I was quite pleasantly surprised to see a real physics blog taking on the thorny problem of zombie avoidance. Sure, this is not exactly large-scale dynamics, but you know that keeping humanity alive throughout the apocalypse will, at some point, come down to these close encounters. So if you ever find yourself going one-on-one with a zombie, what should you do?
Well, it’s generally assumed that zombies are slower than people. Otherwise we’d be screwed. Anyway, given that assumption, you can run in a straight line in any direction and eventually outpace the zombie. But if you’re confined by walls, this is a problem. The gist of the Dot Physics post is that running around in a circle is a decent strategy because the zombie keeps chasing toward you (zombies are dumb), but since you’re constantly moving in an orthogonal direction, it never catches you.
Lest you think this is purely theoretical, check out Zombie Assault 2 on AddictingGames. The game is simple: you’re stuck in a building with rooms, and there are a lot of zombies. Kill them before they kill you. I’ve known from experience that one of the better strategies you can take when you’re overwhelmed by the horde is — somewhat counterintuitively — to hole yourself up in a room and just keep moving in one direction around the edges. What happens is exactly what the Dot Physics post shows: the zombies follow you around the room, never catching up to you, and as a bonus, they all get packed into a nice line so they’re easy to pick off.
Seriously, go try it.
Anyway, like I said, I’m really happy to see zombie science making a splash in the wider physics community. I have got to get cracking on this blog.