Researchers at Aalto University in Finland conducted a study simulating a zombie apocalypse scenario in the country. Using a mathematical model, they found that if just one zombie appeared in Helsinki, there would only be a 7 hour window to fully quarantine the capital or eradicate the zombies before they spread across the country. The model incorporated factors like quarantining infected regions and the difference between outbreaks starting in dense cities versus sparse rural areas. Estimating realistic parameters like humans’ probability of defeating zombies was challenging due to lack of real data. While lighthearted, the study offers insights into containing potential real disease outbreaks. The zombie model could be adapted to simulate epidemics in different countries or used to study the spread of disinformation.
The researchers were surprised at how quickly their model showed the zombie infection would spread across Finland. According to lead researcher Professor Pauliina Ilmonen, the rapid simulated spread highlighted the need for an equally rapid response to contain an outbreak. The study made her reflect on moral dilemmas like individual rights versus population rights.
While fictional, the zombie apocalypse model has practical applications for understanding how interventions could limit real infectious disease epidemics. The researchers suggest it could also model rumor or disinformation spread, which can act much like a contagion. Overall, the Finnish zombie study offers a creative way to gain insight into controlling outbreaks and limiting the spread of harmful content.