A group of Physics students from the University of Leicester have conducted a study to determine the survival rate of humankind in the event of a viral outbreak akin to a ‘zombie apocalypse’. The students found that, with a 90 percent chance of infection, by the 100th day of the outbreak there would only be 273 uninfected humans left, outnumbered ‘a million to one by zombies’.
In this hypothetical study, the Physics students used an SIR model to categorise the population into three segments: the infected (Z), those susceptible to infection (S) and those who have either recovered or died (D). The model, used to plot and describe the transmission of disease throughout a given population, enabled the students to calculate the average lifespan of a zombie as being S to Z to D.
In a follow up study, the same students introduced new parameters to substantiate their original study, which painted a more optimistic future for humankind in the event of a zombie takeover. This paper accounts for human survivors being able to kill zombies, as well as their reproduction rate.
A hypothetical study like this one may be a good opportunity for Physics applicants to familiarise themselves with the usage of epidemiological models in studying populations. Medicine and Biomedical Sciences candidates could consider the ways in which contagious diseases are spread and are able to proliferate within a population in a given amount of time.