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Are Zombies Impossible

author
James Lee
• Thursday, 19 November, 2020
• 7 min read

The next step will be to flee heavily populated areas because where there are people, there are souls desperate enough to do anything to stay alive. Zombies have been a fixture of folklore and creative media for hundreds of years, but they've really sprung (or lumbered, if you prefer) into the limelight in the past decade or so.

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Contents

They slowly but relentlessly clawed their way toward any breathing person they could find, making up for their lack of speed with ceaseless patience and overwhelming numbers. They're cold and lifeless, but somehow they crack open skulls to dig out a dessert of brains.

They're rotting away but also stumbling down city streets grabbing unlucky people left and right. Luckily for you, according to our current understanding of human biology, zombies just can't happen.

The word “stifling” doesn't quite capture the misery of triple-digit temperatures paired with humidity levels higher than a hothouse. The long and short of it is that Earth's unrelenting weather would take a toll on zombies in a plethora of ways.

High heat and humidity speed the deterioration of rotting flesh by providing perfect conditions for the proliferation of insects and bacteria, which decompose anything they set their enzymes to. Even the slightest blow or stumble could make their skeletal systems completely collapse, perhaps even under their own weight.

That's not to mention deterioration caused by ultraviolet Sundays, hurricane-force winds, sheets of rain and hail, or mountains of snow. Of course, all of this foul weather may be why so many zombies prefer the relative safety of basements, dungeons and abandoned prisons.

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We're all mechanical animals of sorts, our locomotion made possible by the links between muscles, tendons, skeletal elements and much more. That makes it all the more puzzling that so many modern-day zombies are perfectly capable of movement even when their flesh and bones are dangling and flopping.

And yet, here are all of these zombies staggering around (sometimes with frightening speed), seemingly oblivious to the impossible physics driving forward their rotting, shredded muscles and broken bones. The human central nervous system controls all of our muscular activity by firing electrical signals from the brain to muscle cells, which twitch in response to the gray matter's commands.

Many zombies appear to suffer from massive head wounds that would render any brain completely non-functional, making the idea of forward motion all the more implausible. Viruses, fungi, bacteria and other microscopic invaders have plagued humankind since the beginning of time, shortening our lifespans and often make our lives miserable.

Yet it wasn't until the 1800s that we finally figured out that the tiniest of invaders, such as smallpox or HIV, are often the most dangerous of our biological enemies. Our immune systems, brimming with the weaponry of white blood cells, lay waste to infections and keep us alive ... for the least a while.

People who suffer from immune system deficiencies struggle with all sorts of problems. With their ample flashiness, zombies are a perfect breeding ground for untold numbers of bacteria, fungi and viruses that would make short work of their hosts, devouring them from the inside out.

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We humans eat food so that we can convert chemical energy into the activities that keep us alive, from breathing to reproduction. Metabolism is an overarching term encompassing all the chemical reactions that happen within our bodies.

In theory, zombies consume brains because they, too, require sustenance that perpetuates their ability to function. The nutrients that humans consume begin to break down the moment we start chewing up a slice of pizza or Quiché.

In an ecosystem ripped apart by the chaos of a zombie invasion, hunger is sure to be a challenge not just for the remaining humans but also for their animal counterparts. And like humans, those animals will do just about anything to survive, even if it means nibbling at the festering, crawling remains of what's left of someone's loved one.

Because zombies are perpetually disintegrating, it's difficult to understand how they'd perform any of the vital actions necessary to hunt yummy brains. As they began to rot, the soft tissue of their eyes would be among the first organs to fall apart, leaving zombies grasping blindly for anyone unlucky enough to wander into their blackened hands.

Their eardrums would warp and tear and fall in tatters, as would the rest of their auditory system. Deaf and blind, zombies would then fall back on their sense of smell, which would likely be overwhelmed by the stench of their own organ meat stewing inside their gut sack.

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It's a disease so contagious that around 90 percent of people who come into contact with an infected person will also become ill . It's an insidious virus, too, as it can live for around two hours outside the body, hanging in the air, just waiting for a hapless person to inhale it and start the replication process anew.

There are an array of issues with this sort of propagation, starting with the fact that it's terribly inefficient. This is a tough proposition for a creature that may be missing an arm or leg, making it challenging to chase down terrified prey.

Second, the act of biting consumes enormous amounts of time and energy, two things that rotting zombies are not really known for. Before the advent of antibiotic creams and pills, simple scrapes and cuts were a treacherous endeavor even for healthy-as-a-horse humans.

Cuts allowed dirt and germs to get a little wiggle room and make their way into your innards. But with proper hygiene, including wound rinsing and handwashing, most people eventually recovered from these kinds of injuries, although the healing process took longer and sometimes resulted in long-term side effects.

A small scrape would blister into peels of skin that sag and slide right off of a zombie's body. Your stomach is a muscular bag that has a capacity of roughly 30 ounces of liquid and solid matter.

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Zombies are the competitive eaters of the monster world, inclined to stuff themselves at each and every brain buffet they can find. Because zombies aren't known for their fully functioning bodies, they may very well have gaps in their digestive system somewhere between their mouths and anuses.

Gaping holes in this route make it impossible for zombies to derive any sort of benefit from their meals at all. This tough shell protects your chompers from the rigors of chewing foods, and with proper dental care will last you for a lifetime.

Guzzling sugary soda and neglecting to floss sets you up for decades of misery, including cavities, receding gums and a mouthful of other awfulness. As their gums rot and the enamel cracks and fades, the bony protrusions of their teeth will become pitted and stained and then fall right out of their skulls, making biting you a hopelessly futile endeavor.

Even if those teeth are shattered and broken, they'd still make for formidable weapons if you were careless enough to stumble into a zombie's death grip. For the time being, no virus or radiation leak or fungal infection has caused the world to be overrun by and undead horde.

On the bright side, you'll probably never have to run for your life as hundreds of dead people stumble and mumble and groan all around your and your family, clawing at your face and trying to eat your brains. Sadly, it also means you'll never have the chance to put your sophisticated zombie survival plan into action.

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Nothing short of some pretty amazing voodoo magic would make them a real threat to humanity. They'd abandon their 9-to-5 lives and office gigs for baseball bats, guns, campfires in the woods and, well, unrelenting terror.

Toxoplasmosis likes brain tissue and has the capacity for long-term infection, which can start early in life. How one person reacts to an infection of toxoplasmosis depends on a variety of factors, including genetic predisposition, the person’s immune system, virulence (the capacity to cause disease) of the strain, and the part of the brain that it infects.

A field of science called reanimation research involves resuscitation after the organ(s) have died. According to this research, the brain is the organ that has had the least amount of success in reanimation after cardiac arrest (heart stopped).

Some disorders and modern scientific research make it seem that a pandemic of zombies could be just around the corner. Although there are parasites that can change mental function, drugs can simulate zombie-like behavior, and reanimation is possible to some degree, it would take a highly-unlikely ‘perfect storm’ of events to bring all potential issues together, and create a real-life zombie.

Scientists have come out many times and said that it would be impossible for our bodies to walk around after we’re dead moaning and craving fresh flesh and brains. I mean, sure, after we’re dead a body part might spasm for a moment or something, but that is light years away from how we would imagine ourselves combined.

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I recently read an interesting article here on Primer Magazine called 5 Reasons The Zombie Apocalypse Will Never Come To Pass. It was insightful and somewhat convincing, but at the same time, I’ll admit that television shows like The Walking Dead almost make it seem so realistic that you might start to wonder.

If aliens wanted to wreak havoc on our planet and change life as we know it, they could put this virus into the air for us all to sniff up.

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Sources
1 quotewizard.com - https://quotewizard.com/home-insurance/average-cost-of-flood-insurance
2 www.fema.gov - https://www.fema.gov/flood-maps/coastal/insurance-rate-maps
3 www.fema.gov - https://www.fema.gov/glossary/flood-zones
4 quotewizard.com - https://quotewizard.com/home-insurance/how-flood-zones-affect-insurance-premiums
5 webcms.pima.gov - http://webcms.pima.gov/cms/one.aspx