Zombies: scientific argument

Discuss The Pocalypse here! Let Joe know if you have any suggestions and what you like and don't like!
User avatar
Keter
Citizen
Posts: 13
Joined: 30 Jul 2011, 12:08

Zombies: scientific argument

Postby Keter » 30 Jul 2011, 12:50

So, i've read some comments on the comic about "how an zombie virus would be impossible", so I decided to say something about it :P

Look, It's true that a real zombie outbreak would be, at least, improbable, but I don't really think it would be impossible. Viruses have an unimaginable pool of mechanisms to take over the host cells, it would not be impossible that some kind of virus somehow acquire genes to turn the human brain cells into "zombie brain cells", I mean... it would still be alive of course, until now we've never had evidences of viruses proliferating in dead cells (which probably isn't possible anyway).
In the last instance the living's toughts are just answers to physical stimuli, series of complex and not fully undearstood chemical reactions (might) lead to every single action we have. For some reason humans have even more complex responses, leading us to have actions not required for survival. I'm talking about human emotions, it leads us to create wonderful things but also "reduces the humanity future", since we kinda just destroy the enviroment as it pleases us. So, if a very special virus menages to insert gene sequences that silcences our mechanisms responsible for our emotions, the host would probably have some kind of zombie behavior, but there are a couple of questions you guys would ask:

1- How could it spread? Would the spread be enough to become an epidemy?
R: I believe the most "simple" way for it to happen would be a viral infection at early development, having the virus code added to the human cells and remaining silent until certain age, then being activated by growth hormones or by heavy emotional stress response, then would make sense that at some point by unknown reasons zombies start to appear, and the panic generated by it would create even more zombies.

2- But then all embryos in the worls would have to be infected at same time, it's impossible right?
R: I'll give you a simple example, 99,99% of the world population have at least ONE kind of herpes virus inside their organisms and since we know, they don't hurt us at all (most of them), it's known that even viral gene sequences of bacteriophage viruses (viruses that infect ONLY bacterias) can be inserted on human genetic code, how? I dunno.

3- What do you mean a genetic code can remain silent?
R: Most eukariotes known have only a few % of their genetic code used to translate (synthesize) proteins, most of it is used to regulate the expression of that translation. Some genes are activated only for a few years of the human development for example, then growth factors (hormones) inactivate them completely, some genes may be actived if you live for a long time in hot areas and some may inactivate forever by the same mechanisms described before as well.

4- Having a viral code in our DNA wouldn't bring us any problems??
R: It almost never does, we might even be producind viral proteins and don't even notice, it may spreat to the next 3 generations of your family and you won't even have a glimpse of it's action xD Remember that the most adapted parasites are the ones who are not perceived, and viruses are the most f***** adapted things i've ever seen.There are many examples of viruses that insert their codes on their host's genes, it's called lysogenic cycle (contrary to the classic known where the virus enters it's host and immediately take control of his cells and start proliferating, the lytic cycle), and yes, our DNA replication mechanisms also duplicate those sequences. Also, even some bacteria might do it for accident.

And I guess that's it, I tried to put my theory on the simplest way possible, I hope you guys like it despite my bad english. Just to make it clear one more time, events like this happening would be really improbable, I also have another theory that include a symbiotic relationship of viruses and bacteria infecting humans that might work, that somehow may even make possible those "rooting zombies" and some increased capacities, but I'm not very sure of it yet :P
I don't lose my day theorizing about zombie outbreaks xD These ideas just keeps popping on my head. Any questions are welcome and I hope this helps Joe on The Pocalypse :D

(if I remember anything else later I'll post it)

User avatar
Merostomata
Vampire Slayer
Posts: 437
Joined: 11 Jun 2011, 14:30
Location: Old Hickory, Tennessee

Re: Zombies: scientific argument

Postby Merostomata » 30 Jul 2011, 14:56

That's nice and all, but... going from the start, how is a person lacking emotions a zombie? If anything, the precedent is that the sort of living zombie afflicted by a virus that you're talking about tends to have too much emotion of the angry and aggressive variety, rather than none at all. If you want to go this route, I think it'd make more sense to go for something like grossly exaggerating an organism along the lines of Toxoplasm gondii. A third of the world has it in their system, and, when infected by that protozoan, sufferers of toxoplasmosis are known to have somewhat slower reaction times and a higher prevalence of schizophrenia than the average person, among other symptoms... of course, that hardly leaves that third of all people as zombies, but it's at least nearer to the traditional zombie symptoms than a lack of emotion.
Hello!

User avatar
Keter
Citizen
Posts: 13
Joined: 30 Jul 2011, 12:08

Re: Zombies: scientific argument

Postby Keter » 31 Jul 2011, 00:53

Merostomata wrote:That's nice and all, but... going from the start, how is a person lacking emotions a zombie? If anything, the precedent is that the sort of living zombie afflicted by a virus that you're talking about tends to have too much emotion of the angry and aggressive variety, rather than none at all. If you want to go this route, I think it'd make more sense to go for something like grossly exaggerating an organism along the lines of Toxoplasm gondii. A third of the world has it in their system, and, when infected by that protozoan, sufferers of toxoplasmosis are known to have somewhat slower reaction times and a higher prevalence of schizophrenia than the average person, among other symptoms... of course, that hardly leaves that third of all people as zombies, but it's at least nearer to the traditional zombie symptoms than a lack of emotion.


"Is a person lacking emotions a zombie?", basically yes, since we define zombies as dead persons eating everything they can except each other. When I say they would lack emotions I mean every single one a human being would have, not just love, sadnness, anger, etc... but also their reaction to any event that happens, also I guess it would be more effective if somehow the virus stimulates SOME basic survival instincts which leads them to eat and eat even more. So, you don't really need to be aggressive to act like zombies, you may call the ones acting like zombies "agressives", but they are just executing simple commands to survive.
And about that Toxoplasm gondii thing, I wonder why everyone talks about it when it's about zombie outbreaks :? This parasitic protozoan disease leads some rats to "suicide" because it confuses them, they replace a few answers to danger and makes the answes to "be safe", I'm not a specialis on these things but I believe any behavioral change mechanism would be the same, I know that some species od fungi also change theis hosts behavior and lead them to suicide to spread theyd genetic code. About their role in Schizophrenia, I can't say for sure if it's really true because no one really knows how it develops, but even so I don't think schizophrenia would (usually) create anything zombie-like, first because patients with delusions MUST have emotions, second because not only schizo, but any mental disorder varies intensely from a person to another.
Then, there's a last reason why I don't think your theory would work, the proliferation and spread of eukariotic-modulated diseases is quite slow and easly treated, most of those diseases are still present with such intensity only because there wasn't enough efforts to eliminate them. Parasitic eukariotes and most bacterias have immediate action after infecting their hosts, if a local epidemy caused by them happens it can easily be restrained and/or eliminated before it spreads, the genetic variation of those things are indeed high, but humans can still deal with it.

To conclude, of course there's a possibility for even bacterias or eukariotes to develop "zombifying" mechanisms, but it's much more likely for it to happen with viruses, their genetic code varies so fast that we can't even separate them in species (we use the quasi species term for them), so you can never tell what's coming up. My theory about symbiotic diseases involving viruses and bacterias was based on the bacterial capacity of varying their basic genetic code after viral infections.

EDIT: I remembered somthing, take as example lobotomy surgery made in some prisioners few years ago, the removal of certain regions of the frontal cortex "erases" one's emotions, but they live normally. However, they were vulnerable to suggestion, witch means that ny kind of simple simuli could be enough to make them act as you please. A viral infection stimuli on those emotion-lacking individuals that affects impulsive hunger could be enough to make them zombie-like.
One thing I also forgot to mention is that "scientific zombies" must drink water and eat more than only human meat, otherwise they wouldn't be able to survive long, OR there are more than only viruses infecting them...

User avatar
Merostomata
Vampire Slayer
Posts: 437
Joined: 11 Jun 2011, 14:30
Location: Old Hickory, Tennessee

Re: Zombies: scientific argument

Postby Merostomata » 31 Jul 2011, 01:33

"Is a person lacking emotions a zombie?", basically yes, since we define zombies as dead persons eating everything they can except each other.


... what? When does this sentence even begin to make sense?

When I say they would lack emotions I mean every single one a human being would have, not just love, sadnness, anger, etc... but also their reaction to any event that happens, also I guess it would be more effective if somehow the virus stimulates SOME basic survival instincts which leads them to eat and eat even more.


But why would a lack of emotions lead to them immediately chomping on other people? Maybe they wouldn't care about people being hurt to achieve personal objectives, but I still see absolutely no reason for why a rational person removed from all emotion would immediately start chomping on everyone else.

So, you don't really need to be aggressive to act like zombies, you may call the ones acting like zombies "agressives", but they are just executing simple commands to survive.


I'd call walking around biting other people's faces off fairly aggressive.

About their role in Schizophrenia, I can't say for sure if it's really true because no one really knows how it develops, but even so I don't think schizophrenia would (usually) create anything zombie-like, first because patients with delusions MUST have emotions, second because not only schizo, but any mental disorder varies intensely from a person to another.
Then, there's a last reason why I don't think your theory would work, the proliferation and spread of eukariotic-modulated diseases is quite slow and easly treated, most of those diseases are still present with such intensity only because there wasn't enough efforts to eliminate them.


Of course it wouldn't work, and I never said it would. Didn't you notice the key phrases along the lines of "those billions of people aren't zombies, of course" and "the effects would have to be incredibly exaggerated", any of that? I'm still saying it's slightly more plausible-- still ridiculous, but slightly less so-- than saying that a virus in the DNA has suddenly switched something all at the same time across the world, destroying most emotions and making them eat each other for... some reason.

Parasitic eukariotes and most bacterias have immediate action after infecting their hosts, if a local epidemy caused by them happens it can easily be restrained and/or eliminated before it spreads, the genetic variation of those things are indeed high, but humans can still deal with it.


Again, a third of the world has some form of toxoplasmosis. You are also wrong in saying that parasitic eukaryotes always act immediately upon infection; certain strains of malaria, for example, have been known to incubate in excess of thirty years.

To conclude, of course there's a possibility for even bacterias or eukariotes to develop "zombifying" mechanisms, but it's much more likely for it to happen with viruses, their genetic code varies so fast that we can't even separate them in species (we use the quasi species term for them), so you can never tell what's coming up. My theory about symbiotic diseases involving viruses and bacterias was based on the bacterial capacity of varying their basic genetic code after viral infections.


What do you mean by zombifying? It's evident that we have entirely different ideas here.
Hello!

User avatar
HD Cerberus
Vampire Slayer
Posts: 499
Joined: 28 Mar 2011, 10:44

Re: Zombies: scientific argument

Postby HD Cerberus » 31 Jul 2011, 02:27

Here I am, contributing. (^^,)

I've never heard of someone defining a zombie as 'A person lacking emotions.' If anything, I would associate that more with Robots.

Here are some definitions of zombies:

Oxford English:

Pronunciation:/ˈzɒmbi/
noun

1) a corpse said to be revived by witchcraft, especially in certain African and Caribbean religions.
-informal a person who is or appears lifeless, apathetic, or completely unresponsive to their surroundings.
-a computer controlled by another person without the owner's knowledge and used for sending spam or other illegal or illicit activities.
2) a cocktail consisting of several kinds of rum, liqueur, and fruit juice.

Cambridge English:

-informal disapproving a person who has no energy, seems to act without thinking and does not notice what is happening around them
'He just sat in front of the TV all day like a zombie.'

-a dead person who is believed, in some Caribbean religions, to have been brought back to life by magic.

Wikipedia:

Wikipedia uses the Oxford English definition as it's source on defining a zombie.


As you can see, emotions haven't been mentioned once.

User avatar
Keter
Citizen
Posts: 13
Joined: 30 Jul 2011, 12:08

Re: Zombies: scientific argument

Postby Keter » 31 Jul 2011, 03:05

HD Cerberus wrote:Here I am, contributing. (^^,)

I've never heard of someone defining a zombie as 'A person lacking emotions.' If anything, I would associate that more with Robots.

Here are some definitions of zombies:

Oxford English:

Pronunciation:/ˈzɒmbi/
noun

1) a corpse said to be revived by witchcraft, especially in certain African and Caribbean religions.
-informal a person who is or appears lifeless, apathetic, or completely unresponsive to their surroundings.
-a computer controlled by another person without the owner's knowledge and used for sending spam or other illegal or illicit activities.
2) a cocktail consisting of several kinds of rum, liqueur, and fruit juice.

Cambridge English:

-informal disapproving a person who has no energy, seems to act without thinking and does not notice what is happening around them
'He just sat in front of the TV all day like a zombie.'

-a dead person who is believed, in some Caribbean religions, to have been brought back to life by magic.

Wikipedia:

Wikipedia uses the Oxford English definition as it's source on defining a zombie.


As you can see, emotions haven't been mentioned once.


Well, I was actually taking The Pocalypse definition of zombies :D Of course if you look at different definitions of "zombie" you'll find lots of different ones, I remember reading somwhere that in some language, the old word for "witch" gave origin to "zombie", "undead" and "vampire".
And if you'd like to create an anology with robots I think it would be plausible too. For example, let's suppose that we have robots we programmed to perform human tasks, they may even have some very complex AI, then a computer virus infects them, restrains their AI to the identification of targets and basic process as mobility, defense and recharging. Then it's done! We might have robots running everywhere looking for energy resources and any human on their way would be eliminated, or even they might be lead to the conclusion that humans are dangerous for them.
(I'm not an expert about robots, computer viruses and AI, so don't ask me much about it)

P.S.: When a scientist releases a new idea almost all other scientists already had another theory about it, the first thing they do (some even before reading the releases article) is looking for small phrases that look wrong os words that don't fit, that's the obvious thing to do because the scientific world is a competition more than anything else, but because of that many great ideas have been lost through time. But this we have here isn't a competition guys... it's simply a friendly discussion for fun, so if you see somthing I said out of place, if it's just a small thing, it would be better if you reflect a bit about it as see if a small adjust could make things have more sense, then, if you really think it doesn't you say it's wrong.
I hope no one have done this but... I can't deny the possibility. No offense.

User avatar
Merostomata
Vampire Slayer
Posts: 437
Joined: 11 Jun 2011, 14:30
Location: Old Hickory, Tennessee

Re: Zombies: scientific argument

Postby Merostomata » 31 Jul 2011, 07:18

I wanted to say that emotionless humans would be significantly more vulnerable to any stimuli, then the by stimulating brain regions responsible for hunger could easily lead them to eat everything they can. As for "except each other" I mean you've never seen a zombie eating other zombie, right? This is possible by some ways I think I don't have to discuss right now.


Do you have anything to show that people acting with less emotion are more vulnerable to primal instinct? Bear in mind that in a lot of ways, emotion is tied up with instinct. If someone hurts you, for example, the instinct is to hurt them back or to go away from the pain, accompanied by anger or fear. But let's go along with your logic here; you have no emotions to hold you back from your instincts (despite how most people describe their rational thought as holding them back...), and you're really hungry, so... you don't chew on the other zombies next to you? Why? You don't care about them, you feel no empathy for a fellow zombie because you're emotionless!

Not at all, being aggressive implies that a person uses brute force to achieve something he's willing to do. For example, let's suppose you really hate that anyone enters your garden, then one day someone steps on it and you attack him with a baseball bat, you are defending your territory aggressively, but let's suppose someone steps on your garden, then you stab him with a knife and casually starts taking off his organs as it was completely normal (because you think it's normal), then you're not being aggressive. Their actions may look brutal for you, but they are just eating humans as you eat fried chicken.


Aggression in the sense we speak of is unprovoked offense, so you gave a bad first example. The person stepping into your garden is a provocation, it is justified to jack their jaw if you didn't want anyone staying there, as it's your property... that said, make sure to give anyone a warning before doing so. I will concede that the person eating the other guy may not consider himself to be aggressive, but anyone else would agree that eating a guy for stepping in your garden is NOT justifiable in any way; therefore, it is aggressive behavior, regardless of whether or not the perpetrater recognizes it as such.

You can't say "of course it wouldn't work", we surely are working with very small possibilities, but this is just a discussion for fun so we don't just give up on it because it probably won't happen. And as I said before, yes, there MAY be a chance that a virus does that.


Does what? Strips away emotion? How? I know that much of our DNA is made up of retroviral attacks, but how do you jump from acknowledging that fact to saying that people across the world could have that 'flipped on' somehow to cause them to lose their emotions? How is a person without emotions a zombie?

They incubate inside one host, yet does not proliferate. Eukaryotes don't have mechanisms to disseminate while inactive, but viruses have.


A virus does not have the capability to reproduce in its inactive state.

I mean zombifying as "turning something into a zombie". I've said that about genetic variation because (1) today there aren't any examples of zombifying viruses, but since they keep envolving so much faster than bacterias or eukariotes the chances of a zombifying virus to appear is much higher, and (2) fast genetic variation makes diagnostic and medicine development harder.


Your definition of a zombie is clearly not the same as mine. I don't see a virus switching off people's emotions somehow as 'zombifying' them, which makes it difficult for you to convince me about this zombie virus. If you were to change your definition to be talking about zombifying in the sense of a shambling dead body, I see that as impossible for any virus to accomplish. A common definition of a zombie would need to be established before we can even start to talk about probability.
Hello!

User avatar
Happy Demon
Mindcrafter
Posts: 1612
Joined: 23 Apr 2011, 04:34
Location: The Forum.
Contact:

Re: Zombies: scientific argument

Postby Happy Demon » 31 Jul 2011, 09:13

Since you mentioned 'AI' and 'virus', and I conveniently know a little bit of computer science, I feel like mentioning unimportant information.
Spoiler! :
Viruses has 3 basic purposes (there is some exceptions).
Trojan horse: Transports the other viruses.
Worm: garbles code, breaking software (main target being antiviruses).
Spyware: Key-loggers and hacking programs.
That means that an AI modified by viruses are unlikely.


Anyway, I like the XCOM zombies, since they're only temporary hosts of an alien parasite that is in control of the body.
But that makes the RE5 zombies (Las Plagas or something) more likely than most others.
I'm the Forum Demon, amongst the most active members on the Forum.

I participated in the Pocalypse RP in the active time, when all Moderators and Admins were active.

Nosebleeds are f***ing annoying!

User avatar
Keter
Citizen
Posts: 13
Joined: 30 Jul 2011, 12:08

Re: Zombies: scientific argument

Postby Keter » 31 Jul 2011, 12:26

Do you have anything to show that people acting with less emotion are more vulnerable to primal instinct? Bear in mind that in a lot of ways, emotion is tied up with instinct. If someone hurts you, for example, the instinct is to hurt them back or to go away from the pain, accompanied by anger or fear. But let's go along with your logic here; you have no emotions to hold you back from your instincts (despite how most people describe their rational thought as holding them back...), and you're really hungry, so... you don't chew on the other zombies next to you? Why? You don't care about them, you feel no empathy for a fellow zombie because you're emotionless!


Emotion is not tied up with instinct, to put it simply emotions creates stimuli to physiological response, while instincs are physiological responses to external or metabolic stimuli. You may have instincs response followed by emotional response, but it doesn't mean they're tied up. And about what you said last, let's suppose that kind of zombie I was talking about, they're hungry, yet, they do not eat each other, why? Because they love each other as companions of war? Of course not! They can just respond to let's say some kind of smell they might have or recognize specific behavior. Ants of the same colony don't attack each other due pheromonies and you should already heard about playing dead to survive right?
Also, I don't think and neither said that someone with "less amotions" exists, a person have or don't have emotions.

Aggression in the sense we speak of is unprovoked offense, so you gave a bad first example. The person stepping into your garden is a provocation, it is justified to jack their jaw if you didn't want anyone staying there, as it's your property... that said, make sure to give anyone a warning before doing so. I will concede that the person eating the other guy may not consider himself to be aggressive, but anyone else would agree that eating a guy for stepping in your garden is NOT justifiable in any way; therefore, it is aggressive behavior, regardless of whether or not the perpetrater recognizes it as such.


Fine, then suppose you didn't gave any advice about stepping on your garden, someone steps on it accidentaly and you attack him with a baseball bat, it still MUST be an aggressive person to do that, and about the other example, then think about someone who sends an e-mail to lots of people saying "If someone wants to be killed and eaten please com to my address", someone really wants to do that, goes to the cannibal house and presto, you and many people may still characterize this guy as "aggressive", but IMO it's just a precipitate tought, because he may be crazy, sick or anything but aggressive to me.

Does what? Strips away emotion? How? I know that much of our DNA is made up of retroviral attacks, but how do you jump from acknowledging that fact to saying that people across the world could have that 'flipped on' somehow to cause them to lose their emotions? How is a person without emotions a zombie?


I'm not saying that the lack of emotions makes a zombie. But the lack of emotions associated to other suggestive stimuli may lead the to some zombie behavior, but of course it's not any stimuli that'll lead them to this point. Messing with emotions is complicates, but not impossible.
Also, retroviruses have RNA, not DNA, but I don't really get what do you mean by "our DNA is made up of retroviral attacks".

A virus does not have the capability to reproduce in its inactive state.


Ok, strictly speaking on viruses, on the right scientific language no, viruses can't replicate in it's inactive state, but that's because viruses are actually the infected cells when they're already fully under viral control and the infectant particle is a Virion. But let's put it simple by using the terms normally used by the world media.
Viruses may integrate their genetic code on ours, our system will not recognize them (probably never), and this genetic material will pass through the same replication process of our DNA. At adult age it's unlikely (not to say impossible) that a few cells with viral genes inserted multiplicate enough to cover the whole pluricellular organism, BUT by infecting them on early stages of development there's a not so low chance that this genetic code ends up covering most of the host cells.
The active state of a virus implyes on the production of viral proteins needed for their capsid, which makes use of their host metabolic process and it's energy.

Your definition of a zombie is clearly not the same as mine. I don't see a virus switching off people's emotions somehow as 'zombifying' them, which makes it difficult for you to convince me about this zombie virus. If you were to change your definition to be talking about zombifying in the sense of a shambling dead body, I see that as impossible for any virus to accomplish. A common definition of a zombie would need to be established before we can even start to talk about probability.


Ok, then first I have to say that a fully plausible zombie at the eyes of science is impossible if they're dead, the only way to have true undeads would be magic or ultra-high technology. I'm talking about living people acting like the zombies on The Pocalypse.


Happy Demon wrote:Since you mentioned 'AI' and 'virus', and I conveniently know a little bit of computer science, I feel like mentioning unimportant information.
Spoiler! :
Viruses has 3 basic purposes (there is some exceptions).
Trojan horse: Transports the other viruses.
Worm: garbles code, breaking software (main target being antiviruses).
Spyware: Key-loggers and hacking programs.
That means that an AI modified by viruses are unlikely.


Anyway, I like the XCOM zombies, since they're only temporary hosts of an alien parasite that is in control of the body.
But that makes the RE5 zombies (Las Plagas or something) more likely than most others.


Wow, it's impressive how compluter viruses resembles their biological analogs isn't it ? Biological viruses have all those functions too :o
I haven't played much zombie games :P So I don't know how they explain it, I can just say that Prototype and Left 4 Dead viruses are scientifically wrong xD But I can't say anything about alien parasites since we never know what may appear.

User avatar
Happy Demon
Mindcrafter
Posts: 1612
Joined: 23 Apr 2011, 04:34
Location: The Forum.
Contact:

Re: Zombies: scientific argument

Postby Happy Demon » 31 Jul 2011, 17:19

There's biological key-loggers (you said ALL the functions)?

You don't mean the undead shoot-them-in-the-head zombies?
You mean it more like the walking dead men (they're not literally dead) type of zombies?
That sure explains a lot, now we don't have to explain how a dead corpse can't move.
I'm the Forum Demon, amongst the most active members on the Forum.

I participated in the Pocalypse RP in the active time, when all Moderators and Admins were active.

Nosebleeds are f***ing annoying!


Return to “Comic Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest