Monday, June 21, 2010

HUMAN HOST AND VIRAL PARASITE- Andromeda Strain


WHAT HAVE YOU BROUGHT HOME NOW?

Scooped up by a Satellite sent into space for the purpose of bringing samples of microscopic life back to earth, the Andromeda Strain (1977) of virus is incredibly robust, and able to exist even in the vacuum of space. Once on earth, it instantly kills (almost) every human and vulture it comes into contact with.

The Andromeda Strain. Another bird flu?

This alien virus is truly alien in that it seems to reproduce more like a bacteria than like a virus. As you will recall from my Mutation, Part 1 entry, viruses use the resources of a host cell to replicate. Earthly viruses cannot reproduce without a cell to infect. Not so for the the Andromeda Strain.

Our nation's best scientists have found this microbe to be capable of using energy to undergo a mitosis-like process in which the virus makes copies of itself(1). In the words of one researcher regarding this process, “It’s like a nuclear reactor!” The logic and meaning of this statement is somewhat fuzzy in the film. As a matter of fact, scientists in the film state that a nuclear explosion would release so much energy that the virus could be induced to replicate at astronomical rates. Therefore the nuclear option as a method of viral containment is out. It is also a crystalline form of life, something that we don’t see here on good ol’ earth every day. (Or any day, really.)

This crystalline virus will use "energy" and nothing else...

... to divide and reproduce in mitosis-like fashion.

SUCK IT UP (YOUR NOSE)

This virus is inhaled, reacts with blood in the lungs, and initiates virtually instantaneous clotting that emanates from the pulmonary circulation through the trunk, and out to the extremities.

High-tech seventies style imaging of spontaneous coagulation of blood in a rhesus monkey exposed to the virus.

Of course, instantaneous death is the result with primary Andromeda infection. An incision of the skin of an infected (dead) person releases a dusty stream of sand-like blood from the wound site.

Clotting and dehydration!

HEAVY BREATHING, HEAVY DRINKING

Is there no cure, vaccine, or other prophylactic measure that can help us control the spread of this airborne threat to human and vulture-kind(2)? Well, it turns out that hyperventilation may produce changes in blood acidity, making it more alkaline, and discouraging Andromeda viral infection. The microbe grows well in the presence of normal levels of blood carbon dioxide(3), less well with oxygen(4). The stuff can thrive in a vacuum, but mess with a simple thing like blood ph and it falls apart.

Signs and symptoms of primary Andromeda Strain infection: shortness of breath, instantaneous death.

Here's a young woman dead of Andromeda Strain infection. Needless to say, she got more camera time than any other casualty of the virus in this film.

Treatment: Increase blood acid or alkaline levels, through vigorous anaerobic exercise (increases acidity) or hyperventilation (increases alkaline). Additional treatment may be attempted through hyperventilation, or drinking of Sterno. Yes, Sterno or other forms of denatured alcohol. Nuclear devices are contraindicated.

Drink this at your next fondue party to treat your Andromeda Strain infection.

1. During mitosis a cell will make copies of its DNA, organize matching sets of DNA/genetic material at either end of the cell, and then the cell splits into two, making a perfect copy of itself.
2. It kills beagles, monkeys, and rats, too!
3. Increased levels of carbon dioxide in the blood (which can happen with vigorous exercise) increased blood acidity, for you trivia buffs.
4. As your breathing rate increases with vigorous exercise, you blow off carbon dioxide, and end up with more oxygen in the bloodstream which makes blood more alkaline.

Monday, June 14, 2010

HUMAN/ALIEN SYMBIOSIS

WHY CAN'T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?

The complicated relationships of alien to man can be examined on a number of different levels. When we explore human/alien symbiosis, we should understand the basic dynamics of such relationships.

In a nutshell, symbiosis describes the intimate relationship of two dissimilar organisms living in close association to one another. When discussing human/alien symbiosis, I am not describing the cultural intimacies associated with the “prawns” and humans from District 9, nor the sporting relationships of the Predator and his human prey, for these types of relationships are relatively casual without any significant form of biological commerce.

Inter-species sporting activity is not an example of symbiosis

Specifically, I wish to explore many manifestations of alien/human parasitism: a relationship in which a parasite (alien) benefits from this intimacy, while the host (human) is harmed. Other forms of symbiosis such as mutualism(1) and commensalism(2) do not apply here.

HUMAN HOST AND ARTHROPOD PARASITE

Animal/arthropod relationships are exceedingly common. Lice, mites, and fleas are common infesters of humankind. Itchy, embarrassing annoyances at best, and carriers of deadly disease at worst, these critters have sucked human blood, drunk human sebum (skin oil), eaten skin flakes, and burrowed into our skin for thousands of years.

Lice are not aliens, but they are blood-sucking, sebum-drinking parasites.

Most direct harm caused to human hosts by these relationships is minor. However lice and fleas can also be vectors for disease, transmitting microbes responsible for bubonic plague and other nasty illnesses.

ALIEN ARTHROPODS

The Alien relies on a host of any variety of life forms, during an incubatory phase in its life cycle. An Alien larval organism emerges from its egg, possessed of four pairs of legs. These legs enable the organism to spring at the “face” of a host be it dog, human, or predator.

Alien larvae launching at faces.

This larval stage creature, according to the wiki literature, implants what has been referred to as an “embryo” in the chest of the host. Implantation may be through esophageal or tracheal penetration, but no definitive data has been collected as yet on this subject.

Alien incubation has been seen in both the thoracic and abdominal cavities(3). Most symptoms of Alien infestation are symptoms of cardiopulmonary distress, as opposed to digestive disorders, or abdominal complaints. However, it is important to remember that gastrointestinal conditions like heartburn and acid reflux can cause sternal and epigastric pain that mimic angina(4).

Pain from heartburn can mimic angina.

Pain from angina can mimic heartburn.

Nestled within the mediastinum of the chest, between the lungs and the heart, the Alien develops into a nymph that is called a “chestbuster” in wiki speak(5). While ensconced in its host, the human is relatively unharmed. However, when the nymph is ready to re-emerge from its encasement, it punches out of the chest wall, like a baby chick on a cocktail of speed, meth, and steroids. During this process, the nymph destroys the sternum, ribs, adjacent musculature and all associated vascular structures.

The "chestbuster" alien nymph.

Additionally, the vigorous physical activity necessary for breaking through the thorax, will also likely cause lacerations to the lungs, pericardium, and heart. This process usually kills the host organism (providing) they possess a heart and lungs in the thoracic cavity. For this reason, a Vulcan may survive Alien parasitic infestation of the chest, but not of the abdomen.

Signs and symptoms of alien infestation include: short term memory loss with vague associations of anxiety and terror, palpitations, dyspnea (shortness of breath), and angina.

Endstage signs and symptoms include: excruciating chest pain, collapsed lung, sternal and rib compound fracture, hemorrhage, bleeding, muscle tear, unconsciousness, and death.

Currently there is no known treatment for alien infestation.

1. Mutualism is a relationship in which both organisms benefit from their relationship. The relationship between human beings and the beneficial bacteria living in their guts is considered a mutualistic relationship.

2. Commensal relationships neither benefits nor harms the host supporting an organism. Eyelash mites living (you guessed it!) on your lids and lashes are often used as an example of this form of relationship.

3. Different movies, and scenes within the same Alien movie, will show Aliens emerging from the chest, and/or the abdomen. The films are not clear.

4. Angina is chest pain, usually signifying that the coronary arteries are not supplying the heart with enough blood.

5. I'm assuming a more formal, scientific name would be "chestbuster" in Latin or Greek.

Friday, June 11, 2010

HOT DOGS AND CHILDHOOD DISEASES

WHAT KIND OF KIDS EAT ARMOUR HOT DOGS?
This just came in, over the (email) transom, from my friend Todd Alcott. Not only is Todd a brilliant screenwriter, he can crack a pertussis joke that is actually funny. You'd be amazed at the number of really boring pertussis jokes out in the world. Here's the link to his six-minute short, Ad Men.

Friday, June 4, 2010

THE CINEMATOLOGIST AT KEVIN GEEKS OUT

ALIEN PARASITES AND HUMAN HYGIENE

I thought it might be fun for everyone to see my contribution to Kevin Geeks Out - About Aliens! May 21st. It was a wonderful show! There was a tinfoil hat contest, alien cupcakes, the works! At the end of the video, you will see Kevin, our host, wearing makeup, disguising himself as an alien. The lights are dim, and the video is grainy, so the dark green skin and yellow zig-zag don't quite register. You will have to take my word that he was quite impressive!

The lecture is about 8 minutes. It covers the main topics of alien parasites that will appear here in future posts. But there is a lot of detail that had to be left out of the live presentation. Future posts regarding alien parasite infestations will have new little gems of information not seen here.

video