, in an effort to beat everyone else to the ammunition.

And you can't stop. You can never stop. When your supplies run low, you can try to defend some sort of enclave and maybe grow your own food. But you'll end up defending it, not only from zombies, but also from other humans who resent the fact that you have something. They will try to take it from you. And they are smart. And fast. And they have guns.

You will never sleep safely. You will never eat well. You may have to kill your own kids because they've become zombies.

Still not convinced? Look at this brutally honest view.

So, ready to go to Mars?

Well, that's no treat, either. First, you'll spend 180 days (or more) in a tiny metal box just to get there. All that time there will be no mission control and no fanfare for your brave trip. You're not Neil Armstrong -- you're Ripley from Alien, running from a threat that may destroy your species. Earth is gone, and a barren red rock awaits.

Spend six months in zero gravity and see what happens. Your muscles will atrophy. Your bones will thin. Worse, you'll actually lose blood. Gravity pulls blood to your feet. When gravity disappears, blood distributes evenly, and

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David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio
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David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
9/3/2014 | 1:25:10 PM
Re: Next stop: Mars
@GAPProgrammer- Well, for one thing the parameters of the question is "viable" Mars community which implies the ability to eat.

But it is an important question to ask. Mars is a desolate place. Right now, there'd be no way to get enough supplies to Mars to create a self-sustaining food chain. In the short term, we're all stuck here fighting the zombies whether we like it or not.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
9/3/2014 | 7:24:47 AM
Re: Next stop: Mars
@GAProgrammer,

This is pretty much what I came here to say.  Anyone who thinks colonizing another planet with a group of people you don't know is going to be any different than fighting for resources on Earth didn't think this out very far.   Assuming you survive the trip how are you going to sustain yourself and your family in the coming years.  You can only pack so much spaceman food paste.  So you'll have to hope that you can get some farming going assuming you're able to build a greenhouse to protect your crops and the soil is fertile enough to actually do any growing.  Then if you do manage to get your things in order what happens when the neighboring clan across the crater has a bad year for crops.  I'm staying on this mud ball and fighting for my little corner of the world.  I do know where I'd set up camp though and I'm not sharing because I don't want a bunch of people following me.

 
GAProgrammer
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GAProgrammer,
User Rank: Ninja
9/2/2014 | 4:56:38 PM
Re: Next stop: Mars
Shane, what makes you so sure the group who goes to Mars won't be reduced to rabid savages when THEIR supplies run out. Or when the air does? Or the water? At least you know you can breathe on Earth!

That being said, I'd go to Mars because I have always wanted to go into space. At least I'd die with that dream being fulfilled!
majenkins
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majenkins,
User Rank: Ninja
9/2/2014 | 12:02:09 PM
Re: Need More Info
My compound has a huge solar array to provide power and I have lots of rechargable death ray batteries.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
9/2/2014 | 12:00:15 PM
Re: Need More Info
@majenkins- I'm OK with that as long as it runs on pedal power and coconuts like a Gilligan's Island episode.
majenkins
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majenkins,
User Rank: Ninja
9/2/2014 | 11:58:45 AM
Re: Need More Info
Well if I get to make up my own parameters then I am going to invent a Zombie death ray that I can broadcast like a radar beacon and keep them away from my compound and eventually cleanse the entire planet. Of course that would leave a lot of dead/undead bodies laying around stinking up the place.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
9/2/2014 | 11:42:12 AM
Re: Need More Info
majenkins- It is sort of a pick your poison situation. Plenty of zombie myths. The most current ones seems to be that there is some magical moment no one really wants to discuss where millions of people get infected overnight. Could be a virus, Could be another kind of event. For whatever reason, a tiny band of people are left who have immunity to the original event. No one usually knows why in the story.

At the point, in some versions people with immunity can't become zombies. They just die when the zombies overwhelm them. In some versions a bite is the only way to directly change those people. 

Part of the fun of the question is you get to make up a little bit of the world for yourself while sticking to the general parameters.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
9/2/2014 | 11:34:43 AM
Re: Next stop: Mars
@StacyE- No, the beach doesn't have wifi. I know you are kidding. But this really does bring up something that amazes me about the people who stay on Earth. I don't think they get how really bad it gets when no one is there to run the infrasstructure. No wifi, no TV, no electricity, no phone, no running water, no bathrooms, no one making toilet paper, no food production. 

And worse yet, no ability to stop easily and do that stuff. I don't know exactly what a Martian Colony would look like. But I bet it has Candy Crush. :) 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
9/2/2014 | 11:30:52 AM
Re: always wanted to go to Mars
@SunitaTO- Hrm...most zombie movies I see, when you cut a zombie's head off, blood spurts out. That implies to me that they have circulation. Blood wouldn't spurt out of a corpse. 

Also, if gun shot wounds and injuries will "kill" a zombie, clearly they rely on some sort of nervous system and circulation. 

Obviously this all depends on your favorite movie and everything. But i always think of zombies as less undead and more twitchy bran dead folks who want to eat flesh.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
9/2/2014 | 11:27:25 AM
Re: Tough Call
@Joe- Isn't that just choosing Mars without getting to see space? You're stuck in a tiny hole until the food runs out. At least on Mars you get space adventure and then you live in a tiny hole until the food runs out with the chance that you can rebuild civilization if you are clever enough.
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