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"How to survive a Zombie Apocalypse" HMC Supplement

melkorthefoul 13 / 31  
Dec 22, 2010   #1
In a world where technology continually adapts and progresses, Harvey Mudd College expects that our students will be aware of the impact of their work on society. How would you use new advances to improve your life and/or the lives of those around you? Describe your idea and its potential impact. Feel free to be as creative or as practical as you like.

I'm really abusing the "feel free to be as creative as you like" bit of the prompt... what do you guys think? Its not completed yet, but the rest of the essay will be in a similar style to what is here. I just figured I should post this to see if I should continue this!

As a die-hard science fiction buff, the word 'practical' doesn't exist in my vocabulary. True, it does get me strange looks on occasion, but there is no denying that an orbital space laser would be very, very cool. However, I can't think up of too many peaceful and world-improving applications of a space laser, so instead I present my Zombie Apocalypse Survival Plan. The focus of my idea is not to maximise the number of zombies killed (After all, nobody is keeping count), but instead to help the survivors rebuild civilization. The impact of this solution is obvious - the survival of mankind in the (admittedly unlikely) event of a zombie apocalypse, which in this case is assumed to have been caused by an unknown pathogen.

The first concern is, obviously, security. Zombies have the annoying habit of sneaking through air conditioning vents and chimneys, and then hiding in dark corners until their unsuspecting prey walks too close by. Therefore, the first step in the Survival Guide is to construct a floating city. There are obvious pitfalls, but first, the advantages. The most notable advantage is that zombies cannot swim. As they are constructed of decaying flesh, a swarm of zombies swimming out to sea would quickly be decomposed by the various aqueous bacteria, assuming that the sharks didn't get them first. Since zombies cannot reproduce, except by infecting humans, a two month period during which every individual on the city is accounted for will be sufficient to ensure that any zombies who may have sneaked on board die of natural causes, thus creating a zombie-free zone. After such a free zone is created, all that is needed for civilization to be reinstated is a twenty year period in which all terrestrial zombies die off, at which point the floating city can be grounded on a river delta, and the last vestiges of humanity can begin repopulating the planet.

However, there are still several obstacles to implementing this plan, the most glaring of which are the availability of food, energy, fresh water and other miscellaneous resources. Energy needs can be met simply, through the use of atomic and solar energy, with a minimal use of fossil fuels, which would remain reserved for the manufacture of plastics. Food can be harvested from the sea or grown in hydroponic gardens which would not take up as much space as traditional farming methods. Easily grown food sources, such as algae, can also be used to provide much of the nutrition needed for the city's population. Fresh water would be perhaps the most difficult resource to obtain, since distillation or reverse osmosis of sea water will consume a great deal of energy. One potential method of collecting fresh water would be to have catchment basins in the city, which would collect rainwater. Other resources, such as metals, can simply be recycled or rationed, as the city only needs to remain floating for two decades. Should any additional resources be required, the city can manoeuvre itself near to a supply of the required resources, at which point the resource may be harvested.

The final concern would be maintaining the cultural and intellectual aspects of civilization. This is perhaps the most important aspect of the Plan, as these three aspects differentiate mere survival from a preservation of the current level of progress. The first logical step would be to download the entirety of the Internet, which contains close to the sum total of all the assimilated human knowledge. In order to preserve the relative diversity of the human population as it exists now, an effort should be made to have the population of the city reflect the world's population, although realistically the city's population would simply be made up of whoever made it to the loading bay. The population of the city will need to number in the tens of millions, so that there is no major loss of knowledge, as occurs in isolated communities with small populations such as on Easter Island. Most importantly, highly technical professions, such as specialist manufacturing, will have to be represented in force, as these professions are the basis of modern society. An increase in automation, in order to reduce the amount of non-technical jobs, such as waste disposal or sanitary workers, will also reduce the population needed to maintain the level of human progress.

When the two decade period is over, the city can be grounded permanently onto a beach or river delta. Care should be taken in landing the city, as the location should be easily defended (in the event that not all the zombies have died), and should be located in proximity to plentiful supplies of natural resources. The surviving human population can then start to slowly expand outwards, but should stay within a 200 mile radius of the landing site in the event of a resurgence of the zombie plague for the next century. If no further events occur, then human civilization can be allowed to expand freely, eventually reaching pre-plague levels of population and progress.

One final eventuality, though. In the unlikely event that the zombies do not die naturally, tactical nuclear warheads may have to be deployed. In order to prevent long-term environmental damage, enhanced radiation warheads, which cause severe short-term damage to organic matter, but have little to no fallout, can be used to euthanize an area surrounding the landing zone. Expansion of human society will then proceed in a similar manner as above, except that a significant portion of the population will need to remain devoted to eradicating any remaining zombies. Eventually, however, human society will reach pre-plague levels, and can continue to grow, explore and, most importantly, survive, thanks to the Zombie Apocalypse Survival Plan.
Doom 13 / 37 2  
Dec 22, 2010   #2
hahahaha!! this is actually hilarious!

Well, this is quite a gamble. You might get an admissions officer with a sense of humor, or get one who would reject you on the spot.

But considering i know that one person who wrote this very same essay (and got in) talked about nuking mars to make it habitable, i dont think you are going that overboard.

The only problem i see is how you are going to end this. It seems like it could easily be pages long. If it gets that long, i have a feeling that even an admissions officer with a good sense of humor would get an unfavorable disposition of you.

See if you can just make three points about how to survive a zombie invasion. Basically merge paragraphs 2+3, and then shorten it. Then write about 2 more about other solutions to halt an impeding zombie invasion.

If done right, i think you will definetely stand out from the crowd.
OP melkorthefoul 13 / 31  
Dec 22, 2010   #3
Well, this is quite a gamble.

They did say "be as creative as you like".

It seems like it could easily be pages long.

Actually, I only have one more body paragraph, which focuses on maintaining socioeconomic, cultural and scientific knowledge in the population.

Basically merge paragraphs 2+3,

You think so? I'm not exactly in the mood to drown the poor guy in a wall of text...
Doom 13 / 37 2  
Dec 22, 2010   #4
You only have one more paragraph!

can i see the rest? Im actually extremely interested to see how you continued! :D
Doom 13 / 37 2  
Dec 22, 2010   #5
Eventually, however, human society will reach pre-plague levels, and can continue to grow, explore and, most importantly, survive, all thanks to the Zombie Apocalypse Survival Plan.

What is the word limit for this essay? Or is there even one?
read 1 / 6  
Dec 22, 2010   #7
think up of


aqueous --> i think aquatic would work better, since aqueous is a chemistry term, but your call

uhh..do zombies die of natural causes?

so, by apocalypse, do you mean that the Earth turns to rubble or the people just get infected, leaving structures and buildings intact ?

manoeuver or maneuver, personally i like the latter

download the Internet?

cool topic :) it may be too fantasy-based, however, and doesn't really show much about you
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Jan 2, 2011   #8
As a die-hard science fiction buff, the word 'practical' doesn't exist in my vocabulary.

My sister said it obviously exists in your vocabulary since you just used it! But that is unimportant. You are cool. I havebeen looking forward to reading this because of the title.

Care should be taken in landing the city, as the location should be easily defended (in the event that not all the zombies have died),

This is awesome. The AO reader will definitely appreciate it. But is it correct to refer to them dying? they are undead, I thought.

Anyway, nevermind. This is great stuff. You are my hero.
ZeroCool2u 2 / 9  
Jan 2, 2011   #9
Haha this is excellent, I'm jealous I didn't think of something like this!

Anyways, I agree with most of the others ^^ that your topic is great and basically the essay is awesome but the devils in the details. It's the small things here that need to be addressed for a good essay like this.

1 I think you could change your 1st sentence to "As a die-hard science fiction buff, I generally consider practicality irrelevant." or something like that. The vocab things a lil weird.

2 You might want to change your focus to "preserve and rebuild civilization" because the considerations for the floating city are really preserving or maintaining key aspects of civilization rather than just rebuilding it.

3 Am I the only one who considered zombie sharks?

4 I feel like if a zombie really did get on the floating city then things would get bad. You should mention like self sufficient rooms for everyone or family that are locked for two months or sumthin idk but zombie+city= X(

5 20 years for presumably the entire planet to turn zombie and then (very probably) turn cannibalistic and eventually die out? Idk if I were you I wouldn't specify a specific time but rather maybe just say "a few decades"? The century safe guard type thing sounds good though. Of course none of this really matters if you wanna just go with the nukes... but have you considered possible survivors?

6 How does the floating city move and what fulfills those massive energy requirements?

7 How quick are we supposed to build this floating city????

8 Yeah...download the internet...? Also what about maybe the library of congress?

9 Who gets to stay on the city? How is that decided?

10 So how big is a city that holds tens of millions of people going to be... Also I think that might be kind of a high estimate :p

So basically your a BAMF and this essay is awesome. They better let you in.

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