Friday, February 27, 2015

Realistic zombie outbreak projections

So how would an epidemic of zombies actually play out?
A team at Cornell, using modeling techniques used in predicting the spread of diseases went to work on it, and are planning a presentation.  Alex Alemi, one of the graduate students who was working on it gives a summary of the results
Phys.Org, 25 February 2015 (hat tip: NC)
In most films or books, "if there is a zombie outbreak, it is usually assumed to affect all areas at the same time, and some months after the outbreak you're left with small pockets of survivors," explains Alemi. "But in our attempt to model zombies somewhat realistically, it doesn't seem like this is how it would actually go down."
Cities would fall quickly, but it would take weeks for zombies to penetrate into less densely populated areas, and months to reach the northern mountain-time zone.
"Given the dynamics of the disease, once the zombies invade more sparsely populated areas, the whole outbreak slows down—there are fewer humans to bite, so you start creating zombies at a slower rate," he elaborates. "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."
If you somehow happen to find yourself in the midst of a fictional zombie outbreak and want to survive as long as possible, Alemi recommends making a run for the northern Rockies.
Of course the obvious problem with this advice is that it fails to ask why there aren't many people in the Northern Rockies, and presumably the difficulty with acquiring food stuffs was one of the reasons.  So you would need to bring a lot of supplies with you.
A lot also depends on whether zombies can swim, and just how tough are the zombies.  In scenarios where the zombies are really dangerous, you would have to avoid any possible zombies.  With World War Z, slow zombies, you could afford to clear out areas where zombies are limited and sightlines would allow you to see the few in the area approach you: A small island out on a lake would work with non-swimming (or floating), slow zombies.  And you could hunt in relatively open areas, escaping back to the boat when a large group hears your gunshots and heads your way.
As a practical matter, since they are using modeling techniques based on diseases spread by human to human contact, the advise is also pretty similar to what (wealthy) pre-modern folks did when some sort of virulent disease broke out in their neighborhood:  they headed for the hills.


PioneerPreppy said...

The one I never see is do zombies really produce heat? I mean wouldn't Winter render them pretty much ahhh frozen?

russell1200 said...

Pioneer: Unless they are a completely magical variety, you would presume that they generate some sort of additional heat. World War Z does have them freezing in the winter.

What I have never understood, particularly with the slow zombies, is why nobody doesn't just put on heavy coats and winter garb? Peoples teeth can't seriously chew through a lot of winter garb. A lot of modern protective motorcycle equipment also uses Kevlar, and is often relatively light.

John D. Wheeler said...

And what if it is not spread by human-to-human contact?