Ginger Apocalypse 2016: The Good, the Dead, and the Sugary

Time has passed in the land of the ginger zombies. Though the sugary horror continues, the unrelenting march of the seasons continues. Spring turns to summer, which bleeds into autumn, which in turn changes to winter. The cycle continues, on and on, while the ginger zombies continue their domination of the world.

Sarah, the reluctant hero of our holiday tales, was last seen in Romania, running a zombie carnival with her lumberjack-crush, Jon. Though the zombies were entertained for a time, the shaky peace was soon shattered, and the two found themselves on the run from the ginger zombies once more.

Jon and Sarah wandered to the English countryside, where long abandoned manor houses dotted a wild landscape. The zombie population was low (with most of them having moved on to more populated regions of the cookie world), the homes were stately, and our heroes were weary. They soon set up camp in Frostingshire Manor, and things seemed peaceful.

For a time.

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“First we take over the table, then… THE WORLD.”

Unfortunately, peace doesn’t last in a time of sweet monsters. When their new friend Darryl came back from a supply run, he brought more than food back to our lumberjack-and-jill. And now chaos has overtaken Frostingshire Manor, while our heroes once again fight for their lives.

Jon has taken up his trusty chainsaw once more, dismembering one of the deadly sugar zombies on his front walk:

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A proud homeowner, Jon made sure the walk remained impeccably clean.

At his feet sits a second Molotov cocktail, the first of which he threw at a zombie lurking near one of the large trees on the estate. The zombie has yet to realize she will be burnt sugar in but a few moments:

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Two minutes from now: “THAT ZOMBIE’S ON FIYAAAAAAH!”

But as prepared as Jon may seem, he needs to be careful. A third ginger zombie has crept onto the second story balcony, ready to leap down on an unsuspecting cookie at ANY TIME:

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“Be vewy vewy quiet. I’m hunting COOKIE.”

After a rough start (in which an eye was lost to a hungry zombie mouth), Sarah has come into her own over by Darryl’s truck. The memory of her time as a lumberjill has flowed into her arm, and while she may not be wearing plaid, she IS wielding her axe with deadly precision. Darryl’s truck bed, once loaded with supplies, is now piled high with the remains of the zombies that have crossed Sarah’s path:

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*cue zombie country song*

Unfortunately, the owner of that truck was… not so lucky. Darryl met a tragic end when he tripped, fell into the pond… and was the first to discover that even the local wildlife has succumbed to the sugary zombie virus:

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Zombie ducky, you’re the one. You make bath time so much OH GOD, THE AGONY!

Nearby, another zombie skips rope with Darryl’s intestines, which is rude, even for a zombie:

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Crossfit began marketing to zombies almost immediately.

Watching over all this is the first zombie to attack the manor, a zombie Jon strung up as a warning to the others. A warning they promptly ignored, but it was a valiant attempt:

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“C’mon guys. I just wanted to HANG OUT.”

Will Jon and Sarah repel the zombies once more? Will Sarah get a really cool eyepatch now? Is that duck an ominous portent of things to come? Will the world be overrun by zombie ANIMALS too? Tune in next year to find out!

Ginger Apocalypse 2014: The Refrostening

Another year has come and gone, and the time of the ginger zombies is upon us once more. When last we checked in with Sarah, our lumberjill (jessica? jane?) turned loving housewife, she had been avenging the death of her beloved Jimmy, taken from her less than a year after meeting him. Their marriage had been short but sweet, and Sarah grieved deeply for the death of her man.

But after escaping the forest clearing in the truck of a wandering lumberjack, Sarah found herself remembering her younger days. The days before tiny sugary zombies swarmed across the candy globe. When she had lived up north and worn a lot of plaid and chopped down trees for fun. Despite herself, Sarah once again felt a stirring of emotions for her companion.

Jon the Lumberjack may have liked Sarah well enough, but in true outdoorsman fashion, his first instinct was survival. For some time, Jon and Sarah traveled around the world, trying to carve out a safe haven for themselves. However, it soon became evident that the world was overrun with ginger zombies. Sweet cookie humanity had no hope of beating back the zombie scourge.

So one day, while the two were wandering down a Romanian road, decapitating zombies and talking, Sarah made a radical suggestion. What if, instead of fighting zombies… they learned to live WITH them? Jon mulled this over, but when they stumbled upon the old gypsy wagon, it seemed almost natural to just embrace it. After all, they were pretty nomadic as it was.

And so, Jon and Sarah became gypsies, and they ran a small carnival to entertain the zombies. It turns out Sarah was right- it was much easier to live with the undead than to fight them:

Undead fun fair, now open for business.

Undead fun fair, now open for business.

Jon has grown his beard out and dyed his hair to better fit the role. Little ginger zombies come from all over to visit the traveling fair:

This zombie seems confused- is this ring toss or intestine toss?

This zombie seems confused- is this ring toss or intestine toss?

But it’s not all fun and games out here- one of the little zombies has snuck into one of the booths. Jon better be careful, or his gypsy charade will meet a tragic end:

Imma gonna nom you.

Imma gonna nom you.

Sarah has also embraced the gypsy theme, working from their cart as a fortune teller:

"I see... death in your future. Not really much of a surprise there. The cards always say the same thing, really."

“I see… death in your future. Not really much of a surprise there. The cards always say the same thing, really.”

The last customer got a little… HANDSY. And MOUTHSY. And BITESY with our heroine. And so, she impaled the creature with a spare tent pole:

Ain't no zombie getting the (gum)drop on our girl.

Ain’t no zombie getting the (gum)drop on our girl.

Yes, the show is thriving, and some zombies just can’t wait to take their turn at the games:

"Must... win... skeleton... goldfish"

“Must… win… skeleton… goldfish”

Of course, there are some… unsavory aspects to running a zombie carnival. But Jon and Sarah have learned that the best way to keep the zombies from attacking them is to provide them with piles of fresh offal and meat:

You gotta do what you gotta do.

You gotta do what you gotta do.

But at the end of the night, Jon and Sarah will curl up by their fire, happy, safe (mostly), and together:

So toasty.

So toasty.

What more could you ask for during the holidays?

BONUS: Kitty with frosting on his nose:

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Ginger Apocalypse 2013: Life in the Frost Lane

One year ago, tiny confectionery zombies were unleashed upon the world. We last saw them ravaging a train station, where three intrepid survivors attempted to hold out against the sugary horde.

A year has passed since that fateful night. Whether the other two survivors made it or not remains unknown, but lumberjack (jill? jane? jenny?) Sarah managed to escape the overrun station and flee into the nearby woods. She wandered for a time, living off the land, killing the occasional solo undead, before eventually stumbling upon a clearing… where a man stood, leveling a rifle at her head.

It was love at first sight. Jimmy and Sarah built a cabin in those remote northern woods, hidden from the bulk of the rampaging zombie menace. As the year went on, their love only grew, and they eventually got married.

Well, I mean, they stood in front of a snowman they built and exchanged some rings they scavenged off of the few zombies that had wandered into their home, because seriously, it’s the apocalypse and nobody is around to officiate a wedding these days.

But it was only a matter of time before their peaceful existence was shattered by the plague of sugary shamblers sweeping the world:

The horror. THE HORROR.

The horror. THE HORROR.

Sarah’s woodland paradise has erupted into a riot of blood and killer zombies. Truly, nothing is sacred in this world:

Dammit, Jimmy, I'm a lumberjill/housewife, not a doctor!

Dammit, Jimmy, I’m a lumberjill/housewife, not a doctor!

Poor Jimmy, love of Sarah’s life, has fallen at the hands of the undead masses. Torn apart by a happy little zombie right in front of Sarah, the former Northern badass collapsed into a mushy, girly, sobby wreck for a moment, clinging to the bloody bits of her former lover/husband, before grabbing a knife and promptly beheading the zombie that did her love in.

But there are too many zombies for Sarah to handle, and her neighbor, Carl (who had been out fishing), has been slaughtered and left on the lake’s shore:

Carl was always kind of weird, but he brought the couple meat every few days, so they tolerated his presence in their love glen.

Carl was always kind of weird, but he brought the couple meat every few days, so they tolerated his presence in their love glen.

It seems that this year, the zombies aren’t just out for blood- they’re out to celebrate the holidays as well. Could these ginger bastards get any more twisted? And Sarah’s little clearing just so happens to be the perfect place to hold their undead festivities:

Yes, that's Carl's head. Poor, dead Carl. Now you are nothing more than a tacky holiday ornament.

Yes, that’s Carl’s head. Poor, dead Carl. Now you are nothing more than a tacky holiday ornament.

Thankfully, all hope is not lost for Sarah. A magnificently bearded stranger has just pulled up in his ancient pickup, a chainsaw in hand and a zombie-slaying fire in his eye:

We may not know why he is here (or why he's driving a pickup through the woods), but this stranger may be Sarah's last hope.

We may not know why he is here (or why he’s driving a pick up through the woods), but this stranger may be Sarah’s last hope.

Can Sarah and the handsome, rugged stranger hold out against the tiny monstrosities? Perhaps an aircraft will see the illuminated message Sarah placed on the roof (in the event of just such a tragedy) and rescue our heroes:

That foot's been up there awhile. Nobody can remember who it belonged to.

That foot’s been up there awhile. Nobody can remember who it belonged to. Nice bloodsicle, though.

Or maybe this is the end for Sarah and our bearded stranger. Perhaps this is where they feel the icing-covered hand of death grip their little sugar hearts.

What do you think?

Ginger Apocalypse 2012: Frost Like Nobody’s Watching

It’s finally happened, galleons. Zombies have been unleashed upon the world. Of course, these zombies are of a tiny, sweet variety, and their only real prey are the frosted brains (and candy organs) of other gingerbread people, but for these poor cookies, a veritable sugary HELL has been unleashed.

BEHOLD THE GINGER APOCALYPSE IN ALL ITS GORY GLORY!

SWEET (get it?) JESUS, THEY'RE EVERYWHERE!

SWEET (get it?) JESUS, THEY’RE EVERYWHERE!

That’s right- all hell has broken loose on this tiny train yard, and it’s up to three stalwart defenders to keep the ravening horde at bay.

Let’s meet the survivors!

This is Sarah. She's from hardy, northern stock. She may be a lumberjack (lumberjane? lumberjill?). She really wishes Sam had given her a rifle/shotgun instead of these pussy pistols.

This is Sarah. She’s from hardy, northern stock. She may be a lumberjack (lumberjane? lumberjill?). She really wishes Sam had given her a rifle/shotgun instead of these pussy pistols.

This is Louis. He escaped from a zombie-filled nightmare video game only to find himself in yet another train yard surrounded by even more zombies. He's pretty pissed about all this.

This is Louis. He escaped from a zombie-filled nightmare video game only to find himself in yet another train yard surrounded by even more zombies. He’s pretty pissed about all this.

This is Ron Fucking Swanson.Enough said.

This is Ron Fucking Swanson.
Enough said.

There were five in their little gang, but two have already lost their lives at the hands of the blood-thirsty zombies:

Ron's friend Ned, tragically, fell right before they reached the station. Even a Swanson couldn't save him, so Ron was forced to leave his friend's body behind (as you can see by the bloody footprints).

Ron’s friend Ned tragically fell right before they reached the station. Even a Swanson couldn’t save him, so Ron was forced to leave his friend’s body behind (as you can see by the bloody footprints).

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That was Charles. To be fair, nobody liked Charles. But that doesn’t mean he deserved to die and get his intestines slurped up like spaghetti by some zombie dame, does it?

Unfortunately, our intrepid heroes have made the rookie mistake of splitting up, and are now each facing down their own perils. Alone.

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Ron made it to the station, but he’s been pursued by this specky zombie dude.

But fear not! Not only is Ron a crack shot, but he's found a health pack and some ammo. He should be able to hold out in the station for some time.

But fear not! Not only is Ron a crack shot, but he’s found a health pack and some ammo. He should be able to hold out in the station for some time.

Despite her inferior weaponry, Sarah has already incapacitated one zombie (though it's not dead yet- headshots, Sarah, HEADSHOTS), but she's got another heading her way.

Despite her inferior weaponry, Sarah has already incapacitated one zombie (though it’s not dead yet- headshots, Sarah, HEADSHOTS), but she’s got another heading her way.

Louis is trapped atop the train itself, with two hungry zombies trying to climb up to him.

Louis is trapped atop the train itself, with two hungry zombies trying to climb up to him.

But there's hope for Louis yet. If he can make his way over to the last train car, there are two molotovs sitting up there, waiting to rain fiery badness down upon the undead masses.

But there’s hope for Louis yet. If he can make his way over to the last train car, there are two Molotovs sitting up there, waiting to rain fiery badness down upon the undead masses.

Will the survivors make it out of the train yard alive? Or will they, like so many before them, fall prey to the frosting smeared maws of the tiny ginger zombies?

Higgs Update: Holiday Edition

I apologize, dear galleons. My mind has been elsewhere the past few days. Namely, I’ve been playing too many video games and dwelling on a personal issue, neither of which should ever get in the way of SCIENCE. And yet, I let them. So, from of the bottom of my right ventricle (which is the bottom-most chamber of the heart)… I am so, so sorry.

And now, I’m going to correct my egregious error and discuss last week’s big news on the Higgs front, which resulted in my Twitter feed being ‘blown up’ (such a silly term) for a few hours as all my science-types (so… half the folks I follow) yammered on about the CERN sit-down.

At the end of August, PhD student Richard Ruiz wrote on the Quantum Diaries blog (I’ll link it here, but it’s a permanent staple of the ol’ blogroll on the right there):

What this means is that by the end of this year, not next year, we will definitely know whether or not the Higgs Boson as predicted by the Standard model exists.

Which is a pretty bold thing to say, Richard me boy, and wasn’t actually the view of the LHC team at the time. It was by no means a guaranteed thing that the Higgs would show itself by Christmas (though it would be hilarious to watch the Christians in an uproar as the discovery of the God Particle overshadows the birth of their sweet baby savior), though many scientists were holding out hope. Initially, they had predicted Higgs results by the end of 2012. What poor Richard was trying to convey was the idea that the LHC was working even better than they had originally planned (having, in a mere few months, gathered half the data they had expected to get by the end of 2012), and that data analysis was coming along so smoothly that they could be seeing results much sooner than the end of 2012.

Now, the idea that the Higgs could be a Christmas gift to the science community was pretty effectively shot down by many other LHCers. As Richard Hawkings of the ATLAS experiment said:

If the Higgs had been in an easy to find area then yes, we may have been able to have discovered it by Christmas. But what we have discovered in the past couple of months is that it’s in a region that’s much harder to find. This will require more data and more time.

And that seemed to be it. There was little hope for a holiday Higgsplosion, so it kind of fell off the radar.

Until last week, that is.

Between the dearly departed Tevatron and the LHC, the range in which we look to find the Higgs has shrank considerably. Down and down it’s gone, and the smaller it gets, the more we start to sweat. Because the Higgs is the lynchpin of many current theories in physics, which is the reason it’s being pursued like it’s the most popular girl in the school and prom is coming up. The tinier that range gets, the less likely it is we’re going to find the Higgs in it.

*gulp*

Last week, however, Higgs news suddenly fucking exploded all over the internet like a glorious, scientific money shot. CERN had an announcement regarding the Higgs- tune in for more details. And oh, were the masses tuning in. As I stated before, my Twitter feed was 90% Higgs speculation. It was scientific gossip at its finest, as everyone felt their hopes swelling while still trying to keep the excitement in check. It was a war between the emotional rush of the possibility of a discovery and the more rational thought that this probably wasn’t the solid proof we’ve been waiting for. All we could do for a few days was wait, anxiously fidgeting in our seats, until CERN’s official announcement.

And then it happened. On December 13, CERN revealed that the LHC team had glimpsed the Higgs boson.

It’s a Christmas miracle! PRAISE SCIENCE!

Okay, so, let’s back it up a second. Before we break out the champagne and start stripping down to our skivvies (as I imagine happens at any good science party), it’s not like we just got an upskirt shot of the Higgs. No flash-of-flesh and a tingly feeling somewhere in our 12-year-old genitals (…I don’t know how many of you have read Stephen King’s Dreamcatcher, but I’m basically basing this entire stupid analogy on the boys traveling to the abandoned shed to see the naughty picture supposedly tacked to the bulletin board). In fact, there’s nothing really concrete about the findings.

Yeah, that’s right. Put the noisemakers down. It’s not quite party time yet.

But maybe a quiet cheer is still in order, because the results are promising. See, as with so many things in scienceland, we aren’t searching for the Higgs directly. Instead, the experiments at the LHC are focused on hunting for particles that would match up to Higgs decay. Now, the Higgs has been narrowed down (via both ATLAS and CMS) to having to reside within 116 and 127 GeV. And both ATLAS and CMS have reported small excesses of particle decay in this region that point toward the Higgs boson.

CERN was quick to stress that, taken individually, these results aren’t any more statistically significant than rolling a die and coming up with two sixes in a row. What was really interesting (and prompted the big announcement) was that there were multiple, independent measurements in this range from two separate LHC experiments. Which is tantalizing indeed.

Now, the results are being classed as about 2.5 sigma. Which means? Well, the sigma designations when discussing results in physics reference the deviation of a Gaussian distribution. The lower the number of sigmas, the more the data deviates from the standard “bell curve”. 3 sigma is considered fairly normal deviation, but in order for a scientific discovery to be classed as such and officially announced, it has to be at least 5 sigma.

And 2.5 sigma is no 5 sigma, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t exciting. 2.5 sigma basically means there is less than a 5% chance that they are simply statistical fluctuations. Which, to the layman’s eye, is a damn small percentage. Of course, science requires us to be much more precise, but this is certainly a step in the right direction.

Of course, as is so often the case with the little science tidbits I like to post here, there’s nothing definite at this time. As the CERN press release itself stated:

We cannot conclude anything at this stage. We need more study and more data. Given the outstanding performance of the LHC this year, we will not need to wait long for enough data and can look forward to resolving this puzzle in 2012.

So, while the Higgs might not be the Christmas gift I was hoping for, I guess I can consider it a sexy holiday peepshow. And we’re still on track for the original estimate of a 2012 ruling on the existence of the Higgs.

…Has anyone considered that what the Mayans saw when they ended their calendar in 2012 (which I think we can all agree is obviously intentional) was the revelation of the Higgs?

And lo, the Higgs boson did descend from the heavens to the hallowed halls of CERN, and then did speak, “Children of Science, rejoice, for this is the end of the old world. For I am your God Particle, and my Word is Scientific Law. Ye shall obey the Standard Model in all things, unless later Data contradicts it, for these are the edicts of Science set forth by Ibn al-Haytham, my prophet. Further the search for Truth, my faithful, in the glorious years to come, a world of Science and light, free from the darkness of persecution by the religious and the ignorant. For these folk shall be smote by the mighty hand of Physics, in my Name.”

Yes, I find Biblical capitalization as ridiculous as British voweling.