Zombies: Good news and bad news

Some smart people at Cornell University found a way to simulate a zombie attack.

And they prepared a nice little interactive game where you can place a single zombie anywhere in the United States and see how quickly the invasion would spread.

Like so:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dV9I_dXJTuQ

Apologies for the quality of the video, but you get the idea.

I’m strangely comforted by the results. After all, it takes quite a while for those staggering zombies to take over an entire city, let alone region or state. Stockton is effectively overrun within 15 or 16 hours, but it’s a full day and a half before the zombies begin to infiltrate the east Bay Area, two full days before metropolitan Sacramento is mostly gone, four days before Fresno feels the bite and 15 days before the undead belatedly hit up L.A.

In other words, unless your luck is extraordinarily bad and that first zombie is your neighbor or mailman, you ought to be able to take your sweet time packing up your belongings, herding your family into the SUV — don’t forget the cat — and taking the scenic route out of town.

Forget the mad panic you saw in World War Z.

OK, now the bad news.

The Cornell study specifically calls out the San Joaquin Valley. Yes, the hard-luck Valley, with all of its economic hardships and environmental disparities, also faces a special risk from zombies.

That’s because the Valley is sandwiched between two major metro areas — the Bay Area and L.A. While those cities face the most immediate risk because of their dense populations, it’s the Valley — particularly the south Valley, near Bakersfield — that will inevitably get hammered within about four weeks, as zombies spill over from at least one of those two cities.

Seems like every story has a Valley connection. Here’s the study itself if you want to see for yourself.

Bottom line: Forget every zombie movie you’ve ever seen. Keep calm, take your time, get a good night’s sleep, but at some point get the heck out of the Valley.

Good luck.

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