If a zombie outbreak were to strike US shores, East Coasters should head west ASAP. That recommendation comes by way of Cornell University researchers, who have modeled the statistical mechanics of, yes, zombies and will present their findings at a meeting of the American Physical Society on March 5 in San Antonio. The researchers used a number of techniques that are used when modeling real diseases, and the abstract ends with this dismal line: "We build up to a full scale simulation of an outbreak in the United States, and discover that for 'realistic' parameters, we are largely doomed." But Phys.Org relays a glimmer of hope by way of Alex Alemi, a grad student involved in the research: He says those who want to remain safe from the undead for as long as they can should head to the northern Rockies.
He explains that while books and movies typically show an outbreak touching all corners of the country immediately, "in our attempt to model zombies somewhat realistically, it doesn't seem like this is how it would actually go down." Yes, major cities could be toast within days, but less populated areas could be unaffected for weeks, and the northern Mountain Time Zone could be safe for months. "Given the dynamics of the disease, once the zombies invade more sparsely populated areas, the whole outbreak slows down—there are fewer humans to bite, so you start creating zombies at a slower rate," says Alemi. "I'd love to see a fictional account where most of New York City falls in a day, but upstate New York has a month or so to prepare." (Of course, some people want to be trapped in a room with a zombie.)