Don't Live In A City When The Zombie Apocalypse Happens, Experts Say

Everyone's speculated about how they would fare in the event of a zombie apocalypse - and probably vastly overestimated our chances of survival in the process.

But it might come as a surprise to hear that physicists have researched how we'd all do if an outbreak actually happened - and found that people in big cities at the time would basically be screwed. Oh well, it was nice knowing you.

The research, undertaken by academics at Cornell University and presented at the American Physical Society in March 2015, concluded that humanity's best chance would literally be to run for the hills - or to live there when it all kicks off.

Jim and Selena from 28 Days Later had the right idea. Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Jim and Selena from 28 Days Later had the right idea. Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Inspired by the book World War Z, the researchers modeled how a zombie outbreak would spread across the US, using models similar to those that help predict the spread of normal diseases.

According to Alex Alemi, one of the students who was part of the research team, you're much better off starting further away from other people, as it gives you a better chance of avoiding infection.

If you want to have a best shot at survival, you'd want to start off in a region that's almost empty and hard to reach - like the US' Rocky Mountains or the Lake District in the UK.

"I'd love to see a fictional account where most of New York City falls in a day, but upstate New York has a month or so to prepare," Alemi said in a press release.

The scientists went by the standard conventions usually applied to a fictional zombie virus - humans would have to be infected by a bite, with a slight chance of them escaping, and zombies would only travel by foot, although some would shamble faster than others.

Using assumptions like a collapse of transport infrastructure (you'd imagine that working would be the last thing on people's minds) researchers said that cities with big populations would actually become safer as the zombies spread outwards.

To find all of this out, they built an interactive model that allowed them to simulate an outbreak. Using it, the researchers could pick a starting point, a zombie-bite to zombie-kill ratio, and whether the zombies were fast or slow.

Doing this, they discovered that a outbreak of fast zombies in New York City would devastate the place in 24 hours, as you can see in the .gif below. Cool.

Credit: APS/Cornell University
Credit: APS/Cornell University

"Given the time, we could attempt to add more complicated social dynamics to the simulation, such as allowing people to make a run for it, include plane flights, or have an awareness of the zombie outbreak, etc.," Alemi said.

All this might seem a bit useless, but public heath researchers love using zombies as a way to explain how diseases spread. Why else would the US' Centre for Disease Control and Prevention have a page dedicated to them?

So if you're considering leaving the city, it's definitely worth moving deep in the countryside. At least you'll be safe when the zombies come running.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Chris Ogden

Chris Ogden is a journalist at LADbible. He graduated from the University of East Anglia with degrees in English Literature and Creative Writing before completing his NCTJ Diploma in Multimedia Journalism. Chris has previously written for the independent culture magazine The Skinny, among other publications.

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