Re: [allthingshistory] Cue The Zombies
Kim, I get three feeling that they're really trying to tell us something. This, a couple of CDC warnings, at least five people today who licked their lips while stating at my cranium...On Sep 7, 2013 3:16 AM, "Kim Noyes" <kimnoyes@...> wrote:Source: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/zombie-524220-course-dead.html
UCI offers 'Walking Dead' course
By PAT BRENNAN / ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
It's time to put caps and gowns on those hordes of shuffling zombies that crave human flesh.
UC Irvine is offering a free online course on the popular AMC television show “The Walking Dead,” bringing academic rigor to the zombie apocalypse.
Zombie 101What: A free, online, eight-week course, “Society, Science, Survival: Lessons from AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead,’’’ being offered by UC Irvine.
When: Enrollment now open to everyone; classes every Monday beginning on Oct. 15, the day after the premiere of the show’s fourth season, and ending Dec. 2. Class ‘modules,’ released on Monday mornings, can be viewed anytime, and will include lectures, clips from the show, actor interviews, reading material and a quick quiz; discussion forums also will be available.
Where: To sign up go to canvas.net/TWD.
Who: Portions of the course will be taught by public health lecturer Zuzana Bic, social science lecturer Joanne Christopherson, physics and astronomy professor Michael Dennin, and mathematics lecturer Sarah Eichhorn.
Anyone in the world can sign up for the eight-week course, which begins the day after the show's season four premiere on Oct. 13.
And what can we learn from zombies? Plenty, it turns out.
Each Monday, instructors specializing in fields from physics to social science will dissect the previous night's show for insights into disease, human behavior and perhaps even the ballistic properties of zombie brains.
“If there was a shootout scene in one of the episodes, let's talk about, is this even realistic?” said Brian Whitmer, co-founder of Instructure, the company that will provide the online platform for the course. “Would zombie brains have really spread five feet out? Two feet out? Hopefully we'll get more people interested, and hopefully we'll have a more lively discussion as a result.”
Much of the course will focus on the characters and their responses to extreme stress, social disintegration and large-scale disaster.
“The fact is, the majority of the show is dialogue, not zombies,” said UCI lecturer Joanne Christopherson, who will handle the social science part of the course. “I'm very fascinated with how they behave when they're under threat, and then how they behave when they're safe.”
She'd seen only one episode of the show before becoming involved in the project, she said. Now she's seen them all – and says she's impressed with the complexity of the characters.
“I think the writers have done their homework,” she said. “From what I've seen, I think the characters are behaving consistently with some of the theories and concepts that I see for my part of it.”
Even the zombies themselves will be exposed to scientific scrutiny. While actual zombification remains firmly in the realm of fiction, the spread of the disease that makes the dead rise can be mathematically modeled, said Sarah Eichhorn, a mathematics lecturer who will teach part of the online course.
“Disease propagation for zombie-ism occurs by contact, just like most infectious diseases,” she said. “In this case, a bite. The mathematical terms look very similar. The only thing you have to incorporate is that the population of dead is no longer terminal.”
Some animal diseases also bring on “zombie-like behavior,” she said. Parasites that take control of ant brains spring to mind.
And if you sprinkle salt on the legs of a dead frog, she said, the muscles will contract – something Eichhorn said she did not know until she did research for the “Walking Dead” course.
UCI public health lecturer Zuzana Bic hopes to use the show as a springboard to deliver positive messages about public health – and to spotlight hard-working public health specialists, who bear little resemblance to the demoralized Centers for Disease Control official appearing in one “Walking Dead” episode.
“I would like to explain a little bit about the management of communicable and non-communicable diseases, and will concentrate also on the improvement of the immune system,” she said.
She said she was distressed that the show's characters seem to show little concern about their nutrition, even though a proper diet can help reduce stress, anger and anxiety.
And she plans to use the zombies as stand-ins for different types of disease.
“I can call that slow zombie and fast zombie,” she said. “The fast zombie is infectious diseases, spreading. But (there is) also the slow type of zombie – chronic diseases, diabetes.”
UCI physics and astronomy professor Michael Dennin said he'll likely focus on the ins and outs of weaponry, real or imaginary effects of bullets, and how quickly infrastructure might collapse after a global catastrophe.
Although some have criticized the remarkable accuracy of shots fired into zombie heads by the show's characters, Dennin says modern weapons, plenty of practice and slow-moving zombies make their accuracy plausible.
On the other hand, the rapid degradation of infrastructure once zombies begin to run amok might strain credibility.
“We don't live in places like Afghanistan or Iraq, which have suffered hugely,” Dennin said. “I feel like even their infrastructure is working better than on this TV show.”
And how about working out the distances likely traveled by those scattered zombie brains? Dennin said so many moving parts make such calculations quite difficult.
The “Walking Dead” course is classified as a massive open online course – or MOOC for short – and is itself a kind of experiment, he said.“I think anyone who has been involved in education knows quality education just costs money,” he said. “There's no shortcut, really. But there are certainly different ways to reach different groups of people. One of the roles of the university is to experiment with what are the right modes of education for the right group of people. How do you get people in connection with the mode of education that will best help them?”
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