In The Walking Dead, Rick and his cohort of fellow survivors make their way north from the zombie infested south in search of a safe haven where they might be able to restart their lives in peace. As of the current season of the show, just over a year’s time has passed since the initial breakout and as best as we can tell the dead vastly outnumber the living across the entire country.
If you’re a fan of the TWD (or general zombie preparedness), then you’ve no doubt wondered just how long you’d survive the zombie apocalypse. What would you pack, what would you wear, where would you go? According to Alex Alemi, a physics researcher at Cornell University, one of the most important elements factoring into your chances of survival is the city you live in.
In a paper Alemi and a team of fellow researchers recently published and presented to the American Physical Society, they explore the hypothetical outbreak of a zombie plague using models based on the spreading patterns of real world diseases.
“Zombies are unique and very different than other diseases in that victims of other diseases either get better or succumb to the disease,” Alemi explained in an interview with The Washington Post. “But zombies are the undead. They don’t get better. And the only way to stop them is for a human to kill the zombie.”
“With other diseases, no matter how many infections you model, the disease is not going to infect every single person. But in the zombie model, you really can turn every single person into a zombie.”
Along with their research paper Alemi and his team have created an interactive simulation that’ll let you model you own outbreak and manipulate different factors to produce various outcomes. Though Alemi based much of his research around the way actual diseases spread, he also had to take into account how humans would react realistically.
For instance the model assumes that once a zombie outbreak occurs transportation effectively shuts down. While most apocalyptic films depict mass exoduses from cities, it’s far more likely that roads and highways would become too deadlocked to facilitate huge movements. The simulation will take into account the average number of zombies killed by humans compared to the number of humans bitten by zombies. You can also choose the rate at which the zombies move--something else that would undoubtedly determine how quickly the virus spread.