130208_zombied_silicaResearchers from Sandia National Laboratories and the University of New Mexico have created mammalian cells that may function better after they die by coating a cell with a silica solution to form a replica of its structure, a process that is so near-perfect that it preserves the cell down to the miniscule grooves of the DNA. By using the cell as a sort of living mold, scientists can create a structure that looks the same as the previously living cell but is able to survive more severe temperatures and pressures than the flesh ever could, including performing some functions even better than when the cells were still alive. Are you freaked out yet?

The process begins fairly simply: “Take some free-floating mammalian cells, put them in a petri dish and add silicic acid. The silicic acid, for reasons still partially unclear, enters without clogging and in effect embalms every organelle in the cell from the micro- to the nanometer scale.”

They go on from there: “By heating the silica to relatively low heat (400 C), the organic material of the cell — its protein — evaporates and leaves the silica in a kind of three-dimensional Madame Tussauds wax replica of a formerly living being. The difference is that instead of modeling the face, say, of a famous criminal, the hardened silica-based cells display internal mineralized structures with intricate features ranging from nano- to millimeter-length scales.”

Imagine the scientific uses for something like this, from preserving DNA and other cellular structures to creating new energy sources and nanostructures. The potential for great scientific leaps are there.

According to lead researcher Bryan Kaehr, “King Tut was mummified to approximately resemble his living self, but the process took place without mineralization (a process of fossilization). Our zombie cells bridge chemistry and biology to create forms that not only near-perfectly resemble their past selves, but can do future work.”

Science creating zombies just goes to show us that it doesn’t necessarily have to be in the form of a virus. The scariest thing about this is the potential effects on organisms on a larger scale or the potential for creating a virus that cannot be destroyed. At this point it requires human action for creation, but what happens when this process is used more frequently or finds a way to replicate itself on its own? The science is cool and has many potential uses, but the potential for backfiring is also great. Be careful, science!

Read the full article

- Tim

Used by permission as posted on Tim’s Book Reviews.

Working StiffsPremise: Pro-Well Pharmaceuticals is Pittsburgh’s premiere pharmaceutical company, led by the former meth dealer Marshall Owens, developing drugs that treat diseases and ailments such as erectile dysfunction. When a terrible accident stops production, however, their dirty little secret is revealed: the factory workforce is actually full of zombies who only need payment in human flesh.

The office employees quickly go into survival mode, banding together or falling victim to undead hunger. They gather makeshift weapons of paper cutters and staplers in order to fight off zombie hordes as they try to escape the building before it’s time to clock out. Marshall Owens has barricaded himself in his fourth floor office, but his surviving employees might have plans of making him pay for his crimes against nature.

The zombie horde amassing outside the building makes their escape plans even more of a challenge, especially with no contact with the outside world. The outbreak has spread to other parts of the city, but the surrounded building isn’t enough to make these employees work overtime.

Themes: Survival is the key in any zombie outbreak, and that is no different in Working Stiffs. Improvisation is essential, especially when trying to find food, water, and weapons. Knowing your enemy is important as you make a plan for survival. The employees search for office supplies that can double as weapons and do their best to plan for escape from the Pro-Well building. We are given insight into the creativity needed for survival situations.

Romance sort of plays a role in the story, though a small part, even if it is unrequited or hidden between unlikely characters. Two employees make their secret romance known, while the goth girl on her first day of work longs for the gay pessimist who becomes the appointed leader of the survivors.

Pros: The dialogue is pretty funny if you aren’t offended by obscenity. The unique characters are probably the best part of Working Stiffs, being thoughtfully characterized without becoming too much of a caricaturization. I liked the fast pace of the action and the funny conversations, especially of the boorish O’Brien. And the loveable General will surprise everyone with his leadership. I also liked that no one is safe when it comes to becoming a zombie meal.

Cons: One of the problems I had with Working Stiffs was that I wasn’t convinced the improvised weapons would have been quite as effective as they were. I don’t think reams of paper and telephones with cords attached would smash a skull as well as they did in the story. A minor gripe considering the humorous nature of the book, I feel like it ended with a few loose ends unresolved while other things tied up too quickly. Perhaps it needed a bigger climactic event to have more payoff. I thought some of the content was offensive for the sake of being offensive, such as with the self-depreciating homosexual or the comments about obese people.

Recommendations: If there is such a thing as a lighthearted zombie gore fest, this falls into that category. Working Stiffs is humorous, full of violence, gore, profanity, and indiscriminately offensive toward all social groups, from geek to goth, including religion, race, age, sexual preference, weight, et al. Some people will be offended by these things while others will greatly enjoy the book because of them. I have a feeling after reading this review you will know which camp you fall into. Think of Working Stiffs as a cross between Office Space and Shaun of the Dead.

- Tim
Working Stiffs on Goodreads
Lucy Leitner on Twitter
Working Stiffs on Facebook
Buy Working Stiffs on Amazon
Necro Publishing

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And now for the giveaway!
We will pick two US/Canada winners to receive a signed copy and one international winner to receive an ebook. All you have to do is answer the question in the comments below:

“What would be your weapon of choice if you were stuck in an office building during a zombie outbreak?”

You can also get extra entries in the contest, but you must answer the question for them to count:
+1 Follow Lucy on Twitter @TheLucyLeitner
+1 Follow ZAI on Twitter @zpoc_awareness
+1 Tweet about the giveaway & post a link to your tweet
+1 Like Working Stiffs on Facebook
+1 Like Zombie Awareness International on Facebook

Make sure you post extra entries in your comment. Also let us know if you are a US/Canada or international entry. You have until 11:59 p.m. PT on Friday, October 26 to enter. Winners will be chosen from entries and contacted by email within 48 hours to get your shipping information. Good luck to everyone!

With September being National Preparedness Month, we thought it would be helpful to share what you can put into a basic preparedness kit in case of a disaster or emergency situation. The first thing to get is a heavy duty plastic bin to store everything. For larger kits, you may need more than one bin to store everything. This is not a bug out bag to take and go quickly. This is a more extensive kit that you can crack open in the event you need supplies when a natural disaster or some other circumstance hits and your normal resources are unavailable. A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:

Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
• Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food, including canned goods, granola, cereal, protien bars, peanut butter, dried fruit, nuts, crackers, or MREs
• Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
• Flashlight and extra batteries, or a shake flaslight that needs no batteries
First aid kit
• Whistle to signal for help
• Dust masks to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
• Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
• Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities, or even something like a Fubar that can double as a weapon
• Manual can opener for food
• Local maps
• Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
• At least two ways to make fire (matches, a fire starter, this, or even this)

These are some essentials that you will want to include, but you will probably want to customize your kit to suit your needs. For example, if you want to be able to cook food or boil water, you might want to include a propane stove for convenience. For babies you will need to think about diapers or formula. If you take medications or have other special needs, such as contact lenses, dentures, or feminine products (which can be used for other things like treating wounds), you will need to add those to your kit. Some other things you might consider including in your kit:

• A change of clothes for each person, including shoes and socks
• Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children (or an e-reader with charger)
• Defensive weapons in the case of looting or zombies, including ammunition
Paper and pencil
• Pet food and extra water for your pet
• Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
• Eating utensils and plastic or paper plates

Keep your kit stored in a cool dry place, like a closet or your garage. Make sure to go through your preparedness kit at least once a year to check expiration dates and replace items where necessary. The goal is to be prepared to last several days or weeks without your normal expected routine of running water, electricity, or the ability to head to a store to buy things. If you already have what you need for the short term, you are more likely to make it in the long term. There are many other things you might find useful in an emergency. What else would you include in your preparedness kit?

- Tim

Much of this list was taken from Ready.gov, but modified to include additional useful items.

September is National Preparedness Month in the United States, a coordinated effort by multiple federal agencies to promote preparedness for disasters and other emergency situations in order to make people aware of their basic needs, how they can mitigate damage or loss of life and property, and to increase readiness for such events. The goal is to encourage people to plan for emergencies so that when they strike there is a greater likelihood of safety and survival. Zombie Awareness International uses the zombie apocalypse as an extreme situation because we believe if you are prepared for the zpoc you will be prepared for anything.

Below is a list of links to various agency websites promoting National Preparedness Month. Take the time to click through them to prepare yourself and your family for emergencies. Being prepared could make all the difference in the world.

FEMA Pledge to Prepare
Department of Homeland Security
Centers For Disease Control and Prevention
U.S. Army

Don’t Be A Jerk

Posted: 2012/08/20 in Survival, Tactical
Tags: ,

You know how we feel about lone wolves. You know the type. They are people who think they are better off without the help of anyone else, especially in a survival situation. They think they know everything because they did a stint or three in the military and can field strip a rifle, they were in the boy scouts and know how to tie every knot in the book, or they watch The Walking Dead and have read every survival blog on the internet. But how well will they really do if they treat others like they are better than everyone else?

Telling others that they are stupid for doing something differently than the way you would do something is the quick path to finding yourself alone in a survival situation. It won’t make people treat you like a leader and follow you for your endless wisdom. It will make people despise you because you are a jerk. Leadership does not mean that you bark commands and expect people to jump, especially since survival is not the same thing as being in the military, and if your neighbors don’t really know you, they will not know what kind of knowledge you have. Leading by example means putting your neck out for others. Treating people with respect and courtesy will get you a long way. There is a reason why grace is considered a virtue.

When you begin to run out of water or food or ammo that your neighbor happens to have, will they be willing to give it to you because they know you would do the same for them? Or will they see you as a tyrant who they would rather see zombies munching on your flesh?

Here is my advice to you: don’t be a jerk. Don’t tell people they are stupid because they disagree with you, or even if they really don’t know what they are talking about. Correct misinformation with kindness. Show, rather than tell, others how to do things correctly. People will be grateful to you when you help extend their lives or make their lives better. People will slam the door in your face when you come across as arrogant or as a bully. Lend a hand when the opportunity arises. That way when you need a hand in return there will be others who willingly give it.

- Tim

Don’t you hate that game on Facebook where people say “The zpoc has hit and the object to your left or your right is your weapon” and all you see is an endtable with a remote on it? Now that table doesn’t have to be so harmless. Just pick this up and wield it with confidence when you wake up to the sounds of an intruder in your home or a moaning horde roaming around outside.

Image from angelpie34 on flikr

New research published by Dermato-Endocrinology shows that the risk of hospital-acquired infections could be significantly reduced by increasing vitamin D concentrations among hospital patients. My first thought was that if it were possible to have a cure or treatment for the zombie virus that having a healthy dose of vitamin D might help prevent infections. I know what you’re thinking: “But Tim, there is no cure for the zombie virus except a bullet to the head or other means of destroying the brain.” There has been speculation about rabies being a possible cause of the zombie outbreak due to lack of vaccinations or mutation for humans. With the proper innoculations, could this viral infection of the brain be even better prevented with more vitamin D?

When thinking about antibiotic bacterias already becoming more prevalent, what this study seems to point to is what each of us can do in the event we are exposed to these infections. According to the researchers, vitamin D strengthens the immune response by overcoming the antibiotic resistance of many bacteria encountered in hospitals. Vitamin D doses are given to these patients to help them fight off diseases that are contracted in hospitals, but I wonder if this could be extrapolated to work not just for hospital infections. There are multiple reasons why people are vitamin D deficient. What can you do to boost your immune system as well as fight off other diseases?

Eat meat. Most natural sources of vitamin D are animal-based, including cheese, egg yolks, fish and fish oils, milk, and beef liver. Vegetarians are more at risk for vitamin D deficiency.

Get some sun. The body makes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight. Sunblock lotions can prevent synthesis of vitamin D, but make sure you wear a proper sunblock to help prevent sunburn, which can lead to skin cancer. Darker skin is also known to reduce the skin’s ability to create vitamin D.

Exercise and lose weight. Vitamin D is extracted from the blood by fat cells, altering its release into the circulation. People with a body mass index of 30 or greater often have low blood levels of vitamin D.

What I am saying is that a lifestyle of inactivity and lack of exposure to the sun will not only lead to obesity, and with it other health problems, but it could also contribute to you being more likely to contract the zombie virus. So stock up on food and ammo, prepare your bug out bags, but step away from the computer and get some fresh air. Go for a walk and get some exercise and you might just save your life in ways you never expected. Dissenting comments will only prove my point for more than the reasons that I have stated and should be the first to step away from the computer.

- Tim

Who we are: Kevin

Posted: 2012/07/26 in Who we are
Tags:

ZAI admin. Who I am? I’m Kevin, who are you? As I have lived in the Northwest my entire life I have a great appreciation for everything outdoors. I have spent many, many hours exploring the back woods of the great state of Washington in my search for prime and undiscovered fishing locations. Doing a lot of backpacking and hiking as a wee one I learned at an early age about water purification, fire making, man hunting, gun shooting, knife stabbing and general self-learned survival skills. Whatever apocalypse might come my way, I feel confident I would have a better than average chance of making it out in one piece.

Firearms: I have been around guns my entire life. My uncle is a gunsmith and blacksmith, my father and I both shared an appreciation for guns when I was young. Grown up (mostly) now, I currently own three firearms of my own. There is nothing quite like ‘recycling’ an old TV with some 00 and rifled slugs from my Mossberg 500. I have no formal training but I feel very confident that I could learn to use any gun well.

Prepping/Survival: Along with all the above mentioned, I also believe in being realistically prepared for any scenario that may come along. I have my pack, guns and a few knives to choose from always close at hand. I have an extensive collection of knives and bladed weapons (somewhere between 200-300) for EDC and also because knives are just plain cool. Kershaw is by far and away my favorite. Not a plug at all; just the plain truth.

I have a great life here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with all the hunting, fishing, camping and exploring right in my back yard. I am also very lucky to know the other 3 admins as well. Eric, I have not yet met face to face but I know he is just like me. Tim and Rich I have known since college and you couldn’t find any better guys to be on your ZPOC team. Let’s educate ourselves and support each other and we will all be left standing when the smoke clears.

5,000 Facebook Member Giveaway

Posted: 2012/07/02 in Giveaway
Tags: ,

We have an amazing group of people who contribute information for survival on our Facebook page. We grew from a handful of friends to a devoted 5,000+ members who want to share awareness of threats, ways to be prepared, and knowledge for survival. As a way of saying thank you to everyone, we will be doing a series of giveaways throughout the summer, and hopefully for years to come. The first of these giveaways is simple: just leave a comment saying you wish to participate.  We have not one, but three prizes to give away this time. Here is what you can win:

Rite in the Rain Nº 935T-KIT
Universal 3 in x 5 in Kit
Tan Cordura® fabric Cover
Black All Weather Pen

We have three of these 3×5 Rite in the Rain kits to give away. The paper allows you to write in wet weather, as the name implies, the pen is all-weather and writes upside-down, and it fits in an easy to carry pouch. You never know when you will need to write something down, take notes, or draw a map in the rain in order to survive.

We want to make it easy for anyone to win, so all you have to do is leave a comment on this post to enter. You will need to enter a valid email address so we can contact the winners, but we won’t sell, share, or do anything else with the information you provide. Comments are moderated, so they may not show up immediately. Just one comment per person. We will use a random number generator to select winners.

Thank you and good luck to everyone! We have more giveaways to come.

The fine print:
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open worldwide, to those who are 18 or older. Giveaway winners under 18 must have their parent or legal guardian over the age of 18 claim their prize for them. To enter, comment on this post beginning at 8:00 p.m. Pacific Time (PT) July 2, 2012. Sweepstakes ends at 11:59 p.m. PT July 9, 2012. Duplicate entries will disqualify you from winning. Void where prohibited by law.

And the winners are…

Holden Rifat
David Brinegar
Tiffany Beal

Where Eric Has Been

Posted: 2012/06/22 in Who we are
Tags:

It has been a bit since you have heard from me, so I want to take a minute to update our awesome Zombie Awareness International fan base.

I will be out of the loop for about a year as I am heading downrange with the Army. My biggest fear is that I won’t be stateside when Z-Day arrives. That would suck.

While I am gone, Tim and Rich will be running the show, and I will post on the ZAI Facebook page when I can.

Tim and Rich have some pretty awesome ideas for stuff to do while I am gone, and there should be some pretty good content coming your guys’ way soon.

We have also talked with a couple of our kickass fans about helping out with ZAI to continue to get the newest and most relevant and educational content to increase awareness.

When I get back, I am thinking about putting together actual events where ZAI members can get together to share ideas and network. I am also going to figure out how to make an iPhone/iPod app for ZAI. If anyone has any ideas about what they would like to see or do for events or content, please email us at zpoc.awareness@gmail.com.

Thank you all for your continued support and participation in helping to educate and protect the unbitten masses. I will catch you all on the flip-side.

Oh yeah, stay off the bath salts.

Eric

ZAI