Monday 6 April 2015

You can run, You can hide: Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse

Have you ever wondered what your chances of survival might be during a Zombie apocalypse? A team from the Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics at Cornell University have published a paper that might help you answer that question.

You can see their paper, entitled “You Can Run, You Can Hide: The Epidemiology and Statistical Mechanics of Zombies” on Arxiv at

Zombies, the authors say, “form a wonderful model system to illustrate modern epidemiological tools drawn from statistical mechanics, computational chemistry, and mathematical modeling.”

So what does this mean for you and me – people who just want to know our chances? If you read the paper, you'll see they perform an in-depth analysis, developing models for the potential spread of a Zombie invasion, then they apply those models to a hypothetical Zombie outbreak in the USA.

One of the factors they take into account is that the outcome changes depending on what model you use and what starting parameters you choose. These starting parameters are such things as the likelihood of being infected if you encounter a Zombie, where and with how many Zombies does the outbreak start, how likely you are to kill the Zombie, and other relevant factors.

They then run many different simulations for an outbreak in the USA, using the different models and
a selection of (what one might refer to as) credible starting parameters, and using a large collection of results they develop what they call a susceptibility map. Depending on where you live, what are your chances?

You'll have to see their maps to get the full answer, but I have to say, I wouldn't fancy my chances in Bakersfield, California. There's good news, though, for those of you who live in remote parts of Montana and Nevada. They found that after just one week, most of the population of the US would be infected, but four months later, remote parts of Montana and Nevada would still be Zombie-free!

Just watch those house prices go up when this hits the headlines.

The referenced article was written by Alexander A. Alemi, Matthew Bierbaum, Christopher R. Myers, James P. Sethna of the Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853. It is dated March 6th 2015. You can read it here: