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Zombie Pigs First, Hibernating Soldiers Next 193

Posted by samzenpus
from the fattening-up-on-brains dept.
ColdWetDog writes "Wired is running a story on DARPA's effort to stave off battlefield casualties by turning injured soldiers into zombies by injecting them with a cocktail of one chemical or another (details to be announced). From the article, 'Dr. Fossum predicts that each soldier will carry a syringe into combat zones or remote areas, and medic teams will be equipped with several. A single injection will minimize metabolic needs, de-animating injured troops by shutting down brain and heart function. Once treatment can be carried out, they'll be "re-animated" and — hopefully — as good as new.' If it doesn't pan out we can at least get zombie bacon and spam."

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Zombie Pigs First, Hibernating Soldiers Next

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  • Don't do it (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 07, 2009 @07:08PM (#30359058)
    Don't they watch movies? Haven't we learned anything?
    • by Joce640k (829181)

      Yeah, movies is where the real science is at.

    • My buddies and I have always postured what we would do if and when a zombie apocalypse broke out. All being military or former military, with the ability to bear arms and the survival skills (not to mention the remote getaway) already at our disposal, we all voted the human race as generally despicable and that it was about time there was some event to clean the slate. It's time to kick zombie ass and chew bubblegum, and I'm all outa gum.
    • As a Cryonicist http://cryonics.org/ [cryonics.org], I support this research. It is nice to see money being spent on something that doesn't go boom.
  • Brain damage? (Score:5, Informative)

    by thesandtiger (819476) on Monday December 07, 2009 @07:13PM (#30359140)

    One of the biggies in this war is Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) - surviving explosions, surviving shots to the helmet - I wonder if we'll be swapping out a lot of dead soldiers for ones suffering extreme brain injury.

    A friend of mine just came back from Germany. He lost both of his legs and has TBI caused mood swings like you wouldn't believe, and pretty much looks like it will wreck his family. Staving off death is one thing (and good); making life after injury worth living is another.

    • by Reason58 (775044) on Monday December 07, 2009 @07:20PM (#30359248)

      One of the biggies in this war is Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) - surviving explosions, surviving shots to the helmet - I wonder if we'll be swapping out a lot of dead soldiers for ones suffering extreme brain injury.

      A friend of mine just came back from Germany. He lost both of his legs and has TBI caused mood swings like you wouldn't believe, and pretty much looks like it will wreck his family. Staving off death is one thing (and good); making life after injury worth living is another.

      You are absolutely right. Many of the soldiers who take this shot will have suffered TBI and will require brains. Braaaaiiiiiins.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Ever since I studied neuropsychlogy and we had people with TBIs being brought in each week I have developed a similar viewpoint.

        Medical technology gets to the point where it can save lives, but many of these lives end up not worth living.

      • by Genda (560240)

        Waiting for it... waiting for it... Aaaaahhhhhhh, thank you, it just wouldn't have been a respectable zombie article without some bbrraaaaiinnnnzzzz.

    • Re:Brain damage? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TubeSteak (669689) on Monday December 07, 2009 @08:07PM (#30359690) Journal

      One of the biggies in this war is Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) - surviving explosions, surviving shots to the helmet - I wonder if we'll be swapping out a lot of dead soldiers for ones suffering extreme brain injury.

      Cooling the brain has been known for years to work miracles on minimizing head trauma and taming neurological conditions.
      There's no reason for soldiers who've received head injuries to not wear a cooling helmet for a few days after the trauma.

      Someone even took the idea and integrated chemical icepacks into motorcycle helmets [thermahelm.com] so that the brain immediately starts getting cooled upon impact.

      • Re:Brain damage? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by icegreentea (974342) on Monday December 07, 2009 @08:23PM (#30359828)
        Well, its not as clear cut as that. Current research (a google search away!) tells us that while its probable that inducing hypothermia in the the brain reduces neurological damage, we currently get somewhat contradicting studies suggesting otherwise. In the best case, it may turn out that cooling the brain is an extremely delicate task that must be carefully controlled. Given the level of precision apparently needed, it seems unlikely that simply plopping on a cooled helmet is the best way to go about reducing brain trauma.

        In any case, reducing circulation increases the chance of infection (important if there was actual head trauma in addition to brain trauma), and appears to raise the risk of blood clots and heart attacks.

        Doesn't mean its useless though. Just that like so many other medical ideas, its complicated. And just cause some company makes a product based on it, doesn't mean it works just like they say it does.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by TubeSteak (669689)

          In any case, reducing circulation increases the chance of infection (important if there was actual head trauma in addition to brain trauma), and appears to raise the risk of blood clots and heart attacks.

          Since you haven't cited anything specific, all I can say is that my understanding (which may be wrong) is that those risks apply to full body hypothermia and not to localized cooling of the brain.

          AFAIK, the best way to cool the head is with a circulating neck & head system + warming blankets to keep the body out of hypothermia, which minimizes the clotting and infection risk.

          • Re:Brain damage? (Score:4, Informative)

            by icegreentea (974342) on Monday December 07, 2009 @11:53PM (#30361432)

            There's one review of 6 studies here. http://www.entrepreneur.com/tradejournals/article/204205255_1.html [entrepreneur.com]

            If you look at the last page, you get this:

            Implications for Practice Hypothermia shows promise as a treatment of traumatic brain injury. However, there are several important points to consider when contemplating its use. Hypothermia as a treatment of traumatic brain injury should be utilized in hospitals with specialized neuroscience units that have continuous resident coverage. In addition, nurses are at the front line of initiating the treatment and must be properly taught to care for these patients. There are many potential complications of hypothermia that nurses must be aware of and trained to aggressively treat. The nursing care involved in caring for a patient with a severe brain injury is complex, and it is crucial that they have the support and appropriate nursing ratios to care for these patients.

            Granted, its from a nursing journal, so its going to promote the use of nurses. But it remains that just cooling people's brains nilly willy with ice packed helmets may not be the best idea.

            • by TubeSteak (669689)

              It takes some real intellectual dishonesty to mention anything from a study without talking about the conclusion.

              Conclusion

              From the research reviewed, a recommendation cannot be made for changing practice. However, it appears that hypothermia may have benefits for patients with severe traumatic brain injury, specifically those with a [Glasgow Coma Scale] of 5 to 8. It also appears that there is no benefit to hypothermia for those patients with low [intracranial expansion] From the research reviewed, it can be recommended that hypothermia be initiated as soon as possible after injury and that patients who are cooled for at least 48 hr tend to have better outcomes. If hypothermia is employed as a treatment option, careful attention to side effects is crucial for improved patient outcome. Time, temperature, and methodology are all variables that must be considered if hypothermia is employed for patients with traumatic brain injury.

              Seeing as how I read the whole thing, the analysis can best be summarized as "It works, with caveats. The caveats are too big for us to make a definitive recommendation. More study required."

        • by alexo (9335)

          Given the level of precision apparently needed, it seems unlikely that simply plopping on a cooled helmet is the best way to go about reducing brain trauma.

          Of course not!
          You need coolant rods inserted directly into the brain [technovelgy.com].

    • by skine (1524819)

      Agreed.

      The decrease in VA hospital funding is just disgraceful.

      I may not agree with the war, but I will say that all persons subjected to the greatest physical and emotional harm in the service of the United States deserve the best available treatment at the expense of the federal government.

      • by Sarten-X (1102295)

        I agree in spirit, but I just have to point out:

        Where did you think the federal government gets the money to pay for this?

        My personal opinion is that we ought to stretch our military money a bit more... maybe one less new aircraft carrier, or a dozen fewer missiles... and use that money for better things. The federal government only has the money we (as taxpayers) give it, and it's very limited.

    • Re:Brain damage? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by aukset (889860) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @12:05AM (#30361518) Journal

      In the field of EMS, we're (in NYS at least) by protocol asked to hyper-oxygenate patients with suspected brain injury in trauma patients that meet a certain set of criteria. The reason for this is to cause vasoconstriction within the brain, reducing blood flow due to vascular resistance and, in theory, slow internal bleeding. As far as I know, the literature on this is uncertain as to its efficacy, but the theory behind it is sound.

      Brain tissue can survive for quite a while in a state of hypoxia, compared to other tissues. What is most dangerous in a hemorrhage in the brain is compression of the tissue, as well as direct exposure to blood, both of which can cause necrosis. In fact, when the brain "detects" an injury, its usual response is to increase blood pressure, which is going to accelerate any hemorrhage and make the problem worse. Decreasing heart rate and blood pressure would be an advantage until surgical services are available to drain the blood and close off the source of bleeding.

    • by CAIMLAS (41445)

      Probably not. If someone has a traumatic brain injury, they're likely in no sort of condition to pull out a syringe and inject it into themselves.

      Also, while I've no evidence to back it up, I -suspect- that TBI was pretty common in previous wars. The difference today is that the soldiers are surviving all the other things with higher numbers, resulting in the TBI being a significantly higher proportion. Whereas they would've probably died from the other wounds accompanying TBI in the past, today they surviv

  • Oxidative damage. (Score:4, Informative)

    by spineboy (22918) on Monday December 07, 2009 @07:15PM (#30359160) Journal

    Most of these types of experiments have previously been in cryo-preservation - some scientist, in Boston I believe, has successfully frozen beagles, and brought them back to life.

    Anyway, In trauma surgery, the "Golden Hour" refers to the window of time, where massively injured patients can be saved from horrible injuries. After that, too much damage occurs, and the chance is severely diminished.

    So using H2S(hydrogen sulphide) should help stop oxidative reactions, extending the "Golden Hour", allowing the patient to be stabilized, and brought to a higher level of care, where they can be fixed up.

    Small side effect - H2S is basically the stench in Marsh gas, so these soldiers are going to smell like stink ass zombies for a while I think.

    • by Wyatt Earp (1029)

      Their blood will stink like swamp gas for a while.

    • by w0mprat (1317953)
      +1 informative: We'll be able to smell the zombie hordes coming. That's a useful observation, thank you. (I'm making a note for our organisations's zombie apocolypse business continuity plan)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by IdahoEv (195056)

      some scientist, in Boston I believe, has successfully frozen beagles, and brought them back to life.

      [Citation needed]. Sorry, that's just too interesting a claim to go uncommented.

      I believe that dogs have been cooled to near-freezing temperatures, cardiovascular function temporarily halted, and revived after a few hours. But their tissues remained unfrozen and their blood remained liquid the entire time.

      Nobody, AFAIK, has successfully frozen and revived a mammal.

      • by Khyber (864651)

        The Nazis did this back in WWII - they removed the blood from German shepherds, replaced with a saline solution, froze the dogs, then thawed, replaced blood, and revived them.

        It became the basis for most cryogenics today.

        As for the dog, it was 1987, between ACS and Trans Time - the beagle had a full body washout and cool-down. In the early 90s a similar experiment was done with a baboon - successfully. I think BioTime in Berkeley did that, my memory's fuzzy.

    • by physburn (1095481)
      Extending the golden hour to ten seem pretty good for soldiers, but I wonder if this would help the cryo-preservation of corpses to be brought back to life later, like in woody aliens sleeper.

      ---

      Cryonics Feed [feeddistiller.com] @ Feed Distiller [feeddistiller.com]

    • by sznupi (719324)

      I'm hoping for some time to see such things enter mainstream.

      It's a horrible thing to think that I wouldn't stand a chance after many serious injuries not because of any fundamental limitations, but currently limited tech and procedures.

      And it's only from my selfish point of view, I can't imagine what ambulance & ER medics are going through, seeing cases which are inescapably fatal now...but we're quite certain they don't have to be.

    • by Thing 1 (178996)

      [...] some scientist, in Boston I believe, has successfully frozen beagles, and brought them back to life.

      So I was going to reply with a joke, "The Jews have been doing that for years, sometimes with lox! ... oh you mean beagles."

      Then I saw that another responder has already mentioned Nazis, and I feared the wrath of Godwin.

      Then, I decided, I've never met the guy; might as well summon him.

  • Not to be confused with their re-animator project, which saw only mild success. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BnOUOkcr9c [youtube.com]
  • Damage Mechanism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Renraku (518261) on Monday December 07, 2009 @07:18PM (#30359210) Homepage

    One of the main mechanisms for brain damage after injury to the brain is due to the neurons releasing their packets of neurotransmitters upon their death. So you have a good neuron right next to a big blob of toxic neurotransmitters. Then that neuron dies, too. It's a chemical cascade of dying neurons. Slowing down metabolism slows down this damage, as oxidation plays a large part. Ever see those people that drown in icy water, only to be revived after hours without oxygen, somewhat intact? Same thing.

    • by Zerimar (1124785) on Monday December 07, 2009 @08:30PM (#30359894)

      Ever see those people that drown in icy water, only to be revived after hours without oxygen, somewhat intact?

      No sir, I have never watched a person drown in icy water and then revived hours later. Is this a common thing to see?

      • by argStyopa (232550)

        In Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes and long bitter winters, yes. Although there's almost always a case of beer and snowmobile involved in the process.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DynaSoar (714234)

      One of the main mechanisms for brain damage after injury to the brain is due to the neurons releasing their packets of neurotransmitters upon their death. So you have a good neuron right next to a big blob of toxic neurotransmitters. Then that neuron dies, too. It's a chemical cascade of dying neurons. Slowing down metabolism slows down this damage, as oxidation plays a large part. Ever see those people that drown in icy water, only to be revived after hours without oxygen, somewhat intact? Same thing.

      You're referring to apoptosis, "cellular suicide" caused by a signal from a nearby neuron dying. Parkinson's is one disorder that wouldn't occur except for this phenomenon.

      But forced release of vesicles, toxic neurotransmitters and hypothermic preservation (or lack of, or lack of equivalent)? I can tell you remember learning about it, and probably know what you mean, but you've got some details bent. The toxicities involved in apoptosis aren't metabolic processes, but they are slowed by cooling. Cooling can

  • OMG (Score:3, Funny)

    by thelonious (233200) on Monday December 07, 2009 @07:19PM (#30359220) Homepage Journal
    They are going to end up with bacon that doesn't die! And that would be a sin against humanity!
  • by Labcoat Samurai (1517479) on Monday December 07, 2009 @07:20PM (#30359242)
    The terminology seems odd here. Isn't suspended animation pretty much the opposite of being a zombie? I mean zombies are the animated dead. Suspended animation makes you the unanimated living.
    • by carp3_noct3m (1185697) <slashdot@warriors-shade . n et> on Monday December 07, 2009 @07:27PM (#30359324)
      Stop bursting my bubble of zombie Apocalypse hope!
    • Well, it depends if it works as intended.

      What if, upon revival, the survivors weren't "all there"? If the process works incompletely then we'd have the zombies we're looking for.

      So the process is:

      1. Put injured people in suspended animation
      2. Extract soul (or whatever makes us non-zombies)
      3. Reanimate the meatbags
      4. ???
      5. Profit!

      Sorry to re-use an old meme, but it applies. Some ideas for step 4:

      -Sell souls to Satan
      -put meatbags to work in factories where manual dexterity is not needed
      -use army of me
      • -put meatbags to work in factories where manual dexterity is not needed

        Didn't you ever play Alpha Centauri? They call those Genejack Factories.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Use body heat from meatbags as a power source in case we accidentally block out the sun with pollution?

        Wait, no, that's stupid. My mistake

        • Use body heat from meatbags as a power source in case we accidentally block out the sun with pollution?

          Wait, no, that's stupid. My mistake

          Only Warner Bros executives would think that was a good idea. Networking their brains into a massively parallel processor, however...

    • You've forgotten there are two parts to the process. The first part is the opposite of making zombies, yes. But the second part... reverses the first part. Therefore, zombies.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by FlyingBishop (1293238)

      Actually, this is almost exactly like the original African myths. A witch-doctor supposedly could feed someone a potion to put them into a false death, they would be buried and then dug up later, a slave to the witch doctor. There's probably even a thread of truth to the tales.

      The modern zombie is a more recent innovation, dating more or less to Dawn of the Dead. The real difference between this zombie and the mythic one is that here the human hopefully wakes up fully possessed of their senses.

    • by azav (469988)

      Animated dead? You mean like Jesus?

    • by DynaSoar (714234)

      The terminology seems odd here. Isn't suspended animation pretty much the opposite of being a zombie? I mean zombies are the animated dead. Suspended animation makes you the unanimated living.

      Oh horrors! You mean the International Journal Of The Society Of Wiredness For Scientificular Correctiviscousity And Technillogical Perfectitooty got it less than absolutely right? I can't imagine their crack research team making that kind of mistake. Must be a typo.

      DARPA is actually funding both paths of research. Rapid metabolic reduction is being looked at for blood loss, and a dissociative/hypnotic without loss of motor control is being considered for far forward troops that, having been injured, may ha

    • by vegiVamp (518171)
      Unanimated living ? Sounds like me in the morning.
    • by julesh (229690)

      The terminology seems odd here. Isn't suspended animation pretty much the opposite of being a zombie? I mean zombies are the animated dead. Suspended animation makes you the unanimated living.

      The origin of the zombie myth is (probably) a cocktail of drugs that a witch doctor would give to an enemy, which makes them appear to die (metabolic processes slow down to the point they're very hard to detect); then, after everyone thinks they're dead, the witch doctor revives them and claims that he now owns them as

  • I'm afraid they'll have to find a soldier who can kick unusually high before they can try this experiment. And, if they get out of line, the CO will have to explain to them "You are confused."

    Jean-Claude van Damme: "I am confused."
    • You were right to use the actors' name and not that of the character.

      If I recall correctly, this occured when JCVD was spotted trying to take a crap in a urinal. The director walked in and said "WTH man?! That's for peeing!" JCVD replied with "I am confused." and they airbrushed the rest of the set in around him to make it fit the movie.

      Don't ask what they were doing filming people peeing, or how they were going to get it into the plot originally.
  • What's the next advancement... do we find a battlefield-tested way to drain their blood and freeze-dry them for convenient transport? First zombies, and then vampires? I'm growing more garlic and saplings, just in case.

    • Some kind of compression algorithm, I think. As long as we know where all of the bits go when the guy is "unpacked" at the other end, there's no reason not to have him shipped in a box the same size as a couple of crates of beer!

      I wouldn't like to be the guy who has to explain to the family that their husband / father's "archive was corrupted."
  • I always knew squirrels were vicious little demons from hell.

    Squirrely Wrath!

    Squirrely Wrath!

    Squirrely Wrath!

  • by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Monday December 07, 2009 @08:09PM (#30359704)
    Really, this is how I see medicine in the future. If you suffer serious trauma, the paramedics will simply kill you at the scene and take your corpse to a hospital where the doctors will patch you up and resurrect you several hours later. If your hand gets mangled, they will simply hack it off, slather on some stem cells, and you'll over a few months, you'll just grow a new one.
    • I'm waiting for full Cylon Resurrection. They kill you and you download into a new body....

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Xest (935314)

      "Really, this is how I see medicine in the future."

      Yes, unfortunately it's also what I see as the cause of the 22nd century's major problem just as ours is climate change. Their problem will be massive overpopulation, how do you deal with a population that doesn't die but keeps increasing when the resources of the planet they live on can't sustain their population even right now, let alone then?

      The only options are to either let people die, stop new people being born, or move to other planets. I'm not convi

      • Well, if it really does become a problem, perhaps we could develop the technology to upload the human consciousness into circuitry, making it so that each 'person' uses many fewer resources and exists in a virtual(ish) world. Not sure if that's the best solution, but I always figured that eventually we are going to find that these meatbags we occupy have a limited shelf life. Perhaps we can push that life up a little longer...115 years or 130 years rather than 100, but sooner or later the parts just wear ou
  • well i knew it.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jisou (1483699)
    darpa is defiantly going to be the government organization to incite the zombie apocalypse. though i shouldn't say that to loud considering the made the internet.....
  • by Usually Unlucky (1598523) on Monday December 07, 2009 @08:18PM (#30359790)
    Couldn't this be tweaked and used as a method of hibernation to stave off boredom and conserve supplies for long duration space flight?
  • This sounds less like reanimated corpses craving brains and more like the drugs Simon gave to River so he could sneak her into the hospital on Ariel in Firefly.

  • In the year 2010 , the military performed the last of their life support experiments on Captain William "Buck" Rogers.
    In a freak mishap he was lost...only to be found 500 years later.

  • and so it begins (Score:2, Informative)

    by mongrol (200050)

    They'll only reanimate the parts that watch TV, rent movies (repeatedly in a variety of formats, buy mobile phones (repeatedly in a variety of formats) and leave of the rest of the dissident free thinking ganglion parts dormant.

    • They'll only reanimate the parts that watch TV, rent movies (repeatedly in a variety of formats, buy mobile phones (repeatedly in a variety of formats) and leave of the rest of the dissident free thinking ganglion parts dormant.

      Begins? It's my understanding that they've been doing this for years. I think it started somewhere around the dawn of the industrial revolution and has been been experiencing a geometric growth curve in its rate of effectiveness ever since.

      Heck, you pretty much have to be a zombie

  • A zombie is a dead thing that moves. This article describes a living thing that doesn't move. How far off can it get?
  • Great so it will just be like Enemy Territory then? Medics running around poking people with syringes... Word to the wise medics, if ET has taught me anything, it's shoot the Medics first, so don't be so proud of this technological terror you have created. I find you lack of faith disturbing.

Theory is gray, but the golden tree of life is green. -- Goethe

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