Geekend: Fight Zombies, Or Go To Mars? - InformationWeek

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8/29/2014
08:06 AM
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
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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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Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
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10/2/2014 | 12:11:39 AM
Re: Next stop: Mars
@StaceyE: But is there really that big a difference between zombies and Candy Crush addicts?  ;)
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
9/11/2014 | 8:34:19 AM
Re: Tough Call
@Dave: You gotta check these underground luxury living options out.  Self-sustaining gardens.  Aquarium for fish (for food).  And protected by military weapons to keep the zombies and other riffraff out.  Pretty amazing stuff.

Space?  Pssh.  It's for the birds.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
9/10/2014 | 7:44:34 AM
Re: Next stop: Mars
@Ariella: [joke about zombie virus improving New Yorkers' personalities goes here]
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
9/5/2014 | 12:18:53 PM
Re: Next stop: Mars
@SaneIT- Oh man, the problem with the coffee plantation is all those machetes lying around. :)
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
9/4/2014 | 1:25:12 PM
Re: Next stop: Mars
@SaneIT: Thank you, you've helped me focus my plans. I'm staying on Earth and making a beeline to Cuba when the Zombie Apocalypse hits.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
9/4/2014 | 1:09:11 PM
Re: Next stop: Mars
@SaneIt- Fair point. Maybe I'm making the erroneous assumption that that spirit would be alive and well on MArs. Certainly NASA used to have that spirit. Perhaps it is gone. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
9/3/2014 | 1:46:25 PM
Re: Next stop: Mars
@SaneIt- I see what you are saying, but if you go to Mars, you are going with 21st century technology and presumably the wealth of human knowledge. I would assume zombie apocalypse leads to a dark ages of lost knowledge on Earth.

You might actually be in a better spot. and presumably, the people allowed on the shuttle are top notch humans and their families (so i wouldn't be invited). I think I'd rather try to make it work with the elite of humanity than go through the Dark Ages on earth.
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.
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.
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.
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