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5 Things About "The Walking Dead" That Make Absolutely No Sense

The questions you're asking if you're addicted to The Walking Dead but also to basic scientific literacy. Contains minor spoilers and one skull being crushed with a baseball bat.

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1. How soft are these zombies' skulls?

AMC / YouTube / Via youtube.com

The new series of The Walking Dead begins tonight, and if you're anything like me you'll have been asking since the beginning: How come it's so goddamn easy to crush all the zombies' skulls? Skulls are quite difficult to crush, which is why you don't immediately die when you crack your head on a door frame. But a 13-year-old boy can apparently push a Bowie knife through a zombie cranium without breaking sweat, even a few moments after the bitten person dies. Maybe as well as causing fever, sweating, death, resurrection, and crazed rabies-style biting frenzies, the zombie virus also causes acute, sudden-onset osteoporosis.

2. Why is no one rigging the zombies up to a generator? They'll immediately end America's reliance on fossil fuel.

ThinkStock / AMC / Via dailydead.com

By Season 5, the zombie event is at least a couple of years in the past. And yet the dead keep on walking. Look at the ones napalmed to the tarmac outside the Atlanta hospital – melted and flayed, clearly not having fed for years, but still snapping and grabbing at anything that comes past.

Why can't anyone see what that means? They are exempt from the normal rules of physics. The law of conservation of energy does not apply to them. They. Just. Keep. Going. The dead are a miracle which can save the world.

According to Marks' Standard Handbook for Mechanical Engineers, 11th Edition, a healthy, well-fed labourer can average about 75 watts of mechanical energy over the course of an 8-hour shift. Zombies might not be as fast as humans, but they don't stop. Let's say they manage 50 watts, and they do it for 24 hours a day.

The average energy consumption of a US household is about 2 kilowatts. Assuming the average household contains four people, you'd need about 10 zombies per person – which, judging by the profusion of them on the show, you could get pretty easily.

Stick all of 'em on a giant treadmill somewhere with a juicy-looking human to chase at the front, and let them trudge away. Boom. No more reliance on fossil fuels or imported energy. No more arguing over wind turbines and nuclear plants. Just clean, green, climate-friendly zombie power.

3. How come they don't rot?

ThinkStock / AMC / BuzzFeed / Via stevenvanlijnden.com

Two years (at least) of walking around, while dead. How many corpses do you know that would look even remotely human after two searing Deep South summers? That virus is clearly an extraordinarily powerful antimicrobial agent, and probably a useful insect repellent as well. If the active ingredient could be isolated, we would save billions on refrigeration of foodstuffs in hot countries.

4. How much of a chump would you have to be to get bitten by a zombie?

AMC / YouTube / Via youtube.com

They move very slowly. They constantly make "hurgh-hurgh" noises that are audible from quite a long way away. They're fantastically stupid. They can't open doors. They move gently towards whatever noise they hear, so you can simply stand at the front door of any house you want to clear, rattle some pots and pans around a bit, and then kill any that walk towards you by gently prodding them with a sharp stick (due to their terribly softened bones; see point 1 above). And to successfully attack you they need to bite you, which is a terrible way to spread disease (hence why rabies, for instance, has never spread across entire continents in a rabies apocalypse).

And yet supposedly capable people are constantly being killed by them. It's harsh, but maybe this is just Darwinism in action.

5. Where is everyone getting all their petrol from?

AMC / Via ar15.com

Two years on, how come everyone is still driving around in cars? Even more bafflingly, why is everyone using precious petrol to burn corpses? Unless someone's managed to find a way to access offshore oil rigs or the federal government's oil reserves, local gas stations would presumably have run out some time ago. As Lewis Dartnell points out in his book The Knowledge, about how society would restart itself after an apocalyptic event like this, fossil fuels would be in short supply. We've already got most of the easily accessible stuff out of the ground. Cross-country trips in gas-guzzling Humm-Vees would be unlikely.

Dartnell thinks any reboot of society would, by necessity, have to be "green", because of the lack of fossil fuels. Luckily, in a zombie apocalypse you wouldn't need to faff around with solar panels, for the reasons discussed above.

The Walking Dead Season 5, Episode 2 begins on Fox TV UK tonight (Monday 9 February) at 9pm.

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