Thursday, 5 July 2012

The Mechanics of Zombies

Actually that’s a misleading heading. I don’t mean the Day of the Dead rejects that you sometimes see at auto-repair shops who always seem to have brothers with teeth like the immediate aftermath of the twin towers or had had some mad dentist using brute force to jam twice the normal complement of teeth into their lower jaw. What I mean is the mechanics and biology of zombies. Ben and I were having a lively debate about this at 2am this morning.

Huh? You say... 2am? Well, we had just gone to bed after watching a sci-fi channel b-grade horror flick and ended up discussing zombies. I must tell you about this movie we watched, by the way. You know that moment some way into a movie, say around 3/4 of the way in, when you suddenly get that
"Why, in the name of all that is good, am I watching this drivel?"
point? Well I got that just at the climax of the movie. About 15 minutes before the end. And then I had a kind of
"What the f***?"
moment when I realized that I had had my belief suspended so much by this movie that I felt that my belief was hanging some miles above Everest. You know what I mean, the way movies first say
"Ok. There’s this bloke right? And he has a talking dog right?"
and you kinda say
"Well... Ok... I’ll allow that"
and before long the movie makers have added so many of these escalating requests that you suddenly find yourself saying
"Well... Ok... I’ll allow that"
when the hero jumps off a 500 story building onto the back of a flying fire-breathing pig who is actually an angel in disguise working with Zeus sent to rid the Earth of lawyers who are really evil alien lizards bent on overthrowing the monarchy. 

You know what I mean...

Anyway, as the hero was firing his gun from the top of a lighthouse onto the approaching bad guys, I turned to Ben and said
"Er... Can I just confirm something?" 
The Ad break came on and he said
"Ok," I said, "So let me get this straight... This family moves over from Holland to this little island in the US north east because they have anaemia and one lady was born a hermaphrodite yes?" 
He agreed.
I continued,
"Explain this to me. Why am I watching 4 foot high legless, in the sense of having no legs, fatty blobby hermaphrodite dwarves with bone axes coming up out of tunnels they’ve created to eat the bodies of the recently buried, attacking a group of school girls in a lighthouse during a rainstorm?" 
He smiled. 
"Ah. Well..."
Anyway, I digress. Zombie biology.

Now we know that zombies are the animated dead. I mean dead people. Not a live person with a virus like in 28 Days. Dead. No circulation, no respiration and so on. So riddle me this...

If they’re dead, then they must be incapable of smell. I don’t mean they don’t smell themselves. They’re animated rotting corpses for Buddhas sake. I mean that without respiration, there is no air movement over the back of their noses. So the odor receptors in the back of their nose, assuming they haven’t rotted anyway, aren’t getting any molecules of odor. So they can’t smell.

Next is their ability to see. Now why is it that the thin film of moisture over their eyes hasn’t dried up? Tear ducts can’t be working. So their eyes must be glued to their eyelids. Incapable of seeing round corners as a result I suspect. Furthermore the vitreous material in the eye balls themselves must be drying up and going very, very cloudy. So the average zombie must be almost, if not totally, blind.

Now why is it that the rest of their face is rotting off, but they can still stand upright and walk? This doesn’t make any sense. If so much of their body is rotting, why not the fine cilia in their cochlea and the joints between those little bones in their ears? So to be consistent, they should be profoundly deaf and incapable of balance.

Now I haven’t done this, but I know people who have attached electrodes to small animals. Now I don’t mean live ones. I mean in school biology lessons. Frogs. That sort of thing. Sheesh, you people have strange minds! Anyway, the point is that it takes quite a jolt of juice to get the muscles on those little frog and mouse corpses to twitch. And each successive jolt gives a smaller twitch. This is because each contraction of a muscle uses up energy stored in the cells. In a live creature, this energy is replaced due to circulation of the blood.

Zombies don’t have circulation. So their muscles would twitch for maybe a couple of minutes at the most.

See where I’m going with this? Real zombies would be blind, deaf, dumb shambling corpses dragging themselves for a few yards over the ground. So unless you come across a zombie with a pair of massive coke bottle glasses, hearing aids with volume set on high, an artificial respirator and an electrical extension cord jammed in its neck to provide power you’re not likely to be in any sort of bother. Especially since most electric cords are no more than 20 meters in length they should be fairly easy to avoid. And all those hysterical nit-wits in movies have to do is shutdown the local power grid and they can step daintily between twitching rotting senseless bodies. Easy peasy.

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