Nasa / Space

Alien apocalypse vs. zombie apocalypse: Which could you survive?

Geekend contributor Nicole Bremer Nash ponders whether an alien apocalypse or a zombie apocalypse is more likely and whether humans are prepared for either.

Moviegoers love apocalypse movies and for good reason -- those movies are full of action, terror, and often have very funny and quotable lines. Two particular types of apocalypses seem to catch our attention most: alien apocalypse and zombie apocalypse. But which apocalypse is more likely, and are we prepared for either?

Which apocalypse is more likely?

The alien apocalypse is basically one scenario: Aliens come to Earth and proceed to try to take over. But the problem is that we don't know what we're really up against until they are here. Do these aliens look like us, or are their bodies built for warfare with biologic weapons like poison spit and huge, sharp talons and teeth for ripping out our bones? Do they sport more sophisticated technology than humans posses? Also, do they go door-to-door in attack mode, or do they use an Independence Day sort of method and just blow us all up from the relative safety of their flying crafts? So much is unknown about the specific form an alien apocalypse would take that it is hard to prepare oneself. Also, to our current knowledge, humans are the only "higher" life form in the galaxy, making an alien apocalypse unlikely.

I think a zombie apocalypse is the more likely end to humanity (as opposed to an alien apocalypse). I'm not alone -- the University of Florida includes zombie apocalypse planning in its disaster preparedness materials. (This PDF is the university's simulation exercise for a zombie attack.) While it may be unlikely that the dead will suddenly re-animate, Hollywood has shown us time and again that the human race is capable of creating a zombie apocalypse. Take 28 Days Later..., in which scientific research creates a disease that effectively turns people into rage-filled zombies. The disease spreads via bodily fluids, particularly blood. It's a reasonably believable scenario. I suppose in this case, we should hope that aliens suddenly show up and save us, especially since we'll only have eight days.

Which scenario we are more likely to survive?

On the one hand, I feel that I know enough about zombies that I could live through a zombie apocalypse for a good long while -- I've even participated in a zombie walk. I've studied the film genre, and I've read The Zombie Survival Guide enough times that I feel prepared. I understand that you need to use blunt force trauma to the head to kill most zombies and that no place is really, truly zombie-proof. (TechRepublic Senior Editor Mark Kaelin has already weighed in on this topic, and he, too, feels confident that he is ready for a zombie apocalypse.)

But then after some consideration, I thought about the fact that, in a zombie apocalypse, the government is likely to be rendered useless. Sure, I could maybe survive a month or more, but what then?

Whereas, in an alien apocalypse, we can presume that the government would be on top of the situation. It is less likely that an individual would actually have to face aliens invading your home and attacking your family. For this reason, I have to think that we're all more likely to survive an alien apocalypse -- don't you agree?

About

Nicole Bremer Nash is Director of Content and Social Media for HuTerra, where she uses SEO and social media to promote charitable organizations in their community-building and fundraising efforts. She enjoys volunteering, arts and crafts, and conduct...

66 comments
lucien86
lucien86

Have to say, that having studied and worked on both real and SF interstellar drives for years, we wouldn't begin to stand a teenieth chance against real aliens. They wouldn't need to bother with meteors, they'd be firing singularity shells, antimatter bombs, nanotech plagues and swarms of robot insects, or worse. [oops! edited] If thats not enough, that old chestnut the "superman" needs one critical component - which just so happens to very likely be a vital component in a successful interstellar drive. No I wouldn't fancy our chances against aliens at all. Zombies on the other hand... I'm living in rural northern Britain, zombies would almost be a relief. :)

gbarn
gbarn

I will take Aliens any day. Although I love zombies, they cannot be reasoned with under any circumstances. They want your brains, end of story!! Aliens on the other hand are obviously highly intelligent and evolved. I mean, they've harnessed some kind of light speed propulsion! Plus there's a 50/50 chance that they come in peace. And if they are peaceful then not only can we learn from them but maybe they'll take us on a tour of the cosmos.

blackepyon01
blackepyon01

Right next to the case that says "In case of fire, break glass" with the fire extinguisher inside, I shall have another case which says "In case of Zombies, break glass" with shotgun and ammo.

rkendsley
rkendsley

If aliens arrived here they would most likely be more technologically sophisticated than us and also possibly of higher intelligence. What they would most likely do is infect people with a zombie behavior spectrum disorder (ZBSD) and then once most of the population is dead come in and wipe out the rest of the human population. Much better than simple brute force, but that does not look as good on the big screen. Now, if their goal is to enslave us, then maybe a ZBSD could destroy our aggressive nature and achieve their goal. Aliens vs. Humans - 1 to 0 in favor of the Aliens. Zombies (non-alien in nature) vs. Humans - Tie

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

This may qualify as old news for some, but I was just recently informed that AMC ('Mad Men', 'Breaking Bad') will be adapting the comic 'The Walking Dead' for the small screen. Frank Darabont ('The Shawshank Redemption') is set to direct. http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/tag/walking-dead/

dpresley_50201
dpresley_50201

Zombies, being undead creatures, are very susceptible to fire. Just give me a big bonfire and several dozen torches, or a flamethrower, and I could survive a zombie apocalypse relatively unharmed.

Popoyd
Popoyd

... since the already-dead type of zombies is, honestly, scientifically impossible, what we are likely to get are more along the lines of the 'I am Legend' critters, which ARE scary as hell, fast, smart, and capable of learning and organizing. If the disease becomes airborne then even worse, no pump-action will save you unless you hit the genetic jackpot and are immune; even then you'd be so outnumbered by a tough predator your only hope would be to isolate colonies in places where they cannot travel to or survive in; the rest of the world is theirs, baby, and that's it. Still, slim as it may be, you've got a chance. Aliens though, are another story. I'm assuming that even if they have interstellar capabilities the trip is so friggin' long they won't be taking any chances - they'd probably apply some pest control system from above, nuke us all off without even touching down, and before we can figure out what OS they're running up there. A well thought system would have little or no survival rates, and then, judging from our past human-race-wide synchronization and cooperation capabilities, hunting survivors off would be childs play. Sorry, no hopes there. I'll take the zombies, as tough as you want to make them, any day. Those I *might* survive...

wizard57m-cnet
wizard57m-cnet

Well, let's see...we've already survived the 8 years of zombie apocolypse during the Bush administration, the entire administration was composed of zombies, so...I'll take my chances with Zombies!

gdomingo
gdomingo

There are hundreds if not thousands of people who hae seen alien sightings, heck I'd bet at least one out of every ten people walking down the steet have at one point seen an "Unidentified Flying Object"... I know I did when I was youg. I don't think I have ever, not even once, heard of a relative or anyone that I've ever met, say they saw a zombie. Hence statiscally (yes we are in fantasy land but hey you brought this up) Aliens is much more likely to occur. Plus lets face it, wouldn't you prefer death by laser than by shuffling dismembered spawn of hades :) Now for which can we survive... Most of the movies with invading aliens, Humans win :) most zombie movies flicks have us loose, or at least reduced to such numbers human domination is no longer the norm :(

erikj
erikj

But its also very possible that both can / will happen with them working together. The zombies are being controled by the aliens. Hows this for another thought. Lets say that all of this metorite debrie isn't filled with micro organisms which by the meaning they are alien invaders. Man they have been invading us for years then. Lets see a movie / a book made of this scenario.

erikj
erikj

I have to aggree with the zombie scenario due to how computer malware attacks can spread very rapidly in a non biological environment. But we can use the computer network as a perfect model of these scenarioes for we have it happen all the time. The sad thing is everyone thinks that there systems can't get infected when its possible just like us are vulnerble to microorganisms.

jcommunications
jcommunications

If an alien race came here to conquer us, I don't like our odds. If you can build the technology to travel the incredible distance from even the nearest solar sytem that could support life, I'd imagine your weapons would have to be pretty frightening. Zombies on the other hand have only their filthy nails to scratch us with. I think we could handle a zombie attack. I will continue to train eagerly for the day the zombies attack when L4D2 comes out next month....

sboverie
sboverie

Bruce Campbell showed that to defeat the aliens you have to organize and fight back. Nice thing about fighting aliens is that you don't turn into one if one bites you. The movie "Shaun of the Dead" also shows that even a moron can outwit a zombie. Well, at least the slow shuffling ones that bite. Either scenario has huge losses due to the time it takes to realize what is happening. Either scenario is easier to survive than "The Invasion of the Body Snatchers"; where you don't know who is real and who is not a body snatcher.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

What are the motives of the aliens? Do they want to enslave us? In that case, we survive, with a presumably (you never know, their definition of slave may be what we call 'pet', and some pets live better than a lot of people in the third world) lower quality of life. Do they want to colonize the planet, and see us the same way we see cockroaches? In this case, we're probably either all done, or there isn't enough left over to really matter. Do they want 'To Serve Man'? In which case, we're relegated to a chicken coop existence (assuming we're a long term dining option, and not just a one-time snack). In any event, I refuse to believe any of the typical Hollywood B.S. about aliens coming to our planet, and finding water to be acidic (ala Signs...what a crock, why would they come...you can see the water from space, for goodness sake), our germs to be deadly (they'd either have the medical tech to cure all, or would wear biosuits...I can't believe the bureaucracy known as NASA could have better protocols in place than an advanced space-faring race) or our tech to be able to overcome the aliens (ID4...uploading malware to the alien mainframe...seriously???). If aliens come, and they are angry, we're done. In terms of zombies, we're screwed if they're Romero-esque zombies, probably well off (relatively speaking) if they're 28 Days Later zombies, and probably survive with extensive casualties if they are World War Z zombies.

jdclyde
jdclyde

As the zombies are not intelligent and organized. The big question would be, do you have more ammunition than there are zombies? In the case of 28 days, it makes sense that fluids would spread the disease, but in the recent series, it is just dumb that a simple bite would kill and then transform. At least in the good ol' daze of zombies, you had to be killed, THEN you would come back as a zombie. "Brains......." :D

eM DuBYaH
eM DuBYaH

Wooah, what IF like, there was this alien invasion, riight? But they're not just aliens, but zombie aliens!?! Or what if aliens show up, but when they get a dose of H1N1, they turn zombie. Ok, I drank 3 rebulls, i'm making my coworkers mad, and prolly annoyed someone on here now too....

GSG
GSG

We all know that our weapons will have no effect on the Aliens, yet we've learned that they are very easy to defeat. All we need to do is get all of the kids 10 and under to sneeze into a hanky, then culture the hankies to propagate the common cold. Then we need to issue Super Soaker 2000's to everyone, and fill them with the cold virus. Squirt the aliens and you've defeated them! Zombies... all you need is a good flamethrower. Lure them in with a nice plate of brains, they'll fall into the tiger pit that you had the foresite to dig, and then it's crispy time.

peacock_eric
peacock_eric

zombies can be defeated with conventional, available weapons. aliens may or may not be vulnerable to any types of weapons currently on this planet. so i guess it would depend on the nature of the aliens as to whether we could survive.

DMambo
DMambo

I think that aliens, with their inherently more advanced technology, will be much more difficult to survive. It would be impossible to even know that they're in attack mode until they implement their "final solution". Worst of all, I think that they'd begin by appearing to be benign masters. As an analog, just think what would happen if humans suddenly decided to implement the long-awaited attack on, say, parakeets. With good coordination, the chirping would end within just a few days. Zombies, on the other hand, could not anticipate our reactions. A small group of humans could take shifts whacking their heads or shooting them while the larger group hunkered down within a protected perimeter. The only foil to this mode of defense would be if the zombies inflicted "Thriller" upon us again, in which case humans would be turning ourselves in just to make them stop. It almost worked during the 80's.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

If I'm attacking a planet from space, I don't need anything more than a bunch of excess mass and the math to determine trajectories and release points. Spit the junk out the back at the right points, let gravity do that voodoo that it does so well, and poof!, kinetic weapons.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

But they'll leave in pieces! (gotta be one of those days when I'm ripping off Dolph Lundgren!). :) If it is just one or two alien ships, we may be okay (they DO come in peace). If they come en masse, most likely, we're screwed. No one sends an armada to say 'howdy ho'. Take the remake of 'V'. Lots of ships strategically placed...good luck with that. I'd be on a one way ticket away from a major metro area.

Popoyd
Popoyd

and generally agree with our chances there. If a superior alien race wants us dead we're dead. End of story. Zombies, though, do give a little more room for speculation, and we *do* have a higher level of preparedness there. ... Right? =/

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

That post was the good laugh I needed to get me through the rest of the day. Fat people and zombies both can't climb ropes. HA!!! :)

Popoyd
Popoyd

... in my own post. We're a pest, pernicious as heck. If we are enslaved we will, sooner or later, break loose and take over or kick them out, using their own toys against them too. I guess. Any scenario where they want us dead though, we're dead and that's it...

DMambo
DMambo

You are missing one of the brain-protective layers. Q. What's a sound jd will never hear? A. A zombie with a hairball :D

TheOnlyRick
TheOnlyRick

I was disappointed that someone beat me to it. But I realised I could still ask: What about zombie aliens?

monicabower
monicabower

Finally there's some mention of the impending parakeet apocalypse. I thought it had gotten cancelled back in like 2006.

JamesRL
JamesRL

My first thought would be that hanging around major population centres would be ok until the number of zombies exceeds the number of living. Once the zombies hit critical mass, you would be better off in the wilderness. Assuming zombies can't drive, you could outrun them with a vehicle till you find a place where zombies are few and far between. Of course one of the questions is, do the zombies starve and die when tasty humans are gone, or do they hang on. James

BlackHawk_EH
BlackHawk_EH

Of course Zombies would be easier. They's is stoopid. Any race capable of inter-stellar travel would probably be able to reason out an end-game that inflicted minimal losses on their side. And aren't a great deal of our "leaders" almost zombies anyway?

maecuff
maecuff

If they are old school zombies that just moan and shuffle along, I could outrun them. But those new badass zombies? They're really fast. And I hate running. I'm not worried about alien invasion. I think I'll be a relative. That's the only explanation for my dad's side of the family.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

"I came to chew bubble gum and kick ass...and I'm all out of bubble gum." That being said, I'll stick to zombies. Zombies I can handle, at least until my ammo stash is gone (which wouldn't take long given the current ammo shortages and outrageously high prices) and my chainsaws run out of gas. Aliens would just as soon decimate us as coexist since they are obviously highly evolved and it is doubtful we would have any contributions towards their civilization.

jdclyde
jdclyde

Although I suppose that would be the final form of resistance?

Paymeister
Paymeister

Then Washington should be pretty safe...

DMambo
DMambo

They're already dead. To them, brains are just like a bowl of ice cream before bedtime. Very delicious and you have to stop yourself before having too much.

Dedlbug
Dedlbug

I think if we are talking about Zombies, then the "classic Zombie" (or the Zombie that does not run) is the only kind of zombie. Plus I'm not running for a long time. I do have my Zombie Survival guide, which is helpful. Plus my wife and I own about every zombie movie ever made...so I feel pretty experienced in Zombie behavior. However, I am not too prepared. I am not a gun owner, BUT I have two replica Kill Bill Kitanas in a "in case of emergency, break glass" case. Now we're talking, but it would be a bloody mess! Now aliens, I want no part of. Who knows what to expect. They all have advanced computers running Windows 7 AE (Alien Edition) and super duper weaponary. The only chance you have is to be part alien. Or inject a backdoor trojan into the mothership running Windows 2008 AE. (ala Independence Day) What I am scared of now, what if there were Zombie Aliens!?

DMambo
DMambo

I'm basing my info on the original Night of the Living Dead and the 80's Dawn of the Dead. If there's more up-to-date research out there then I'd better rethink my position. If it's zombies, I'm glad you'll be on our team. You're pretty good with a shovel. If it is aliens after all, would you please put in a good word for me? I'll take anything available, but I'd especially like the Roddy McDowell role in the Martian zoo. I can fling poo with the best of 'em.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

You're selling our porn, gambling and junk food industries short!!! ;)

jdclyde
jdclyde

other than by each other? :0

JamesRL
JamesRL

In not covering his chrome dome during the zombie crisis, the reflection of moonlight off his head acts like a beacon, and old geezers like Palmy and me can sneak off in the opposite direction unmolested. Mighty nice of you JD, mighty nice. James

JamesRL
JamesRL

Given that the Leafs set a club record for the worst start (7 losses in a row), a Leaf Jersey wearer is less likely to be beat up (as used to happen) than just simply be laughed at. I've never been a Leafs fan. Kinda like the Yankees, richest club in the league, hasn't won the cup since '67. James

DMambo
DMambo

Since it's an alien-related discussion, it might be a good place for this. I often see Leafs sweaters in Mtl, but usually on Habs vs Leafs game days and always in packs. It's a good time to break out those anti-zombie implements for some practice.

JamesRL
JamesRL

Your Canucks jersey would be ok in some places, not Toronto. A Penguins jersey would be good in Nova Scotia. Don't try any jerseys other than a Canadiens one in Quebec. James

Dedlbug
Dedlbug

I have always wanted to visit Canada. Seems like a pleasant state. I mean country. Plus I can wear my Canucks jersey without getting ridiculed. Being I am a Flyers fan first.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

Romero zombies would surely get the best of us over time; since everyone becomes one at some point barring a brain blow. They also don't seem to suffer things such as hunger or pain. There may be pockets of isolated human existence (like NORAD command or a small Pacific Island), but for the most part, we're toast. The 28 Days Later (and I'm assuming nanobot-driven zombies, as well) variety do die of starvation in the same manner as a typical person would. Additionally, you can kill them the same way as a normal person; so those center-of-mass shots are still effective. In this case, Darwinism would be in effect (smart and strong survive). The World War Z zombies seem to fall in the middle. On one hand, they don't seem to feel pain or suffer from starvation, and can withstand pressures that the human body cannot (concussion blasts from heavy artillery and deep sea). On the other, they do 'freeze up' in extreme cold. So, Canada could become the most populous nation on Earth in pretty quick order!!

al.centonze
al.centonze

If you wanna infect Alien computers you need a MAC As shown in ID4. Which explains where MAC technology came from... Area 51

davidt
davidt

I kept returning to this post this morning to see if anyone picked up on the reference. Yep, I've got my vinyl ready - but I'd be real picky about which ones I used. I'll be wanting to listen to most of them after the gov gets a vaccine perfected.

zefficace
zefficace

are crap, and even worse if 440 Stainless steel. Stainless is hard and brittle and does not make a good blade unless fabricated by the best blade maker ever seen. Any of you saying a modern sword is good, stainless or not, you better know where to buy because most of 'em are pure crap. I suggest to you that the cheapest camping axe is better than most swords produced today. So pay up, get a good quality axe, and you're set or try this next thing, it'll get you places... http://www.stanleytools.com/default.asp?CATEGORY=FORCIBLE+ENTRY+TOOLS&TYPE=PRODUCT&PARTNUMBER=55-122&SDesc=Stanley%26%23174%3B+Fubar%26%23174%3B+Forcible+Entry+Tool+-+30%22

JosiahB
JosiahB

Neither firearms or kill bill katanas are necessary for apocalypse survival, I have a large stack of vinyl stored away ready for any zombie apocalypse. Oh and a cricket bat and golf set should they be necessary.

JamesRL
JamesRL

I'm sure that I would not be happy about using swords, what if the blood is a contaminant - you don't want to be that close. Guns, you can probably find once the population dies down. James

maecuff
maecuff

I suspected you were a poo-flinger.

Editor's Picks