100 Days Remain: Study reveals feasibility of surviving zombie apocalypse

A new study suggests that, in the case of a zombie infection spreading, less than 300 people would be left alive in the world after just 100 days.

The study, from physics students at the University of Leicester, suggested human survivors would be outnumbered a million to one by the undead in just over three months.

The students, from the University of Leicester Department of Physics and Astronomy, worked from the assumption that a zombie could find one person each day and would have a 90% chance of infecting its victim with the virus. Based off this assumption, they found that just 273 humans would remain after the 100 day period.

In order to reach these numbers, the team made use of the SIR mode; an epidemiological model that describes the spread of a disease throughout a population.

The model splits the population into three categories – those susceptible to the infection, those that are infected and those that have either died or recovered. The SIR model then considers the rates at which infections spread and die off as individuals in the population come into contact with each other.

Included in the student’s formula was a consideration of the lifecycle of a zombie, looking at the susceptible population, the zombie population and the dead population. Furthermore, the time frame in which individuals within the population come into contact was examined.

Ignored, however, were natural birth and death rates as they were considered negligible compared to the virus’ impact over such a relatively short time frame.

If populations were equally distributed, and humanity was unable to effectively fight back, calculations showed that humans would be entirely wiped out in less than a year. However, a follow-up study introduced new parameters, such as the rate in which zombies might be killed and people may have children during the epidemic.

According to this more optimistic set of calculations, human survivability became much more feasible. With the notion that survivors may become less likely to be infected over time due to experience fighting zombies also factored in, it was found that humans would not only survive the epidemic but eventually be able to wipe out the zombies and slowly begin the recovery of the population.

The students’ findings were presented as a series of short articles for the Journal of Physics Special Topics, a peer-reviewed student journal run by the University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. The student-run journal is designed to give students practical experience of writing, editing, publishing and reviewing scientific papers.

Course tutor Dr Mervyn Roy, a lecturer in the University of Leicester’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, said: “Every year we ask students to write short papers for the Journal of Physics Special Topics. It lets the students show off their creative side and apply some of physics they know to the weird, the wonderful, or the everyday.”

The all new Factor Magazine is here – your guide to how today, tomorrow and beyond are being shaped

Guess who’s back, back again.

It’s been a few months, but Factor has returned with a bigger and better format, bringing the same future news and discussion, but on a platform that you can read on any device.

We’ve been working towards this for a long, long time: this is how we’ve always wanted the magazine to look, and we’re so happy to share this with you. It can be viewed on any web browser, on anything from a mobile to a monster PC, and if you’re on a desktop or laptop, click the button in the bottom right-hand corner for the ultimate shiny reading experience. A digital magazine has never looked this good. Probably.

Unfortunately that means no more iPad app, but as you can easily read the magazine from an iPad web browser, we hope you’ll agree that what we’ve gained is so much better than what’s been lost.

So anyway, here it is: the Winter 2017 issue of Factor, the first issue of the quarterly version of the magazine.

In case any of you are worrying about us publishing the magazine quarterly, trust us you don’t need to. We’ve produced the biggest issue of Factor ever, so packed with futuristic awesomeness, that we’ve had to divide it into three sections: Today, Tomorrow and Beyond.

Today deals with the futuristic present, as much of what we think of as ‘the future’ already exists today. We look at how humanoid robots are being employed as co-workers, hear from the legendary Richard Stallman about the vanishing state of privacy and discover how automation is already taking jobs. Plus, we take a light hearted look at the futuristic world of Mr Tesla, Elon Musk, and provide our festive present suggestions in a bumper futuristic gift guide.

Moving on to Tomorrow, and it’s all about the world of the next few decades, as technologies that are in development now reach fruition and seep into our everyday lives. We consider how flying cars are inching towards reality, with a look at both Lilium and the newly announced UberAir, and find out how driverless delivery may be the first true instance of the self-driving future.  Plus, we also look at the Christmas dinners of the future, because why the hell not.

Finally, in Beyond we look at the way-out future that many of us probably won’t live to see, but is supremely cool to think about. We ask leading futurists to predict what’s in store in the 22nd century – not the most positive of pictures, unfortunately – and consider what jobs will remain in a post-automation world. Plus, we look at the potential first homes of the human race beyond the solar system, and check out how asteroid mining is set to shape off-earth development.

Take a look, and if you like what you see and read, please share the magazine with your friends, or tell us what you think. This is a completely free magazine, with not an ad in sight, so it’s always good to know that it’s worth the effort.

US scientists have begun editing genes inside patients to cure a disease that currently requires weekly treatment

For the first time, US scientists have attempted to edit the DNA of cells inside a patient in order to permanently cure a disease that currently requires weekly intravenous therapy.

Scientists at Sangamo Therapeutics are using genome editing to insert a corrective gene into a precise location in the DNA of liver cells.

Ultimately, the doctors aim to enable patients’ livers to produce a lifelong and stable supply of the enzyme iduronate-2-sulfatase (IDS), which sufferers of mucopolysaccharidosis type II (MPS II) – also known as Hunter syndrome – lack.

“For the first time, a patient has received a therapy intended to precisely edit the DNA of cells directly inside the body. We are at the start of a new frontier of genomic medicine,” said Dr. Sandy Macrae, CEO of Sangamo Therapeutics.

To insert the corrective gene the team didn’t use the popularised CRISPR  gene-editing technique, instead they used Sangamo’s zinc finger nuclease (ZFN) genome-editing technology.

In order to restrict editing solely to liver cells, the ZFNs and the corrective gene were delivered in a single intravenous infusion using AAV vectors that target the liver. The ZFNs entered the cells as inactive DNA instructions in a format designed only for liver cells to unlock.

Once “unlocked”, the ZFNs then identified, clung to and cut the DNA in a specific location within the albumin gene. Using the cells’ natural DNA repair processes, liver cells then inserted the corrective gene at the precise location.

“We cut your DNA, open it up, insert a gene, stitch it back up. Invisible mending,” said Macrae in an interview with Medical Xpress, “It becomes part of your DNA and is there for the rest of your life.”

Without IDS people with MPS II suffer debilitating buildup of toxic carbohydrates in cells throughout their body.

As a result, patients may suffer from frequent colds and ear infections, distorted facial features, hearing loss, heart problems, breathing trouble, skin and eye problems, bone and joint flaws, bowel issues and neurological problems.

Previously the treatment for this condition involved weekly infusions of enzyme replacement therapy (ERT), but for patients with MPS II within a day of receiving ERT, IDS can quickly return to near undetectable levels in the blood.

“Even with regular infusions of ERT, which has markedly improved functional health outcomes, patients endure progressive damage to heart, bones and lungs. Many patients with MPS II die of airway obstruction, upper respiratory infection or heart failure before they reach the age of 20,” said Paul Harmatz, M.D., a pediatric gastroenterologist and a principal investigator for the CHAMPIONS study at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, where the first subject in the study was treated.