While some scientists fritter away their time searching for extraterrestrial life, two astronomers have performed a genuine public service for Earth by calculating the likely number of nearby planets inhabited by the undead.
The study—written by Stephen Kane (who divides his time between San Francisco State University and the Center for Global Extinction Pandemic Control) and his colleague, Franck Zelziz (Planetary Defense Institute)—presents a modified Drake Equation, which reveals that there could be more than 2,500 zombie-infested planets within 100 parsecs (326 light years) of our solar system
The premise underlying this calculation is deceptively simple: A growing number of Earth-size exoplanets have been discovered, many of which might be orbiting within the Habitable Zone of their host stars. This, in turn, increases the likelihood that life is relatively common in the universe.
But, evolution of life on Earth has been accompanied by symbiotic relationships between animal species and the bacteria and viruses that use the animals as hosts. The result has been a long history of lethal pandemics, including cholera, influenza, smallpox and, of course, Spontaneous Necro-Animation Psychosis (SNAP), more commonly known as "Zombie-ism. As such, it stands to reason that this could be a cosmic-wide phenomenon.
Needless to say, the implications are enormous:
The projected frequency of SNAP planets explains a contradiction which has long troubled the proposition that intelligent life is common: the Fermi Paradox. This premise of the paradox is that the timescale for extraterrestrial civilizations to spread throughout the galaxy is small compared with stellar lifetimes and so we should have encountered our neighbors by now. Our work here shows the resolution of the paradox to be quite simple. The desolation of a civilization requires only that they encounter a case of SNAP during their exploration phase and their entire civilization will collapse. Let us not repeat history by rushing in to where our predecessors ought to have feared to tread.
Further information is available at the newly established SETZ Institute.