Saturday, 21 May 2011

Surface Tension of Zombie Fluids

Who said zombies are not real?  With the CDC (Center for Disease Control) releasing their hand Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse I am starting to think that zombies could be real.  So check out the link or follow this advice from Munz et. al who developed a mathematical model of a zombie outbreak.   Are you ready?  In any case watch AMC the Walking Dead.

Surface tension the molecular forces holding water what does it have to do with zombies?   I can really only speculate on what we have in nature on how zombie blood or other fluids surface tension might behave by a zombie infection (other causes are radiation and parasite).  For simplicity in this case we will go with some infection albeit a mutated virus like Lyssa virus (rabies)  that destroys the hypocampus and nervous system making the walking dead. It makes it a more interesting case since in the infected zombies the blood, nerves, and saliva, are all infected.  So a zombie bite would be a communicative route of transfer.

What is the physiology of a zombie?  You could probably just tell by looking at them.  If you have seen the movies you should really go to this website for further explanation.  Zombies  are characterized by having the same strengths or abilities as they once had before infection e.g. strong men will be strong zombies.  However, because they do not have a good feedback or feeling they may persist in doing certain tasks that normally (in an uninfected state you might not).  A zombies agility is a little off since communication in the brain is not what it used to be.  Zombies lack repair mechanisms for skin and broken bones.  A zombies senses are also different since their eyes are less useful and rely more on smell and sound.  Zombies also do not react to touch unless they grab it because of the severe nerve damage they have from the infection. 

But for me and this blog I am interested in the...wait for it....surface tension.  I have not seen anybody who has has mentioned anything about the blood or saliva of zombies.  Would the surface tension be increased or decreased?  I read a recent article by Rosina et al.  that shows the difference in temperature of blood from 15 different subject by  article it shows a linear regression of decreased surface tension (59-52  mN/m) at increased temperature as one might expect from 20-40 C.  It is not quite clear whether (I guess it depends on the virus) will change the surface tension of blood and saliva.  I cannot say anything about the saliva but the blood (based on the Rosina article) would probably have a lower surface tension because of the higher temperatures due to the fever.  I would have to test this in the field or in the lab during a zombie apocalypse using some sort of awesome surface tension device.  (shameless plug).

So what is the point of all this?  Firstly it is to understand that blood and saliva might change its properties after a zombie attack.  Understanding this would help in treating with a drug potentially and also just because it is interesting to understand something.  Later you might find a potential use for that information.  The second is whether you can prevent these fluids from entering your body using some kind of protection.  This is recommended by the CDC manual and others suggest.  Here is an standard method for Standard Test Method for Resistance of Materials Used in Protective Clothing to Penetration by Synthetic Blood.  Some people actually recommended to useTyvek® garments which is a microporous material made by DuPont.  Let me know if anyone reading this has any ideas on other solutions for protecting yourself or what the surface tension would be of a zombie's bodily fluids.  As an uninfected scientist I want to know!  Maybe Jonah Ray the from The Nerdist can help.