Zombie Apocalypse, with a twist

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Zombie Apocalypse, with a twist

Post by Alex Steiner on Sat Apr 09, 2011 3:25 pm

OK, this is a quote from a thread about designing zombies:

Well, to start off with we would have to defined how the zombie disease effects the person physiologically. We must concede that there will be no 'living dead' zombies, as it is as far as we know impossible to reanimate living tissue. However we could create a highly resilient 'monster' from a person very easily. Basically we would need to inhibit function of the cortex which would cause a loss of self and a zombification insofar as 'driven by instinct' is concerned.

This can be done in a myriad of ways, but I believe the most efficient method would be a parasite or bacterium that produces kianic acid as a metabolite. Kainic acid is used in experimental ablation as it is very good at damaging the areas of our brains that are associated with higher thought processes but not so good at damaging the autonomic aspects of the brain. Thus we would have an infectious agent that mentally zombifies someone. Now if this disease were to stimulate the amygdala and regulate the production of dopamine and serotonin we could cause aggression in infected individuals thus they would be more likely to attack and infect other people. Though we may want 'living dead' looking zombies I do not think that it would be a good idea if we wanted the zombie apocalypse to last for more than a couple of weeks.

The zombies would, so long as they eat on occasion, last quite a while as the brain takes about 50-70% of all the calories we consume and about 60% of all the water we drink. Thus with their limited brain function they would require less food to operate and thus would not risk starvation and dehydration to quite the same extent that we do.

Infection would be an issue as biting is a terrible way to spread disease, however if it was passed on by bodily fluids the zombies could pass it on that way. IE you come into contact with their blood and you may be infected. I am not quite sure how we would get them to not attack each other unless the olfactory bulb was thrown into over drive and their natural pheromones were altered by the disease thus making them perceive one another as potential mates and thus not the enemy.

The hardest part would be designing this disease, potentially we could make the zombies more resilient toward damage and starvation with highly complicated bacterium/viruses that would alter the human condition. IE making their cells infectious towards all other bacterium/parasites/viruses thus making them much more disease resistant. If they were like that they could shut down most of their glands and shutdown their bone marrow thus making them need even less food and water to survive. Really this is a very complicated issue and would require a lot more expertise than I have, we would need to start with a disease of some sort and alter it over time so that a single virus/bacterium/parasite performs all of these function, and I am not sure if that is feasible or not.

I'd also add that transmitting the disease by air would make it a lot easier, since zombie biting you probably won't leave us with a working zombie. The bacteria can't work fast enough for the zombie to recognise it as a zombie before killing it. As such, biting might be out as primary transmission vector. It's probably better to leave the flesh as functional as possible, since necrosis is bad for survival. No rotting flesh zombies then. Pain should probably be kept pretty similar, since creatures that can't feel pain quickly kill themselves from neglect. Perhaps a slight reduction in reaction, but nothing serious.

As such, this type of "realistic" zombie would be very similar in appearance to a human, perhaps less groomed, and having DEAD EMPTY EYES.

Anyway, onto the main point:

This discussion got me thinking, assuming the humans are all dead or infected, what happens next? The zombies don't attack each other (as specified above), and can assumedly survive on natural food sources (omnivores after all), and potentially reproduce with young having been preinfected with the brain-killer. Since brain function has been greatly reduced, society seems out of the question, so would it turn into some sort of herd-oriented omnivores? Solitary hunters? Cooperation seems out of the question, but dominance and hierarchy seems plausible.

Is reproduction sustainable? Comparing humans to rats (a great scientific substitute), rat babies are almost as helpless, and rat parents care for rat young, and recognize their children. The zombies would only need about that of a rat to feed their young, and really a rat is what we are shooting for, now I think on it. Rats are aggressive, they are not pack animals but they operate in packs whenever necessary and they will eat anything.

What do you foresee following the apocalypse? What happens after the humans are gone from the area?

Bonus points: What's first contact like, assuming humans survived elsewhere?


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Re: Zombie Apocalypse, with a twist

Post by Supreme Overlord on Mon Apr 11, 2011 9:46 am

Reverse Simplicity wrote:What the?! I don't even...

BA (Before Apocalypse):
BA: The cure for cancer is invented, created by super stimulating the immune system. After many successful trials on the beginning stages it is tested on a patient with stage 4 (known as PX), after many failures the chief medical officer decides that PX needs a larger dose, this does the trick giving PX their life back.
PX is in the wrong country at the wrong time, A new wave of swine flu erupts in Mexico and PX gets a runny nose, this lasts for an hour tops, but the super stimulated immune system become air born, attempting to eradicate the virus. Each person within the vicinity is immediately feeling stronger and healthier.

<<

First contact? If this virus is air born (And also in water supplies) then I would assume no one is safe, unless, continuing with my idea, some of the population had a different effect from the SSIS causing them to be immune to the zombification.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ah, 'I Am Legend', how I am reminded of you...
(In the original novel, not the modern film, the 'zombies' were more like vampires. The last surviving human hunted the zombies, then eventually makes some kind of contant. He learns that they've created their own kind of society, and he is viewed as the 'Dracula' figure; the 'legend'.)


I tend to think about these kinds of things on an individual level, then extrapolate; so...
Lone zombie wandering around
Meets animal; hunts/eats it
Meets zombie; ignores/mates with it; maybe they both hunt nearby animals for a while, but they have no particular reason to stay together
If gets too hungry, eats plants
Note: If you start with a group rather than a lone zombie, 'they have no particular reason to stay together', so you get a lone zombie anyway.

So, I foresee 'lone wanderer' zombies, largely ignoring each other. If there's a concentration of food, maybe that would attract zombies, but each is essentially working for itself.
As for sustainable reproduction, the aforementioned concentrations of food would be able to attract enough zombies for a population of sorts; it does largely depend on the concentration of zombies to begin with (a critical mass of zombies...). You could have 'herds' of zombies following herds of gazelle (as an example); local entities following local rules, perhaps? (Leading to a herd-like formation, but no actual society)

As for first contact, if it's a single zombie, it'll attack, and promptly get killed (I'm working under the impression that infection is negligible, and the main thing we're looking at here is breain state or lack thereof). If it's a large group, we're essentially looking at a regular group of people being attacked by pain-resistant bezerkers (read: not so good for normal people).


Last edited by Supreme Overlord on Thu Apr 14, 2011 9:05 am; edited 1 time in total


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Re: Zombie Apocalypse, with a twist

Post by Reverse Simplicity on Mon Apr 11, 2011 11:38 am

But how does it start? Razz


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Re: Zombie Apocalypse, with a twist

Post by Alex Steiner on Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:21 pm

Reverse Simplicity wrote:But how does it start? Razz
Geneticist/microbiologist/neurobiologist collaboration makes a bacterium as described above? I don't completely follow the technical stuff I quoted, but it makes sense. Kill of the higher brain function, differentiate between zombies and humans in a zombie-recognisable way, ensure the disease can be spread.

Yeah, zombies would need to be self-sufficient (the rat comparison works here, if you ignore the Disney movies). Assuming at least some end up breeding, natural selection quickly helps weed out the idiots. I can imagine some alpha-zombie stuff happening, especially with competition for food. Those that are too strongly affected by the pheromones and never attack others will quickly lose out to more aggressive ones. Bigger, stronger, faster; smarter is excluded from the scenario. Remembering that they have the same DNA as humans, but the genes for some necessities in humans will quickly disappear.

Would zombies be predators? I mean after the inevitable human extinction. If they manage to reduce the animal populations to below critical mass, they may be forced to become scavengers. Digestion is still human, so grass eating is out of the question (at least at first). Since they need less food, and they probably wouldn't be millions of htem in any one place for very long, I think that some new ecological "balance" will eventuate (even if most of them have to starve first).

http://www.ratbehavior.org/WildRats.htm seems plausible. Skip the burrowing stuff, but the "society" seems simple enough to replicate.

First contact might be less obvious - we've upped the aggression of the human, but would they attack humans (assuming that some generations of zombies are born, and no memory of humans exists). Humans would still be foreign though, and not smell like zombies. Would humans recognise the zombies? In today's connected world, humans forgetting how a large island/continent was overrun seems incorrect. They'd still at least have verbal traditions and stories etc if they were attacked but barely survived, or even advanced technology of today if not attacked, survived easily.

I must point out - the common cold is transmissible by air (sneezing), can travel hundreds of metres for several hours without a host in a water droplet, but it won't cross oceans without help. Zombie germ could be the same, so pockets of humanity could easily remain.

The problem is the question of contagiousness. Most bacteria use some energy from the host to spread, but this won't occur after a while (generations). Zombie might become non-contagious (aside from fluid transfer or other less-volatile transmission vectors).

I could see domestication opportunities. Zombies would be stronger than humans, and if you can breed the aggression out of them...

Of course, there will be those who argue that zombies are people too, and that we should treat them as equals, or worse, try to cure them.

Think on it.


Last edited by Alex Steiner on Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:27 pm; edited 1 time in total


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Re: Zombie Apocalypse, with a twist

Post by Alex Steiner on Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:26 pm

Why is everything in italics?

Can anyone else see it?


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Re: Zombie Apocalypse, with a twist

Post by The King of Eggs on Wed Apr 13, 2011 9:30 am

yep italics.

The "pain resistant berserkers" would actually have that much of an davnatage over the average guy. without higher brain function reflexes suck. a fighter without sharp reflexes is useless.


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Re: Zombie Apocalypse, with a twist

Post by Alex Steiner on Wed Apr 13, 2011 11:23 am

Reflexes aren't frontal cortex - they are reflexes. They're almost the opposite. They should be unchanged/slightly improved, surely.


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Re: Zombie Apocalypse, with a twist

Post by The King of Eggs on Wed Apr 13, 2011 12:22 pm

stimulant reflexes (flinching et al) are not frontal no, but reactive reflexes (which technically are known as fine motor control :/ ) are more along the lines of what I was talking about. should've known better than to use colloquial definitiins on this site :/ also ITALICS


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Re: Zombie Apocalypse, with a twist

Post by The King of Eggs on Wed Apr 13, 2011 12:24 pm

The italic button made the letters straight???


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Re: Zombie Apocalypse, with a twist

Post by Alex Steiner on Wed Apr 13, 2011 12:33 pm

The King of Eggs wrote:stimulant reflexes (flinching et al) are not frontal no, but reactive reflexes (which technically are known as fine motor control :/ ) are more along the lines of what I was talking about. should've known better than to use colloquial definitiins on this site :/ also ITALICS
Should have known better? I've never done any research into it, beyond basic, general knowledge. I'll do some further reading now though Razz . If you could elaborate, that'd save time for others.


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Re: Zombie Apocalypse, with a twist

Post by Reverse Simplicity on Wed Apr 13, 2011 4:06 pm

I swear it wasn't me...

Anyway, first contact would probably be something like when Willem Janszoon and his crew first met the aborigines of Australia.


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Re: Zombie Apocalypse, with a twist

Post by The King of Eggs on Thu Apr 14, 2011 7:14 am

Things such as IntraLimb control and Hand-Eye stuff you know... The things that make a Fighter work


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Re: Zombie Apocalypse, with a twist

Post by Reverse Simplicity on Thu Apr 14, 2011 7:47 am

Why couldn't zombies just have heightened senses. Including a desperate need for food and sex. they would also die qucikly. Meaning very few would be able to teach their young about morality.

Please note that this would take place AFTER we have colonized other planets. So the human race continues, upon landing on earth (or a colony) we would be greeted by what I would describe as cavemen. Who are then recognized as a new sentient being.


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Re: Zombie Apocalypse, with a twist

Post by Supreme Overlord on Thu Apr 14, 2011 9:16 am

I first noticed the italics after my first post (I thought it was the screwy public library computers...)

Reverse, were those last two lines in your first post meant to be italicised?


Onto the actual topic, did anyone think my ideas where potentially accurate?

I would think of zombies as predators, with humans their favourite food! I assume they'd go after things like dogs; mid-size, mid-speed mammels with softish bodies.

Alex wrote:I could see domestication opportunities. Zombies would be stronger than humans, and if you can breed the aggression out of them...
Did we say they were inherently stronger, or just more pain resistant. Also, if we breed the aggression out, aren't they just ... dumb people?

Reverse wrote:Why couldn't zombies just have heightened senses. Including a desperate need for food and sex. they would also die qucikly. Meaning very few would be able to teach their young about morality.

Please note that this would take place AFTER we have colonized other planets.
Could you elaborate on how you're drawing these conclusions (mainly; how do you conclude that they'd die quickly)? Did we establish that zombies have better senses?


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Re: Zombie Apocalypse, with a twist

Post by Reverse Simplicity on Thu Apr 14, 2011 9:30 am

Code:
[quote="Reverse Simplicity"]What the?! I don't even...

BA (Before Apocalypse):
BA: The cure for cancer is invented, created by super stimulating the immune system. After many successful trials on the beginning stages it is tested on a patient with stage 4 (known as PX), after many failures the chief medical officer decides that PX needs a larger dose, this does the trick giving PX their life back.
PX is in the wrong country at the wrong time, A new wave of swine flu erupts in Mexico and PX gets a runny nose, this lasts for an hour tops, but the super stimulated immune system become air born, attempting to eradicate the virus. Each person within the vicinity is immediately feeling stronger and healthier.

<<<I can't work out the rest, the virus somehow causes the brain to be damaged when someone who has the SSIS ignores the need for food>>

First contact? If this virus is air born (And also in water supplies) then I would assume no one is safe, unless, continuing with my idea, some of the population had a different effect from the SSIS causing them to be immune to the zombification. [/quote]

They die quickly because my theory would be they need to be over stimulated. Other than that my train of thought is gone xD


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Re: Zombie Apocalypse, with a twist

Post by The King of Eggs on Thu Apr 14, 2011 9:54 am

They would almost certainly be stronger.
Even the change in lifestyle would see to that.
Also removing some pain allows muscle to be built faster, protein rich diet allows muscle to be created faster, killing prey of ones same size and strength cause one to subconsciously desire more mass (muscular). How would they not be strong SO.

The Italics are weird


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Re: Zombie Apocalypse, with a twist

Post by Alex Steiner on Thu Apr 14, 2011 12:48 pm

Also, I implied that the first contact would be several or more generations in, where the slow and weak have died. In a world where intelligence is unrewarded, and competition is fierce, strength and speed win out.

Yep, zombies are pretty much dumb people. Social Darwinism might make a comeback. Humans are useful, they have opposable thumbs.

"Teaching" probably wouldn't happen, but I'm not sure at what level animals teach.

As for morality, they'd have the morality of animals. They would essentially be non-self-aware, non-sentient. Morality is a philosophical construction (so says the ethics lecturer for my stats course. He has long hair and a goatee, so he must know).

Zombies would not be sentient, since we've placed a bacteria to prevent the growth of the different cortex neurons. I watched a documentary on SBS today where they explored what it means to be conscious (although they didn't go around killing brains, and it was mostly inconclusive, simply showing different examples of the effects of certain actions on the brain). Apparently only humans, chimpanzees and orangutans are self aware (using a mirror-spot test). Zombies would be more than dumb, they would be in a different category.

Pain would probably be better left intact. People with congenital analgesia bite off bits of tongue, ignore foreign objects in their eyes and don't notice when they burn their hands. Pain does more good than harm to a creature's long term survival.

It really depends on the environment surrounding the outbreak. If it's a rural-type area, with low population density, competition won't be so high. Urban settings would be very difficult to sustain, once you've hunted out the last remaining knots of humans, supplies will perish quickly. Perhaps some zombies will become cannibals (inevitable given a large enough sample size).

The italics continue to the stuff down the bottom as well. They just start half way down the page and don't stop. I think it might be an error in the parsing of RS' post, since it always starts there.


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Re: Zombie Apocalypse, with a twist

Post by Reverse Simplicity on Thu Apr 14, 2011 2:55 pm

Was something in my post. Fix'd kinda now OL has said my thing xD

will make him quote it or something


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Re: Zombie Apocalypse, with a twist

Post by Alex Steiner on Thu Apr 14, 2011 2:59 pm

It's worrying that a small error in a post can change the look of the whole page. What was the error? Normally if you don't close the italic tag it leaves it hanging.

[i]Like this

Weird.


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Re: Zombie Apocalypse, with a twist

Post by Reverse Simplicity on Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:34 pm

<I can't work out the rest, the virus somehow causes the brain to be damaged when someone who has the SSIS ignores the need for food>>


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Re: Zombie Apocalypse, with a twist

Post by Reverse Simplicity on Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:34 pm

What the?! I don't even...

BA (Before Apocalypse):
BA: The cure for cancer is invented, created by super stimulating the immune system. After many successful trials on the beginning stages it is tested on a patient with stage 4 (known as PX), after many failures the chief medical officer decides that PX needs a larger dose, this does the trick giving PX their life back.
PX is in the wrong country at the wrong time, A new wave of swine flu erupts in Mexico and PX gets a runny nose, this lasts for an hour tops, but the super stimulated immune system become air born, attempting to eradicate the virus. Each person within the vicinity is immediately feeling stronger and healthier.

<<<I can't work out the rest, the virus somehow causes the brain to be damaged when someone who has the SSIS ignores the need for food>>

First contact? If this virus is air born (And also in water supplies) then I would assume no one is safe, unless, continuing with my idea, some of the population had a different effect from the SSIS causing them to be immune to the zombification.


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