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How Long Would It Take for a Zombie Apocalypse to Spread?

By Orgesta Tolaj


28 November 2023

how fast can a zombie apocalypse actually spread

© cottonbro studio / Pexels

What would happen if “The Last of Us” or “The Walking Dead” came true one day? Some of us might believe we possess a unique advantage, thanks to watching one of those shows and knowing what to do. However, as confident as one might be about surviving a zombie apocalypse, it might not be as easy as you think. These researches focused on finding out how fast an apocalypse could actually spread. Here is what they discovered.

The Zombie Apocalypse Study

A research team from Aalto University conducted a study to investigate the real-world implications of scenarios involving the takeover of harmful mushrooms or the outbreak of a strange disease. The findings, however, come with a cautionary note. It suggested that the results may not be reassuring for those who explore the details.

Through simulations, the researchers at Aalto University found that in the event of a zombie outbreak in Helsinki, there would be less than a day between the appearance of patient zero. Additionally, there would be a necessity to quarantine the city or eliminate all zombies. The study emphasizes the urgency of the situation, with just seven hours available to prevent a potential mass extinction. The simulations suggest that zombies will inevitably overrun the entire country if these measures are not taken. The research focused on exploring the dynamics of zombie plagues and their potential spread throughout Finland.

How Was the Study Possible?

Moving away from conventional modeling approaches, the Aalto University research team opted for a simulation methodology instead. It incorporated the dynamic movements of both people and zombies across Finland. This innovative approach aimed to unravel the consequences of various scenarios. This included the feasibility of quarantining an infected region. It also included the dynamics of a zombie outbreak in urban versus rural settings.

© Zorik D / Unsplash

Despite the promise of this methodology, the study encountered challenges. One of them was articulated by Professor Lauri Viitasaari, the leader of the research model. She posed a critical question: “What’s the right probability for a human winning an encounter with a zombie?” This query underscores the complexity of modeling human-zombie interactions. It also highlights the considerations that must be factored into the simulation to provide a more accurate depiction of the potential outcomes.

What Did the Study Discover About How Fast a Zombie Apocalypse Might Spread?

The research model yielded an unexpected revelation. In the event of a plague outbreak, the contagion could swiftly spread throughout an entire city in just seven hours. Professor Pauliina Ilmonen, who led the study, admitted to her surprise at the rapidity of the potential spread. It led her to reflect on critical moral considerations. She was particularly focused on the delicate balance between individual rights and the collective welfare of the population.

“I shouldn’t have found it surprising, but I was surprised at how quickly we have to react to keep our population alive.” Professor Ilmonen remarked. She highlighted the urgency of the response required to mitigate the catastrophic consequences of such a scenario.

Last Things to Consider

The research team emphasized the broader applications of their zombie plague simulation. They stated that it provides a platform to assess the impacts of various interventions in the context of diseases with different characteristics. This includes their rate of spread or severity. The simulation, which models individual actions, can also be employed to test the influence of disinformation on the spread of an epidemic, simulating scenarios where some individuals, analogous to “zombie deniers,” ignore warnings.

© cottonbro studio / Pexels

Furthermore, the researchers highlighted the adaptability of this study to areas beyond Finland, suggesting its potential relevance in diverse geographical and social contexts. The underlying implication is that the insights gained from this study extend beyond the realm of zombie outbreaks, offering valuable lessons and perspectives for addressing real-world challenges in disease control and intervention strategies.

So, after finding out how quickly it can spread, do you think you would be able to survive a zombie apocalypse now?

You might also want to read: The UK Detects Its First Case of a Deadly Cat Virus

Orgesta Tolaj

Your favorite introvert who is buzzing around the Hive like a busy bee!