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Bleak math of the zombie apocalypse: Here's how long you have

University students in the UK find that a zombie virus would render defenseless humans extinct in the span of a single season of "The Walking Dead."

Brooks/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

If we don't fight back, we're toast.

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A real-world zombie apocalypse would be over pretty quickly, more like the 2002 classic "28 Days Later" than the ceaseless and grueling wandering of the tortured characters on the AMC hit "The Walking Dead."

That's the finding of students at the UK's University of Leicester. They basically just did the math using a basic epidemiological model that describes how a contagious disease spreads through a population.

The team worked on the assumption that each zombie would be able to find one victim per day, have a 90 percent chance of infecting that person with the zombie virus (making it roughly twice as infectious as the black death) and manage an "undead lifespan" of 20 days.

The student researchers plugged these parameters into the model and found that within only 100 days, the human race would be reduced to just a few hundred survivors.

The report was published in the university's student-run journal. Interestingly, it seems to be relatively in line with a similar analysis done by the Argonne National Laboratory that finds a zombie virus would clear out the city of Chicago in just two months.

However, this model presumes humanity is caught off-guard by the zombies and is completely unable to fight back against the undead (sounds a lot more like 2013's "World War Z" than "The Walking Dead" to me). This seems unlikely given that pop culture has provided us with so many case studies for dealing with a scourge of "walkers."

Fortunately, the students published a follow-up study that imagines humans will be able to fight back against the zombies and also includes what I'll refer to as the "Michonne factor," taking into account that odds of survival should go up with time as remaining humans become more adept at kicking zombie butt.

In this more hopeful study, the students found that the ability to fight back against the zombies and to reproduce and repopulate Earth would mean that eventually humanity would be able to outlast the zombies and recover.

Let's not forget that all these models assume a relatively even distribution of the population, which is certainly not the case in real life. The sad fact is I'm probably in better shape to survive here in rural New Mexico than those of you in more densely populated areas.

But it's not too late to plan for the worst and figure out where your #zombiehideout will be. If you're really serious about prepping for the undead, maybe I'll introduce you to some of my friends in Alaska.

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