Reader Question: What Happens to Rotting Zombies?
December 09, 2011
OK, this being an interactive experience -- or at least, as interactive as I'm willing to let it be, it isn't a democracy -- a question has come up that I'll answer.
"Why don't rotting zombies rot into nothing? How can they still be around, days after infection?"
Hmmm. First, have you had a chance to see just how long it takes to rot to "nothing"? In a non-hostile environment, a corpse can have a recognizable structure for weeks or even months. Add in the diet laced with anti-oxidants -- fashionable amongst the granola set -- or preservatives -- ditto: the fast food set -- and degradation will slow down even more.
In the absence of stimuli, we don't know if zombies are still active. That is, if there are no sounds, bright lights or smells to attract their attention, do they still move?
The question is known as the Heisenberg Zombie Principle, in that the presence of an observer triggers a response, so knowing what the response would be without the trigger is unknown. Some recorded observation indicates that they do still move, but since we cannot remove all potential stimuli, we can't be sure.
So, stopped in the shade and out of the rain, an inactive zombie loaded with preservatives -- either from their own diet, or that of the victim they fed on -- may not rot as fast as that raccoon you've been watching all week on your daily commute. The one that lost playing tag-with-a-Buick, on the highway. That's the one.
If you have an idea as to how we can construct an experiment to garner some data, I'm all ears.
Next question, please.