Earlier this month, the American Physical Society published a study in their online journal utilizing modern epidemiological and statistical techniques to explore the impact of a zombie outbreak on the continental United States. Using census data, computational chemistry, mathematical modeling and the average susceptibility of different geographical regions; they managed to produce a quantitative study of a full blown zombie outbreak.
Originally titled “You Can Run, You Can Hide: The Epidemiology and Statistical Mechanics of Zombies” these scientific and mathematical principles were quickly developed into an interactive map by Matt Bierbaum where visitors simply select their hometown, or any point of origin, and watch the zombie virus spread across the United States in real time!
We all know that a zombie infestation is inevitable, so why not try to understand the effects on the US with a simulation. We made such a simulation for the web in which all 308 million people from the 2010 census interact locally in the US. The dynamics are Gillespie dynamics in which every possible interaction is considered at each time step.
The variables involved are based on the SZR model, which is fully explained in the original research paper. However the real fun is watching the zombie apocalypse as it spreads across the United States via an interactive simulation called Zombietown USA. How long would it take the virus to overwhelm the entire continent if you were patient zero? Just click here to visit the official website and find out for yourself!
And while you’re at it, be sure to read the original research paper by Alexander A. Alemi, Matthew Bierbaum, Christopher R. Myers, and James P. Sethna available online at the Physical Review journal. It’s an interesting article that may just save your life some day!