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Is the 'Rage Virus' possible even in principle?


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#1 Fanghur

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 01:03 PM

I was watching the movie '28 Days Later' the other day (no pun intended) and I couldn't help but wonder whether anything like the Rage Virus was possible even in theory.

Now please don't think I'm an idiot for even asking this. I am a microbiology student and know full well that the behaviour of the virus in the movie is absolute nonsense; there is no way that any virus could not only enter the cell, but also replicate to such a massive extent as to cause any sort of disease over the course of ~10-20 seconds as portrayed in the film, even the fastest viruses know to man take at least an 20 minutes to replicate in their host. That part is just a bunch of Hollywood BS.

But aside from the Rage Virus's replication time, which as I said above is absolutely ridiculous, is it possible for a virus to cause effects at all similar to the Rage Virus; i.e. uncontrollable rage, violence, constant adrenaline being released and giving the infected enhanced strength, etc? I mean there is obviously the Rabies virus, which can cause increased aggression in animals, but it doesn't completely deprive them of their free will. Is it possible even in principle for a virus to reduce a human being to little more than a mindless killing machine, in any amount of time?

P.S. the virus doesn't have to be natural; it could also be engineered, as in the film.
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#2 Hypercube

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 01:12 PM

I'm glad to hear that you know how ridiculous the movie's replication time is. lol. It might be possible, although I doubt it would be to the same extent as in the movie. That's most likely just Hollywood. But I could be wrong, since I don't know much about neurology.
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#3 UserX

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 04:53 PM

Some say thought travels faster than the speed of light. So if our brains can some how process thought waves then it could manifest itself in a virus like way. For instance mob mentality. Look at whats happening in Europe and the middle east. Spontaneous violent mobs arise from people who don't usualy act in such a manner. In this case/theory all it would take is a group of individuals with bad intentions/thoughts to make a a crowd of people react in a similar manner to the hosts. This "mob mentality” has been documented many times. In most cases people who have no intent on causing damage or destruction are pulled into the mob. Recently (the mobs in England) a child was asked why he joined the mob he answered that he didn't know. So there may be an underlying mental effect that we don't understand. It’s a known fact that as we “evolved” we lost some of our basic senses, or at least the ability to use them in a fine capacity like many animals do today. We know that in our bodies our mind causes chemical reaction to stimuli (pheromones, testosterone, etc.) If thoughts travel on waves like other energy does then it not a far stretch to envision these thought pattern waves physically effecting someone else. The study of twins sheds more light on that subject. also see mob mentality.


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#4 Ringer

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 05:46 PM

Some say thought travels faster than the speed of light. So if our brains can some how process thought waves then it could manifest itself in a virus like way. For instance mob mentality. Look at whats happening in Europe and the middle east. Spontaneous violent mobs arise from people who don't usualy act in such a manner. In this case/theory all it would take is a group of individuals with bad intentions/thoughts to make a a crowd of people react in a similar manner to the hosts. This "mob mentality" has been documented many times. In most cases people who have no intent on causing damage or destruction are pulled into the mob. Recently (the mobs in England) a child was asked why he joined the mob he answered that he didn't know. So there may be an underlying mental effect that we don't understand. It's a known fact that as we "evolved" we lost some of our basic senses, or at least the ability to use them in a fine capacity like many animals do today. We know that in our bodies our mind causes chemical reaction to stimuli (pheromones, testosterone, etc.) If thoughts travel on waves like other energy does then it not a far stretch to envision these thought pattern waves physically effecting someone else. The study of twins sheds more light on that subject. also see mob mentality.


We are so inhibited by what we are told we cant do that we fail to strive for the impossible.

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Thought doesn't travel faster than light, it's electrical and chemical signals. Neither of these travel faster than light.



To the OP, if there were a virus like this it would be unbelievably difficult for it to maintain the kind of activity forced upon the host. The enhanced metabolism would cause the host to die very quickly. It's possible a virus like that to exist, but it wouldn't be very productive.
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#5 CharonY

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 05:55 PM

On the other hand, certain parasites are known to affect behavior, such as Leucochloridium paradoxum. Also the common rabies at least affects excitability in humans. Also diseases that may damage nervous tissue can result in aberrant behavior. I would not think that anything like a mindless killing machine is likely, but increased aggression, sure.
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#6 John Cuthber

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 06:33 PM

I think you will find it's perfectly possible in French.
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#7 Arete

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 07:02 PM

There's plenty of cool examples of parasites that modify host behaviour to suit the parasite:

certain fungal infections cause ants to climb to the top of a plant an bite down, assisting the spread of the fungus' pores: http://neurophilosop...-by-a-parasite/
Toxoplasma gondii makes mice unafraid of cats, in which it reproduces: http://www.ncbi.nlm....6?dopt=Abstract
rabies makes a host more aggressive, guinea worms create burning pain, which drives hosts to water in which it reproduces, liver flukes in killifish make them less predator weary, nematodes can make grasshoppers jump into water http://www.newscient...death-dive.html, etc.

so the fundamental concept of a parasite modifying host behavior is entirely plausible, though most real world examples are less dramatic than the Hollyowood interpretation.
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#8 UserX

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 08:50 PM

Thought doesn't travel faster than light, it's electrical and chemical signals. Neither of these travel faster than light.



To the OP, if there were a virus like this it would be unbelievably difficult for it to maintain the kind of activity forced upon the host. The enhanced metabolism would cause the host to die very quickly. It's possible a virus like that to exist, but it wouldn't be very productive.


yes ty I know :) good point but i was actually talking about thought as an energy wave not electrochemical. Its just a concept Im not backing it up and the poster asked for possibilities in principles not stated facts. There are a few articles about this on the net. like information transfer being faster than light and that what thought waves are information transfer. Thank you for your comments

http://www.nature.co....2008.1038.html

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#9 Magdalene

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Posted 5 November 2011 - 11:12 AM

I saw this film also 28 weeks after:) I think that could be the hybrid. Engineering manipulation is very interesting but dangerous too. Long time ago I read a book (about conspiracy theories) that HIV its hybride leukemia limphocytes T virus HTLV (retrovirus) + inflammation brain of sheep, its hard to say its true.
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#10 PhDwannabe

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Posted 1 December 2011 - 12:39 PM

i was actually talking about thought as an energy wave not electrochemical

This is insensible.
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#11 brodmannstwentysecond

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 11:01 PM

I would not think that anything like a mindless killing machine is likely, but increased aggression, sure.


I'm curious about the definition of "mindless killing machine" (I haven't seen the film in question), because the aggression of rabid animals is often both mindless and lethal.
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#12 Mauzeraut

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 12:06 PM

There's a lot of things wrong with the rage virus scenario.

 

The biggest flaw that I see is that it follows the rabies scenario.  There's just one problem with that:

Rabid animals do not like rabid animals.  It's not as if everything that isn't rabid is "Team Blue" and everything that is becomes "Team Red".  There would be a lot of red-on-red murder going on, which would greatly diminish the staying power of the disease, and not just in the case of rage virus, but pretty much every zompocalypse scenario... yet every movie I see on the subject implies this.

 

The other aspect is human psychology and brain chemestry is incredibly complex.  It's one thing for a fungi to be able to control ants over millions of years of evolution (ants are reletively simple by comparison), it's quite another to force a human into specific behavior.  It's possible to induce insanity and increased aggression, but it wouldn't be perfect.

 

The most valid human-extinction scenario from a pathogen is something that would be ridiculously virulent and stealthy that causes either sterility at 100% effectiveness (Children of Men scenario, and 100% is unlikely... even ebola and black plague have survivors) or symptom-free death over an extremely long period.  The latter would almost certainly have to be an engineered chimera, which would be almost useless as a bioweapon as it would work too slow to be militarilly effective and pretty much garaunteed to bite you in the ass for using it... although if we were attacked by extra-terrestrials this might be something you'd see.  Valid bioweapons would be designed to burn fast and hard, but would be unlikely to cause an apocalyptic scenario ("Outbreak" has a good example of a fictional virus that might be capable of this). 

 

Other scenarios include non-biologics like a Von Neumann-esque nanovirus ("Grey Goo" scenario) or non-living organisms unaffected by defensive immunities (Andromeda Strain), but those are even less likely. 


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#13 Elite Engineer

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Posted 9 March 2013 - 08:57 AM

I could not see a virus that causes constant adrenaline release in a specimen by its own adrenal gland. However, I could see a virus that while in the host body controls the host to carry out particular motor functions. The Zombie-Ant parasite or "Ophicordyceps" fungus, when ingested by an ant, actually crawls into the ants brain and tweeks its brain/neurosn to make it crawl up a blade of grass, so it is eatne by a herbevoire, and then infects the larger animal.


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#14 brodmannstwentysecond

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Posted 24 May 2013 - 03:06 AM

The Zombie-Ant parasite doesn't infect herbivores. It's one of many species of the Ophicordyceps fungus, each of which kills an insect, grows from the insect, releases spores into the air, and kills other insects of the same species. 

 


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#15 TURNUP

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Posted 29 May 2013 - 04:06 AM


Thought doesn't travel faster than light, it's electrical and chemical signals. Neither of these travel faster than light.



To the OP, if there were a virus like this it would be unbelievably difficult for it to maintain the kind of activity forced upon the host. The enhanced metabolism would cause the host to die very quickly. It's possible a virus like that to exist, but it wouldn't be very productive.

Actually according to quantum entanglement thought could very well travel faster then light.


Edited by TURNUP, 29 May 2013 - 04:06 AM.

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#16 Ringer

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Posted 29 May 2013 - 04:35 AM

Actually according to quantum entanglement thought could very well travel faster then light.

No it doesn't. The mechanisms needed to use entanglement for thought wouldn't really be viable for such a complex system. Not to mention we can measure electrical signals and what they do, to say it's entanglement would need a whole lot of data. So please cite sources.
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#17 Delta1212

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Posted 29 May 2013 - 05:22 PM

Actually according to quantum entanglement thought could very well travel faster then light.


Quantum entanglement allows correlations to appear over a distance without respect to timing. It doesn't allow for the transmission of any information over those distances at faster than light speeds, which makes it rather difficult to use as any kind of medium for faster-than-light communication (or thinking).
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