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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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ScienceShot: How to Beat the Zombie Hordes
2 July 2013 2:42 pm
The undead aren't known for a fascination with science, but now zombies have helped researchers understand a matter of life and death: the choices people make as they evacuate a building. A team at a science museum's zombie theme day recruited visitors to play a "zombie video game" that was actually a test of their ability to escape a structure during an emergency. Each player was instructed to maneuver his or her own personal zombie through one of two corridors leading to a large room, then back out again. Players had a bird's-eye-view of the layout, to which the experimenters added a milling crowd of other zombies. The researchers found that when players were under no pressure, they quickly found their way out of the simulated building by taking the less congested of the two exit routes. But when the volunteers were stressed out—by being asked to beat the escape times of previous zombies—they were more likely to stick to the route they'd taken into the building, even when it was crowded with others, than to head for a clear escape route they hadn't used before. The results suggest that humans under stress don't reliably make rational evacuation decisions, the researchers report in Animal Behaviour. That finding, though not surprising, should prompt rethinking of how to conduct evacuations, the researchers say. For example, people heading into large buildings should be directed to at least two entry routes, so that in an emergency, they don't head, zombie-like, to a single path of escape.
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