How Likely is a Zombie Apocalypse?
We cannot deny that in recent decades, we’ve suffered countless attacks on our peace of mind, giving us the feeling that The End is near: natural disasters, UFO sightings, monsters, pandemics, etc.
In this sense, one of the topics that both cinema and video games have addressed the most is the so-called Zombie Apocalypse. But how many chances are there that an event of this kind will come out of fantasy and become a reality?
After all, if the zombie state can occur among animals, why couldn’t it also occur among humans?
Let’s analyze this thoroughly with scientific facts…
Do Zombies Exist?
According to what we’ve learned from movies and video games, zombies exist due to the action of an external agent, usually a virus. In most cases, this virus has been produced in a lab and, for one reason or another, has managed to get out and spread around the world – any resemblance to reality is purely coincidental.
Once a human being has been infected, the virus begins to kill – and in some cases, mutate – all the body cells, taking control of the victim’s nervous system, erasing all consciousness, and forcing him to behave like a zombie!
Now, in its traditional definition, zombies are basically dead that have “life,” something that doesn’t make any sense in nature. Furthermore, it’s simply impossible since when we die, ALL our cells die too.
When a cell dies, it is because its cellular metabolism has stopped; that is, it has lost the ability to obtain energy and consume it and consume matter and generate it. When this occurs, no fuel is available to run vital systems or renew organs and tissues. That’s why it’s impossible for a human being with total cell death to be able to move.
Also, since zombies are dead creatures, they don’t have an immune system, so they’d be exposed to the attack of bacteria, viruses, and fungi, which wouldn’t find any way of preventing them from devouring the organs and tissues of zombies. After a few days, there would be absolutely nothing left… potentially.
Now, if we remove the concept of “dead” from the equation and leave other characteristics, could zombies exist?
From that perspective, it’s not such a fanciful thing after all.
Zombies already exist in nature
If you see zombies as beings whose brains have been partially destroyed or annulled, leaving a functional organism but without consciousness, then we could face a zombie apocalypse. Only some virus, fungus, or bacteria would be necessary to infect your brain and damage it or take control. Well, just to name one possibility, since, in a moment, you’ll know more.
This is not pure speculation since, in nature, there are cases of animals infected by pathogens that turn them zombie-like.
In fact, you can find insect hosts of parasites that turn them into zombies.
This is the case with Nematomorph worms (Nematomorpha or Gordiacea), whose eggs are ingested by aquatic insects. The worms are born inside these insects, feeding on them, and when the time comes to leave, they take control of the insect’s body, causing it to jump into the water and drown so that its parasite lives and continues its cycle.
Something similar occurs with the fungus Cordyceps unilateralism, which infects certain species of ants, grows inside them, and finally provokes strange behaviors such as separating from the rest of the ants, biting leaves, and hanging from them, to finally kill them and spread their spores into the air. Something similar could happen with human beings and in different ways, as you’ll see below.
What could start a zombie apocalypse?
- Nuclear catastrophe
We already know that nuclear radiation can cause severe mutations in the genes of humans, animals, and plants. So it could happen that any of these genetic alterations in some type of common and harmless microbe or parasite for humans produces changes that gradually convert it into a microorganism capable of producing a zombie state like the one already described in the case of ants, for example.
- Brain parasites
We also discussed the possibility that a parasite could take control of the human brain. Well, this is already happening since Toxoplasmosa gondii, a microorganism that reproduces mainly in cats and causes toxoplasmosis in humans is capable of altering the behavior of infected people.
Can you imagine a super powerful version of such a microorganism?
- Toxic chemicals (Neurotoxins)
Nature can produce certain chemical compounds capable of causing zombie-like behavior in humans. For example, the plant known as “Devil’s Trumpet” (Datura stramonium) can intoxicate the nervous system so that the affected person moves almost without consciousness but retains the ability to perform the most basic tasks. Apparently, a citizen from Haiti turned into a zombie in this way decades ago.
- Virus or medication
What if, one of these days, a group of scientists from a hostile country develops a chemical or biological weapon capable of altering human behavior? In the first case, they would only have to create a drug capable of suppressing serotonin in your brain.In the second case, they could use genetic modification techniques such as CRISPR-Cas9 to convert non-pathogenic agents into aggressive viruses that attack the human brain causing destructive behavior and mass deaths.
Neurogenesis is the process by which the brain forms new neurons. This natural process of the human brain is already being emulated by scientists to regenerate damaged parts in brain-injured and comatose patients. What if someone thinks about combining this technology with reanimating bodies in a suspended state? Well, it turns out that when reanimating a dead human body, the part of the brain called the “neocortex” (the one that allows you to have consciousness and reasoning) dies, so the brain is left with only the most basic functions. Well, something very similar to a zombie.
Nanobots are microscopic robots that are already being used in human healthcare. Some scientists are working to one day use these nanobots to replace damaged parts of the human brain. The problem is that some nanobots can self-replicate, and at the pace of artificial intelligence, it wouldn’t be strange to think that one day, they’ll become self-conscious and decide to use us as their sports cars.
How to prepare for a zombie apocalypse
Suppose you have taken all these speculations very seriously and want to start taking action now. Well, start here.
- Create a survival plan
Include a disease control plan and an escape plan. Consider factors such as:
• Short-term supplies
• Hygiene items
• Emergency kit
- Learn to find your own food and water
If you know something about agriculture, you’ll have to put it into practice; if not, you’ll have to hunt your food. On the other hand, learn to collect water from rain or some small waterfall or creek – always locate your shelter near a source of fresh water. Also, get 1 or more “Life Straws” for water filtering and purifying…
- Keep communications working
If phone lines fail, the best option as a communication system is using radios, preferably solar batteries. If you don’t have them, you’ll have to use something that generates sound or even the old smoke signals.
- Use the right transportation
If you have a gas-powered vehicle, be aware that chemicals that keep fuel cool degrade over time – one to two years. Diesel vehicles may be the best option, as some can also run on other fuels, including biodiesel. Although keeping an optimistic attitude can be quite difficult, depending on your conditions, try to remain positive. This doesn’t mean that you should have blind faith in anything; don’t wait for a spiritual being to come to save humanity; you must help yourself. Go ahead, warrior!
- Lionel Thomas
- Roy Wibowo