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Thread: Zombies

  1. #1 Zombies 
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    Guys I'm pretty bumed out. I am reading the Zombie Survival Guide my Max Brooks and he really is shitting the bed on a few things. Now, overlooking the clear idea that zombies don't exist, the biology of this can be worked out (for fun, at least).

    For example, the biologically inept Brooks claims that insects (hereafter referred to as vectors since it's not just insects) just 'sense' an infected human (assuming zombies are created by a transmissible virus named Solanum). I'd maintain that these would be hosts don't posses a few of the key things that most vectors would look for. These, of course, would be body heat and CO2 exhaling, creating gradients which the vectors follow.

    A little bit of thought can fine tune the biology of your garden variety zombie. However, what kind of zombie are we talking here? The shuffling, shambling and rather harmless Shaun of the Dead zombie, or the much more menacing Dawn of the dead or "Sprinting" zombie? We are ignoring Romero's newer zombies, that have some cognitive skills but totally lack physical aptitude, since thinking zombies is just as atrocious as radioactive ones.

    Now, lets talk a bit about the science of zombies!


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  3. #2  
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    I need to brush up my zombies, thanks.

    As I recall, they have no heartbeat or airway respiration. They're cold blooded. And typically sluggish. Like slugs.

    How quickly could a zombie infection reorder genes and curdle proteins in a body ŗ la mad cow? I'm thinking if it were very sophisticated and sacrificed a lot of flesh in the process, we could see a metamorphoses into cold blooded slug-like monster. I think that blood curdling is key, so the infection only needs to catalyze a potential already present.

    To those who say, "It would never work" I say it needn't work well. After all typical zombies have their limbs rotting off as they shamble in search of brainzzz.


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    I think zombies function outside the realm of warm vs cold blooded. They never bask, they never sleep and they don't actually digest their food. So the lack of digestion rules out endothermy, the lack of basking basically rules out exothermy.

    My understanding is that there are NO bodily functions at all. Too bad it makes no sense because cellular respiration is kind of required for basic movement.

    Okay guys we have to just pretend here that zombies as a mechanic make sense, which all my sources suggest that they do and that they are totally awesome anyways.


    What about their vocalizations? Do we go with the classic desperate and longing moan or do we consider nothing since the lungs don't work anyways?
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    Quote Originally Posted by mormoopid
    I think zombies function outside the realm of warm vs cold blooded. They never bask, they never sleep and they don't actually digest their food. So the lack of digestion rules out endothermy, the lack of basking basically rules out exothermy.
    Their own decaying flesh is endothermal. And I've never seen a worm basking intentionally, yet worms are exothermal. Zombies seem to avoid daytime extremes of heat and sunlight.

    Zombies eat brains. Why wouldn't they digest them? Just because zombies mostly keep their trousers up... doesn't mean... well, perhaps we're too polite to draw attention to that matter.

    Zombies do speak. Perhaps Mormoopid you've only experienced their feeding groans. You should get out more. Many zombies communicate with some dialect of Zamgrh but it varies with their state of decay. Also see The Zombie Lexicon.
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    You're comparing a worm, small mass, to a zombie of large mass. It's pretty clear to me that the larger an ectotherm is, the more basking that happens.

    I've never thought of the decaying flesh being endothermic- good call!

    According to Max Brooks, zombies just continue to feed without digestion. How would they digest anyways, without oxygen, cell respiration or any other bodily function occuring? I guess we need to outline what a zombie really is and how it functions, and I'd prefer we steer clear of Max Brooks anyways because he's a bit of a tool sack. However, your run of the mill zombie really doesn't possess any fine motor skills aside from grabbing. Pulling down your pants is pretty complex...well, at least I think so. The real trick is getting them back up, their shuffle really would be impeded by a pants down state.

    I have issues with the lexicon right in the first little bit. The different noises imply different meanings, which imply a very basic and rudimentary langauge and therefore intellectual prowess. We aren't talking about land of the dead zombies guys, zombies that think are just about as undead as they are uncool.
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    Metabolically I reckon zombies comparable to gastropods. But they inherit a skeleton and whatever fine sensory organs weren't chewed off prior to metamorphosis.

    Even gastropods have hearts, lungs/gills, and digestion, however. You're right, lungs are out. And I think we can do away with beating heart and say the zombie circulation is roughly water based, marginally transported around all cells by gross movement. The obsolete blood vessels and heart may rot...

    Which makes me wonder if a zombie's metabolism could be, in fact, based on decomposition. Could zombies be a symbiotic organism, like a sponge..?
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    the idea is that it's a virus, I think, that hijacks the brain. I think that's the only logical recourse. The book I'm reading suggests the nervous system doesn't work, but that doesn't make any sense if you want a zombie that moves.

    Blood in a now 'dead' circulatory system would coagulate and become more of a slurry of dead RBCs and clots. If we nix, entirely, the digestive, respiratory and circulatory system, what does that get us? I'd suggest that some aspect within the zombie can live OFF it's own decaying flesh- hence a pseudo metabolism. The logic behind nixing most body systems is pretty obvious: One needs the other to function, really, so if you remove on it creates a cascading effect.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mormoopid
    the idea is that it's a virus, I think, that hijacks the brain. I think that's the only logical recourse. The book I'm reading suggests the nervous system doesn't work, but that doesn't make any sense if you want a zombie that moves.
    A virus operates through living cells. :| Arguably, if every strand of DNA was converted to non-human you could say the human is dead. But I think zombies are "alive" in no way like animals we know.

    But yeah brain hijacking. Perhaps the zombie brain grows in parallel, like smothering fungal strands branching along tree roots. So it replaces them as it digests them. Some fungi, like the monsterous honey fungus (largest organism on Earth) grow far reaching root-like structures. A similar growth of zombie flesh might transport nutrients, or a torpid kind of nerve impulse.

    For sure the nervous system is decentralized, as in squids. A zombie's severed hand can crawl like a spider can't it?

    Quote Originally Posted by mormoopid
    Blood in a now 'dead' circulatory system would coagulate and become more of a slurry of dead RBCs and clots. If we nix, entirely, the digestive, respiratory and circulatory system, what does that get us? I'd suggest that some aspect within the zombie can live OFF it's own decaying flesh- hence a pseudo metabolism. The logic behind nixing most body systems is pretty obvious: One needs the other to function, really, so if you remove on it creates a cascading effect.
    Agreed. But virus-hijacked cells can't live in that. I think the zombie flesh must be a total conversion of original flesh. It could digest that, and maybe even preserve some for later, like fat, except that it would eat bones and organs. Is zombie tissue spongy? As in spongiform, maybe?

    Incidentally, Falun Gong devotees seek a similar transformation of the flesh:

    Quote Originally Posted by Li Hongzhi
    The most noticeable feature of cultivation methods that cultivate both mind and body is that they prolong a personís life and deter aging. Our Falun Gong also has this noticeable feature. Falun Gong works this way: It fundamentally changes the molecular composition of the human body, storing the gathered high-energy matter in each cell and ultimately allowing this high-energy matter to replace the cellular components. Metabolism will no longer occur. A person thus transcends the five elements, having turned his or her body into one composed of substances from other dimensions. This person will be young forever, as he or she is no longer restrained by our space-time.

    -Falun Gong, 4th English translation
    After a cultivator has attained Milk-White Body state, apparently, modern medicines are toxic to it. Even the circulatory and nervous systems flow through meridians as thick around as a little finger, within this new flesh, which is not alive in the base human sense. The organs are repositioned. Hospital surgery, then, is butchery and torture which may break the spirit of a cultivator. :|

    Er, anyway. We're talking about zombies. I think they must have some digestion, since they're driven to eat brains. So a working esophagus and some kind of stomach. They could vocalize with that alone. Maybe the brains just stew and rot while filaments of zombie flesh absorb the byproducts? Lots of similar arrangements in nature.
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    Perhaps an analogy to rumination stomachs is appropraite for my vision of digestion in zombies. Bacteria digest the zombies and rotting flesh they eat, and the zombie digests the bacteria (except in ruminants, it's pretty obvious what the bacteria are eating). So they would account for, and add to, the metabolism based on decay.

    I like the fungus Idea- there are a great deal of fungi that actually crack insect cuticles and compel them to alter their behaviour dramatically. The same goes for various nematodes or parasites; one even compels a snail to climb to the highest point it can get and then 'pulsate' with color and size- which allows birds to come scoop it up much easier. Fungus works for me alot better than a virus would, good call.

    You could do the decentralizing of the nervous system, but that's a dramatic undertaking since people tend to lack a great deal of the required ganglia. It wouldn't be hard if the supposed parasite had nervogenic properties and could force nerves to divide and make rudimentary ganglia.
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by mormoopid
    Perhaps an analogy to rumination stomachs is appropraite for my vision of digestion in zombies. Bacteria digest the zombies and rotting flesh they eat, and the zombie digests the bacteria (except in ruminants, it's pretty obvious what the bacteria are eating). So they would account for, and add to, the metabolism based on decay.
    In that case the original stomach should have decomposed, leaving a clotted uterus-like cavity. A zombie can glut a great volume into this cavity in a single feeding since it's nothing but the displacement of undifferentiated zombie flesh in a torso devoid of organs. In fact digestion would work best if the solids were dispersed.

    Wouldn't zombies have gas something fierce?

    You could do the decentralizing of the nervous system, but that's a dramatic undertaking since people tend to lack a great deal of the required ganglia. It wouldn't be hard if the supposed parasite had nervogenic properties and could force nerves to divide and make rudimentary ganglia.
    I'm imagining normal zombie tissue to be web-like branching strands, that gradually bulks up and mats as it consumes a host. This tissue could, I think, transport both nutrients and impulses. Specialized muscle and sinew would have to be created. The old skeleton would serve long enough. I don't know about eyes and other delicate structures though. I think the zombie must secrete some kind of preservative and keep these on a kind of life support.
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    that's kind of getting into a realm where I'm uncomfortable with your ideas. Rebuilding of structure requires alot more processes than just decay. Mind you, I'm imagining the functional shelf life for a zombie really wouldn't be terribly long. I'm assuming that they definately are rotting and that it's only the bare minimum keeping them going, so no reconstruction- otherwise you need a model for how passive decomposition can fuel not only the movement, but the whole body reorganization. Once you're at that step, you might as well have things like osteoclasts and whatnot actively remodelling bone.

    It's becoming a problem of "how do you stay undead without just being alive?"
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    I was proposing zombie as an organism just as alive in its own right as a cluster of mushrooms on a stump. It would wrap decaying cells and copy some general functions. I think it could be quite vigorous if feeding intimately off the host body, cell to cell. But we know that isn't what zombies are about. Zombies are the dead.

    Maybe revisit CJD? A prion disease that actually functions, in its own backward twisted way. I like the taste of this better. Mmm... kuru... eating grandma's brains and laughing convulsively.
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    Prions would be neat, but being proteins don't they need something to hijack or muck with? You could argue that the fungus makes proteins that act like prions in the human body...
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    Quote Originally Posted by mormoopid
    Prions would be neat, but being proteins don't they need something to hijack or muck with? You could argue that the fungus makes proteins that act like prions in the human body...
    Well a prion pathogen does not actually exist. At arm's length denial, it's the "agent" responsible for misfolded proteins... which themselves malignantly cause other proteins to misfold, and so on. So in truth it's a self-curdling analogous to milk curdling. More like a domino potential of normal proteins themselves than a pathogen. The cause of falling dominoes is falling dominoes. It's certainly not a germ. More like a cancer.

    Autopsy of common (senile) dementia brains reveal the same spongiform curdled crap we see in BSE, CJD, etc. It is hard to prove a real distinction but we've traditionally viewed these diseases separately. For all of them people have tried to find the foreign agent responsible; all prove equally baffling to this attack.


    Some fungi appear to conditionally initiate a prion-like cascade of twists in their own proteins. It seems to be a useful adaptation in these cases. So zombie as fungi-prion-rot symbiosis seems intuitively plausible. And it just tastes right for zombies, you know?
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    I agree, that's a pretty rad system I must admit. What about transmission though? Fungi often are airbourne and would spell doom for all humanity. Traditional thoughts was that it was from biting, but lately it seems any fluid swap...
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    Zombie bite, kiss, or chew would vector transmission of proteins. Meanwhile fungus spores could be ubiquitously airbourne or fungus tissue could be directly passed along with the bite. You'd need both zombie fungus and zombie protein together to form the aggressive symbiot. And they'd need a small dead/dying tissue culture, like a scab or blood clot, to start upon.

    BTW thanks to this thread I'm playing a casual browser based MMOG called Urban Dead.
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    ahh, I see- so an airbourne fungus with a protein through bite transmission. Cool. I'm thinking this would allow for shambling zombies, weak zombies and whatnot, or basically a shaun of the dead zombie event.





    Man, If a zombie apocalypse came, I would probably win.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mormoopid
    Man, If a zombie apocalypse came, I would probably win.
    As a scientist with syringe? Bring it!

    Graaaagh!
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    Now that we covered all that, it's time to discuss the implausibility of Headcrab Zombies.
    One day, we will discover that everything ever invented or created exists as an element.

    Barring that, we'll discover the existence of Plotdevicium.

    Barring THAT, we'll discover how to most effectively give up.
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    but we should also consider brainslug zombies as viable I think
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    Or what? The existence of 3-4-1 Trioxin?
    One day, we will discover that everything ever invented or created exists as an element.

    Barring that, we'll discover the existence of Plotdevicium.

    Barring THAT, we'll discover how to most effectively give up.
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    zombies will kill mormoopid into pieces... beware...hahaha...
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    okay don't shit all over this good thread with crackpot theories
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  25. #24 Re: Zombies 
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    Quote Originally Posted by mormoopid
    Guys I'm pretty bumed out. I am reading the Zombie Survival Guide my Max Brooks and he really is shitting the bed on a few things. Now, overlooking the clear idea that zombies don't exist, the biology of this can be worked out (for fun, at least).
    Your problem is that you believe zombies are a creature like lions, tigers, and bears.

    Zombies are human beings. Zombies are what some human beings call other human beings. Most every book or movie that talks about zombies, is talking about human beings that behave like Zombies. Not a creature called a zombie.

    Quote Originally Posted by mormoopid
    Now, lets talk a bit about the science of zombies!
    Do you know anything about Yin Yang Theory? One way to define Zombie would be to say "A Zombie is a human being with no or very little Yin". That is kind of a poor definition that applies to some human beings but not to others.

    Do you know about the lights in people's eyes? Some people have a light in their eyes. These people consider themselves to be "real human beings", and as a matter of fact, their claims could be considered truthful.

    People with a light in their eyes would call any human being who did not have a light in their eyes a Zombie. The light in the eyes is a sign of what makes the animal called a human being a human being. No light in the eyes is the sign of the animal called a human being just being an expecially smart animal.

    Do you believe human beings have energy? For human beings that know about energy, a human being who does not know about energy is a Zombie. A human being who does not know about energy is a Zombie, because they are "ded" to all the information that knowing about human energy provides to a real human being.
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    mbokohutu I can answer you with one singular word to every single question you asked:

    NO.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mormoopid
    mbokohutu I can answer you with one singular word to every single question you asked:

    NO.
    That's funny. I thought you said NO because that was the extent of your vocabulary, and it works so good when mommy tries to feed you.
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    The one instance where I can remember "No" not working is when I was feeding your mom.


    Okay, but really I'll go back and look at your first post just for you. I wasn't being a dick or anything but now I will go through your post and give you a longhand reason because I'm just that nice today. You asked:


    Do you know anything about Yin Yang Theory?
    No, and it's not a theory. It's not even a hypothesis. It's more like an idea floating around that some people think impacts their lives. Good for them.

    Do you know about the lights in people's eyes?
    No, because eyes actually are light receptors not emitters.


    Do you believe human beings have energy?
    No, I don't believe in anything. Energy? You mean like Adenosene TriPhosphate?

    Look at that, all your questions have been answered with no in an appropriate manner.

    A human being who does not know about energy is a Zombie
    Yes, zombies are uneducated people right? Here I thought I was the one that was prejudging everyone.

    Most every book or movie that talks about zombies, is talking about human beings that behave like Zombies. Not a creature called a zombie.
    So you mean the ZOMBIE surivival guide by Max Brooks isn't talking about zombie but is talking about something that only looks and acts like a zombie? Yeah, I know you object to the terms here but lets call a spade a spade. They are zombies because that's what our culture defines them as.

    A Zombie is a human being with no or very little Yin
    Glad you cleared that up, I was actually thinking I needed to fill up on Yang to balance myself out this morning.

    People with a light in their eyes would call any human being who did not have a light in their eyes a Zombie
    That, sir, is prejudice and I will have none of it.

    No light in the eyes is the sign of the animal called a human being just being an expecially smart animal.
    So it's still called a human being but it isn't? I think you need to look up how language works.
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    One of the most enjoyable threads I've read in a while. I like the biological basis of zombiedom.

    In Shaun of the Dead, I noted that if the living people acted like zombies, the zombies would leave them alone. However, as soon as the zombies saw them talking and laughing "normally", they realised they had been duped and proceeded to try and munch on them. Which made me think. Why don't the zombies eat other zombies? Why do they eat only living people? Also, although there are vending machines around, they never go for a soda or an ice cream.

    Any thoughts? :P
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    They like warm flesh, living flesh. Probably has something to do with CO2 Gradients, since many living things that prey on living animals (parasites like nematodes, insects) use them. Also, it does have to do with nonzombie noises- they are attraced to any sound that isn't natural for a zombie, except in some cases like Dawn of the Dead where they could care less about a dog. It really depends on where you get your zombie lore from.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mormoopid
    The one instance where I can remember "No" not working is when I was feeding your mom.
    24 hours I think. I have been here 24 hours and already the "your mom" starts............

    Quote Originally Posted by mormoopid
    Do you know anything about Yin Yang Theory?
    No, and it's not a theory. It's not even a hypothesis. It's more like an idea floating around that some people think impacts their lives. Good for them.
    You have no idea what you are talking about. Your dismissive tone proves that you are an unthinking person whose preconceptions blinds them to the real world.

    Quote Originally Posted by mormoopid
    Do you know about the lights in people's eyes?
    No, because eyes actually are light receptors not emitters.
    No. You don't know about the lights in peoples eyes because you never noticed them, or if you did notice them, you didn't pay any attention to them. They were like that "just because" in your scientifically oriented mind.

    Quote Originally Posted by mormoopid
    Do you believe human beings have energy?
    No, I don't believe in anything. Energy? You mean like Adenosene TriPhosphate?
    Oh Jesus. I believe that Adenosine TriPhosphate is the name of a chemical isn't it? And you are trying to tell me about science?

    "Adenosine triphosphate
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.....

    This article is about the chemical used by cells as an energy carrier."
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  32. #31  
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    Get a room guys, there are ZOMBIES here!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by mormoopid
    They like warm flesh, living flesh. Probably has something to do with CO2 Gradients, since many living things that prey on living animals (parasites like nematodes, insects) use them. .
    Tell me more about CO2 gradients.
    Also, it does have to do with nonzombie noises- they are attraced to any sound that isn't natural for a zombie, except in some cases like Dawn of the Dead where they could care less about a dog. It really depends on where you get your zombie lore from
    So they identify the non-zombies by sound? That would mean zombies can hear?
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    perhaps they can hear! I can't think of any reason why they wouldn't be able to hear...

    CO2 gradients are quite simple. Lets say you are walking and breathing normally. As you walk, you expel CO2 and it disperses in a fanlike fashion. So, the further you get away from a spot that you were, the less CO2 there is. Logically, the closer you get to you, the more concentrated the CO2 is. So, you can track prey by concentrations of CO2- just follow it up gradient until you have success! You do need a pretty sensitive 'sniffer' to track this down...but it's not that hard really.
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    Quote Originally Posted by samcdkey

    So they identify the non-zombies by sound? That would mean zombies can hear?
    Of course zombies can hear. How do you think they know to stop when the director says, "Cut!"
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    Quote Originally Posted by mormoopid
    perhaps they can hear! I can't think of any reason why they wouldn't be able to hear...
    Thats true. I've met several brain dead people who can apparently hear. They just don't understand what they hear, which probably explains the zombie confusion. 8)

    CO2 gradients are quite simple. Lets say you are walking and breathing normally. As you walk, you expel CO2 and it disperses in a fanlike fashion. So, the further you get away from a spot that you were, the less CO2 there is. Logically, the closer you get to you, the more concentrated the CO2 is. So, you can track prey by concentrations of CO2- just follow it up gradient until you have success! You do need a pretty sensitive 'sniffer' to track this down...but it's not that hard really.
    So breathing heavily around zombies is dangerous. Good point. I will add a gas mask to the zombie survival kit.


    Quote Originally Posted by (Q)
    Of course zombies can hear. How do you think they know to stop when the director says, "Cut!"
    Good point.
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    A gas mask won't save you here though. Your standard one will filter out harmful incoming particulates or gasses, but still expells your waste product- CO2.
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    Thats very disappointing. Apparently research in this field is slow and poorly funded. Fortunately, I am fully equipped with basic survival equipment.


    http://www.techeblog.com/index.php/t...efense-station

    What is your opinion on the use of a fire extinguisher as a weapon? Apart from the delicious brain bashing possibilities, the compressed CO2 could be used to distract and confuse the zombie in the event of a group attack by a zombie horde.
    Homeland Security Advisory System: RED
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  38. #37  
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    I actually prefer a nice touch spade, since it can slice etc.
    Or my trusty rock hammer majesty.

    Recently the game Fallout 3 has convinced me that a sledgehammer is not only the coolest weapon commonly available by an observed margin, but you'll definately be scoring the ladies since it's totally cool.


    However, if push comes to shove, a good butt stroke from a shotgun never hurt anyone (well, cept the zombie).
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  39. #38  
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    You know how you spot a coward and a worm? Watch them run away from their ignorance and refuse to admit it.

    "mormoopid wrote:

    Quote:
    Do you believe human beings have energy?

    No, I don't believe in anything. Energy? You mean like Adenosene TriPhosphate?


    (MbokoHutu) Oh Jesus. I believe that Adenosine TriPhosphate is the name of a chemical isn't it? And you are trying to tell me about science?

    "Adenosine triphosphate
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.....

    This article is about the chemical used by cells as an energy carrier."
    --------------

    It is embarrassing to be exposed as a stupid in front of everyone, isn't it Mormoopid?
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  40. #39  
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    Meanwhile, true Zombies are never embarrassed. They're kinda like pirates and ninjas that way.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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  41. #40  
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    I imagine they are kinda like me, a true man, in their emotions. See, I only have one emotion and that is anger.
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  42. #41  
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    By far the coolest anti-zombie weapon I have seen? A cricket bat of course!

    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
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  43. #42  
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    everyone knows that the most effective weapon against zombies, of course, is me.




    With the makeup I become one of them, with the shirt they are dulled into a false sense of security. You have to get inside their head before you can remove it!
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  44. #43  
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    Okay so assuming it's a fungus that is airbourne and the protein is transfered through a bite...where does the initial protein come from? Just a regular ol' run of the mill protein gone awry?
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  45. #44  
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    Or just a regular 'ol run of the DARPA gone wrong. Like some suspected of AIDS. In Urban Dead the trail clearly leads to Necrotech corporation, with government now paying Necrotech big money for antidotes. :wink:

    If zombies had a semi paralyzed swallow reflex they might gnash and froth a bit like your classic rabid dog. Chew a bit of tongue and cheek, bite a fellow, simple vector.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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  46. #45  
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    Or you could simply allow for the tongue to be paralyzed, allowing for the throaty moans so classic of zombies without the froth getting in the way.
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  47. #46  
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    I think I've seen a zombie movie, but I can't remember. How do we just know about zombies? What are zombies really?
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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  48. #47  
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    and once again wikipedia pulls though

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zombie
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