Are zombies scientifically possible?

Following on from yesterday’s Dead Island trailer, I started wondering whether zombies are scientifically possible or not. Funnily enough, there’s a HUGE amount of information on this topic (who would have thought?), so here’s a brief summary of my findings, along with a lot of links allowing you to read further, should you wish to be prepared for a zombocalypse!

One vital question to ask yourself first is simply “What exactly is a zombie?”. An easy question, you would think, but one that is actually quite complex when you get down to the science behind it. I could go into a lot of detail here, but the following article by Phil Plait, “Scientist uses his brains to explain how to make zombies plausible“, is both more detailed and better written than something I could do. He talks about how power hungry our brains are, and how they require the rest of our functioning body to provide them with enough oxygen and nutrients to survive. I especially like the following point he makes:

I suppose, then, the only way to have a scientific zombie (and by that I mean a scientifically viable one, not a zombie in a white lab coat peering through a microscope) is for all the major organs to be working, so that the brain can get the energy it needs… but you may see the problem here. If all the major organs work, and the brain works, it’s not really a zombie, is it?

Of course, the fact that zombies aren’t scientifically plausible doesn’t stop people from thinking of scientific ways that zombies could happen. The following article on cracked.com, “5 Scientific Reasons a Zombie Apocalypse Could Actually Happen” explains, well, 5 scientific reasons a zombie apocalypse could actually happen. Condensed, the 5 reasons are:

  1. Brain Parasites: Toxoplasmosa gondii takes over our brains, forcing us to lose our self-preservation & rational thought.
  2. Neurotoxins: Use a poison (such as tetrodotoxin from a fugu) to greatly slow down bodily functions to a death-like state, then use drugs like Datura stramonium (or other alkaloids) to bring them back to a trancy zombie-like state.
  3. Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, aka “Mad Cow Disease“, causes zombie-like symptoms.
  4. Neurogenesis: Use stem cells to re-grow the dead brain stem of a brain-dead patient, resulting in a mindless body shambling around.
  5. Nanobots: microscopic, self-replicating robots, that can set up neural connections in the brain to replace damaged ones. By leaving the brain stem intact but destroying the cortex, they can effectively create a zombie.

All a bit far fetched, I’ll agree, but amusing to think about. On the flip side of the coin to the above 5 reasons, are cracked.com’s “7 Scientific Reasons a Zombie Outbreak Would Fail (Quickly)“. Much more logical reasoning. Makes you wonder why we worry in the first place. Or why researchers still ponder ‘zombie attack’. I find it all really rather amusing.

You’ve got red on you. Onwards!

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75 Responses to Are zombies scientifically possible?

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  3. Jeremiah Hilliard says:

    I have been playing Dead Island for about a month and have made it to the laboratory. And I have been thinking about the movie I Am Legend and I began to think : No none of this apocalyptic scene would last very long because governments would close there countries off and bring out the missiles and bombs. A zombie apocalypse would last about 2 months maximum depending on the knowledge people had about the outbreak/experiments or whatever. I have a good feeling it would hardly be an apocalypse.

    • Johan Garcia says:

      Well in that 2 month time period im sure the zombies will find dumb people to contaminate so, if there was a zombie apocalypse then im sure we couldnt kill every single zombie there is therefore one zombie would contaminate another dumb person then that person would the same thing so i think we would never get rid of zombies if in fact there is to be a zombie apocalypse.

      • someguyontheinternet says:

        Well yes but eventually the world would run out of dumb people.

    • Sean McLaughlin says:

      Ok, at first, I agreed with that statement when i was told it. Then when i got a research paper assignment for my Biology II class, i got to chose my own topic, so i chose to write about whether or not zombism can actually happen and whether or not we, as humans, are at risk of an upcoming, and very close apocalypse. Turns out, i was nearly scared at my results after my research and when it came to the final part of my essay, i wrote about how we would survive a situation like this and how long it would take for the threat to be gone. Truth is, government sucks at shitty situations. Look at some fatal events in the past: September 9th, 2001, the United States went came under attack by, at the time, was an unknown enemy. Instead of looking into and researching who and what was the cause, the government launched a multi-trilion dollar war wasting money an lives. That is one example in which the government fucked up in a shitty spot and costed thousands of lives and trillions of dollars. So do you really trust the government to cover your ass when all shit hits the fan? Me: Fuck no, and if this actually were to occur, it would go international and fuck the world over. Classic every man for themselves…

    • Phillip Ojong says:

      The thing is, according to The Walking Dead, the virus can spread airborne therefore resseructing dead bodies like crazy.Every living thing during the apocalypse has the virus in them, meaning they will turn into a zombie shortly after death. I dont know how this happens but dead bodies that died before the spread also turn into zombies.

      • reina says:

        that is just a show not reality. if a zombie apocalypse happened in real life who knows if it spreads airborne.
        .

      • kuba malat says:

        so not a lot of people know this about THE WALKING DEAD but i am really big fan so i know ( ROBERT KIRKMAN THE CREATOR OF THE WALKING DEAD CONFRIMED THIS )
        there is NO virus. it is just something everyone aledy has. SO WHEN YOU GET BITTEN YOU DO NOT HAVE VIRUS. you die becuase of blood loss or infection like SALMONELA or something that dead rotten bodies ( theres gonna be a lot of this shit if the zombie is dead for like a month and still walking around in dirt and eating rotten flesh ) have.so you can not get infected in TWD becuase there is No infection. so the BITE PROBLEM can be solved by just antibiotics that would hell the illnes wwhich comes from contct with dead rotten bodies carrying salmonela and shit lke that around. ( just medical atention would solve the problme ) antibiotics and some bandages plus adrenalin shot for better healing would solve the problem.
        IMAGINE HOW ANY LIVES WOULD BE SAVED IF THE CHARACETRS ACTUALLY KNEW THIS!

        SOURCES:THE WALKNG DEAD WIKI/zombies

    • angie says:

      The government or the people even higher than the government (illuminati, Bilderberg group) would probably be in or it! Read what’s printed on the Georgia Guidestones. They want to reduce the population to $1 billion people!

    • Jimy Agrashest says:

      1. The people working the bombs and stuff may be zombies
      2. There zombies, they’ll just turn

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  5. Thomas says:

    Mutated Rabies strain. Like the fast moving strain in northern AZ in 2009…if it entered into a human you could have a “28 days later” on your hands. Do I think this could happen? No. Is it technically possible? Yes.

    Regards

  6. david says:

    if it were to happen. it wouldnt last very long. only if the apocolups starts during the day. if it happened at night, then there’s no way we would live

  7. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAvt9rzJqsk ~ you may want to watch this…freaked me out enough to research if zombies were possible. :{

    • Wedge7 says:

      That’s a very bizarre story indeed! Hopefully it’s an isolated case; if more face-eating occurs soon, we may have a zombie uprising on our hands!

  8. ZombieMan!! says:

    Well Zombies wouldnt last very long because of the nuclear weapons we have and all that so we could blow them all away easily.

    • brad says:

      nuclear weapons would cause more harm than good as though if some people survived future generations would have stuff wrong with them

  9. Chicken ned says:

    suuure nuclear weapons….blow them away n blow our own Asses away in the process….like the guy a few questions up said….all communications n acess in or out of the country would be cut off untill they start bringing out missles n all….untill the pandemic goes worldwide… ‘DEAD RISING’

  10. drei says:

    i agree with chicken ned yup manny civilians will be taken away to (.Y.)

  11. Jillian says:

    I had a really frightining dream one night about zombies invading the world a chasing me around trying to byte me and I know it is a dream but the weird thing is that I had it more than once what does that mean?

  12. j4ce70 says:

    i am i scienceinst who and i think it is not possabal as much as you may think i have resrerced and
    and the chanhc if that hapening are slilm eg: 1 in 10000000 chance fo hapainig so dont worry
    ps . i cant spell that good sorry ;)

  13. Patrick says:

    a zombie apocalypse is possible in the early 90s there was a bio-experiment done by a team of bio-researchers hired by the president this top secret project was known as B- A -W 14 R-V (Bio weapon attempt 14 of rabies virus) the scientists were mass germ obsessed men who attempted to create a mutated rabies virus capable of causing people to go into a endless insane rage and would infect anyone in there path via blood spit and biting and turn into cannibals this project was a success they created the strongest virus known to man but there was a incident just before 9 11 a terrorist was able to break in the lab and consume the virus resulting in infection he killed the team of scientists but there was one that survived this who became immune to the rage virus his name is unknown but i suspect it is the very same puppet master behind goerge bush and the one responsible for the swine flue i suspect nothing that involved diseases at this age of time was a incident or nature i suspect it was all planned out by a single man all to cure his sick obsession whit viruses and disease not much is known but i do know he must own a company organization or even a cult all you now need to know has been revealed but keep your mouths shut or cuase panic like none other

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  16. atom says:

    it is possible or not?

    • Sean McLaughlin says:

      yes, i only know so as i researched this myself. It can happen just not the way you see it on television because the things on there are fictional, and they are not considered a zombie. A zombie is a creature that is alive yet has all the characteristics of a dead being. The ways it can happen is some form of nano nuero science as they have developed a small nanochip that can hijack your brain and make you do as it needs. There is also a disease called T. Gondii and it causes zombie like symptoms and because it typically only infect mice, that works great because humans and mice are very similar. Just google search T. Gondii to see the effects it has and how it works, and also check into the details about “international nano-technology research” and see if you find anything that is being manufactured and researched presently.

      • atom says:

        so if zombies are possible,then zombies also had a needs just like us?……….?food? what food? human?

      • Sean says:

        Yes they do, but if there were to be a disease that would cause this, it would be some type that shuts down the cortex of you brain, responisible for distinguishing right and wrong, emotion, and also contains the gland that lets you know whats food and whats not along with whether or not you are hungry. If it were to shut down, you could eat untill you die which is why zombies would feed on every moving thing. Now it is unkown to me what would make a human a cannabal and makes it so that all they want is human meat but it may have to do with the gland that i talked about.

      • atom says:

        heyy sean…..

      • Sean McLaughlin says:

        Most common belief is a strain of malaria yet it is unsure what could be the overall cause

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  18. atom says:

    human to zombie?! how? by bacteria? virus? curse? or what?

  19. I would say zombies are possible…but not necessarily probable. Due to the fact there are ever-changing viruses and bacteriums in the world, that would be a definite possibility. If there was a plague like this, I don’t think we’d call them zombies (maybe as a nickname sort of thing…like those “zombie” bees people called zombees). However, there have been many plagues in the past…who’s to say it isn’t possible?

    • atom says:

      until now my mind keeps on thinking what would be the reason(s) why zombies are possible. and then how? well i guess somebody will do the experiment ? i guess? i wish that i’m wrong… and what would be the reason why he/she will do that?

    • hailey says:

      there real but if you dont bilieve in jesus then u will not go with him you’ll rot in hell with him. check out about zombies on scientist’s who know.

  20. atom says:

    oh really? how? if somebody will do the experiment or what ever…., why are they gonna do that? they’ll be affected too…. they are critically insane……

  21. hailey rumer says:

    Well the fallowing results of a zombie is that they only are medicated with diseases and if a person had bad active or some sort they would be put in a hospital wich than like I said they would be given a medicated schedule and when the medicine \chemical would be put in them it would maybe sometimes be molding the persons veins and loose its blood and it would go crazy and mess up its brain too , after all of that reaction happens an evil spirit would lift and take over it. And that is what a zombie scientifictly is.

  22. hailey says:

    i heard about saintent who was called luciphor ( a demon ) which is rotting in hell right now and i dont really care but jesus is real and if u dont believe in him youll be taken with saintent in hell with no water and thats what im saying is that zombies are also caused by a rotting demon.

  23. Noah Reuss says:

    I have done research on this very subject. Im writing a paper on it now as a matter of fact. It is highly possible. And yes our government is working on such diseases. It wouldnt be used on our own people but on a forign affair. It would be a war or test site for such a device to me used. It is a bio-techular bomb. It would go off with a big enough explosion to kill people near it. But it would spread in that area un-controlably. This disease exist in some of our most seclusive labs. If this device were to leak out or have a ” At Home” explosion it would spread before the government knew what to do. There for be prepared just in case.

  24. hailey rumer says:

    Hey people want to fallow me on gmail.com??? And friend me I’ll friend u!!!!
    If u will be my friend on gmail.com then every holiday including your birthday I’lle on I love u quotes to chat on gmail.com all day all night ok bye luv ur friend hailey ps. I’ll teach u about zombies and eveything I know because my bffs dad and mom are scientistnd so is my poppop but he died. Bye byes

  25. Kenny Rahm says:

    LOL Guys and Gals alike all up here. Just relax. Believe in God or Jesus if that is your choice of religion. Please calm down. Why would anyone do Mad-cow tests or any tests to create a zombie? Think… NO ONE HAS DONE IT YET. Right? Then think about how long we’ve been alive. Also think about the technology we have currently. If you want to believe in zombies, go ahead. Go play Black Ops or something. But ya don’t have to scare people with your imagination or beliefs! I mean sure, one guy got high on acid and attacked a hobo, but then think about what he consumed. Look, we’re still alive now, right? Nothing has happened yet, right? Are we enjoying our lives currently with no fictional creature running around and eating till it gets fat and blows up? Yes. Most of us have. Now get off your computer or phone or tablet, and go enjoy your life.

  26. Sam Engle says:

    Good. Look above. He’s an example of someone smart. Let’s use Kenny’s words in our mind. He’s the smartie here.

  27. Dave says:

    When “war of the worlds” was played over radio back in 1939 people started to prepare for an alien invassion and all it was was a fiction story made up in the mind of an author. In recent years we have fiction stories and computer games featuring Zombies and people again prepare themselves for this to happen in real life. Before the first “Resident Evil” computer game back in the mid 90′s, Zombies were virtually unheard off and there was never a thought of a zombie apocalypse.

  28. Kenny Rahm says:

    Indeed. Dave, there might only be three people who actually know what they are talking about.

  29. Kenny Rahm says:

    Oh and Sam is my girl friend. She was using my email I think :P

  30. Mickey says:

    Its also possible through radiation,we could be nuked, and come back as zombies.

  31. Titan says:

    Here’s the thing. In the case of a zombie apocalypse, the zombies would need nourishment. This would be difficult to obtain once the continent/ island it started on was, well, ravaged. They would also be vulnerable to explosives and fire. Radiation is not a possible way to create zombies. If you believe that then you probably believe the hulk is possible to create. Radiation causes deformation, brain damage, etc. NOT resurrection. The US gov’t actually did experiment with this stuff. The most likely way a zombie would be created is God giving Satan the power to resurrect the dead during the Rapture. (Like when he gave him power to harm Job) IF someone mutated influenza/ rabies, the subjects would most likely die. I think it would be possible if I didn’t think the endtime prophecy was going to begin really soon

  32. Titan says:

    Also, there are probobly some terrorists experimenting with it. Never know. Be afraid….

  33. Kenny Rahm says:

    Seriously Titan? Be afraid? Wow… Just Just WOW… Please people, look at how long we have been alive. Look at how long the human race was alive and living. Yes, there have been technology upgrades and updates over all these years, but still. Look at how we are alive, living, and just plain here. If there were ever to be a “zombie apocalypse” (Which as you see I HIGHLY doubt) we have our instincts to survive. We have the technology. We have the weapons. We have the equipment. Look, snap out of this “zombie” fear and go enjoy life as you please. Go skydiving, be brave and eat the biggest buffet ever, or even just sit and watch t.v. Just do something you, as an American would do.

    • Kenny Rahm says:

      Plus as if your from anywhere not just American. Sorry, and no offense to other people, for you are hearing from a German.

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  35. patrick says:

    recently there was a kid in Aussie who got rabies from a vampire bat, 2 months later he started going crazy, trying to bite people. the ‘rabies’ foamed from his mouth meaning if he did bite someone they would be infected. all though there is a cure for rabies it was to late, you must be treated before you go apeshit.

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  37. Thomas arcino says:

    The word zombies mean what? Well it means they are dead but the bodies are fully functional, so they are alive right?

    Well actually they are on the point of near death, where the brain if partially functional. Believe it or not, zombies are real, just not in humans.

    There is a kind of fungi which takes over the brain of an ant, unlike the zombies you see in movies, they don’t eat them, the purpose of any kind of disease is to spread right? Well eating isn’t the only way to spread it. The zombie ant does attack other ants, and that ant becomes another “zombie”
    But, when the ant dies, for real dies, the fungus creates spores in the air, infecting any ant that passes near by.

    Now here is the fun part, lets say, the ants go extinct, well the fungus will evolve into taking over another living thing right? Well let’s say that living thing is humans, or us, that would create a mass plague because when you kill the zombie, you have to burn it, why? Because the spores are released,and will infect, anyone who inhales it. However the best the government can do is to block them off. And depending on the type of fungi, and where it evolved from, you can stop the fungi. Now lets say the government experimented on the insect fungi, and they accidentally make a zombie in a lab coat, well they can’t cure them can they? Well yes they can, because it most likely has a cure.

    Now ants are bound to have one immune ant somewhere, if that ant survives, then they would use that ant and try to use it to make a cure, any other way and they would have to burn any zombie found. Now the probability of this happening I would guess would be… 7/1000 or highly unlikely.

  38. kira mace says:

    i think one day a zombie could happen

  39. .......-_- says:

    the definition of zombie were all familiar with is a dead thing that feasts on humans and other living stuff and like brains. What information was passed on to us was that zombies are suppose to be slow walking and like brains. Through movies they have taken their intake on what they think zombies are suppose to be. Some movie have made zombies run really fast and can bite basically through anything. Shouldn’t their teeth be really weak. The person that was once there before the zombie took over died from something but the body was weak and couldn’t function properly so how can a zombie be stronger than us and run faster then us and have stronger teeth, I mean it’s not a zombie on steroids so how can they possibly be stronger?! Parasites that are suppose to give people zombie like traits but not make them stronger and faster just mess with their brain so that’s what i don’t understand is why zombies should be faster and stronger so that doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t think zombie apocalypse will happen and i don’t think it is very likely but hey you never know but that is just my theory on why zombies shouldn’t be stronger and faster than us that is passed on through movies which some people actually believe will happen and I just don’t get it.

  40. stupid says:

    Okay guys think about humans have only been alive for what about two thousand years. so put how long earth has been around (5.4 billion years) on a clock humans have been alive for a fraction of second a thousandth of a second. the first life forms started forming around 240 million years ago and the 99% of them were wiped out by an asteroid 65 million years ago. the life started again, evolved and what not. so if you thin of how long life has been on earth then there has probably already been a zombie like virus but it just died off, now the chances of zombies happening in the next 10 years are about .0000001 % but with all technology and stem cells and viruses mutating and exc. you might make that a .0001 chance of happening

  41. Wiafe says:

    Zombies ROCK!!!

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