What's worse than Mexican Zombies? Newer Mexican Zombies!
|"So we do it to ourselves. I knew it." - Jennifer Hart|
The next time someone asks you if you’ve ever heard of a real-life Zombie (the undead kind), smile and say “yes”.
A team of researchers out of New Mexico is reported to have created what popular media calls “Zombie cells”. These undead silica based replicas are capable of performing many of the same functions as living cells, with the addition of an extremely heightened resilience to both damage and heat. Tests show that once in place these Zombie cells have shown to retain their structures under extreme pressures and heat ranging up to 932 degrees Fahrenheit… which, in our opinion, is a lot for anything to withstand, let alone the living dead.
Some scientists speculate that these undead organisms are the next step in nano technology, possibly taking medical science leaps and bounds from where we are now. The potential uses for these lifeless little cells is truly boundless when put into the right hands… but it’s more than a little scary when placed in the wrong ones.
Not quite sure you understand? Think of the cells as a possible next step innanotechnology, in which scientists create machines not from big hunks of metal but from individual atoms and molecules.
"It's very challenging for researchers to build structures at the nanometer scale," lead researcher Dr. Bryan Kaehr, a materials scientist at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, said in a written statement. "We can make particles and wires, but 3-D arbitrary structures haven't been achieved yet. With this technique, we don't need to build those structures -- nature does it for us."
The technique involves first depositing silica -- the stuff sand is made of -- onto the tiny structures inside living cells. Then the cells are heated to burn away the proteins they're made of, leaving behind the nonliving but structurally similar zombies.
And like the lumbering zombies dreamed up by Hollywood screenwriters, these cellular zombies are very hard to get rid of.
Dr. Jeffrey Brinker, a University of New Mexico professor and another member of the research team, said in the statement that the zombie cells exist in a "robust, three-dimensionally stable form that resists shrinkage even upon heating to over 500 degrees Centigrade [932 degrees Fahrenheit]. The refractoriness of these delicate structures is amazing."
Researcher Bryan Kaehr is quoted as stating, “Our Zombie cells bridge chemistry and biology to create forms that not only near-perfectly resemble their past selves, but can do future work.” Does this mean that we are looking at a future full of undead organisms walking the earth in the form of human beings… or is that too great a leap in science fiction at this time?
While these cells are not currently self-replicating or shown to act independently and adapt during testing, no one truly knows what happens next. For now all the world can do is watch
and wait as research and experiments develop and it’s anyone’s guess where we go from here.
Think the only zombies out there are the ones you see in science fiction movies?
Let's just hope these zombies don't swell up, sprout legs, and start following us around.