It’s an ever popular sight: hordes of the risen dead coming to eat the heroes of our story alive. Although hardly a perpetual favorite, the zombie movies do get trotted out from time to time, mostly to great success.
It seems like the zombie apocalypse is going to happen in any case and here are some reasons why.
The zombie myth
Fun fact: zombies may be based on reality. According to a researcher named Wade Davis, Voodoo/Voudou/Vodun priests would use a drug mixed with a poison found in pufferfish to enact a death-like state. After the victim was buried they would be dug up, restored and given another drug to make them complicit. If the story is to be believed, the priests used their zombies as a form of slave labor. Davis’s claims have been widely criticized, but even if they are not entirely true, there are certainly drugs and poisons that can have these effects. Therefore, myth seems plausible on this account. Although modern medicine would likely be able to cure this form of zombies and despite rising from their graves, they are hardly the undead.
Ever popular with the Resident Evil franchise, behavior modifying parasites are another plausible form of zombification, the most common of these being Toxiplasma gondii. Toxoplasmosis causes rodents to lose their natural aversion to cat pheromones and seems to make humans more neurotic as well. A host of other behavior modifying parasites are also known, though most seem to cause little more than suicidal tendencies in the host. These parasites and viruses usually have other, more beneficial characteristics that, if harnessed correctly, could create a medical breakthrough. Seeing as humanity seems intent on using its capability for great discoveries in less than heroic ways, I’d say this one is plausible too.
Fast becoming a perennial favorite among science fiction authors for behavior modification, nano technology would seem a likely subject. Although the mechanism for behavior modification could possibly be easily copied from the aforementioned parasites and viruses, it’s hard to see how such research would ever be funded. And no talk about a global science conspiracy. Every known conspiracy ever containing more than one person has always collapsed under the fact that people are incapable of not blabbing.
Raising the dead
This, I think is not only wholly unlikely, but also impossible. The human body starts breaking down the minute it loses its supply of oxygen. More than four minutes without it and your brain will start shutting down. Without hypothermia, 5 minutes without oxygen is enough to cause permanent brain damage. I probably don’t need to tell you that a brain is crucial to keeping a body moving. As well as muscles, which will have more or less decomposed within a few months or so of burial, even with a coffin.
So let’s say it was just the recently dead who had been risen. Without a brain to perform higher functions like you know beating away the insects, rats and bigger carrion animals, they would soon succumb to nature’s cleaning crew.
What do you think? Zombies, possible or impossible? Limitations, extensions?