The 13th Floor

Scientists Calculate How Fast a Zombie Outbreak Could Destroy Humanity (Hint: We’re Screwed)

Forget everything you think you know about survival in a zombie-plagued world — even if you’ve committed DAWN OF THE DEAD to memory, have a dog-eared copy of Max Brooks’ ZOMBIE SURVIVAL GUIDE in your back pocket, and just came off a marathon of every WALKING DEAD season. It’s time to get down to the real science behind the likelihood of you — and everyone else on this planet — surviving a genuine, full-fledged zombie apocalypse.

The physics department at Britain’s University of Leicester decided to conduct an in-depth scientific study to determine this very possibility — a study so well-researched, in fact, that the results were published in the school’s peer-reviewed Journal of Physics Special Topics.

Image Credit: Grandfailure
Image Credit: Grandfailure

Those results were also recently shared by I Fucking Love Science, and after reading the included documentation, I’ll have to say our chances don’t look too good. Seriously, this scenario will not end well.

The study starts with the assumption of a viral-based zombie contagion, giving the odds that a fully-infected zombie is able to encounter an uninfected person on average of once a day. From there, they conclude there is a 90% chance of that person being bitten and infected with the same virus.

Image Credit: AMC
Image Credit: AMC

Then, using a scientific model known as SIR, which tracks the spread of contagious diseases, the team projected what would happen if this pattern of infection continued at the same rate. Even adjusting the numbers to account for survivors gaining skills to fight against the infected, the result was still totally devastating.

Within just 100 days, there would be only 273 human beings remaining. That is, 273 people left alive in the entire world. The rest would be zombies… at a ratio of a million to one. So, we’re looking not at DAWN OF THE DEAD-scale numbers, but closer to DAY OF THE DEAD, where humans have become an extremely endangered species.

Image Credit: Laurel Entertainment

The team did detect a bright spot, however: factoring in human reproduction rates and improved defenses against the living dead, humans could potentially save themselves from extinction and at least partially repopulate the planet… maybe.

You can check out the entire study here. It’s pretty amazing… and horrifying.