Saturday, January 22, 2011

Monster Math- Zombies and Negative Numbers

It’s been a while, but Monster Math is back and it's coming to get you, Martha!  Today, we will be battling the number apocalypse with :

NEGATIVE NUMBERS - Zombies and Survivors

First of all we have two teams, positive numbers, which are represented by living humans, or survivors, and negative numbers, which are then, obviously, the undead, zeds, zombies.

positive numbers                      negative numbers


Let’s start with an addition word problem. Addition with negative numbers is just comparing, canceling, and letting the bodies fall as they will.

We have seven humans, hiding out in a rickety old warehouse, with a surprisingly large arsenal of shotguns and buckshot.  Five ambling undead come stumbling out of the local cemetery that has been rained upon by an unknown chemical that reanimates corpses, most likely created by the government as a chemical warfare agent. Who will survive the inevitable fight?

This would be represented as 7+ -5.

Now, our humans are not trained in combat at all, and whether they are or not, to fit the plot of the math problem, we know that they are incredibly bad at fighting zombies and anyone who kills a zombie ends up getting bitten and must die.  As in real life, if there is a zombie attack, it is best to hide and stay out of it, but alas, these are brave, if not foolhardy,  little positive humans and so, they are jumping right into this fight.

So, we have 7 humans and 5 zombies. They fight, they bite, they very efficiently kill each other, and two emotionally scarred, but whole and victorious, human survivors are left to kill all of the other humans who have been bitten.

Don't forget the double tap!

Ergo, 7 + -5= 2

If there had been 7 zombies and 5 humans, the zeds would have won and we would have been left with two zombies, or -2, since zombies stand for negative numbers.

If we are adding negative numbers, it results in creating a bigger and more horrifying crowd of undead.

-12+ -17= -29


Subtracting works like infection or cure. This is no longer just grouping and canceling, they are all actively being manipulated (probably by the government again, as that is usually the case).

10 survivors minus 3 zombies. The zombies are being affected by that minus sign.  It means those zombies turn back into humans.

10 - (-3)= 13 OMG! They’re CURED! Humans again!

Or -8 -(+5) is the same thing as 8 zombies plus 5 bitten humans. The end result is 13 zombies or -13.


Let’s go on to multiplication and division.  This is one big biting fest.

Here are the rules:

Multiply or Divide like normal and then figure out which sign it gets using the rules below.

Survivor * Survivor = More survivors 
(Fairly straight forward, your survivors bite each other. They may be annoyed but, no zombie zombies!)
+ * + = +

Zombie * Zombie = More survivors 
 (How in the world? Well, they're off by themselves, biting each other, so their combined number is equal to the amount of humans they AREN’T biting, which makes more survivors. Or perhaps their own bite cures the zombie plague on those already infected… totally viable.)
- * - = +

Zombie  * Survivor = More zombies 
(I mean, come on, if any infected biting is going on with humans, the zombies are gonna win)
- * + = -


  1. You made math fun! Yaaaay! I hate math! LOL

  2. Okay, so I stumble across your blarg yesterday, well, not so much stumble, more pushed into by blog of note, first I see the title, I love cheese, cheese is rad!

    Then I read yesterdays post "When food attacks" and laugh my freakin ass off, it's like you're reading my mind!

    Next I read this post and realize that your recommended viewing is all my favourite movies (Bruce Campbell is a God, I even have his autobiographies).

    So I have 2 questions for you.

    1) How are you reading my mind? Stop that, it's creepy!

    2) Where have you been all my life?!

    I will now dedicate the remainder of my work week to reading EVERYTHING you have ever blargged about.


  3. yea i once talked about this stuff, then i got a job burnnnn

  4. I attempted to teach my sister algebra using your zombies. it work. congrats. you speak to a whole new generation.

  5. I know this has nothing to do with the zombie math but do you do all the artwork yourself?? Because I really enjoy it. How do you do it?

  6. I do in fact do all of the art myself (unless otherwise noted- as I may have guest illustrators in the future). The majority of my work is done digitally, using the program Painter and a wacom tablet, that allows me to paint/draw directly into the computer. I used photographs as reference for all but two of the pictures here, but still actually draw and paint by hand (that is no digital manipulation, it is a result of my honed talent).

  7. could i ask how much you paid for your tablet? i dont want to pay too much but at the same time i want to get a good quality.

  8. It was about 50 bucks. The one I am using now is a Wacom Bamboo- and it is okay. Not terribly fond of the pen. I had a wacom graphire that I had for about 9 years that died last year this time (usb cord wore) which was about $100 and I loved it a lot (mostly because the pen had an "eraser" and the nib never made noise or ground down like the bamboo's pen does).

  9. I wish I had known about this when we were doing negative numbers in school. =D

  10. i will be showing my students this post tomorrow. we worked on negative numbers for waaaay too long, using several explanations. maybe if i incorporate a fear of zombies, it will stick!

  11. When the zombies come Mathematicians will be the first turned. They will be so busy calculating the stats on how likely they are to die they won't see the zombie behind them.


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