Of course the zombies depicted in films like Resident Evil or in The Walking Dead aren't real. The dead won't come shuffling out of the grave to dine on our brains anytime soon. That doesn't stop scientists from trying to find out what might happen if they did exist, and a recent study found that if that nightmare scenario did come true, humanity would be screwed.
Mashable reports that in a paper published in a British university's Journal of Physics and Special Topics some imaginative researchers detailed using the results of mathematical modeling of how communicable diseases spread to discover humanity's true fate if zombies became real:
In the new analysis, the University of Leicester undergraduates assumed that each zombie would have 90 percent success at finding and infecting one human per day — a rate that would make the zombie virus twice as contagious as the Black Death, the plague that devastated Europe in the 1300s.
The researchers further estimated that each zombie could live 20 days without braaaaaains.
Assuming a starting population of 7.5 billion people, approximately the world's population today, the students calculated that it would take 20 days for a single zombie to start an epidemic of noticeable proportions. At that point, the pandemic would have begun. Assuming no geographic isolation, in fact, the human population would drop to 181 by day 100 of the epidemic, with 190 million zombies roaming around.
The initial research did not factor in some basic common sense elements, like the fact that there are some very isolated human populations out there that might not be quickly consumed at all, or even a Walking Dead scenario in which the living do their best to wipe out the undead with well-placed head shots.
When the living self-defense scenario was plotted with the same models, the researchers found that humanity stood a slightly better chance of persisting. The number of living was still reduced to a terrifying 100 or so, but the undead eventually died off and humanity began to recover.
But like we said, none of this will happen, so it's all fodder for science fiction and horror writers now, right?
Let's hope so.