With 2012 now well under way, and the end of everything forecast for December 21 (per Mayan foreknowledge), an increasingly popular (though fanciful) notion is that a consequence of this foreboding date will be the “Zombie Apocalypse”.
My biggest problem with zombies is the idea of the re-animated corpse. The shuffling, shambling, or in some cases, sprightly cadavers feasting upon living flesh, especially brains. The “Living Dead” becomes a problem when we look at the medical reasoning which underlies the dismissal of such a creature not only existing, but having the ability to cause the terror and devastation as portrayed in movies like “Night of the Living Dead”, “Resident Evil”, or in TV shows like “The Walking Dead”.
The human body works like a radiator. Blood and plasma are pumped by the heart and vessels throughout the body, from the limbs to the brain and back to the core. The blood carries oxygen to the muscles and organs, which permits their continued function. Stop the flow of blood to the muscles, and the muscle cells atrophy and die – the heart for example goes into cardiac arrest. Stop the blood flow to an organ, and the organ dies. The brain for example, would experience a stroke – neurons begin dying off, and the functional capacity and ability of the brain are reduced or eliminated. If the problem continues unaddressed, death occurs. Moreover, if the brain cells die, and there is no signal telling the lungs to continue exchanging carbon dioxide for oxygen, then a sort of “China Syndrome” of bodily functions manifests itself and everything shuts down.
This being the case, let’s look at zombies again from the purely medical angle. A victim is bitten and infected with “Zombie Virus” (ZV for short). The ZV quickly (it always happens quickly) spreads throughout the infected host and kills them. What happens next? Somehow the dead victim reanimates as an undead, ravenous, and unthinking creature. I think not. With death, toxins begin building up in the blood stream, poisoning and then killing the cells in organs and muscles. The heart dies, the lungs die, the brain dies, the muscles which become gangrenous die. So, a corpse on the ground, whose brain cannot send any signals to any organs or muscles, whose muscles have no oxygen to function, whose heart pumps no blood would be completely unable to groaningly shamble, much less ravenously chase anyone. Even if we allow for the case of “well, the victim just got bitten, died, and reanimated in 15 minutes”, how do we account for the rotting corpses usually depicted in the shows? The rotting limbs would eventually (within days at most) cause the “walker” to keel over and rot on the ground.
Better still the types of zombie featured in “28 Days Later”, wherein a “Rage Virus” infects victims who then lose control of themselves and become mindless, violently murderous creatures. In the movies in which the rage virus is depicted, infection takes place immediately and with only a tiny exception, causes the victim to turn into a mindless, murderous berserker.
Coming back full circle now, I can indeed see how the Mayans may have been right after all. December 21, 2012 is 45 days after the 2012 election. I could definitely envision enraged mobs of disappointed Obama supporters and largely ignored and discredited Occupy Wall Street protesters rampaging through the streets. It’s only a matter of time. Can we survive the coming apocalypse? Yes We Can.