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Zombie Apocalypse: A Network of the Undead

The concept of zombies is so ingrained in recent pop culture that the science community has decided that zombism should be subject to the same research as traditional deadly diseases. In fact, a group of Cornell graduates created an interactive map that shows how the disease would be spread depending on where the outbreak first occurs. Previous research suggested that the Rocky Mountains was the ideal location to be in order to have enough time to invent a cure due to its geography and population density. The map’s research adds to this. Surprisingly, after a month of the disease spreading, large cities are no longer the highest at risk. The stretches of land between large metropolitan areas are actually the worst places to be at that point.

What’s unique about the interactive map is that not only can you choose where the virus begins, you can also change the speed of the zombies and the kill to bite ratio (how many zombies are killed to how many humans are bitten). This affects the way the disease spreads greatly. Obviously more and faster zombies allow the disease network to grow faster and further. The map represents the network of zombies and it grows as more and more people are infected. And the zombie growth is exponential because every victim is a vector for the sickness.  It’s similar to the global friendship network except instead of human connection we have human infection. And in this case it’s actually to your advantage to live on a tiny island (or the Rocky Mountains) alone with no friends.

The conclusions of this research  has faced some criticism, as the map’s diseases doesn’t have an incubation period, making air travel irrelevant even though that’s a huge factor in today’s spread of disease. And the map is only of the United States when, realistically, the virus would be worldwide if it ever did happen. Still, it does accurately depict the way the disease would spread in the conditions it has set. And despite its relatively non serious topic, the research behind this supposed zombie virus is fueled by the intent to teach people about how diseases are spread. After all, the more we know about how the zombie apocalypse will occur, the better prepared all of humanity is.



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September 2015