Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The physics of zombie movies

Clever scientists often use pop culture to illustrate serious principles. This article reports on a paper analyzing how long a mobile target (for example, you) could survive in a structure with zombies bumbling around at random hoping to bump into you. The answer: get into the most complex, irregular structure you can find. The movie convention of hiding in shopping malls is a good strategy: the chance of being grabbed by a zombie drop off sharply compared to standing your ground in an isolated farmhouse. The author says the paper uses zombies as a model for many "random walking" type behaviors in fields like fluid dynamics.

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