We’re obsessed with shows like AMC's “The Walking Dead,” about average people surviving a nationwide zombie apocalypse. But how would you fare in a real-life zombie situation? Would you know what to do or where to go?
This idea piqued the interest of Cornell University researcher Alex Alemi after he read the novel “World War Z,” by Max Brooks, which pits its main characters in a similar story of survival. However, in a more realistic situation there'd be a lot of factors to consider. A zombie outbreak would likely begin in a fashion similar to the outbreak of an infectious disease. But unlike those cases, in which sufferers either recover or die, a zombie outbreak is contingent on people dying.
“Zombies are the undead; they don’t get better. And the only way to stop them is for a human to kill the zombie,” Alemi, a Cornell Ph.D. candidate in physics, told the Washington Post. “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.”
Alemi and a team of researchers from Cornell have devised the formula for surviving a zombie apocalypse, and will present their findings at the March meeting of the American Physical Society this week. Having developed an interactive map that allows users to track the time it would take for zombies to overrun any area in the U.S., the team has concluded that the worst place to be during a zombie apocalypse would be a big metropolitan area. “If the disease were to begin in the heart of New York City, other big cities such as Boston and Washington, D.C., would be gone within days, if not hours,” Alemi said.
Testing out the map, we discovered that starting in New York, it wouldn't even take 24-hours for a zombie infection to spread through New Jersey and hit areas in Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware. In other words, we at International Business Times' downtown Manhattan office wouldn't stand a chance.
Meanwhile, areas like Vermont and New Hampshire -- and Ithaca, N.Y., where Alemi is located -- could easily evade the zombie outbreak for several weeks or months. Rural, far-reaching areas would be the best place to be, largely because a zombie’s only mode of transportation is walking – and they walk quite slowly at that.
Alemi says it's unlikely that the entire U.S. would become infected with zombies. Ultimate survivors would have their best chance in remote areas of the U.S., such as most of Nevada or the Colorado Rockies.
But before you start packing your bags, remember one thing: Zombies aren’t real and a zombie apocalypse situation is highly unlikely.