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View Full Version : Biology lesson 101, ZOMBIE STYLE!



zombie commando
09-24-2004, 05:29 AM
Here we will discuss the biology of a zombie. I realize they aren't real, but this is purely for fun folks. If religions can weave webs of meaning in things that really have very little, than why can't I?

Here we go........

Lesson 1.....how a zombie virus works internally......

Entry of virus into the body through whatever means; biting, injection, osmosis, ingestion etc.

the virus moves from entry point into body to the adrenal system glands located on top of either kidney. The virus sets up its invasion staging base in the adrenal system. Seizing the adrenal system allows the virus to disseminate itself throughout the entire body, as adrenaline does, instantly.

The purpose of this instant infection throughout the body is for the virus to totally wipe out the “host” body’s natural immune warriors, the t-cells, and to shut down the system that creates them, the lymphatic system.

This done, the virus dispatches a “kill team” from the adrenal system to the spinal cord, and the “kill team” travels up the spinal cord, into the skull, and directly into the pineal gland.

The pineal gland is besieged by the virus, and the result ultimately is a swelling, and then a fatal bursting of the pineal gland. The host body is now dead.

The virus however, being previously stationed throughout the body, now engages its singularly hideous skill set; the reanimation of dead cells. The virus penetrates into the dead cells and the cells spring back “to life”. Organs, being composed of organized groups of cells, and the body being composed of organized groups of organs, comes back “to life” now as a zombie. This process is that which occurs while the body lies inert for a period after death.

Also, during the inert period, the remaining mass of the bursted pineal gland becomes a new command post for the virus to monitor the re-animated body, and accounts for why a shot to the head, or a broken neck kills an Undead.

In most cases, the victim of an undead attack is killed not by the virus, but by the violence of the initial attack itself. In those cases the killed body jumps to the inert stage for reanimation.


The spread of the virus from the inception point to the adrenal glands might be characterized/physicalized as a cold fluid moving at mid-tempo towards the kidneys. Moderate to extreme tensing/releasing/muscle twitch etc. of whatever extremities and body sections lie on the road to the kidneys.

The seizing of the adrenal glands might be physicalized by a sudden one time contraction of the mid section of the body (hips to neck), as if a large electric current were passing through. Another image that conveys this quality is an epileptic seizure imagined from the neck down to the hips. After-shocks of a milder nature might be added perhaps.

The adrenal gland contraction(s) are produced by tensing, so once the glands are seized there the mid-section can have a release/relax period. This is not described as a peaceful restful release, but more the release of a fighting body part giving up totally to an invader.

The virus coursing through the entirety of the body via the adrenal system might be characterized/physicalized with a slight pumping rhythm (heartbeat is the engine behind the adrenal system). It would take less than two heart beats for the virus to be pumped almost everywhere in the body. The flush of fast moving virus through the body via the adrenal system could have any number of qualities assigned . A hot chemical burn, a deathly freezing, nettles passing through the blood vessels, hot iron etc. etc.

The virus next sends a “kill team” up the spinal cord, into the skull, directly to the pineal gland.
Again any kind of adjective and adverb combination could be imagined to describe how this might feel, and thus read on the body (e.g. an electric scratchy feeling, a crystalline poison, a slow pulsing ache, etc.) The speed in which it travels is up to the performer, and of course is mitigated by the demands of the script.

The pineal gland (located near the upper extremity of the spinal cord/base of the brain stem) is the next target on the virus’ invasion timetable. The gland is surrounded by the virus as it penetrates into the gland. Pressure builds up in the gland as it fills with the mutant fighting cells. Eventually the membrane bursts, killing the host. The burst may be sudden and shocking, like a small explosion in the skull, or slow and draining, as the final expirations of a deflating balloon. The results can be either instant death, or slow death preceded by creeping unconsciousness.

Once the body as a unit is dead, the virus can begin its major reanimation assault of the body’s cells, greatly assisted by the cellular death from lack of oxygen-rich blood flow. The mutated pineal gland now becomes the new command post for the Undead.

The virus is small enough to flow through the adrenal system, but big enough to posses the ability and physical definition to propel itself through both living and dead bodies alike."

.....That pretty much sums up how I think a virus would infect a host and survive living on dead tissue. It takes a couple of leaps I know. I believe that in the movies it never illustrated someone dying of natural causes then getting reanimated as a zombie without any possibility of him or her being infected....I figured the people in the movies must of just assumed that there was no virus and that some supernatural power was reanimating them.

As far as your question on how the virus spread....well there are limitless possibilities in this day and age of travel....the characters of each movie assumed it had spread worldwide...there is no way to tell for sure based on what the viewer sees.

Have you ever heard of hydrothermal vent communities? It appears that on certain parts of the ocean floor hot springs occur from rifts between continental plates. Around these hot spring zones certain forms of life flourish like nowhere else in the world. These communities of organisms are called hydrothermal vent communities and live off the energy of the heat produced off of the hot springs. Photosynthesis...which before 1977 scientists believed was the building block of all life, has no place in these oxygen depleted bacterial communities. This means that all these bacteria need to survive is the heat rising from the vents, which means that this type of bacteria could of been around since shortly after the begining of the earth where no oxygen was present. If this bacteria can live off of nothing but the heat from these vents then it isn't hard to believe that the virus that would reanimate the dead through the adrenal glands could live off of anything but the simple electrical pulses of our bodies.

Just food for thought. I did have to copy and past alot of that info from various sources....but it is a good stuff.

Blackesteyes
09-24-2004, 06:57 AM
Wow man im impressed, thats pretty fuckin cool. Have you seen the book, i think is called "surviving a zombie attack" and it tells you all these things about different types of zombie, how to kill them etc, its about £10 i think, i found it in Forbidden Planet but i havent bought it yet. Keep a look out for it im sure youd like it.

zombie commando
09-24-2004, 07:04 AM
Originally posted by Blackesteyes
Wow man im impressed, thats pretty fuckin cool. Have you seen the book, i think is called "surviving a zombie attack" and it tells you all these things about different types of zombie, how to kill them etc, its about £10 i think, i found it in Forbidden Planet but i havent bought it yet. Keep a look out for it im sure youd like it.

I know more than that measly little book about zombies.;)

Blackesteyes
09-24-2004, 07:14 AM
lol, i dont doubt that hahaha

zombie commando
09-24-2004, 07:20 AM
Lesson 2..........why zombies should be able to run for a bit.........

Taken from a website about Rigor Mortis............

http://chemistry.about.com/cs/biochemistry/a/aa061903a.htm
Rigor mortis can be used to help estimate time of death. The onset of rigor mortis may range from 10 minutes to several hours, depending on factors including temperature (rapid cooling of a body can inhibit rigor mortis, but it occurs upon thawing). Maximum stiffness is reached around 12-24 hours post mortem. Facial muscles are affected first, with the rigor then spreading to other parts of the body. The joints are stiff for 1-3 days, but after this time general tissue decay and leaking of lysosomal intracellular digestive enzymes will cause the muscles to relax. It is interesting to note that meat is generally considered to be more tender if it is eaten after rigor mortis has passed.


Given these facts I would have to say that a zombie may be able to run in some cases before and slightly after rigor mortis has passed.

The muscles become more lean and flexible post rigor mortis, but they also rot away rapidly. 24 hours prost death is when rigor mortis really sets in, thus causing the stumbling zombie "walker" we have all seen in cinema, but after this passes WATCH OUT. So some zombies SHOULD be able to run in my opinion if their muscles allow them to run, before decomposition eats away enough muscles to immobilize them. Once the zombie's muscles begin rotting and muscles stop functioning properly they should not be able to run....and become walkers.

So in theory the zombie should retain some mobility right after death, and right after the passing of rigor mortis.

I would like to see a mix of "runners" and "walkers" in the upcoming zombie flicks. Seems more realistic (and fun) to me.

Thrillogy
09-24-2004, 07:21 AM
this info could really help me out with my first zombie story. I still havent seen DOTD. Ive seen parts of it on sci-fi here and there. I plan on buying it soon. Hey zombie think ya could help me out with my story ?

Blackesteyes
09-24-2004, 07:26 AM
buy the trilogy!!! and the DOTD S.E!!!

Thrillogy
09-24-2004, 07:28 AM
I plan on doing that. I heard it was fucking great !

zombie commando
09-24-2004, 07:31 AM
Originally posted by Thrillogy
this info could really help me out with my first zombie story. I still havent seen DOTD. Ive seen parts of it on sci-fi here and there. I plan on buying it soon. Hey zombie think ya could help me out with my story ?

Yeah sure I'll help you if you want.......but you need to watch the trillogy Thrillogy!

Lesson 3.........how a zombie gets energy to move......

In order for the cells to regenerate in the body they need some sort of energy source. Due to the revelations of Day of the Dead we find that zombies eat, but gain no nourishment from their food. Therefore they don't seem to be recieving any outside energy supply to account for locomotion....or at least not one we can see.

I believe the nature of the virus itself is the answer to this. I believe the virus probably uses the warmth from it's surroundings and converts it to energy. Perhaps zombies are attracted to body heat, that's why they seem to gather around areas where the humans dwell. Maybe when they chew on the human flesh it brings a heat source closer to their brain where the virus dwells, and the virus is able to make it's host survive longer due to the ampler energy supply from the heat. The virus converts the heat into electrical impulses, adrenaline, and an embalming fluid that allows the zombie to "survive" longer.

The location of the virus in the brain is very important, because not only is the brain a huge source of heat, but it also allows the virus to control the body. It also accounts for why the brain lasts longer than the rest of the body, since the virus can release most of it's embalming liquid there and let it filter out to where ever. When the brain is destroyed, the virus may live for a bit longer, but soon die out due to the fact that it lost it's numero uno heat source.

There are creatures that only need heat to survive so that is not too far fetched. The very first organisms of this planet needed only heat to survive.

Thrillogy
09-24-2004, 07:34 AM
Iplan on running to my local movie store later today. what are the names of the trillogy? I know theres dawn of the dead, day of the dead and whats the third one ? If i got the names incorrect please forget about those since I have not seen them. Is the movie "Zombie " any good?

Creepingmouth
09-24-2004, 12:10 PM
and your thoughts about zombie's nervous system?

Maxvayne
09-24-2004, 01:20 PM
Originally posted by Thrillogy
Iplan on running to my local movie store later today. what are the names of the trillogy? I know theres dawn of the dead, day of the dead and whats the third one ? If i got the names incorrect please forget about those since I have not seen them. Is the movie "Zombie " any good?

Night of the Living Dead, Dawn Of the Dead, and Day of the Dead.


These are some pretty good thing's ZC.

So the virus we see now could reanimate the corpses to an extent. Then how do we see these smart zombies like Bub turn up in Land of the Dead that I keep hearing about? Dose Bub teach them before fully decaying? Or do the humans?

From what I've heard all the Dead films take place in the 80's. All of this is confusing me.

zombie commando
09-24-2004, 01:46 PM
Biology Lesson 3.......Zombie intelligence.

The virus that is responsible for controlling the zombie that resides in the brain releases embalming fluid responsible for decelerated deterioration of the zombie central nervous system.

I repeat, the rotting DOES NOT affect their brains. Zombies are like babies, as Bub showed, so I suppose that as they "survive" longer as a zombie, they pick up usefull things. Kind of like really intelligent rotting apes.

The virus is also mutating. Viruses mutate ever fucking day. Every time you have been sick it has been due to the effects of a virus that your body has not encountered before. Perhaps this virus mutation is making these zombie more intelligent than before. Maybe with the fewer zombies of the world only the "smarter" zombies of this new zombie virus strand can survive.........evolution is a beautiful thing.

Homer
09-25-2004, 02:14 PM
Originally posted by Blackesteyes
Wow man im impressed, thats pretty fuckin cool. Have you seen the book, i think is called "surviving a zombie attack" and it tells you all these things about different types of zombie, how to kill them etc, its about £10 i think, i found it in Forbidden Planet but i havent bought it yet. Keep a look out for it im sure youd like it.

I have this book.

THE ZOMBIE SURVIAL GUIDE complete protection from the living dead (http://www.randomhouse.com/crown/zombiesurvivalguide/)

zombie commando
09-27-2004, 07:36 PM
Originally posted by Homer
I have this book.

THE ZOMBIE SURVIAL GUIDE complete protection from the living dead (http://www.randomhouse.com/crown/zombiesurvivalguide/)

That site is awesome. When I get some moola I will definitely give that a read.

Chomp_on_this
09-30-2004, 08:02 PM
ORGANIZE BEFORE THEY RISE!!!!!!

That book is funny as fuck. Just the way everything is panned out so seriously makes me laugh. Get it, get it!

zombie commando
09-30-2004, 10:36 PM
Originally posted by Chomp_on_this
ORGANIZE BEFORE THEY RISE!!!!!!

That book is funny as fuck. Just the way everything is panned out so seriously makes me laugh. Get it, get it!

I could of wrote a much better book, and so could you chomp.

Homer
10-10-2004, 12:46 PM
Originally posted by zombie commando
I could of wrote a much better book, and so could you chomp.

I'm sure you could (I'm not being sarcastic) But as Chomp said, since the book takes everything seriously, its funny. And the facts about where to hide, what weapons to use... are actually true.

zombie commando
10-14-2004, 02:01 PM
I have read a couple pages out of it from various sources, and it is rather funny. I just haven't been able to find a hard copy around where I live.

Chomp_on_this
03-02-2005, 07:55 PM
As you all know I am attending college to achieve my PhD in Zombology....Yea, thats right. So, I made this thread for any questions or concerns reguarding the zombie anatomy, zombie existance, the zombie viral outbreak, and so on. Basically a thread about zombies and their evolution.

In the remake of Dawn of the Dead, it was pretty clear that it was a viral disease that consumed the living turining them into zombies. You had to contract the virus from another zombie via being bitten or scratched to some effect. In the remake, if you were shot and killed, you would not turn into a zombie...you'd just be dead with no reanimating circumstances plaguing your fellow survivors.

In George Romero's trilogy, anything goes. If you were shot, bitten, ran over by a car you became a zombie...due to the fact that it was radiation gases(main reason, although never proven). My question is why in Day of the Dead, when Logan is shot by Capt. Rhodes, didn't he re-animate into the living dead? This is one of GAR's criticsms of the DOTD remake...but yet it isn't shown in Day of the Dead. I was thinking that maybe whatever gas or radiation that was reanimating the dead had to have passed out of the vicinity, therefor eliminating the threat of every unburied dead to rise...but was that ever explained in Day? Or is Romero a hypocritical old man(any of you say that he is, I will beat you over the head with a giant dildo)?

So what do you think?

boogeyman87
03-02-2005, 07:57 PM
http://www.ohmb.net/showthread.php?s=&threadid=451

Dare I say this is what your talking about. I guess Zombie C beat you to it.

Chomp_on_this
03-02-2005, 07:59 PM
MOTHERFUCKER...I knew there was another thread on it, but I thought it was on the old board....see what happens when you get old.

I hope a mod has no problem with merging the two? :D I would really like to discuss my topic.

MichaelMyers
03-02-2005, 08:12 PM
It is a good topic. I don't want to get beat over the head by a giant dildo like you said in you first post.

zombie commando
04-13-2005, 06:40 AM
I think that the radiation they were talking about that was coming off of the Venus probe from the NOTLD probably subsided by then. Either that, or Logan didn't get a chance to reanimate yet. I mean, in the end things happend very quickly. Plus, who knows how much time it will take to reanimate. I mean, clawing your way back up from hell probably takes a different amount of time for different people right?

atomic dog
04-13-2005, 08:20 AM
Originally posted by Chomp_on_this
MOTHERFUCKER...I knew there was another thread on it, but I thought it was on the old board....see what happens when you get old.

I hope a mod has no problem with merging the two? :D I would really like to discuss my topic.
you ask and you receive...

zombie commando
04-14-2005, 05:32 AM
Originally posted by atomic dog
you ask and you receive...

All right. Chomp and myself are going to start an online course to recieving full fledged dead head degrees. After the end of ten pages of this thread I will make up a comprehensive exam. Pass the exam, and get the degree. Simple as that. Shit, I'll even print out special degrees and send them to your asses....

zombie commando
04-14-2005, 05:39 AM
Let's start by asking the question....are zombies even possible?

*Note, the next lecture is taken from http://www.scar.utoronto.ca/~seager/zombie.html*

A philosophical zombie is a being physically indistinguishable from an actual or possible human being, inhabiting a possible world where the physical laws are identical to the laws of the actual world, but which completely lacks consciousness. For zombies, all is dark within, and hence they are, at the most fundamental level, utterly different from us. But, given their definition, this singular fact has no direct implications about the kind of motion, or other physical processes, the zombie will undergo within its own world. Under quite standard physicalist assumptions, such as certain assumptions about the 'initial conditions' of the zombie's world and that of the causal closure of the physical1, a zombie's behaviour, as well as its underlying physical state, should be indistinguishable from the behaviour and physical state of a genuine human being.

The first case envisaged above is that of the beloved 'zombie duplicate' -- in particular, my philosophical zombie is one which is physically indistinguishable from me. This is the case most usually invoked in discussion, since it can be granted that I, at least, definitely do possess consciousness. But if we grant that human beings in general are conscious beings then the second case will serve our philosophical thought-experimental purposes just as well, while avoiding the (perhaps ultimately irrelevant) complications that perfect physical duplication might involve. For example, it is arguable that the only possible world that could have a perfect physical duplicate of me would have to be totally physically identical to this world and hence might be the very same possible world. This problem could arise independently of any concerns we might have that consciousness is somehow a relational property, via an assumption of the complete causal inter-connectedness of the physical realm.

It is, of course, far from clear that any two worlds that are physically indistinguishable are thereby the same world, but assuming otherwise at this stage seems to come close to begging one side of the question to be explored here. However, I don't think this worry is really very plausible, even if we accept physicalism, since it appears quite possible for there to be physical things which are completely causally isolated from each other. Many modern cosmological models allow for this, or even demand it. If so, possible worlds could differ physically in ways that have no effect on the physical states of certain parts of them, and hence there could well be a physically different world with a physically indistinguishable duplicate of me in it.

Before considering the mere logical possibility of philosophical zombies, I want to digress briefly on the matter of their actuality or nomological possibility. A real zombie would be an actual being who is either physically identical to some human being, or is physically identical to some genuinely possible human being but who is utterly lacking in consciousness. To assert that zombies are nomologically possible would be to assert that in some world that shares all of its laws with the actual world there is a being identical to some actual or genuinely possible human being who is utterly lacking in consciousness. Of course, the existence of a real zombie would entail that zombies are nomologically as well as logically possible, but the reverse entailments do not hold.

The robust sense of reality so necessarily lacking when discussing the logical possibility of zombies, should instantly reassert itself if we ask, even while, for the moment, granting the possibility of zombies, whether there are, or are likely to be, or ever have been, any real or even just nomologically possible zombies. Clearly, the question of whether there are any philosophical zombies actually lurking among us is a form of the venerable problem of other minds. I take it that this question deserves the same kind of answer as other distinctively philosophically skeptical questions, such as whether the world might have been created five minutes ago, or whether there is any 'external' world at all.

Note an important difference here between skeptical questions like those of other minds and external reality and what I take to be quite non-skeptical, though distinctively philosophical, worries, such as the problem of the freedom of the will. The problem of freedom depends upon a tension between commonsense, intuition and certain interpretations of what we know (or think we know) about the laws of nature. This tension is such that the intuitive appeal of belief in the existence of free will seems to be in prima facie conflict with scientific knowledge, and the familiar arguments against the existence of freedom exploit this tension in various ways. The skeptical hypotheses are not like this. They conflict equally with all of intuition, commonsense and what we know about the laws of nature. Thus trying to defend seriously either the actual existence or the nomological possibility of zombies would require denying those laws of nature which seem to link physical states to states of consciousness. Of course, we don't know very much about these laws, but it is already abundantly clear that there are any number of quite particular regularities between neural systems, states and processes and varieties of conscious experience, and many of these are already being scouted out by our rapidly developing neurosciences (for just one striking example see Tong et.al. 1998).

So the worry that there are real philosophical zombies somewhere hereabouts, or that they are even nomologically possible is a kind of skeptical worry. How, in general, should we respond to specifically skeptical challenges? It would be great if we could show that the challenge was incoherent, but that's a rare treat. More typically, it seems evident that the skeptical worry is a worry at all just because it is prima facie coherent, that is, it seems to be at least logically possible. For example, I don't think there is much doubt that the hypothesis that, for example, the universe was created five minutes ago in precisely the state it was in five minutes ago is coherent, and that is tantamount to saying that it is logically possible that the world was created five minutes ago. Similarly, it seems fairly obvious that it is logically possible that I am in the matrix right now, or being deceived by the evil genius about the very existence of an external physical world.

zombie commando
04-14-2005, 05:40 AM
But I don't believe that any of these hypotheses are true; in fact I regard them as spectacularly unlikely, and in violation of certain physical laws which I take to hold in the actual world. You probably agree with me on this. Furthermore, I think that I know that the world was not created five minutes ago, despite the fact that I concede that a 'radically young' universe is logically possible. Philosophically speaking, I think that any epistemological theory which led to the conclusion that I did not know that the world was very old solely on the basis of the logical possibility of the opposite and utterly independent of whether or not it is true that the world is very old, would be a deeply flawed account of knowledge (that's not to say such flawed account have never been offered).

Roughly speaking -- though philosophy has shown there are many subtle niceties to the subject -- a proper epistemology should endorse a kind of 'conservatism of belief', which can be pugently expressed via the mechanic's cliché 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'. My current belief that the universe is quite ancient serves me well. It fits in with many other of my beliefs. It does not lead me astray and is amazingly well able to integrate with new evidence that I pick up every day talking with others (say about what happened yesterday), reading the newspaper or browsing the web science pages. This belief has passed all the epistemic tests it needs to count as knowledge2 (though it may begin to fail these tests at any time). One might complain that just fitting in with a general system of belief and evidence cannot be enough for knowledge. Quite so. What is needed in addition is simply the truth of the belief. But, since the world is in fact very old, I do know that fact.

We are in exactly the same sort of epistemic position with regard to the question of real or even just nomologically possible zombies. I don't believe there are any. Nobody can give me, nor is there any, evidence that it is zombies that surround me rather than fully conscious human beings. So my belief is well supported, stable and unassailable. I am under no epistemic pressure to change or even examine this belief and can remain secure in my knowledge that there are no philosophical zombies and that in fact the laws of nature which link brain states to states of consciousness rule out zombies as nomologically impossible.

But this knowledge does not show that philosophical zombies are logically impossible. It is much harder to show any such a thing. Nonetheless, some philosophers contend that philosophical zombies are logically impossible, and this paper will focus on one argument recently advanced by Robert Kirk (1999). It is claimed that there simply are none of the possible worlds invoked in the zombie definition. No being physically identical to me, in the appropriate sense, could lack consciousness3. This is a strong claim. It is far stronger, for example, than the claim that zombies are nomologically impossible, for this only asserts that in any possible world that shares all its 'natural laws' with our world any physical duplicate of me will be as conscious as I am. The claim that zombies are nomologically impossible is also distinct from the claim that they are physically impossible. Distinguishing nomological and physical possibility assumes that the realm of natural law might (logically might) outrun that of mere physical law. Notice that if in fact all natural laws are physical laws or logically supervene upon physical laws then there are no worlds that agree on our physical laws but differ in some natural law. Then, since there are evidently laws which link physical states and states of consciousness, the logical possibility and the nomological possibility of zombies would come to the same thing, for then any world that differed in its natural laws from our world would also differ in some physical law. But, as we shall see, there is very little reason to collapse this distinction4.

On the other hand, if the laws which link physical with non-physical properties are 'natural' without being, or logically supervening upon, physical laws then zombies could arise by breaking these natural laws without breaking the physical laws. If mental properties are non-physical, then it seems quite reasonable to claim that laws linking the mental and physical are themselves not physical laws (in just the way it would be reasonable to deny that laws of economics are physical laws). The issue would then come down to whether or not such natural, but non-physical laws, logically supervene upon the physical laws. But, obviously, simply to assume that all natural laws logically supervene upon physical laws would beg the question against the logical possibility of philosophical zombies. Or, in other words, it would suffice to show that zombies are logically impossible to show that all natural laws logically supervene upon the actual physical laws5. But that looks to be extremely hard to show. If any kind of 'non-physical world' is logically possible and if it is logically possible for such a realm to enjoy its own set of natural laws then the supervenience claim would obviously be in jeopardy. I have no idea how one could even begin to argue that such lawful but non-physical realms are logically impossible, and am equally at a loss see how the laws of such realms, if their possibility is granted, would have to be logically supervenient upon the laws of our physical realm. For one thing, since such realms would agree on all their physical laws (trivially) the supervenience claim entails that they would have to agree on all their laws -- so at most one such realm would be possible. There would still be many different possible non-physical worlds since they could presumably differ in their 'initial conditions'. But they would have to share their laws. One might claim that such realms could differ in their 'substance' while agreeing in their 'laws' but I really have no idea what such a claim really means. Nor do I see how 'mixed realms' that contained both physical and non-physical components would, of logical necessity, have any and all of the laws which govern the non-physical side of things depend upon the physical laws. So this seems to be a very ambitious and hence not a very promising way to attack the idea of philosophical zombies.

zombie commando
04-14-2005, 05:41 AM
And, contrary to the opinions, or at least the hopes of many, the idea of zombies is important. For to claim that zombies are logically possible is to deny a very common form of physicalism. I want to emphasize this point: it is the mere logical possibility of zombies that refutes physicalism. If, say, my philosophical zombie is logically possible then there is a possible being which shares all my physical properties but does not share all my mental properties. Thus mental properties are non-physical properties and the physicalist assertion that everything is ultimately physical is false. An ontologically liberal functionalist cannot escape either, since the idea of a 'functional zombie' is a simple extension of the idea of a 'physical zombie'. In fact, if, as seems reasonable, we assume that functional properties logically supervene upon physical properties, then the possibility of a philosophical zombie refutes functionalist physicalism no less than it refutes 'bare physicalism' (see Chalmers 1996, especially chs. 3 and 4).

This is a real problem. I've sometimes heard it said that the idea of zombies -- like that of certain other bizarre, purely philosophical thought experiments -- is so weird that we just don't know what to say about them, or that we just have no way to assess their logical possibility. And therefore (therefore?) we needn't spend any time worrying about them. Not good. This is tantamount to saying that we don't know what to say about the truth of physicalism and have no way to assess its truth or falsehood. Good friends of physicalism ought not to take this line. They know perfectly well what to say about zombies: such monstrosities are not logically possible. The question is whether there is any way to convince someone who is neutral about physicalism of this without begging the question.

I've also heard it said that physicalism is not meant to be such a 'strongly metaphysical' claim that it would have such exotic implications about the nethermost regions of logical space; rather, physicalism is supposed to be a kind of quasi-scientific, empirical claim that the creatures of this world, and in particular human beings, are purely physical creatures. And, just as physics doesn't care that it is (or might be, so to speak) logically possible for quarks to have radically different properties in some merely logically possible worlds, philosophers shouldn't care about hypothetical possibilities of Cartesian minds, or whatever other wild psychical or ectoplasmic metaphysics one might dream up. This sort of reply misses the point, and the strength of the zombie challenge.

Consider that the mere denial of physicalism does not entail that zombies are possible. The former is entailed by the existence of Cartesian possible worlds -- worlds in which there are non-physical entities and properties: mental substances possessing mental properties as postulated by Descartes. But there could be Cartesian worlds even if philosophical zombies are logically impossible6. So it is not at all the case that the zombie hypothesis is just a fancy way of dressing up anti-physicalism.

At the same time, I would think that philosophers are right to be wary of asserting that physicalism is logically necessary: that there are absolutely no possible worlds that contain non-physical entities and/or non-physical properties. The metaphysical visions of Leibniz or Spinoza, for example, do not appear to be flat out impossible.

Such modesty does not weaken the zombie argument, in fact it is irrelevant to it. For the possibility of zombies just shows that consciousness is not itself a physical property, nor even a property which logically supervenes upon such.

Of course, we don't have a very clear idea of exactly what makes a property a physical versus a non-physical property. But we can use the rationale of the zombie argument itself to help us get clearer about such properties. Here is a first pass at a sufficient condition for being what I will call a radically non-physical property:

(R) if some thing, x, has a property, P, which is such that it is logically possible for something physically indistinguishable from x to lack that property then P is a radically non-physical property7.

My philosophical zombie, if it is logically possible, will reveal that there are mental properties of consciousness which are radically non-physical properties by this criterion. And that seems intuitively correct. However, some properties which intuitively present no difficulties for a physicalist outlook are hereby declared radically non-physical. Any relational property will come out as non-physical by this criterion. For example, a Canadian one dollar coin has a possible physical duplicate which is not money at all. However, it is easy to extend our criterion of non-physicality to cover relational properties thus:

(R*) if some thing, x, has a property, P, which is such that there is a possible world which is physically identical to the actual world but in which x's physical duplicate lacks P, then P is a radically non-physical property.

Note that the specification of the possible world that tests for non-physicality might have to include the total history of the world. If the actual world was in fact created five minutes ago then it may be that there is no real money in it (only lots of perfect counterfeits), if one defines money in terms of being printed by a legitimately authorized mint (as opposed to miraculously appearing out of nowhere with the rest of the world and being treated as money by the similarly newly created denizens of that world). Thus test worlds may have to be totally physically identical to the actual world. This identity might even have to extend through 'future history' as well. For example, it is conceivable that the property of inertia is a relational (and physical of course) property depending upon the total distribution of matter throughout all of space and time. So if -- as seems unlikely to me -- properties of consciousness are in fact relational properties then it will be the logical possibility of whole 'zombie worlds' that will reveal that such properties are radically non-physical.8

We might now define a rather weak form of physicalism simply as:

(P) There are no radically non-physical properties.

Now it is clear that the mere logical possibility of zombies is enough to refute physicalism insofar as it reveals the radically non-physical nature of at least some mental properties and insofar as any reasonable version of physicalism (such as (P) for example) rejects the existence of such radically non-physical properties.

Showing that philosophical zombies are logically impossible would thus make the world safer for physicalism. But on the other hand, a proof of the impossibility of zombies which rested upon a premise asserting or implying the truth of physicalism would be worthless. That would just beg the question.

Robert Kirk has recently (1999) presented an argument attempting to demonstrate that philosophical zombies are logically impossible. I think the argument does not succeed, but its failure is instructive, although in the end not surprising. Kirk proceeds by reductio, assuming that a zombie is possible and from that deriving a contradiction. His method involves supposing that a zombie suddenly acquires qualia. To prevent misunderstandings based on this notoriously troublesome term, let me reassure the reader that no pernicious assumptions about the nature of qualia are at play here: the term 'qualia', both in Kirk's paper and throughout this paper, just stands for the properties of subjects that make them, in the constitutive rather than causal sense, qualitatively conscious. Qualia are simply the properties we have and zombies lack just in virtue of our being conscious. The acquisition of qualia seems quite straightforwardly to transform the zombie from a non-conscious to a conscious being, and in fact into a being just like us. Kirk's argument then proceeds:

zombie commando
04-14-2005, 05:42 AM
4. But my zombie twin is by definition unaffected by anything non-physical.

5. So he is unaffected by acquiring non-physical qualia.

6. In order to become conscious as a result of his acquisition of non-physical qualia he would have to be in some way affected by them

7. Since he is not so affected, he, at any rate, does not become conscious. (1999, p. 6).

Of course, in this part of the argument premise 5 is highly problematic, if not incoherent. It is true that the zombie is not physically affected by his sudden acquisition of qualitative mental states, but it does not follow from this that he is unaffected tout court. To suppose that all affection is physical affection is just to assert physicalism9. That is, to a first approximation we can define 'being affected (by x)' as the acquiring or the losing of a property (because of x). The zombie, by hypothesis, gains qualia, that is, certain properties of qualitative consciousness. Thus he is affected. But, also by the hypothesis of Kirk's reductio, these properties are radically non-physical. So to deny the non-physical affection of the zombie is to deny that there are any such properties to gain, i.e. to assert a physicalism at least as strong as (P). We already know that if physicalism is true there can be no zombies so we have here no argument against the existence of zombies independent of the assertion that physicalism is true. No friend of zombies will deny that physicalism implies that zombies are impossible, but equally no friend of zombies will be impressed by an argument from physicalism to the impossibility of zombies.

But Kirk is not offering such a simple-minded and hopeless argument against zombies however. Points 4 through 7 are just the warmup. He wishes to deduce from the fact that the zombie will not be physically affected by the acquisition of qualia the conclusion that the zombie will not notice or think about his transformation or the qualia that produce that transformation. From this he attempts to deduce further that if zombies are possible then we too, being in effect zombies with qualia, as in the thought experiment, cannot notice or think about our qualia, or even tell the difference between different qualitative experiences.

Let us first consider the claim that the zombie cannot notice the qualia that it acquires. Here the assumption, dormant until now, that the physical laws governing the zombie (or the zombie world) are the same as the actual physical laws, comes into play. It has to be further assumed that these laws guarantee the causal closure of the physical world. As noted above, this is the assumption that every physical event is determined entirely by physical conditions and events to the extent that it is determined at all. We don't know for a fact that the causal closure of the actual physical world is true, but very fundamental conservation laws in physics seem to suggest that it must be if our physics is at all on the right track10. I'm happy to grant physical causal closure for the sake of the argument. Given this assumption, it indeed must be the case that the acquisition of non-physical qualia cannot have any indirect or downstream physical effect on our zombie any more than it can have an immediate physical effect.

Kirk's argument then proceeds as follows:

8. Telling the difference between the subjective character of two perceptual experiences requires detecting them; and that requires ... being sensitive to or affected by them.

9. Since zombies are by definition unaffected by anything non-physical, my supposed zombie companion cannot tell the difference between non-physical qualia ...

11. Since the friends of zombies maintain that I am nothing but a compound consisting of a 'zombie companion' and non-physical qualia ... their position entails that nothing can detect differences between non-physical qualia, hence nothing can tell the difference between the subjective character of smelling tea, and that of smelling coffee.

12. But many of us can tell the difference between the smell of tea and the smell of coffee.

13. Therefore we are not compounds of the sort the friends of zombies maintain we are, and zombies in their sense are not genuinely [logically] possible. (p. 9)

This argument compresses several intermediate inferences. First there is the claim that if zombies are logically possible then we (ordinary conscious human beings) are compounds of a purely physical zombie plus non-physical qualia. Although rather a perverse way to put the point it must be correct. I say 'perverse' since on the assumption of the possibility of zombies the only possible difference between us and them is the non-physical qualia that we possess and so of course we must be 'physical zombies' plus qualia. Or, to put it more sensibly, if we think of ourselves minus qualia we end up with zombies and if zombies are logically possible then it is coherent to think in this way.

Now, I (and Kirk) take it that being able to tell the difference between, for example, the taste of tea and that of coffee involves more than mere behavioral discriminative abilities, for the zombies possess these but are nonetheless said to be unable to 'tell the difference' between the taste of tea and coffee. What they lack, then, is no physically manifestable ability but rather the kind of knowledge of what tea, or coffee, taste like which conscious experience affords (readers will recognise that we are very close to Jackson's famous Mary argument here, see Jackson 19??). Normally, we think that it is this knowledge that grounds the ability to discriminate the taste of tea from coffee but that is true, at best, only in normal cases of human perception. We could, in principle, devise a machine that could chemically discriminate coffee from tea with as much accuracy, and similar categorizing dispositions, as human beings, but we don't think that such machines thereby necessarily possess any qualitative consciousness of tastes. Non-conscious discriminators are certainly possible (in fact there seems to be a great many of them, from thermostats to sunflowers). Zombies are an extreme case of non-conscious discriminators, which possess exactly the same discriminatory powers that we do, but without the consciousness that normally attends such powers.

Thus, of course, to all appearances, zombies are able to tell the difference between the taste of tea and coffee. My zombie, for example, will utter sounds which can be interpreted as English statements about how different the taste of tea is from that of coffee, and in what ways these tastes differ. Do these utterances have 'real meaning'? I don't think the answer to this question is at all obvious, but let us suppose that zombies can speak real English (or a homonymous and synonymous variant of English) so that when they claim, for example, that they are conscious they are making a genuine claim, a claim which is, unfortunately for them, simply false.

If they can make such claims, then presumably zombies can have real beliefs. Again, it is not really obvious to me that this is the correct interpretation of zombie behavior and neural activity11. But let's suppose that this is OK, so that zombies do have genuine beliefs about various things; most significantly they have beliefs about qualitative states of consciousness. One might wonder, I suppose, how zombies could acquire concepts of states of qualitative consciousness in the complete absence of consciousness, even if it is granted that they can possess concepts in general. But blind people can have concepts of visual consciousness despite lacking it, so it is difficult to claim there is a difficulty of principle here. Many of the zombies' beliefs about qualia are true beliefs, such as the belief that the smell of roses is a pleasant smell, or the belief that there is a certain thrilling feeling that attends riding a roller-coaster. But all their substantive beliefs about their own conscious experiences are uniformly false (althought they have, as do we, various logically trivial beliefs 'about' self-referred experiences which are true by default, such as the belief that right now I am either having the experience of tasting cinammon or I am not). Of course, zombie beliefs are one and all non-conscious beliefs, whereas many of our beliefs are conscious. But there doesn't seem to be anything incoherent in the idea of non-conscious belief.12

zombie commando
04-14-2005, 05:44 AM
These zombies will even have, or appear to have, ostensive beliefs of the form: so strawberries taste like that (just after 'tasting' their first strawberry). The ostensive act here will fail simply because of a lack of a referent for the demonstrative. However, there is nothing particularly mysterious in themselves about such beliefs, if they are beliefs, nor anything about them which especially concerns the zombie problem. We have all at one time or another had this sort of false belief, or 'cognitive failure'. It is of course very weird that zombies are so systematically mistaken even about such intimate judgements about their own (putative) experience. But no one claims that zombies aren't weird; lots of logically possible things are weird (like flying pigs, the worlds of Harry Potter or Frodo Baggins, etc.). The question is whether zombies are as weird as square circles.

Notice that if it was logically impossible for something to have beliefs about things that could not physically affect it, then zombies could have no beliefs about these presumed non-physical properties of qualitative consciousness. Then it might seem there would be a quick route towards the conclusion that zombies are logically impossible. The argument would go like this. Zombies could not have any beliefs about qualia, either before or after their transformation from qualia-less to qualia-enjoying creatures. But then they could not tell the difference between distinct qualia just because 'telling the difference' involves, at least, having some beliefs about qualia. But we are, or are equivalent to, zombies that have acquired qualia. So therefore we can't tell the difference between distinct qualia. But since we can, we get a reductio of the claim that zombies are logically possible.

This is not a very convincing argument however, because it rests on the extremely dubious premise that it is impossible to have beliefs about what cannot physically affect one. Beliefs about mathematical objects or abstract entities in general present obvious difficulties here, as do beliefs about possible physical things that we cannot be in physical contact with (e.g. events outside our 'light cones'). In general, the difficulty with this line of argument is to present a case for this restriction on belief, and concept, formation which is independent of the assumption of physicalism, an assumption which would in this context once again beg the question. In any event, I don't want to explore this avenue further here, since it plays no part in Kirk's argument.

Having granted that zombies can have genuine beliefs, let us see how the rest of Kirk's argument fares. I think it rests on a basic mistake in epistemology. It is a mistake to think that there has to be any physical change in a believer to transform beliefs into knowledge. I think that however knowledge is to analysed, it will be possible for all the conditions of the analysis to be met save for that demanding the truth of what is believed. This is obviously true for common theories of knowledge. On justified true belief accounts, it is easy to imagine situations where the only thing preventing a belief from attaining the status of knowledge is the fact that the belief is false. There are lots of justified false beliefs which, if they had been true, would have amounted to knowledge. Suppose you tell me you were in Simcoe Hall yesterday afternoon. You are generally trustworthy and I understand your utterance, and thus form the belief that you were in Simcoe Hall yesterday. Because of a slip of the tongue however, you mispoke yourself; you were actually in Simcoe Hall the day before yesterday. So obviously I don't know that you were in Simcoe Hall yesterday, but I would have known if you had been (everything else in the siutation being kept the same). A similar point clearly holds for reliability theories of knowledge and, I would venture to assert, any other reasonable account.

I think zombies are in an epistemic situation akin to my example, though one as all encompassing and strange as befits their peculiar nature. They have every reason, so to speak, to believe that they have qualia (always recalling that we have granted that they can have and, in virtue of their understanding of English and physical indistinguishability from normal human beings, do have beliefs about qualia). They are, to use another model, epistemically virtuous, at least they are as virtuous as we are, and if we can manage to have knowledge about qualia then so could they -- if they only had any qualia to have knowledge about.

So what happens when, as Kirk imagines, a zombie suddenly acquires consciousness? First, the zombie is affected, but non-physically, just by gaining certain properties that it lacked before. Of course, nothing physical changes, by hypothesis. And yet the zombie's false beliefs about its own mental states suddenly become true, and they become knowledge too. Friends of zombies will say that the zombie now knows what things taste like in virtue of actually having the conscious experiences which carry this information, whereas the earlier, non-conscious beliefs about tastes, referred to nothing, hence were false, hence could not constitute knowledge about how things taste. Zombies are, so to speak, very close to being able to tell the difference between tea and coffee, lacking only one, alas essential, component; they are like the man who says 'I'd be rich if I only had money'.

Consider this from the side of the zombie. Suppose a zombie is asked to think about or 'internally compare' the tastes of coffee and tea. The zombie thinks for a while, and carefully sips some tea and coffee, then soliloquizes about this 'difference' for awhile, doubtless saying many things that are true of the tastes of tea and coffee. But the zombie's remarks are grounded in utterly false beliefs simply because the requisite experiences are just missing. Of course, this kind of zombie would never seriously entertain the idea that it is a totally non-conscious being. It's epistemic situation is the same as mine and if I have no good reason to wonder whether I am a zombie then neither does it. But that doesn't eliminate the possibility that it is a zombie, any more than the fact that I have no good reason to believe that I am a brain in a vat shows that it is logically impossible that I am a brain in a vat.

One might wonder whether a zombie could know it was a zombie. I don't see anything absolutely preventing a zombie coming to believe correctly that it was a zombie, but I doubt that would be knowledge, since it would be an irrational belief13. What evidence could there be in favour of the zombie hypothesis? Since the zombie hypothesis requires the idea that the zombie inhabits a very peculiar sort of possible world, I don't think there could be a route towards a rational belief that it was a zombie. What could ever lead it to rationally conclude that it was in such a bizarre, merely logically possible, world?

But doesn't this whole analysis imply that it is logically possible that I am a zombie, right now, even as I, apparently, consciously think about my own consciousness? Not at all -- at most it shows that from your epistemic point of view it is logically possible that I am a zombie (and if zombies are logically possible at all this is hardly surprising -- the problem of other minds is a skeptical problem which is not incoherent). For I have conscious beliefs about my experience, and they are what form the basis of my knowledge that I am conscious. If you are wondering whether you are a zombie, I ask you just to consider whether you are conscious. You have conscious experiences; you are conscious that you are not a zombie, and that entails that you are indeed not a zombie. A conscious belief that one is conscious is self-validating; it cannot be a false belief14.

It is instructive here to compare my knowledge that I am not a zombie with my knowledge that the world is ancient, and was not created five minutes ago in the exact state it actually was in five minutes ago. Although I do know that the world is very old, it is logically possible, and perhaps more, that I am wrong. The fact that knowledge that P logically implies that P is true does not threaten the claim that what is known might be false. It is an analytic fact about knowledge that:

NEC(Kp ==> p),

but of course it does not follow that

Kp ==> NEC(p).

My epistemic situation with regard to the age of the world is in fact somewhat more perilous than this suggests. The fact that I consciously believe that the world is ancient -- which I do of course -- is logically independent of the age of the world, that is

POSS(CBEL(Ancient) & ~Ancient ).

Contrast this with the status of my knowledge that I am not a zombie. There, I am on much firmer ground, for my conscious belief that I am not a zombie logically implies that I am not a zombie, that is,

NEC(CBEL(~zombie) ==> ~zombie).

It is logically impossible that I, in my current state of consciousness, am really only a zombie. Of course, if zombies are logically possible then there is a possible being who is physically just like me but who is a philosophical zombie. But that being can't be me, simply because I consciously believe that I am not a zombie while my zombie duplicate does not. It's also true that, so far as I can tell 'from the inside' it is logically possible that I might become a zombie in the next instant (I might lose consciousness for all sorts of reasons). But if this did happen I would then lack the states of consciousness which currently ground my knowledge that I am not a zombie; right now, I have such states, I am aware of them, and they logically preclude my being a zombie (a power which the consciousness of my belief that the world is ancient utterly lacks about its object).

zombie commando
04-14-2005, 05:46 AM
So if I'm not a zombie, I know I'm not a zombie. And, of course, the converse holds as well, so: I'm not a zombie iff I know I'm not a zombie. The zombie has no such beliefs, even though it unconsciously -- or, better, non-consciously -- believes that it is conscious. Too bad for it, all such beliefs are false.

Kirk's argument against the logical possibility of zombies does not succeed. I think I've given a logically consistent tale of how zombies could transform into conscious beings such that this transformation would give them knowledge of the difference between the experiential qualities enjoyed in consciousness. This does not show that zombies are logically possible, but it does support that contention, for the burden of proof must always lie on those seeking to deny that a proposition is logically possible, since the claim of mere logical possibility is inherently a very weak claim. Physicalists should remember that their doctrine entails that zombies are logically impossible, which may give them some comfort. On the other hand, any argument based upon this entailment advanced in support of physicalism would be viciously circular. Thus, any argument against the logical possibility of zombies which aims to bolster physicalism has to be independent of the claim of physicalism. I think it will be hard to come up with any such argument; and I don't think that Kirk has done so.

Finally, let us consider the worry of epiphenomenalism, which may seem pressing at this point. That is, it may seem that if zombies are logically possible then qualia have got to be epiphenomenal, since a philosophical zombie can be transformed into one of us without any change in the physical world. Now, it may be that a philosophical zombie which is miraculously endowed with consciousness, as in Kirk's thought experiment, will have only an epiphenomenal consciousness. It's important to see that this does not entail that our consciousness is epiphenomenal. First, let's get clear about the kind of epiphenomenalism that is at issue here. I will call it 'physical epiphenomenalism', meaning that consciousness has no physical effects. Perhaps in theat distant world in which some erstwhile zombie suddenly acquires consciousness, these mental properties obey their own intra-mental causal laws, and have their own causes and effects within the mental domain, But it seems that, on the assumption of physical closure, nothing physical can change because of the introduction of consciousness and thus the new mental properties cannot have any physical effects and thus they count as 'physically epiphenomenal'.

The thought experiment of the zombie who acquires qualia thus perhaps shows that epiphenomenalism is itself logically possible (as I am inclined to suspect it is in any case). But it does not follow that our consciousness, in this world, is physically epiphenomenal. This can be demonstrated very simply: overdetermination is not logically impossible. Given Kirk's implicit assumption of the causal closure of the physical world, there is a purely physical sufficient cause of every physical event. Given that the logical possibility of zombies shows that the properties of consciousness are radically non-physical, the efficacy of these properties cannot ride directly on the efficacy of physical properties (as they do in, for example, identity theories). It does not follow that qualia are epiphenomenal since they may be overdetermining causes of physical effects. The laws of nature in the actual world include laws linking physical states to states of consciousness and, it may be, laws linking states of consciousness to certain physical states. In the logically possible world where the zombies live, these laws are broken (by hypothesis), but the physical laws are left unchanged. It may be that the result is that any qualia introduced into that world become physically epiphenomenal. But our world is not like that, or at least not necessarily like that. The mere possibility of overdetermination shows that the possibility of zombies does not entail epiphenomenalism. The fact that qualia are epiphenomenal in the zombie world does not imply that they are epiphenomenal everywhere. Fundamentally, this is because causation is not a matter of logical necessity. The fact that it is logically possible that a massive object released near the Earth will not fall does not show that gravity lacks causal efficacy.

So the logical possibility of zombies does not imply epiphenomenalism. Would the logical possibility of epiphenomenalism imply the logical possibility of zombies? Not directly. It is not clear how to argue that the existence of a possible world in which qualia are physically epiphenomenal entails that there is a zombie world, a world where qualia are lacking altogether despite that world's total physical similarity to the actual world. But perhaps the possibility of epiphenomenalism strengthens the case for zombies insofar as it easier to suppose that inefficacious properties can be eliminated from a world, thus transforming an epiphenomenalistic world into a zombie world.

However, the logical possibility of epiphenomenalism does share something important with the logical possibility of zombies. They both refute physicalism. This follows from the assumption that physical properties, in a world that shares our physical laws, are efficacious (because efficacy is guaranteed by the laws, so that if we have the same laws we'll have the same cause-effect relations). If there is such a world where qualia are inefficacious, then evidently qualia cannot be physical properties. And, on the twin assumptions that functional properties supervene upon the physical and that functional properties are efficacious, the possibility of epiphenomenalism also shows that qualia cannot be functional properties.

Some possibilities that are mere logical possibilities would thus have some very significant consequences for physicalism. Physicalists ought to be worried about them, and seek some arguments independent of their physicalism to show that these are only apparent logical possibilities. I have argued that Kirk's efforts do not succeed, but perhaps there are other ways to show that zombies are no more possible than square circles, or colourless green ideas.

atomic dog
04-14-2005, 05:47 AM
wow i will definitely go for this degree. i should start to read all this.

zombie commando
04-14-2005, 05:49 AM
'Romero's Law' takes hold.....

DeLay: Feed Medicare recipients to zombies

Sean L'Mort
March 31, 2005

Stung by a perceived defeat in the Terri Schiavo feeding tube case, House Republicans pushed through a bill Thursday aimed at dealing with a "zombie event" such as those depicted in popular sci-fil films like "Dawn of the Dead" and "28 Days Later."

The largely meaningless bill, dubbed the "Romero's Law" after zombie-film director George Romero, is primarily aimed at energizing the conservative base, according to Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX). DeLay explained that the religious right is "highly interested" in the rights not only of the unborn but the "not quite dead" as well.

"Zombies represent just another faction of the culture of life that we hold dear," DeLay said. "People who aren't yet born and those who aren't quite dead have very little say in what becomes of them. They are still God's creatures, and they need representation."

Romero's Law postulates the existence of "tens of thousands of undead, barely dead or marginally alive humans who need to feed." In accordance with Republican beliefs, the bill declares zombies to be of "high importance," and suggests that simply shooting them in the head or clubbing them, spitting or piking them or decapitating them is contrary to "culture of life" principles. The bill suggests the zombies be "repurposed" either as Border Patrol agents or DMV workers.

When it was pointed out to DeLay that zombies typically need live human flesh to continue their activities - a potential homeland security risk - he suggested feeding them Medicare recipients.

"It's a win-win situation," DeLay said. "Medicare is in trouble, these people are old as hell and the zombies need to eat. Trimming the ranks of those on the public dole is, in my view, an excellent way of solving the problem. Now, we just have to kinda hope for a zombie event."

House Democrats voting for the bill couldn't deny its application to a potentially at-risk minority of zombies, who would ostensibly be denied health care coverage due to a pre-existing condition (death).

"It disgusts me the way DeLay and his gang are making this just another chapter in the battle to outlaw abortion," said Diana DeGette (D-CO). "But, ridiculous though it may sounds, zombies really would be in a pickle, much worse off than some of our other signature minorities."

President Bush, who flew in to sign the bill on a rocket ship from his fake ranch in Texas - and then via jetpack from the airport to the White House - was angered when he learned the Senate had to approve it first.

"Dang it," Bush said. "I interrupted brush-clearin' and a really good mountain bike ride to be here an' all. You sure I can't sign it yet?"

http://www.vaildaily.com/article/20050331/NEWS/103310050

zombie commando
04-14-2005, 05:51 AM
Originally posted by atomic dog
wow i will definitely go for this degree. i should start to read all this.

Please do. I will remind you that this will all be on the final. I will also remind you that there will be an entire page dedicated for last minute questions before we deliver the exam.

atomic dog
04-14-2005, 09:41 AM
ok i stuck this thread cuz of the high possible usage of it.


ok i read through all of this so far and i have soe questions.

1- de lay mentioned 'repurposing' the zombies. sounds like a logan line to me. was he watching day of the dead right before saying that?

2- if the person is a 'vegetable' because the are brain dead, are the considered zombies?

3- it takes about zombies needing heat to function. are they solar powered, if so how do they function at night? also if they need heat to function why do they only eat humans and not animals?

4- we all know logan was killed but we never see him after except when bub finds him. so we don't know if logan does come back alive or not. which would still fit the role of romero's ideas and not contradict them.

5- once affected by the virus (affected by any means bitten, gas, etc.), is the transformation inevitable? can it be stopped? if affected the host dies, can it be slowed down without the perosn transforming by keeping them awake or 'fighting' the virus?

ok i know some of these questions sound funny but i'm asking then with a straight face cuz i'm really curious.

zombie commando
04-14-2005, 09:56 AM
Originally posted by atomic dog
[B]ok i stuck this thread cuz of the high possible usage of it.


ok i read through all of this so far and i have soe questions.

1- de lay mentioned 'repurposing' the zombies. sounds like a logan line to me. was he watching day of the dead right before saying that?
You'd have to ask him, I'm not sure if he was watching that flick or clipping his toenails before that.


2- if the person is a 'vegetable' because the are brain dead, are the considered zombies?
Nope.

Once the cortex is mush one becomes a vegtable. Remember that even zombies need a brain to function.


3- it takes about zombies needing heat to function. are they solar powered, if so how do they function at night? also if they need heat to function why do they only eat humans and not animals?Zombies aren't solar powered, but the virus itself is attracted to warm moist places. There are entire communities of organisms that live by thermo vents at the bottom of the ocean that need absolutely no sunlight to survive. I suspect that the virus feeds off such heat (nonsolar) to function.

Zombies eat animals. We aren't following the Dawn remake type zombies here. We are playing by Romero's rules. In NOTLD they were eating insects and such. No reason to believe they wouldn't eat any mammal if given the chance.


4- we all know logan was killed but we never see him after except when bub finds him. so we don't know if logan does come back alive or not. which would still fit the role of romero's ideas and not contradict them.
True that.


5- once affected by the virus (affected by any means bitten, gas, etc.), is the transformation inevitable? can it be stopped? if affected the host dies, can it be slowed down without the perosn transforming by keeping them awake or 'fighting' the virus?

Current medicine prevents us from battling the virus. The only way to stop it cold is to cut off the infected area immediately after a bite from an infeced host.

atomic dog
04-14-2005, 10:30 AM
ok that answered those questions. bring on more stuff to read.

zombie commando
04-18-2005, 08:05 AM
Some suggested reading for this course...."The Zombie Survival Guide" by Max Brooks.

www.zombiesurvivalguide.com

Chomp_on_this
04-19-2005, 01:12 PM
I own the book, but I haven't sat down to read it yet. And I have no idea as to why.

zombie commando
04-20-2005, 05:28 AM
Originally posted by Chomp_on_this
I own the book, but I haven't sat down to read it yet. And I have no idea as to why. Take some time out from flogging the chicken and get to reading it teacher man.

zombie commando
04-29-2005, 06:36 AM
Lesson 3289: How long it takes for the electricity to go out in zombie holocaust conditions......
http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mzombiepower.html

Believe it or not, this is a question I've been asked before. Many people wonder how key parts of civilized society might continue after a post-apocalyptic Dawn of the Dead / Night of the Comet / Omega Man / Teletubbies Go to Paris scenario. Your question has two possible answers depending on which scenario of zombie conquest you envision.

In Dawn of the Dead, the zombification process doesn't happen all at once. We can imagine a gradual scenario in which the infrastructure systems controllers plan ahead for shortages of personnel and try to keep the power going as long as possible. Alternatively, zombification could happen fairly quickly – say, over a few hours. I'll address the second, more dire scenario in detail first, then the first, slightly less alarming one briefly.

How long the power supply would last in the most critical zombie situation depends on two key factors – first, how long a given power plant can operate without human intervention, and second, how long before enough power plants fail to bring down the entire transmission grid. I'll ignore the side issues of whether the zombies would want to try to run the power plant themselves, or if they would be a union or non-union shop.

Power plants are incredibly complex facilities with an enormous number of controls, and consequently an enormous number of things that can go wrong. The level of complexity and reliability of the plants is a function of the type of power plant, the control systems installed, and the plant's age and condition. In addition to the possibility of unplanned events causing shutdowns, there is also the problem of maintaining a fuel supply without human intervention. Given all these variables, coming up with hard and fast numbers is difficult. To address your question as well as I can, I'll break down power plants by type (coal, nuclear, hydro, and natural gas) and discuss each one separately, focusing on the U.S. and Canada, since their electrical systems are closely tied. I'll ignore oil-based plants because, contrary to popular belief, oil provides only a small fraction of total utility power generation in North America.

About 51% of U.S. and 16% of Canadian electrical generation comes from coal-fired plants. Coal power plants are generally the most problematic in terms of supplying enough fuel to remain in operation, and I could write (and have written) hundreds of pages about them. Mercifully, I'll summarize. At most coal power plants the coal is stored in a huge outdoor pile, where it is typically pushed by bulldozers onto a conveyor and carried to large silos or bunkers at an upper level of the plant, from which it is fed to the burners. When the plant is operating at full output, these bunkers theoretically have a capacity ranging from 8 hours to more than 24 hours. As a practical matter, depending on the amount of coal in the bunkers and the way the plant distributes coal to the burners, the plant may start losing power in as little as 2-4 hours. Whether or not this initial reduction in coal flow shuts the plant down depends on the sophistication of the control systems and the ability of the plant to continue at partial power output without operator intervention.

Coal plants commonly require a lot of operator input to keep running. The controls at coal plants vary tremendously, from systems that are essentially unchanged since the 1950s to modern closed-loop neural network predictive models. In my experience from many months spent in control rooms of power plants around the world, coal plants on average require some sort of operator response for a "critical alarm" every 1-3 hours. Sometimes this is a relatively minor issue, such as a warning to flush the ash systems; sometimes it's more serious, such as excessively high steam temperature or low coal supply. Whatever the case, if the control room were left unattended, I think it's likely that a large number of coal power plants would "trip" (automatically shut down and disconnect from the electrical grid) within 12-18 hours.

About 20% of United States' and 12% of Canadian electrical generation comes from nuclear power plants. Nuclear plants can operate a long time between refuelings – 500 days is a typical quoted figure, and some plants (Brunswick 1 and Pickering 7) are notable for having gone more than 700 days between refuelings. Nuclear plants tend to be more stable in operation than coal plants, and generally have more advanced control systems that can correct for minor problems or routine fluctuations. Two nuclear plant operators I asked about this wondered what I had been drinking, then said that a modern North American nuclear plant would likely run unattended for quite a bit longer than a coal power plant barring a mandated operator response – perhaps as long as a few days to a week. This could vary considerably depending on the plant.

Hydroelectric plants supply roughly 60% of the electricity in Canada and 7% in the United States. In addition, the northern U.S. imports a significant amount of Canadian hydro power on top of that 7%. Hydro plants for the most part are highly reliable and require relatively few controls. Since their "fuel" is the water contained behind the dam, their "fuel reserve" can often be measured in weeks or months. Barring sudden equipment failure or other unusual circumstances, most hydroelectric plants in good operating condition would last days or weeks unattended.

Natural gas is the last significant fuel source for power plants in the United States and Canada. Most natural gas power plants in North America use turbines, which resemble a stationary jet engine. (Boilers, the other major gas technology used for electricity generation, typically are used for emergency power or startup power at coal plants.) A turbine receives its gas supply from a pipeline; as long as the pipeline has sufficient pressure, the turbine will have fuel. How long a pipeline would keep its pressure during a Dawn of the Dead event is difficult to determine. Experts I asked thought that pipelines in most regions would maintain pressure for only 1-3 days without human intervention – maybe less, depending on the status of power to the controls and other electrically-powered equipment. In other words, failure of a few key power plants or transmission systems could result in a cascade failure of natural gas supply to large portions of the system.

Simple-cycle natural gas turbines are highly automated systems with relatively few moving parts. I have worked at a power plant with simple-cycle natural gas turbines that ran essentially unattended for three days at a time, with operator input limited to dropping the power output at night and ramping it back up in the morning. That particular plant operated so well and so safely with minimal attention that the operators tended to read a lot, tie flies for fishing lures, and engage in Greco-Roman wrestling when the urge hit them (don't ask). Combined-cycle gas turbines, which include a steam generation component, have more controls and moving parts and require greater attention. Combined-cycle gas turbines would likely operate unattended for a shorter length of time – perhaps only a day or two, depending on the age of the plant and the degree of automation.

zombie commando
04-29-2005, 06:37 AM
Focusing on individual plants doesn't give us the whole story, though. The North American power grid is a classic illustration of a chain being only as strong as its weakest link. As we saw during the blackout of August 2003, a relatively minor event or series of events can, under the right circumstances, bring down large portions of the whole system. During the August blackout, despite massive non-zombified human intervention, enough parts of the system failed to result in the loss of more than 265 power plants and 508 generating units within a few hours. As bad as the blackout was, without human intervention to shut down plants safely, balance load, transfer power to different lines, and disconnect salvageable chunks of the system from those that had totally collapsed, it could have been much worse. Quick intervention allowed isolated "islands" of power to remain in service – one large island in western New York supplied nearly 6,000 megawatts and was used to restart the power grid days later. But without humans working to isolate it, that island would not have been formed in the first place.

Bottom line? My guess is that within 4-6 hours there would be scattered blackouts and brownouts in numerous areas, within 12 hours much of the system would be unstable, and within 24 hours most portions of the United States and Canada, aside from a rare island of service in a rural area near a hydroelectric source, would be without power. Some installations served by wind farms and solar might continue, but they would be very small. By the end of a week, I'd be surprised if more than a few abandoned sites were still supplying power.

Now, let's address a scenario where the zombification process is gradual. If the operators and utilities had sufficient advance warning they could take measures to keep the power going for a while. The first thing would be to isolate key portions of the grid, reducing the interties and connections, and then cease power delivery altogether to areas of highest zombie density. After all, it's not like the zombies need light to read or electricity to play Everquest. Whole blocks and zones would be purposely cut off to reduce the potential drains (and to cope with downed lines from zombies climbing poles or driving trucks into transformers). Operators would work to create islands of power plants wherever possible, so if a plant were overrun by zombies and went down it wouldn't drag others down with it. In cooperation with regional reliability coordinators, the plant operators would improve plant reliability by disabling or eliminating non-critical alarm systems that might otherwise shut down a power plant, and ignoring many safety and emissions issues.

Fuel supply would eventually be a problem. Hydro plants would fare best, essentially having an unlimited fuel supply given normal rainfall, and could operate until some essential component failed or wore out. Nuclear plants could run for perhaps a year or more before they would need refueling. Refueling is a tricky operation requiring many specialized personnel, and it's doubtful that a nuclear plant could effectively refuel if 90% of the nuclear technicians and engineers in the country were running around glassy-eyed in the parking lot. Coal power plants on average have maybe 45-60 days' worth of coal on hand. If the power output of the plant were reduced, this could be stretched for six months or more, but eventually it would run out unless deliveries could be maintained. There are a few mine-mouth coal power plants in the U.S. that could conceivably run for years, provided enough miners and operators remained un-zombified. Natural gas plants might be the most vulnerable, since maintaining the gas wells, balancing the gas flow, and otherwise keeping the pipeline system intact requires considerable effort. In addition, most power plants have little or no gas storage available on-site, so a zombie situation could put natural gas plants in a real bind.

So there you have it. As to your final question, I can suggest a better tactic than relying on solar. Go to the abandoned hardware stores, load up a flatbed trailer with gasoline generators, and take them and a few dozen tanker trucks of gasoline to your house. You could have power for a long time, possibly years or more, until the zombies finally come for you.

SDSTAFF Karen inquires:

What about random zombie sabotage? For example, if some zombies got into the power plant and started randomly pushing buttons, pulling levers, and yanking cables, how much damage could they do?

SDSTAFF Una replies:

Outside the control room, most essential wires and cables are contained in armored cable trays, or else are tucked well out of the way. However, once you get into that control room … well, the ones at the power plants I have been to are amazingly fragile. Most coal plants have an incredible number of exposed controls that can trip the unit, and I have met engineers who had accidentally done just that during a site visit. That's why I instruct all the engineers working under me on their first visit to the control room to not only not touch anything, but to leave a "magic foot," or one-foot barrier, between them and any and all controls, tables, chairs, etc.

Sometimes that doesn't work. A co-worker was notorious for years for having bumped an empty ceramic coffee mug that fell onto a control panel, hit a control, and ended up tripping the unit. A $20,000 mistake. Thankfully, I've never done that.

Gas turbine plants are typically self-contained and the controls are out of the way. However, punching or clawing at a few panels would shut them down hard. My understanding is nuclear plants have more safeguards, but they're not my area of expertise, and times being what they are, I'd just as soon not know.

atomic dog
04-29-2005, 01:52 PM
i finally got a chance to read this latest thing here. it makes you think just what if....
when i thought of the widespread of the virus or whatever, it mademe think of the map that was shown in the dotd(2004) and all the little dots popping up.

zombie commando
04-30-2005, 08:04 AM
Originally posted by atomic dog
i finally got a chance to read this latest thing here. it makes you think just what if....
when i thought of the widespread of the virus or whatever, it mademe think of the map that was shown in the dotd(2004) and all the little dots popping up. Did you know that many pathologists don't wonder 'if' another plague will ever occur, they wonder 'when'.

Nightmareman88
05-20-2005, 01:08 AM
Very intresting this sure explains certain things that I didn´t understand in zombie films:)

zombie commando
05-20-2005, 08:33 AM
I'm glad you enjoy it, but I really wish more people got into this thread. Chomp....give us some material for mass consumption man. I know you have all sorts of weird zombie trivia locked inside the massive vaults of your dead head.

Nightmareman88
05-20-2005, 09:20 AM
ha yeah, are we the only ones who sees "Day of the dead" as our fav. horror?;)

zombie commando
05-20-2005, 10:40 AM
Originally posted by Nightmareman88
ha yeah, are we the only ones who sees "Day of the dead" as our fav. horror?;) I believe so.

Nightmareman88
05-20-2005, 10:41 AM
Just recently saw it, thought it was damn good:)

bloody_pumpkin
05-20-2005, 03:30 PM
Originally posted by Nightmareman88
Just recently saw it, thought it was damn good:)

I watched it yesterday. It just keeps getting better, especially the ending scenes of rhodes and his men trying to kill the zombies.

Nightmareman88
05-21-2005, 12:59 AM
Rhodes is my fav. character since Robert in DOTD:)

Chomp_on_this
05-30-2005, 10:37 AM
Who's Robert?

Nightmareman88
05-30-2005, 11:18 AM
Oh Sorry Its Roger;)

zombie commando
05-31-2005, 09:17 AM
I want you all to read up on deep sea hyrdothermal vent communities. They will be on the final exam.

Creepingmouth
06-05-2005, 02:05 PM
what king of perception may zombies have of the world and the things surrounding them?
Their brain work thanks to the heat,or better,the virus absorbing heat allows its very existence inside the brain and allows the brain to work so no brain no zombie.
We also see that not the whole brain is in perfect function but frontal lobes,parietal lobes and so on stop their activities.Only a small part of the brain (the one we inherited from reptiles) keeps working.So my question is:is this only portion of brain really able to let zombies see,hear or even to adquire knowledge or it would take the whole brain perfectly workin?
Would the virus evolve only to ensure his survival (like being more aggressive and more quick to spread itself) or could it also improve brain activity in its host?

zombie commando
06-06-2005, 03:00 PM
You don't need your whole brain to function in a purely survivalistic mode. Trillions of neuron connections show that the brain has many redundant modes to allow neurons a path of connection. In a matter of fact there are more threads for throught to travel in your skull than there are stars in the galaxy. The virus can literally take trillions of different evolutionary paths as well to ensure it's survival, but this may take some time.

Neuroscience is a relatively new field. The human brain is more complicated than any supercomputer out there. How it functions in a zombified state will take years to accurately dissect.

According to Land of the Dead the zombies will eventually become smarter. The virus seems to be resurrecting more portions of the brain than before. I hope this answers your question.

Creepingmouth
06-06-2005, 03:20 PM
Originally posted by zombie commando
You don't need your whole brain to function in a purely survivalistic mode. Trillions of neuron connections show that the brain has many redundant modes to allow neurons a path of connection. In a matter of fact there are more threads for throught to travel in your skull than there are stars in the galaxy. The virus can literally take trillions of different evolutionary paths as well to ensure it's survival, but this may take some time.

Neuroscience is a relatively new field. The human brain is more complicated than any supercomputer out there. How it functions in a zombified state will take years to accurately dissect.

According to Land of the Dead the zombies will eventually become smarter. The virus seems to be resurrecting more portions of the brain than before. I hope this answers your question.

Yes,thanks for clearing things up!

I used to think the virus acted in the zombies like some kind of parasite with an independent will which was able to control the bodies
but viruses and parasites are really so different or do they have something in common?

You described how the infection could start but how could the infection end without human interference?
I'm talkin about virus infection in general:for example in Europe half of the total population was killed by plague but gradually the infection ended and the plague disappeared for awhile.How did it happen?Why the plague didn't killed the whole europian population but disappeared?is it possible that something similar could happen with the "zombie" virus infection ?

zombie commando
06-13-2005, 09:03 AM
The Black Plague was halted because of the extreme quarantine measures taken by officals to stop the virus from spreading. They thought it was air born (probably due to the smell of rotting carcasses that lingered around every populated area) so they would wall up the infected into houses and hold incoming ships at sea out in the harbor. The rich fled into secluded areas. The only true way to prevent yourself from getting the virus was escaping the reach of the fleas. Travelers and doctors would bundle themselves up in rag soaked with alcohol and ammonia in an attempt to keep the virus at bay. Entire family lines where wiped out. 1/3 of the eurpopean population perished. A virus spread by fleas was really the only thing in history that caused human progress to truly slow down.

In India they STILL have cases of the Black Death. Once we learned what caused the virus we had a better handle on how to avoid it and keep it from spreading.

A zombie virus could mean the end of civilization if it isn't responded to quickly enough. Response time is everything. The more something is allowed to spread the harder it is to contain. I think in all likelyhood if the dead started walking mass hysteria would ensue, causing a major delay in response time. By the time we got our collective asses in gear it may be too late......

Creepingmouth
06-14-2005, 11:56 AM
Originally posted by zombie commando
A zombie virus could mean the end of civilization if it isn't responded to quickly enough. Response time is everything. The more something is allowed to spread the harder it is to contain. I think in all likelyhood if the dead started walking mass hysteria would ensue, causing a major delay in response time. By the time we got our collective asses in gear it may be too late......

yes,we would be doomed for sure.
Would be possible that the zombie virus cannot menage to infect each and every body?
Or once it's in, death and "resurrection" are inevitable?
Could the virus change itself and ifect people who simply breathe it?

I know, I'm boring you but you're the only one I know who can answer those questions :)

zombie commando
06-14-2005, 01:02 PM
Originally posted by Creepingmouth
yes,we would be doomed for sure.
Would be possible that the zombie virus cannot menage to infect each and every body?
Or once it's in, death and "resurrection" are inevitable?
Could the virus change itself and ifect people who simply breathe it?

I know, I'm boring you but you're the only one I know who can answer those questions :) It depends on what the movie "rules" are. In the original NOTLD they were popping up out of caskets, off mortician tables, etc., so I suppose the 'virus' was originally something that effected people that had died of natural causes. It was suggested that the virus was the cause of space radiation, but never confirmed.

Then in the later installments it was treated more like a virus. Viruses mutate all the time. They are actually good specimens to advocate evolution, because they are continually adopting to survive in their enviroment generation after generation. There are some people that could presummablely be immune to the virus some how, just like there are people out there born with the immune system that allows them to surpass certain diseases that have been around for awhile. A disease the size of a zombie epidemic would however, probably affect 99.99999% of the people out there, like AIDS. They have yet to find a human being that is naturally immune to AIDS. In a matter of fact there is one person they have found out there that got some weird AIDS strain that killed him much faster than normal AIDS, demonstrating that the virus HAS already mutated in some cases. In the chaos of a zombie plague I'm guessing routing anybody up that is naturally immune to the virus would be next to impossible.

Creepingmouth
06-14-2005, 01:23 PM
if they found a human being naturally immune to AIDS would that detection be sufficient in order to create a vaccine?

zombie commando
06-15-2005, 06:28 AM
Originally posted by Creepingmouth
if they found a human being naturally immune to AIDS would that detection be sufficient in order to create a vaccine? Detection alone wouldn't be sufficent but it would be a HUGE step towards finding the cure.

Creepingmouth
06-16-2005, 05:19 AM
thanks for answering all those questions!
I'm ready for a new zombie lesson now

atomic dog
07-12-2005, 06:22 AM
i took evenyone's advice and i finally picked up the zombie survival guide. i look forward to many hours of reading this.

zombie commando
07-12-2005, 08:57 AM
Some different types of zombies..........
http://consc.net/zombies.html
There are actually three different kinds of zombies. All of them are like humans in some ways, and all of them are lacking something crucial (something different in each case).

Hollywood zombies. These are found in zombie B-movies. Their defining feature is that they are dead, but "reanimated". They are typically rather mean, and fond of human flesh. The zombies pictured on this page are mostly Hollywood zombies (though I'm informed that the one at the bottom is really a ghost demon). An expert tells me that the name should be "Pittsburgh zombies", since the most important zombie movies were made in Pittsburgh, but somehow it doesn't have the same ring.

Haitian zombies. These are found in the voodoo (or vodou) tradition in Haiti. Their defining feature seems to be that they lack free will, and perhaps lack a soul. Haitian zombies were once normal people, but underwent zombification by a "bokor" through spell or potion, and are afterwards used as slaves.

Philosophical zombies. These are found in philosophical articles on consciousness. Their defining features is that they lack conscious experience, but are behaviorally (and often physically) identical to normal humans.

atomic dog
07-12-2005, 09:04 AM
i know this isn't a zombie movie perse but 'the serpent and the rainbow' does go indepth with voodoo and zombism. i suggest a viewing for some insight.

atomic dog
07-12-2005, 06:39 PM
ok i'm reading through this excellently written book, and i came across a question. in the section title 'on the run,' it talked about a film from 1965 called lawson film about a zombie attack. does anyone know if this can be obtained?

Mr.Garrett81
07-13-2005, 12:11 PM
This is just me talking here but you guys are way overanalyzing this. Its all make believe and there are no real proven facts of any of this. According to science a elephant could hang from a cliff with its tail tied to a daffodil. This is just my opinion though. Not trying to explain the unexplainable makes it scary.

Creepingmouth
07-13-2005, 12:37 PM
Originally posted by Mr.Garrett81
This is just me talking here but you guys are way overanalyzing this. Its all make believe and there are no real proven facts of any of this. According to science a elephant could hang from a cliff with its tail tied to a daffodil. This is just my opinion though. Not trying to explain the unexplainable makes it scary.


Originally posted by zombie commando
Here we will discuss the biology of a zombie.I realize they aren't real,but this is purely for fun folks.

If you just bothered to read the first post of this thread you would have read that.

zombie commando
08-25-2005, 11:31 AM
http://www.fvza.org/zscience2.html

Because of their catatonic state, zombies have been unable to offer any personal testimony to augment scientific research. Therefore, all we know about zombies is based upon empirical evidence. A person infected with the zombie virus is transformed into a single-minded hunting machine, with all changes to bodily functions serving the zombie imperative: locate prey, capture prey and feed. Overall, the changes that take place in zombies are more limited than in vampires, and primarily affect the nervous system and the muscular/skeletal system.
Brain/Nervous System
This system has been of great interest to researchers, as zombie nervous tissue appears to have regenerative properties not found in humans.


Cross-sections of a normal brain (l)
and a zombie brain (r) show the
extensive atrophy of zombie brain tissue
brain: because so little of it is crucial to their survival, zombies can survive an enormous loss of brain tissue. Former FVZA zombie specialist Dr. Waxman Himmelburger tells of encountering a zombie who had lost over 3/4 of his head from a shotgun blast, with no apparent effect.

spine/nervous system: zombies have exhibited the ability to withstand significant trauma to their central nervous system. In a famous series of experiments conducted by FVZA scientists in 1972, zombies who had their spinal cords severed regained the ability to walk within 24 hours. Thus far, researchers have been unable to unlock the mechanism for this process of repair.

dopamine: the smell of living flesh triggers a large release of this adrenaline-like neurotransmitter into the zombie brain

Sense Organs
"Follow your nose" might be the zombie motto. A zombie's powerful sense of smell compensates for the weakness of their other senses.

sight: due to degradation of their corneas, zombies suffer from severe myopia. In addition, they are colorblind.

hearing: zombies go deaf within a few weeks of transformation.
smell: zombies have even more receptor cells than vampires. If the wind is right, zombies can smell humans from as far as several miles away.


Circulatory System
As anybody who ever emptied his gun into an advancing zombie can tell you, zombies just don't bleed to death. Their circulatory adaptations allow them to survive wounds that would kill a human.

Blood: zombie blood is thick and black, hence the nickname, "zombie oil."

Heart: as with vampires, zombie blood is circulated by skeletal muscles rather than the heart.
Body Temperature
Zombie core body temperature ranges between 65 and 75 degrees, making them slightly warmer than vampires. This is due to heat released by the various parasites living in zombie flesh, a phenomenon that causes zombies to emit steam in cool weather and phosporescence when in water.

Muscular/Skeletal System and Connective Tissue
Changes here are of good news-bad news variety. Yes, zombies are stiff-limbed and slow, yes they move along at a shuffle rather than a sprint. But they are also very powerful, with a vice-like grip and jaws that can bite through metal.


Muscles/Connective Tissue: zombie muscle fibers become concentrated and take on the consistency of nylon rope. Ligaments and tendons thicken.
Normal jaw (l); Zombie jaw (r);
note the larger jawbone and
thicker muscle of the zombie jaw
Skeletal system: important modifications occur to the zombie jaw. Extra bone is deposited on the lower jaw to form an attachment point for larger chewing muscles. These adaptations enable zombies to bite through skull and bone and get at the pillars of their diet: brains and bone marrow,

Teeth: zombie teeth are not adapted to the powerful forces exerted on them by the jaw. Teeth crack and fall out, and the holes they leave behind leak sludge-like zombie blood. Eventually, all their teeth are gone, and a zombie is forced to chew with its exposed jawbones.

Hair: zombies who live long enough will lose all their hair.

Skin: decay sets in shortly after transformation. The skin turns leathery, then rots away.

Aging and Life Expectancy
The great irony of zombie life is that even as they voraciously feed, they too are being fed upon. A zombie's body is like a big petri dish serving host to everything from bacteria and fungi to maggots and ants. The resulting state of putrefication means, as terrifying as a zombie may be to the eye, it actually commits far worse offenses to the nose.

A long-held, common misconception is that zombies are immortal. In fact, the vast majority of zombies live less than one year. It is possible to determine a zombie's age based on their external appearance; specifically, their level of decomposition, also known as necrotic degradation.


Stages I through III of necrotic degradation
Stage I: the skin is mottled and covered with open sores.

Stage II: the ears and nose are rotting away. Loss of fingers and toes.

Stage III: large areas of exposed skull and bone, loss of limbs. Much of the teeth are gone, and one or both eyes fall out.

atomic dog
08-25-2005, 03:37 PM
hmm, interesting. it makes m ask this question: how much of the brain is the brain that has to be removed to stop a zombie? i mean the thalumus and hypothalomus (sp?), do they have to be removed? or does the cut have to happen right at the point there the brain stem becomes the spine?

zombie commando
08-26-2005, 06:39 AM
Originally posted by atomic dog
hmm, interesting. it makes m ask this question: how much of the brain is the brain that has to be removed to stop a zombie? i mean the thalumus and hypothalomus (sp?), do they have to be removed? or does the cut have to happen right at the point there the brain stem becomes the spine? I believe everything associated with the limbic system has to be removed, perhaps even part of the r-complex to remove any chance of the zombie "thinking", but the limbic system is the most important part, without that the beast can't move. So it wouldn't even have to be the removal of the entire brain to kill the undead, just a good chunk of it.

http://www.tabula-rasa.info/Horror/ZombieFilms4.html

Having trampled through living dead territory (up to our armpits in viscera) over the last few parts, we can perhaps start to identify the sorts of thematic elements that play into the zombie film.

The sub-genre contains, of course, many and varied themes, depending for their existence and effectiveness on the individual filmmaker. Zombies have provided symbols encapulating the desire for and consequences of revenge; adolescent angst; puritanism and, equally, sexual excess; the frustration of ambition; the futility or the triumph of violence; the desire for immortality; consumerism; scientific irresponsibility; grief; suburban malaise; the transcendence of love ... and many more.

Within these themes, however, I would isolate four major threads (which are, of course, related):

1. Images of control.
Control and related themes of power and exploitation are basic to the voodoo zombie and its alien-invasion/chemical/mind-control relatives.

For example, scenes in White Zombie such as the one in which Frazer comes to Legendre in his mill give a chilling dimension to the theme of exploitation that underlies the film. Zombies work incessantly to turn the Metropolis-like machinery and the groaning of the wheels provides an unnerving background to discussion over the fate of the desired Madeline's soul. "They work faithfully and are not worried about long hours," says zombie master Legendre of his creatures, in justification of the capitalist organisation represent by his mill. The black-and-white photography and angled shots, often placing the players behind or against foreground structures or the shuffling legs of the living dead, help to create many potent moments and emphasis the theme -- a theme extended eventually to the 'capturing' of Madeline herself as an unwilling object of desire.

Inevitably, such control destroys life, turning humanity into mindless automatons or violent engines of destruction.

2. The erosion of meaningful human qualities of life.
If the mill scene in White Zombie provides an image of industrial exploitation, the central story of Madeline and her 'suitors' can function as a metaphor for the dehumanisation caused by exploitation -- the willingness to deny choice to the object of love. In this context, the physical person is seen as more important than their mind and spirit, and the result is emptiness. Madeline's physical beauty remains once she is 'dead', but the landowner who orchestrated her death in order to win her comes to realise that devoid of will she is merely a shell. Though he has gained her body, he has in reality lost the better part of her, perhaps destroyed it forever.
In Romero's zombie trilogy, the flesh-eating dead represent a society lost to the true qualities of living -- whether the source of that loss be violence, hate, bureaucracy or stupidity. The media, the military, science, philosophy are all helpless to provide an answer. The violence and spiritual void of human society feeds upon itself and the result is an apocalypse of the dead.

Clive Barker has commented that, since organised religion is losing its ability to popularly explain the world, Romero's living dead represent the only immortality possible. They are the tyranny of flesh, immortality without a spiritual dimension. And they are implacable. In extreme cases, nothing will stop them, certainly not our usual bulwarks of law, order, love, sex and reason. Zombies, Barker reckons, are the archetypal monster for the latter part of the twentieth century.

3. The tyranny of the past.
I Walked With a Zombie is an intelligent and evocative essay into the use of the zombie as a symbol of the past haunting the present -- an emotional barrenness and a guilt that will not lie still. From the early sequence in which Tom Conway (as the husband) seeks to destroy Dee's romantic innocence with the words "There is no beauty--only death and decay", to the final revelations of love and hate, the film exerts a gentle if irresistible influence over the viewer which has not been replicated as powerfully elsewhere in the zombie sub-genre. The zombified wife, an expressionless white phantom, becomes a powerful image of emotional emptiness, as the jealousy and bitterness that lies in the past is slowly revealed.

More obviously, such films as Shock Waves and Ossorio's Blind Dead films show the evils of the past returning to haunt the living. Even the common image of chemically induced zombieism apparent in Return of the Living Dead, C.H.U.D. and many more -- films granting pollution or greed the central role in resurrecting the dead to an inevitably vicious pseudo-life -- belongs here. What we do now, to our society and our world, will return to haunt us in the future.

4. Issues of mortality.
The sort of de-hexing of mortality identified in the discussion of Braindead, hidden under a variety of guises, is perhaps what the zombie film as a sub-genre does most of all. Underlying the variety apparent in zombie-film lore is this 'sub-text': Halperin's voodoo zombies, Romero's living dead, Jackson's blood-splattered travesties, all show us the downside of immortality. This is what the natural human desire to transcend the laws of our own biology leads to, and, as Pet Semetary would have it, "Sometimes dead is better".

Yet, the modern zombie also represents the insatiable tyranny of mortality, its rotting face and shuffling implacability a potent symbol for the horror (as distinct from the transcendence) of death. Its unspeakable appetite warns us of the fragility of life when faced by the reality of death, and its violence is the revenge of a past which demands guilt and fear of us because we live on in a world it has been denied.

On the other hand, the filmic existence of these living dead also allows us to fight back at death, in our imaginations at least-- to mock it, shoot it in the head or grind it into a mess of blood and bone with our lawnmowers. You can thumb your nose at Death, even as you shudder!

And we can achieve this cathartic release between doing the dishes after dinner and heading off to bed for the night. What more could you ask for?

atomic dog
08-26-2005, 11:11 AM
damn that was deep, but i can really visualize all of it and relate.

Chomp_on_this
09-01-2005, 11:52 AM
Not sure if this belongs in here, but did anyone sort of dislike the way the zombies walked in Day of the Dead and Land of the Dead...they didn't really shuffle, they walked around in sort of a spastic way. With their arms flaring and their legs stiff, looking somewhat retarded, and I dare say, unscary.

I picked up the Zombi 2 25th Anniversary DVD awhile back, and I have to say, I like those zombies A LOT. They sort of stand their, head down, eyes closed, and slowly make their way toward you. I found that to be much more effective, frightening and biological-wise than the seisure inflicted dead from the last two Romero films. Even in that "Loot and Shoot" game located on the LOTD website...those slow moving, moaning zombies creeped the shit out of me. But where were they in LOTD? Did I miss them?...becasue all I remember is a bunch of the zombies looking stiff and flaring their arms.

I am not saying I grown to dislike the Romero zombies, infact I find them quite comical, but those zombies in Zombi 2 just seemed to be more effective for the horror part of the zombie film.

http://www.americanphoto.co.jp/pages/eiga/SA/Previews/Plans-23761.jpg

zombie commando
09-01-2005, 11:59 AM
I agree Chomp. Fulci's zombies absolutely own Romero's take on them. I love the more decayed look they sport.

http://redakce.atlas.cz/edition_files/images/71/26336.jpg

Chomp_on_this
09-01-2005, 12:10 PM
I actually didn't mind the lack of "dacayedness" on the Romero zombies because of course they are the UNBURIED dead. But like you said, it looks a hell of a lot cooler than blue face.

I think the reason we saw some of those spastic zombies in Day of the Dead is because if you listen to the Many Days of the Dead Featurette on the DVD, Romero says, some people took the whole experience as a joke, and kinda fucked up his zombie formula.

But I dunno...there was also that stupid Nurse zombie in Dawn of the Dead as well. Maybe it was intentional, because like George always says, Dawn of the Dead was a comedy rather than a horror.

Hopefully, he might touch on the basics of the zombies in LOTD on one of the featurettes on the DVD.

zombie commando
09-01-2005, 12:14 PM
I think that where things might go astray is when he lets people act out the zombie roles with zero input. He lets everyone do their own spin on what a zombie should act like, and well, some people's opinions blow harder than Moby Dick.

Nightmareman88
09-01-2005, 12:35 PM
Originally posted by zombie commando
I agree Chomp. Fulci's zombies absolutely own Romero's take on them. I love the more decayed look they sport.

http://redakce.atlas.cz/edition_files/images/71/26336.jpg


Agree with both of you, Fulci made the zombies much more decayed looking and just more creepier looking, da best zombies to me

while Romero's zombies where just blue and it made the zombie look like they where choking in some scenes

zombie commando
09-10-2005, 01:00 PM
http://homepage.powerup.com.au/~vampire/day/d-biol.htm
Why Do Zombies Crave Human Flesh
This is the most difficult question of all if we ignore a theological explanation.

It is one thing to accept that an alien virus can adjust cell structure and affect a human being such that it causes reanimation with altered functionality. But why then does the zombie itself desire to eat human flesh? Something most humans would never consider in normal life?

The infected brain clearly has some processing and reasoning capability. Perhaps each zombie reverts to a basic carnivorous nature and simply desires to consume any living creature. Although never indicated to any extent in the films, it is highly likely that a zombie would attack any living creature within the vicinity, including domestic and wild animals. It is not specifically targetting human prey.

However in the initial stages of zombie infiltration, where zombies were reanimating in the midst of normal society and in populated areas, human prey just happened to be the most abundant. And the zombie itself, with its limited reasoning power, may simply associate another human as the highest candidate for prey, since they associated mostly with others humans during their life prior to reanimation.

atomic dog
09-10-2005, 04:31 PM
but only flesh? why not the intestines and brains?

zombie commando
09-12-2005, 07:00 AM
Originally posted by atomic dog
but only flesh? why not the intestines and brains? I think those still qualify as flesh man.

Creepingmouth
09-12-2005, 02:27 PM
Originally posted by zombie commando
http://homepage.powerup.com.au/~vampire/day/d-biol.htm
Why Do Zombies Crave Human Flesh
This is the most difficult question of all if we ignore a theological explanation.

It is one thing to accept that an alien virus can adjust cell structure and affect a human being such that it causes reanimation with altered functionality. But why then does the zombie itself desire to eat human flesh? Something most humans would never consider in normal life?

The infected brain clearly has some processing and reasoning capability. Perhaps each zombie reverts to a basic carnivorous nature and simply desires to consume any living creature. Although never indicated to any extent in the films, it is highly likely that a zombie would attack any living creature within the vicinity, including domestic and wild animals. It is not specifically targetting human prey.

However in the initial stages of zombie infiltration, where zombies were reanimating in the midst of normal society and in populated areas, human prey just happened to be the most abundant. And the zombie itself, with its limited reasoning power, may simply associate another human as the highest candidate for prey, since they associated mostly with others humans during their life prior to reanimation.

theorically, could zombies eat other zombies?
afterall cannibalism is contemplated in nature

zombie commando
09-15-2005, 09:12 AM
Originally posted by Creepingmouth
theorically, could zombies eat other zombies?
afterall cannibalism is contemplated in nature They could. I've seen in in various forms of literature, where the undead turn upon themselves for food.

zombie commando
09-27-2005, 10:09 AM
Stages of the Disease
The stages of zombie transformation are the same that occur in vampires, with two major differences: in zombies, the onset of symptoms and transformation occurs much faster and has no relation to the cycles of day and night.
Stage One: Infection. Symptoms of zombie infection appear quickly: within one or two hours, the victim will develop a headache, fever, chills and other flu-like symptoms. Zombie infections last about half as long as their vampiric counterparts, mostly between three and six hours, during which the vaccine is 100 percent effective.
Stage Two: Coma. Zombie comas are considerably more brief than vampiric comas. While physiological changes-slow pulse, shallow breathing-are similar, the coma lasts only between four and six hours. Only the very young and very old do not survive zombie comas. Zombies have been found as young as five years old and as old as 90. As with vampires, the vaccine is 50 percent effective when administered during Stage Two of the infection: the longer the victim has been in the coma, the less effective the vaccine.
Stage Three: Transformation. Zombies awaken from their comas in a catatonic state. They are unresponsive to most stimuli as they shuffle about, trying to locate their prey. Unlike vampires, there is no acclimation period; a zombie will begin hunting immediately upon transformation.

http://www.geocities.com/residentevilsfan1/ZombieScience1.html

I hope you pubes are studying.

atomic dog
09-27-2005, 02:57 PM
i am man.

o khere's a question, if a person is infected but frozen in a cryo unit. could there be a way to vaccinate him? like remove the blood and exchange it for good stuff?

zombie commando
09-27-2005, 06:55 PM
Originally posted by atomic dog
i am man.

o khere's a question, if a person is infected but frozen in a cryo unit. could there be a way to vaccinate him? like remove the blood and exchange it for good stuff? It wouldn't matter. Freezing tissue generally destroys it. The forming ice crystals cut swaths through it. That's why any good butcher would tell you frozen meat generally doesn't hold the flavor of fresh meat. It's a reason why all those people spending money to get their brains frozen post mortem are wasting money. At the very best I can see them emerging from their icy chamber with very much in common with Terry Schiavo. I think I'd rather be a zombie.

atomic dog
09-27-2005, 07:35 PM
i guess you're right, but i had to ask.

ShadowX81
10-30-2005, 03:10 PM
Originally posted by zombie commando
It wouldn't matter. Freezing tissue generally destroys it. The forming ice crystals cut swaths through it. That's why any good butcher would tell you frozen meat generally doesn't hold the flavor of fresh meat. It's a reason why all those people spending money to get their brains frozen post mortem are wasting money. At the very best I can see them emerging from their icy chamber with very much in common with Terry Schiavo. I think I'd rather be a zombie.
Actually, when you are cryogenicly frozen, they replace the water in your cells with some chemical so that doesnt happen.

zombie commando
10-30-2005, 06:29 PM
Originally posted by ShadowX81
Actually, when you are cryogenicly frozen, they replace the water in your cells with some chemical so that doesnt happen. Negativo.
http://www.unexplainable.net/artman/publish/article_743.shtml

WhiteZombie
02-08-2007, 07:29 PM
I just thought I would ressurect this thread, I mean just skimming it I learnt so much cool shit, and noticed not enough people read (or at leats posted) in here, so I thought i would bring it back. Some DAMN cool stuff in here. One day I will fully read it ALL.

WhiteZombie
02-10-2007, 07:55 PM
Well I've decided I have a question for you Commando. Now i still havint read though ALL of this, so if it is answerd somwhere inside, let me know. But its stated (and known) that Zombies only go for warm flesh right? Well if sombody has just died, then wouldent they still be fresh enough to eat?. Ex: Flyboy in Dawn. He was killed moments before the door opened in the elivator, but they dident eat him. ?

Creepingmouth
03-01-2007, 05:17 PM
glad someone resurrected this thread: one of the most interesting on the whole mb if I may dare to say.
Too bad prof. zc ain't giving lessons anymore.I hope he'll be back someday

I don't want answer in zc's place,but if you read the previous page zc answered a similar question telling that it is possible that undead may eat other zombies: zombie cannibalism cannot be excluded.

zombie commando
04-20-2007, 06:47 AM
Sorry I've been out on a sabbatical for a bit, but I'm back!

And to give my own personal opinion of the question above....I think that if the virus didn't get ahold of the body fully, and if the person in question is in the middle of the throes of zombie transmorphication (I made that word up) it is possible for other zombies to eat him.

Just think about all those zombie flicks where somebody is "infected", yet not quite fully zombified, and martyrs themselves to save a pack of survivors.

zombie commando
04-20-2007, 06:54 AM
Zombie Biting Strength!

Changes here are of good news-bad news variety. Yes, zombies are stiff-limbed and slow, yes they move along at a shuffle rather than a sprint. But they are also very powerful, with a vice-like grip and jaws that can bite through metal.


Muscles/Connective Tissue: zombie muscle fibers become concentrated and take on the consistency of nylon rope. Ligaments and tendons thicken.

Skeletal system: important modifications occur to the zombie jaw. Extra bone is deposited on the lower jaw to form an attachment point for larger chewing muscles. These adaptations enable zombies to bite through skull and bone and get at the pillars of their diet: brains and bone marrow,

Teeth: zombie teeth are not adapted to the powerful forces exerted on them by the jaw. Teeth crack and fall out, and the holes they leave behind leak sludge-like zombie blood. Eventually, all their teeth are gone, and a zombie is forced to chew with its exposed jawbones.

Hair: zombies who live long enough will lose all their hair.

Skin: decay sets in shortly after transformation. The skin turns leathery, then rots away.

http://www.fvza.org/images/jaws.jpg
Left, normal jaw. Right, zombie jaw. Notice the added jaw muscles!

Creepingmouth
05-06-2007, 03:37 PM
I can't see that pic.

p.s. welcome back ;)