Microbiology and science fiction

Started by Xenorgue, Feb 22, 2017, 11:59:41 PM

Author
Microbiology and science fiction (Read 413 times)

Xenorgue

Xenorgue

I write this because I have seen many people mock Alien Covenant about the lack of helmets worn by the crew on the planet.

Though it may be explained by the fact that it is very unlikely that unicellular extraterrestrial organisms can infect a human body since an infectious process requires co-evolution over millions of years. That's why a plant virus, or a bacteriophage will never infect a man.

I find it rather hypocritical to insist on the absence of a helmet in Alien covenant and to make an argument to call it bad.
Because microbiological problems were ignored in the very vast majority of the films of sciences fictions (even the best ones).

Star Wars, Star Trek, Pitch black even Avatar movie is not spared.
Certainly the marines wear helmets during expeditions in Pandora,
But when you look at it, there are very few airlock gate. The marines come back the vessels and remove their helmets from the vessels, yet the air has penetrated into the vessel and should be contaminated. Just like military outfits that should be infested with microbe. The hangars are not airtight and air can also enter. Yet no one has approached the film to be ridiculous because the film is not microbiologically rigorous.

So why so much hatred towards Alien Covenant and why are the spectators so hard at this franchise that are from other SF movie?

Enoch

Enoch

#1
People always tend to hate something... ;)

whiterabbit

People shouldn't be angry over the crew taking off their helmets. However common sense should dictate, alien world folks, protocol is to keep your damn helmet on until the new alien world is properly vetted.

Xenorgue

Xenorgue

#3
Yes but like a lot of SF film, the film is free from microbiological hazards. When we make this statement. I do not see where are the problem. Maybe even space exploration is something banal and safe.

whiterabbit

That is the theory generally speaking. However just because something appears benign that doesn't mean it can shoot shit into your face that breaks you down chemically, for example. Since odds are we all use the same chemistry in the universe. Which is something that binds all living things in the known universe. The very atoms and bonding methods. Virus also mutate, there is no reason to no expect such lifeforms to eventually adapt to an alien host.

It's the same thing that irks people with the War of the Worlds, how could earth bacteria kill an alien life form. Maybe the earthly bacteria wasn't out to kill them but simply caused a chemical reaction that created something that was vastly poisonous to the aliens. A byproduct not of evolution but of simply chemistry.

Xenorgue

Xenorgue

#5
Yes the atoms and basic organic molecules (Carbohydrate, amino acid, ethanoic acid ...) are universal.


But the infection is protein-dependent. And proteins are species-specific. Tell me what protein you produce and I will tell you which kingdom you are. Collagen is a typically animal protein. Distributed everywhere in all animals. From the sea sponge to the jellyfish to the ants, the snake and the man. It has not been found anywhere else. Certain genes are indeed common to many organisms. The genes participating in glycolysis are shared bacteria, to animals via plants and fungi. Yet it would be very unlikely to see the same genes appear on another planet because even if the organisms would be able to degrade sugar, it would be in another way because an evolutionary history different from ours.


The parasites on land have adapted to their hosts and a rigorous selection has been made. In many cases the natural selection has to select the parasites able to produce proteins very similar to that of their hosts and thus deflecting the biology of the host from where the pathogenicity. Amanite kills fly is extremely dangerous for humans because it possesses enzymes capable of synthesizing a molecule that binds specifically to the RNA polymerase which has protected it from ingestion by some predator potential.

Many viral genes are stolen genes from their hosts and then modified to divert cellular machinery. Thus the parasites adapt to their environment and to the organisms they encounter.


Unfortunately in Alien Covenant the crew comes across a biotechnology specifically designed to destroy man. But as a general rule, there is little chance that an extraterrestrial organism can develop a response against a host whose evolutionary story is dramatic and radically different. .


In addition, the human body is often underestimated in a wrong way, which has a considerable weapon of war which is the antibody. Our body is able to statistically produce an antibody for any molecules (of sufficient size) organic.

Necronomicon II

I'd love it if the crew got into a big nerd debate over this; after establishing that the planet is habitable and analogous to earth atmospherically, the debate ending with McBride throwing up his hands yelling "f#£% helmets!"  :laugh:

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