Friday, April 26, 2013


For you Zombie fearfuls creating your safe houses and  underground bungalows fear not the Zombie apocalypse for it violates the 3 Laws of Thermodynamics! Yes, I am an avid viewer of The Walking Dead and have myself conjured up many a ways to protect myself and my loved ones lest the inevitable occurs.

About 2:32 this AM I awoke with the startling realization of why a Zombie Apocalypse could never occur; THE LAWS OF THERMODYNAMICS, THE LAWS OF THERMODYNAMICS, THE LAWS OF THERMODYNAMICS!!!!! I screamed at the top of my lungs and instantaneously received a kick from my wife Bruce Lee would be proud of, startled my sleeping dogs into a barking frenzy and immediately fell back to sleep hoping this true Eureka! moment would still be with me upon my awakening.

Fortunately, it stayed with me and now I must relate to all why a Zombie apocalypse (do I really need to capitalize Zombie, dunno, but I'll continue  out of respect for the Zombies of course) can never occur due to strict violations of the laws of thermodynamics. What this also means is that if a Zombie apocalypse does ever occur we must find and eliminate the energy source behind it, before it's too late for us all. Due to the unerring laws of thermodynamics the only way a Zombie apocalypse could occur is if we humans (or is it 'us humans' whatever, I'm not being graded) or possible extraterrestrial beings, supply an outside energy source to fuel the Zombie resurrection. OK, so let's look at each of the laws of thermodynamics and analyze why they will save us from a Zombie demise;

The first law of thermodynamics states that 'the total energy of a system and its surroundings is constant.' (Biochemistry, 7th Edition, Berg et. al.) Or said another way, energy is neither created nor destroyed, it just changes forms. Ah ha you say! That's it! There can be a Zombie uprising because it's just the energy changing forms part that allows Zombies to resurrect.

Not so fast. We need to analyze this law a bit further. The first thing we need to calculate is the total amount of people who have died. This is difficult because we can only do this within recorded history. So, using what we know from recorded history 99,000,000,000, that's 99 billion people have died throughout the known recorded history of the world. That number is going to be higher, much higher. Right now an interesting thought just occurred to me "In a Zombie apocalypse, is it just humans in the Homo sapiens species which will become a Zombie? What about H. floresiensis, H. neanderthalensis, H. rhodesiensis, H. heidelbergensis, H. paleohungaricus, or H. erectus (my personal favorite) all the way back to H.  australopithecus?" (BTW, I left about 8 or so genuses out, but I think you get my point) Oh yeah, that part of the discussion only applies if you, ummmm, 'believe' in evolution.

Anyway, will other primates become Zombies as well; you know like gorillas, monkeys, chimps etc. What about other animals? Since we never see anything other than human Zombies I guess we can assume the term Zombie only applies to those of the Homo sapiens variety.

Getting back to why a Zombie apocalypse violates the first law of thermodynamics and using the more formal definition of the law, that is, 'the total energy of a system and its surroundings is constant', it would take a large amount of energy to awaken, in a Zombie sense, those 99 billion people. That's a tremendous energy input. Where's this energy coming from? Is it from other parts of our galaxy, our universe? Is it energy which traveled through a wormhole perhaps (right now I'd love to have a hot line to Stephen Hawkings)? And that's just to get the 99 billion known dead into a Zombie transition.

I know, I know, now you're thinking that Dr. Jim is a fool. Everyone knows it's a virus that is causing the Zombies to rise and that's where the extra energy is coming from. The problem with this line of reasoning is that viruses are neither alive or dead, they are either activated or inactivated. Viruses must rely on living cells to become activated. But we all know Zombies are already dead (really referred to as the living dead, but that's not an oxymoron I am about to tackle here, right now I'm battling the laws of thermodynamics), so the cells are dead, ergo these cells cannot activate viruses. So forget the virus theory contributing to the Zombie apocalypse.

So again I ask; where is all the energy coming from to allow the Zombies to become Zombies. Heck, we all know they can walk, appear to move all intact extremities and can easily eat brains (and apparently digest them, I guess) when presented to them. Getting back to the intact extremities; another first law thermodynamic problem is that when a Zombie limb is severed (and even a head), the extremity still moves or the head still moves etc. Is the energy allowing this motion related to the initial intact Zombie or is it fueled separately from the same source that originally fueled the Zombie in the first place. This brings up a whole new set of problems with our first law, but the question is the same; if energy is neither created nor destroyed, if the energy of a system and it's surroundings is constant, where is all this extra energy coming from to create, cause, allow etc the Zombie apocalypse? As a side note, do Zombies digest? They never show a Zombie urinating or using the bathroom for that matter, so like how is the stuff they eat, ummmm, digested? Is it digested? Does it just sit in the Zombie belly and cause bloating? But a Zombie's already dead so is it safe to assume that the esophagus, stomach, intestines and all digestive organs & enzymes are dead too, or are they still working? And why the craving for brains? Anyone who understands the correct way to eat will immediately have the answer to that, 'Zombies eat brains because brains are mainly fat and Zombies obviously instinctively know the correct way to eat.' Bottom line; Zombies are following a low carb diet and they know more about the correct way to eat than most physicians, nutritionists and dietitians! (Sorry, I just couldn't resist)

So the take home message as to why a Zombie apocalypse violates the first law of thermodynamics is; Because there is a constant amount of energy in our universe and that energy is neither created nor destroyed and since one cannot create energy out of a vacuum (forget the whole Big Bang thing for now, it just muddies my hypothesis); to have a Zombie apocalypse would require more energy than is currently available in our universe! Can't happen, no way, no how! Phew! OK, on to the second law;

The second law of thermodynamics states; 'the total entropy of a system plus that of its surroundings always increases.' (same reference as above) The second law deals with a concept known as entropy or the fact that our universe favors towards disorder. An easy way to visualize this is if you have a child, go clean their room, don't clean up after them for a month; then check their room. The result; entropy!

The second law deals a lot with heat exchanges as well, referred to as enthalpy, but I wont touch upon that here, all we need to remember is that systems tend toward disorder, not order. In a Zombie apocalypse to rise from the dead would require the creation of some type of, say, order. I don't want to use the term heat because I do not know the temperature of a Zombie. I'm assuming they'd be at room temperature (which, as an aside, raises an interesting question; could a Zombie exist without proper attire in Antarctica or the South Pole? Wouldn't they just freeze? Assuming I'm wrong about this thermodynamic stuff and a Zombie apocalypse actually happens, shouldn't we all just move to a much colder climate? After all, all the Zombies I've ever seen were in warm environments, OK, back to our discussion).

So to have a Zombie Apocalypse would require the creation of more order in our universe, much more order (remember the 99 billion plus number); since this goes against the second law of thermodynamics and directly violates entropy (think of a room cleaning itself by itself with no outside influence, just cannot happen) a Zombie apocalypse is impossible. Phew! That made sense. Now on to the third law;

The third law of thermodynamics states that 'the entropy of a perfect crystal at absolute zero is exactly equal to zero.' (This definition I just remember from chemistry so I'm the reference.) This is an easy law of thermodynamics to apply to Zombies because IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ZOMBIES BECAUSE THEY WONT BE ABLE TO MOVE BECAUSE THEY'LL BE FROZEN!!!!!! Duh! They'll be at zero degrees Kelvin or something like that...

In conclusion; from my erudite discussion above one can conclude that a Zombie Apocalypse cannot occur as it will be in violation of all three laws of thermodynamics.

Caveat; in the event I'm wrong, someone, or more frighteningly, something, will be supplying the energy necessary to create the energy needed to increase order to allow the Zombies to come after us. We'll need to find that energy source and destroy it. Barring that, buy yourself a Northface or Patagonia or just a really warm coat and get to the nearest, most coldest climate and good luck!

Have a great weekend all!

dr jim



  1. Hi Dr Jim,
    I don't think you read my comment in the last post you wrote when I said I couldn't paste my letter to you, must be a word limit here. You had said in a post some time ago that you'd get your email working - you'd forgotten your password LOL Have you got a working email now ?
    Strange that your old practice didn't forward my letter to you - I wrote it to a Port Jefferson address. I'm from the UK btw !

  2. Hi there,

    Nope, didn't get to it yet. The old e-mail was shut down. Kindly send to And don't worry, I still intend on answering your ketosis question, just got side tracked by thermodynamics and Zombies :-)

  3. Thanks Dr Jim ! Email is on it's way to you ! It wasn't me that asked about ketosis - no worries. I'm on very low carb, around 30g per day, so I'm probably in ketosis and have no worries about it, don't check for it, but feel well. I'm a thin atypical Type 2 diabetic who is not insulin resistant but rather insulin deficient...low carb is the way to go !

  4. Just had to google the thermodynamics of the walking dead. Even if they had particularly efficient metabolisms, and were surviving off of what they had stored (quite a lot in atlanta, probably) and what they ate (are they clearing out the deer and rabbits?) there is also the problem of the fact that every character seems to have killed 100 zombies. After these months of the zombies, how are there still so many zombies! Please, write up the numbers. I want to know (but I'm lazy).