<img alt=“zombie two.jpg” src=“http://blogs.nature.com/news/thegreatbeyond/zombie%20two.jpg” width=“239” height=“210” align=“right” border=0 hspace=“10px”/>Not so much following hot on the heels of the recent study on the spread of zombie infections, more shambling slowly and slightly aimlessly in pursuit, we have some new undead science for you.
But Davide Cassi, a physicist at the Università di Parma in Italy, might be slightly surprised to read this morning that he has published a paper about zombies. Cassi’s paper in Physical Review E – entitled Target annihilation by diffusing particles in inhomogeneous geometries – is actually about how long immobile targets will survive when they are being annihilated by “a population of random walkers”.
As he notes, this is of use to researchers exploring subjects such as how surface catalysts become ‘poisoned’ by molecules attaching to the catalysis sites (where your ‘immobile target’ is the catalyst site and your ‘random walker’ is the molecule sticking to it and not letting go).
This paper has now been press released with a zombie spin:
Though the paper itself does not specifically refer to fleeing from zombies, it describes “the survival probability of immobile targets annihilated by random walkers.” The conclusions suggest that the people trapped in a mall in “Dawn of the Dead” may be better off than the folks stuck in a farmhouse in “Night of the Living Dead.”
This is something of a stretch. First, it assumes that the potential zombie victim is immobile. Second, it assumes the zombies are engaging in a random walk, rather than their more normal behaviour of pursuing directly their next tasty brain. In other words, it’s rather reminiscent of the old joke about physicists assisting with milk production.
Still, if you happen to be chained to a wall and surrounded by randomly walking zombie you should hide in the mall not the farmhouse. Oh wait, you can’t get there: you’re chained to a wall.
Image: Mark Marek Photography.