Physics Proves the Mall is the Best Zombie Hideout After AllS

So, you're in the midst of a zombie outbreak. Do you head for the hills, or take refuge in a mall? A new physics paper says that hunkering down in a sprawling shopping center will increase your odds of survival.

A new paper from Davide Cassi at the Università di Parma, published this month in Physical Review E, explores how targets might be annihilated by "random walkers." These walkers might be any moving organism that can eliminate a target, but LiveScience notes that zombies are the perfect analogy for these "walkers" — organisms that meander without purpose and destroy any human they happen to come across.

The paper examines the likelihood of the targets surviving — that is, never coming into contact with these "random walkers" — if they remain immobile within various types of structures. One of Cassi's findings is that the more complex the hideout, the less likely a random walker is to encounter a target. This means that hiding out in a building filled with twisting corridors, such as a mall or a school, offers a better chance of survival than hiding out in the open or in more open structures.

Of course, all bets are off if your particular breed of zombie has a talent for sniffing out live humans — or if it's driven by an instinctive need to shop.

The Best Approach for Avoiding Zombies [LiveScience]