A zombie (Haitian French: zombi, Haitian Creole: zonbi) is a mythological undead corporeal revenant created through the reanimation of a corpse. Zombies are most commonly found in horror and fantasy genre works. The term comes from Haitian folklore, in which a zombie is a dead body reanimated through various methods, most commonly magic like voodoo. Modern media depictions of the reanimation of the dead often do not involve magic but rather science fictional methods such as carriers, fungi, radiation, mental diseases, vectors, pathogens, parasites, scientific accidents, etc.
One of the first books to expose Western culture to the concept of the voodoo zombie was The Magic Island (1929) by W. B. Seabrook. This is the sensationalized account of a narrator who encounters voodoo cults in Haiti and their resurrected thralls. Time commented that the book "introduced 'zombi' into U.S. speech". Zombies have a complex literary heritage, with antecedents ranging from Richard Matheson and H. P. Lovecraft to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein drawing on European folklore of the undead. Victor Halperin directed White Zombie (1932), a horror film starring Bela Lugosi. Here zombies are depicted as mindless, unthinking henchmen under the spell of an evil magician. Zombies, often still using this voodoo-inspired rationale, were initially uncommon in cinema, but their appearances continued sporadically through the 1930s to the 1960s, with films including I Walked with a Zombie (1943) and Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959).
There has been an evolution in the zombie archetype from supernatural to scientific themes. I Am Legend and Night of the Living Dead began the shift away from Haitian dark magic, though did not give scientific explanations for zombie origins. A more decisive shift towards scientific themes came with the Resident Evil video game series in the late 1990s, which gave more realistic scientific explanations for zombie origins while drawing on modern science and technology, such as biological weaponry, genetic manipulation and parasitic symbiosis. This became the standard approach for explaining zombie origins in popular fiction that followed Resident Evil.
The magic bullet theory is one of the most influential and earliest examples of mass communication theories. It assumes the media message will be directly ingrained in the audience. The magic bullet theory is based on the visual assumption that the content of the media is comparable to a bullet shot from the ''media gun'' into the head of the audience member. The originator presumes that the message will be directly injected into the audience's brain. The theory supposes that the mass media has a direct, immediate, and significant impact on its listeners and that it should be encouraged. The hypodermic needle theory similarly uses the same concept as the magic bullet theory's "shooting" metaphor. It implies that the media directly injects its messages into a passive audience without any intermediary. To put it simply, it states that communication intended for a certain person is directly received and completely accepted by the recipient.
While the "magic bullet" concept in mass communication has its roots in media theory from decades ago, it remains relevant today. Fortunately, modern 3D simulation technology has made a significant contribution to the shift in public opinion surrounding the magic bullet theory over the last few years. This means that people are less gullible since they have adequate knowledge in relation to how technology can simulate the real world. However, the magic bullet theory's relevance in today's society is undeniable, as evidenced by the fact that certain media content elicits an "actively passive" response from the audience. Marketing pitches for products on sale and violent video games are examples of the magic bullet model today. A consumer might purchase a product on sale even if they don't need it, and many people feel violence in movies, television, and video games have an adverse effect on the audience.
Today that sounds absurdly modest. It's hard to recapture how futuristic it was at the time. The post-Berners-Lee world of 2009, if we could have imagined it forty years ago, would have seemed shattering. Anybody with a cheap laptop computer, and an averagely fast WiFi connection, can enjoy the illusion of bouncing dizzily around the world in full colour, from a beach webcam in Portugal to a chess match in Vladivostok, and Google Earth actually lets you fly the full length of the intervening landscape as if on a magic carpet. You can drop in for a chat at a virtual pub, in a virtual town whose geographical location is so irrelevant as to be literally non-existent (and the content of whose LOL-punctuated conversation, alas, is likely to be of a drivelling fatuity that insults the technology that mediates it).
When awash in data it is common to use the following three-step investigative method: a new phenomenon is found in the data, followed by an analysis strategy justified on heuristic grounds, and then some computational examples of apparent success are provided. This approach makes it nearly impossible to derive the deeper intellectual understanding that the mathematical framework is geared to uncover. Our basic tools of modern data analysis, from regression to principal components, were developed by scientists working squarely in the mathematical tradition, and are based on theorems and analysis. As the Internet facilitates a national hobby of data analysis, our thinking about scientific discovery is no longer typically in the intellectual tradition of mathematics. This tradition, and the area of my training, defines a meaningful investigation as involving a formal definition of the phenomenon of interest, stated carefully in a mathematical model, and use of a strategy for analysis that follows logically from the model. It is accompanied at every step by efforts to show how the opportunity for error and mistakes has been minimized. As data analysts we must have the same high standards for transparency in our findings, and consequently I am pushing my thinking toward deeper intellectual rigor, more in line with the mathematical tradition and less in line with the data analysis tradition so facilitated by the Internet.
The Internet has changed how I think about science, and how to identify it. Today most computational results aren't accompanied by their underlying code and data, and my opening description of being able to recreate results for oneself is not commonplace. But I believe this will become typical - the draw of verifying what we know for ourselves and being less reliant on the conclusions of others has remained evident in our long search for truth about our world. This seems a natural evolution from a state of knowledge derived from mystical sources with little ability to question and verify, through a science-facing society still with an epistemological gulf between scientist and non-scientist. Now, the Internet allows more of our understanding to seep from the ivory tower, closing that gulf and empowering us to know things for ourselves and changing our expectations about what it means to live in an open, data-driven, society.
I have a love-hate relationship with the Internet. With procrastination just a click away, and a seductive Siren song in the form of new-mail pings, I find it challenging to stay focused on a single subject long enough to have real impact. Maintaining the Zen-like focus that is so crucial for doing science was easier back when the newspaper and the mail came only once per day. Indeed, as a part of an abstinence-based rehab program, I now try to disconnect completely from the Internet while thinking, closing my mail program and Web browser for hours, much to the chagrin of colleagues and friends who expect instant response. To get fresh and original ideas, I typically need to go even further, and completely turn off my computer.
On the other hand, the ubiquity of information is clearly having positive impact in areas ranging from science and education to economic development. I think the essence of science is to think for oneself and question authority. I therefore delight in the fact that the Internet makes it harder to restrict information and block the truth. Once the cat is out of the bag and in the cloud, that's it. Today it's hard even for Iran and China to prevent information dissemination. Soviet-style restrictions on copying machines sound quaint today, and the only currently reliable censorship is not to allow the Internet at all, like in North Korea.
At the moment the data is accessible. More importantly, the raw experimental data is becoming available to theorists like myself via the Internet. It is well known from the history of science that experimentalists quite often do not appreciate the full significance of their own observations. "A new phenomenon is first seen by someone who did not discover it," is one way of expressing this fact. Now that the Internet allows the experimenter to post her data, we theorists can individually analyze it.
Perhaps the most profound change in my thinking is how the new ease of information access has allowed me to synthesize broad new ideas drawing from fields of scholarship outside my own. It took less than two years for me to finish a book identifying important convergent trends not only in climate science (my formal area of expertise) but globalization, population demographics, energy, political science, geography and law. While a synthesis of such scope might well have been possible without the light-speed world library of the Internet, I, for one, would never have attempted it.
In science we generally first learn about invisible structures from anomalies in concrete systems. The existence of an invisible neutrino on the same footing as visible particles was predicted in 1930 by Wolfgang Pauli as the error term necessary to save the principles of conservation of energy and momentum in beta decay. Likewise, human memes invisible to DNA (e.g. tunes) were proposed in 1976 by Richard Dawkins as selection, to remain valid, must necessarily include all self-replicating units of transmission involved in tradeoffs with traditional genes. 2b1af7f3a8