The best spots for riding out a zombie apocalypse are sparsely populated areas of Montana and Nevada, which remain untouched even four months, according to a new study by researchers at Cornell University who have developed a statistical model for simulating the spread of a fictional zombie epidemic. As The WSJ reports, with real-life applications to modeling viral outbreaks, Cornell offer dire warnings for those who live in Scranton, PA – with northeastern Pennsylvania as the U.S. location most at risk of being overrun by the undead.
Highly populated areas are a bad bet in general, of course. But Alexander Alemi, a graduate student and one of the authors of the paper, 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, Mr. Alemi says. Instead of individual cities being at the greatest risk, areas located between multiple major cities are most vulnerable. “You start to see interactions between different cities,” he says. 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 all these other high population areas.”
Also a bad bet—Bakersfield, Calif., which sits uncomfortably near San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
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The spread starts slow and accelerates fast..
Blue – clear; Red – Zombies, Green – wiped out
As you can see, for the parameters we chose, most of the United States population has been turned into zombies by the first week, while the geographic map doesn’t necessarily seem all that compelling. In the early stages of the outbreak, while the population is roughly homogeneous, the zombie plague spreads out in roughly uniform circles, where the speed of the infection is tied to the local population density. Infestations on the coasts, with their higher population density, have spread farther than those near the center of the country. After several weeks, the map exhibits stronger anisotropy, as we spread over larger geographical areas and the zombie front is influenced by large inhomogeneities in population density. After four weeks, much of the United States has fallen, but it takes a very long time for the zombies to diffuse and capture the remaining portions of the United States. Even four months in, remote areas of Montana and Nevada remain zombie free.
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Another good reason to move?
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Cornell also previously released The Zombie Survival Guide…
Full Cornell paper below…