Really! This was actually in the Wall Street Journal…really! Researchers (who perhaps were bored) at Cornell University have developed a statistical model for simulating the spread of a fictional zombie epidemic. Detailed in a study submitted to the scientific-paper repository arXiv, the model identifies northeastern Pennsylvania as the U.S. location most at risk of being overrun by the undead.
In other words, avoid Scranton, Pa!
Actually this work is very helpful for simulating disease spread – think measles, flu, and yes, Zombies! To develop the model, scientists in Cornell’s physics department broke down the U.S. population in a grid of roughly 3-kilometer-square boxes. They then built upon classic epidemiological models of infectious-disease transmission—measles, the flu and the like—to simulate a marauding band of undead ravaging the country.
Worried about zombies? Avoid highly populated areas for sure! The research notes that the most susceptible spots change over time. Seven days after the initial outbreak, lower Manhattan, with the map’s highest population density at 299,616 people, has the highest zombie susceptibility. In fact, the New York City metro area in general is probably best avoided, as are other large cities like Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas.
By 28 days out, however, the pattern has shifted. I thought this was fascinating…Instead of individual cities being at the greatest risk, areas located between multiple major cities are most vulnerable. Interactions between different cities begin. While northeastern Pennsylvania, identified in the paper as the country’s most vulnerable region doesn’t have a particularly high population itself it is near those high population areas.
This means that were a zombie outbreak to start in any of these nearby cities—New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C.—the creatures would have a high probability of finding their way to northeastern Pennsylvania.
And as you might guess…the best spots for riding out a zombie apocalypse are sparsely populated areas of Montana and Nevada, which remain untouched even four months into the invasion.