billawaboy pointed out something interesting in topic 2 of the Vampires Suck challenge--which needs votes as well as topic 1, people, so please go vote?--that I thought might be fun to discuss.
If red blood cells are "dead" because they have no nuclei, which is the case so they can carry oxygen to every cell through very narrow capillaries, then why do the "undead" (aka vampires) need blood to stay "alive"?
It probably isn't the oxygen because vampires don't breathe, so they don't need oxygen.
So it must be the iron.
And that fits. Vampires are strong, their skin is hard, and cold. Bullets don't hurt them (not sure why wooden stakes would), holy water (especially corrosive--speeds up rust?) does, and so does light (Stephanie Meyers notwithstanding) which could also speed up the corrosion, I guess.
Anyway, I thought I'd toss this out for you all to brainstorm with.
I like it! The iron in hemoglobin is ferrous rather than the oxidized ferric. Maybe they need a constant dose of ferrous iron. (though some could argue that a vampire could just prepare a solution of ferrous iron and drink that.)
Another idea is what if hemoglobin in vampires have the same effect as a very addictive drug? Hemoglobin to humans may have a completely different physiological effect compared to a vampire's - to them hemoglobin is like what cocaine or heroin is to us but a thousand times more pleasurable and a thousand times worse when they go through withdrawal. It would explain their violent behavior to have a taste at any cost...ready to get their fix by ripping out someone's throat.
I haven't read any vampire stories at all - so this might have already been done.
I actually came up with a great reason why vampires drink blood--but I'm gonna keep it--you'll have to read the novel!
That aside, we are the 'alive' and we need the dead cells; the 'undead' perhaps need the other components in blood, not the dead red stuff, but the alive stuff, e.g. white cells to stop the natural decay caused by bacteria...and the nutrients in the blood to repair stuff...enzymes and hormones they don't produce.
Actually the lack of a inhibiting hormone could explain the out of control hunger...only sated by ingestion of the hormones in someone else's blood.
Course I haven't actually checked my facets, so who knows?
[This message has been edited by skadder (edited March 19, 2010).]
Supposedly Twilight vampires have a different number of chromosomes from humans and werewolves. The extra DNA gives them the extra abilities (same with werewolves).
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Well, food doesn't have to be alive to derive nutrition from it. I give as my exhibit a: the big steak I had last Monday. Sure, it was still pink in the middle, but I'm pretty sure it didn't moo at me.
Also, red blood cells are alive, they just lack a nucleus. A nucleus isn't needed to be alive. They start out with one when they are totipotent stem cell and lose it during differentiation into a red cell. They still have active biochemical processes during their 3-4 month life until they die and are removed by the spleen.
Also, red cells are only a component of blood. There is also plasma and white cells and other stuff floating around in there.
Also, and I assume by posting this the vampires in your world are really based on some physical attribute, and not a fantasy or magic based attribute. If so, they could just drink blood to get the "vital force" or some other handwavium that only blood carries... hearkens back to old testament assertion that the life is contained in the blood. So you may want to consider reasons why a vampire could "really" be made. (Rabies, for example: http://www.skeptictank.org/rabvamp.htm ) Blade, the movie, and I think Underworld, made it a type of virus. Twilight's extra DNA is just about enough to make me laugh in its non-respecting-science-isity. In fact, I think I will.
Now, where was I? Oh yeah. Let's see... you'd need to figure out what abilities your vampire has (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tables_of_vampire_traits ). In twilight, what gene is it that makes Eduard all sparkly... but only in sunlight? (See? There I go again making fun. I'm probably just jealous...) then come up with "rational" scientific reasons they could be necessary... or at least some type of handwavium Eat that the reader needs to swallow.
Now. Skadder. Can you just give us a clue to your vampire theory? It isn't nice for its to tempt us that way. We promise we won't steals it...
"I like it! The iron in hemoglobin is ferrous rather than the oxidized ferric. Maybe they need a constant dose of ferrous iron. (though some could argue that a vampire could just prepare a solution of ferrous iron and drink that.)"
Maybe they just like the taste
"Another idea is what if hemoglobin in vampires have the same effect as a very addictive drug?"
This is definitely the coolest idea so far. At least, it could be. We'll never know for sure 'cause Skadder won't share his idea.
Nuclei don't define life- prokaryotes are still alive and they have no nucleus by definition. Generally, you want to look at questions like: Do they reproduce? Do they adapt? Capable of motion/metabolism? Self contained?
Some things are fringe and just always will be fringe. For example, viruses aren't alive, but replicate and evolve while using other cells.
Vampire mythology suggests origins in the demon world of early Christianity. That feeding off of the blood of innocents was to gain their "life essence" and thereby sustain demonic existence. Also, it is their demonic nature that allowed for shape-shifting into bats, rats, insects, and wolves. Later, it is in the 18th century, and mostly in the parts of Eastern Europe that still struggled to come out of the dark ages, that vampires and werewolves become legend. I personally believe that these were off shoots of the two facets of a demon: the demon as a sucker of life essence, and the demon as the shape shifter.
As for the stake through the heart. In 18th century Balkans it was common to stake down the corpse of a suspected vampire to keep it from rising. I suggest this did not actually "kill" a vampire, but rather kept it trapped in a sort of limbo existence. Some legends do allow for removal of a stake to bring a vampire back to "life". Also, years ago, I read somewhere that the stakes that were used in this regard were the sharpened ends of wooden crucifixes, but I can't recall where I got that bit of info.
quote:Nuclei don't define life- prokaryotes are still alive and they have no nucleus by definition.
Yeah but prokaryotes have DNA, a eukaryotic cell without a nucleus does not.
Red blood cells are definately on the fringe of whether they are considered alive. There certainly is a difference between functional and nonfunctional red blood cells, so if red blood are considered dead, they can be deader.
But I am not sure if that matters whether red blood cells are alive or not. Blood transports life giving nutrients to all cells in the human body.
Maybe most of the vampire is dead but there are a few cells that are still alive to pump out ATP kind of like a larger scale of mitochondrias. So some of the cells still need those life giving nutrients, but since the vampire doesn't breath, it still needs to find away to get oxygen to those cells. And that is why a vampire needs to ingest fresh oxygenated blood.
Just a thought.
[This message has been edited by MAP (edited March 20, 2010).]
It's not about the nucleus but what's inside - RBCs don't have DNA, thus they can't react to their environment by creating new proteinsl they don't have mitochondria, thus they can't create high levels of ATP to sustain life; thus they can't maintain homeostasis. Dude...I reeeeally think RBCs dead. Even dead things have biochemical process - it's called decomposition - doesn't mean it's alive.
I agree with you MAP - dead but delivering oxygen. I just found it ironic that we use something dead to keep us - and possibly vampires - alive. The idea of a 'life force' is what gets thrown out the window. Since there's barely anything alive in blood.
anucleated mature RBCs make 99% of blood's formed elements. WBC make the other 1% - and remember platelets are just cell fragments so living cells are actually less than 1%.
considering avg blood volume is 5L - that makes about 50mL volume of living cells at best - that's about ~3.5 tbsps. I doubt that could sustain the life force of a vampire.
If blood was just food, dead or alive, then they wouldn't be exclusive to just drinking blood. might as well eat steak.
I'm sure the whole drug angles has been done before - it seems so obvious... Besides it would be seen as just another story of the perils of drug abuse that's has been shoved down our throats for years now. It's true, but makes for a boring story.
really? a 47th chromosome? Does that mean when they were first bitten a chromosome was inserted into every living cell? That can work if there was a special kinda of virus transmitted in the bite - a huge virus - one carrying an entire human chromosome - that could enter a cell and insert it into the nucleus. Hmmm, I think that could really work. There might be therapies to suppress expression of or eliminate that chromosome - you could devamp a vampire!
[This message has been edited by billawaboy (edited March 20, 2010).]
quote: Well, food doesn't have to be alive to derive nutrition from it. I give as my exhibit a: the big steak I had last Monday. Sure, it was still pink in the middle, but I'm pretty sure it didn't moo at me.
Made me laugh...I realise how I wrote it make it seem I am suggesting food is a alive--but it has been processed and broken down once it has reached the systemic circulation. Perhaps vampires need the building blocks of nutrition.
Clue? Read my intro in part 2 of the competition.
quote:so if red blood are considered dead, they can be deader
Kinda like vampires, then.
It always gets me when the say vampires are dead...if you walk and talk you ain't dead. It is a strange existence, but it isn't death. IMO.
The outer layers of skin are dead too (25-30 layers of dead cells) acting as a protective barrier (UV, xenobiotics, etc.). The skin is one of the largest organs in the body and so you could say we rely on dead cells for our survival here, too. Without that layer what would happen?
Apart from the first sentence (which is true), below is completely science fictional speculation and brainstorming. (I realised that, since the first sentence was true, some may think that I thought the rest was true.)
Blood is primarily a communicator of chemicals (and, by association, energy). What if the soul was a sub-intelligence that was derived from the communal interractions between blood cells themselves, a form of distributed intelligence. This intelligence could interract with brain intelligence in a similar manner to Windows interracting with other software programs. This soul is the essence of you being you (personality), but does not exist in animals (except in limited form in mammals, see later) for the reason that it requires some direct seeding from a soul to begin (and is therefore a fluke of human pre-history).
So the vampire has a soul antibody (one that destroys the inter-blood cell communication), and needs to replenish this intelligence seed frequently in order to have high level intelligence functionality. Otherwise, the triune brains in human-form vampires (the reptilian, the mammilian and the human) start to break down in communication between themselves.
Edited to add opening paragraph.
[This message has been edited by Brendan (edited March 20, 2010).]
Hmm, I think the idea has really good potential, Brendan. It has interesting possibilities in terms of world building.
For example, it can affect how a society is ordered. If certain types of blood confered types of strengths, moods, behaviors, talents, wisdom, even memories - then you suddenly have a market for both humans and vampires to buy and sell blood. (random idea - memories of hidden treasure is seen when a young vampire slurps the blood of a passing bandit)
Not only that, special professions could arise - Soul Mixers, those who have apprenticed to learn the art of mixing blood properly to generate specific effects - or suffer the woes of bad blood - an unbalanced tormented soul! Bleeders/Leechers: those who procure/steal blood and sell it on the market/to private party.
Blood legacies and aristocracies based on rights and secret acquired by blood from the family. pretty much writes itself.
I like the idea of getting a benefit for a price. Ex: A vampire gets physical strength but suffers from new memories of child abuse upon which that strength was earned.
You really might have something here to create an entire series. I know - it feels a little Runelordsy but no one liked Runelords so who cares. (okay a few liked runelords...)
I can already imagine a high-fantasy vampire trilogy based on a complex society and various clans and guilds and Machiavellian plots all in the grandeur of Tolkein or Martin. (Besides, you know Elves and vampires are alike in all but name. Pale blonde immortals with superhuman strength and reflexes who have their own language and society? c'mon!)
What I liked was the way it resolved the triple irony that you described earlier. By there being a second form of "life" and "intelligence" in a human, then it resolves the last two of the three by keeping them true.
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I thought about the Elves vs Vampires thing. Elves (aka Faery Folk, etc) are more likely to be opposite to Vampires, especially if the iron thing is true, because Elves suffer at the touch of iron and have to use swords (and so forth) of silver.
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well...I don't think the blood-soul-intelligence by chemical interaction has any scientific legs to stand on, but as a fantasy idea it's gold. The irony would only truly be resolved if there was a scientific basis to the idea - instead here we've replaced a vague life-force of (supposedly) living blood cells with a soul-intelligence of serum biomolecules which specific rules and qualities. It's still a fantasy concept - but a better one. In the light of it, I think eliminating the ironies isn't that important - exploring your idea as an axiom of a fantasy world is cooler.
I didn't know all that about elves or vamps. I just thought they looked and behaved alike and had roughly the same social structure and place in human society. The only difference in the big picture was one is considered good and the other considered evil. But that all depends on what motives one considers good and evil, hehe.
Fantasy, yes. Science fiction - yes too. They are already seriously considering the idea of distributed intelligence via the nervous system, with known verification of preprocessing in the optic nerve and the nerves from the ears. Considering the additional chemical nature behind thinking, and the similar communication nature within blood, particularly how hormones are distributed throughout the body, the idea that the blood actually contributes to our intelligence, or is a separate co-intelligence with the brain, isn't too far out for serious science fiction. (Sorry for the long sentence.)
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We have to distinguish between neurons (cells) and biomoloecules (chemicals) of the blood. What you said above equates them. Neural circuitry can lead to information processing; chemical interactions do not; they merely follow their chemistry.
Preprocessing does take place in the optic nerve, in the spinal cord, even in plexuses and ganglia, and most definitely in the ENS - but *only* between neurons. It is impossible for a random mix of molecules in blood to do that.
The simplest refutation is that everything is moving in the blood and there is no way to maintain permanent connections like neurons do thru synapses (neurons, obviously, don't move around like molecules). The average interaction between two molecules in the blood at room temperature is probably on the order of nanoseconds.
So molecular-intelligence is science fantasy (definitely impossible science), not sci-fi (which may be possible).
Still - it's a great idea for a series. but it would be a fantasy series.