Hot answers tagged

68

We're boned. You described a virus that is... air, fresh, and saltwater borne destroys plants and their seeds in two days can survive in all terrestrial environments can go dormant, presumably in some sort of spore does not affect anything but plants has been in the wild for a few months Normally a virus which kills its host in just two days would burn ...


26

Nothing is impossible. Science will never definitively prove anything (nor does it have to). However, it can bring up some very solid evidence to support or refute the hypothesis that it is a man made virus. There is a big difference between how man-made products work and how evolved products work. The man made product has a purpose, and it is tailored ...


23

Slim. Superbugs seem to come in roughly two flavours... things resistant to treatment, and new diseases our immune systems aren't familiar with. The former comes from places where large numbers of people get together and use antibiotics excessively and/or incorrectly. You end up with new flavours of old favourites, like totally drug resistant TB. The ...


22

This is known as an Asymptomatic carrier - someone who never shows signs of the infection. This is distinct from an incubatory carrier (not yet showing signs of infection, but does later) or a convalescent carrier (no longer shows signs of infection, but has done so previously. Often incorrectly consider themselves to be "cured")


19

You wouldn't even need to kill all the plants, if you just killed rice you'd end up doing in most of the human race, a lot through direct starvation but mainly because of the mass migrations and wars that would result. If you killed all the grasses (sorry your idea is not new) humans would get pretty close to extinction, if you also killed off the ...


14

Assuming that the virus was completely successful in wiping out plants, no, we would have no chance at survival. In reality though, plants are fast adapters and would quickly gain a resistance to the virus. This would happen even more quickly because a large number of insects would also be under intense evolutionary pressure to keep the plants alive. Not ...


13

Real biological systems are precise, but not that precise. You won't be able to do this simply. You could take a lesson from Stuxnet. Stuxnet is one of a family of new hyper-advanced computer viruses that's been released over the past few years. It was designed with cryptographic keys, some of which were believed to be files present on the target ...


11

What you propose is totally reasonable virus strategy and happens all the time. Your description of a stormy viral infection is one edge of a spectrum. Chronic stable viral infections, heritable viruses partly integrated into the genome, and ancient viral fragments all exist. This paper calls ancient viral fragments in the host genome "viral fossils" ...


11

(1) Ebola Changed one doctor's eye color from blue to green. Although in this specific case his eye color did change back, the article notes: Though it is quite rare for eye color to change so dramatically, this does happen from time to time as a result of viral infections and is usually permanent. Changes in color are usually due to the viral infection ...


11

The reality is that landfills are not places we dump our trash and then leave alone (or maybe move around with machinery). People live on landfills. Not just former/covered ones, but real live ones. People scavenge there. Children run around barefoot and play in piles of garbage. People eat food they find in landfills. (People in garbage landfill. Mexico) ...


10

It's a retrovirus A retrovirus is a type of RNA virus that inserts a copy of its genome into the DNA of a host cell that it invades, thus changing the genome of that cell. Such viruses are either single stranded RNA (e.g. HIV) or double stranded DNA (e.g. Hepatitis B virus) viruses. Once inside the host cell's cytoplasm, the virus uses its own ...


9

There are a few ways one might try to identify an unnatural viruses. Human scientists would look for: Remnants of genetic tools Man-made recombinant viruses usually contain artificial elements, such as: Selective markers, genes conferring resistance to weak lab antibiotics. These are used not by the virus itself, but while the virus is being put together ...


9

Use Adenovirus Gene therapy can use Adenovirus as a vector to modify a cell's DNA. In order to replicate, viruses introduce their genetic material into the host cell, tricking the host's cellular machinery into using it as blueprints for viral proteins. Scientists exploit this by substituting a virus's genetic material with therapeutic DNA. (The term '...


8

I used to share lab space with people who worked on ancient bacteria (not viruses) including thermophilic ones. They told the tale of their previous lab, where the thermophilic bacteria had 'escaped'*. Some of the bacteria got into the distilled water making machine, which boils tap water and condenses the steam to make distilled water. The bugs took up ...


7

It is possible. It exists. An example is Hepatitis D. from Wikipedia (what would we do without Wikipedia? Give to Wikipedia!) Hepatitis D (hepatitis delta) is a disease caused by the hepatitis D virus (HDV), a small spherical enveloped viroid. This is one of five known hepatitis viruses: A, B, C, D, and E. HDV is considered to be a subviral ...


7

Ash's answer lays out some good ideas for how different plant species dying off would end the world, but I'm not certain that it's possible for a plant virus to have the properties you want in the first place. For one thing, they're not usually that deadly. (Tobacco mosaic virus or TMV, a well-studied plant virus, does a tremendous amount of economic damage, ...


7

You could definitely make this the premise of a story. Third world abandoned laboratory is cleaned up by new government. source Bags of assorted mysterious stuff are sent to landfill with no processing or sterilization. In landfill, bioengineered spores (anthrax? gangrene?) find new rodent hosts. Landfill scavengers are exposed and bring disease back ...


7

Rhinovirus. https://www.the-scientist.com/features/catching-the-cold-39858 Mixing measles and Ebola kind of smells like coating a nuclear bomb with nerve gas. Too much! Better for your narrative is to mix it with something unexpected. For a story, I like the idea that a harmless pathogen should confer the ability to do great harm. Here is how it ...


6

The alien only want to increase the death rate instead of eliminating all humans. They cannot do it with a disease. With any disease the death rate (the number of deaths for given number of births) will rise for a short time but will quickly stabilize at the same rate as with healthy population: every human can die only once. So to have more deaths they ...


6

A natural virus will show a family resemblance to other strains. There will be a few changes that explain why it suddenly appeared to us (effective virulence or zoönosis). We will be able to see an evolutionary path from old to new. Think of running a diff between versions: you can change a single code, delete runs, insert runs (if you find the source of ...


6

I think the best answer might be the one you supplied yourself -- that is, the lack of junk DNA. The engineered virus might just be too ... slick to be natural. Another thing to look at is the shell of the virus (if it has one). Many viruses have a protein shell. Perhaps the alien virus' shell has unusual compounds not seen elsewhere on Earth, perhaps it ...


6

How about a future World with body modifications, where any adult has some "mods", electronic replacements? If in this World something goes terribly wrong, so anyone who has mods will die and electronics might be banned.


6

Whilst an enclosed area, by its very nature, is more likely to allow for the spread of diseases, this does not mean your colony is more likely to become infected. Below are some ways your colony may be able to combat the spread of diseases or infections. Quarantine In order to prevent the colonists from getting sick, we can quarantine visitors like we do ...


5

There are lots of things that can depigment hair and skin. Some drugs can do it, but that is reversible. Age of course can do it. Vitiligo is an autoimmune condition; affected skin loses pigment and hair coming from that skin can be white. It is possible to develop vitiligo because you have melanoma - an immune attack on the pigmented tumor cells also ...


5

Semi-deliberately? The primary host for these viruses is thermophilic but a research team might extract said viruses from their usual host. They'd need to find a body temperature host to facilitate research into the properties and effects of the virus they wished to study. This new host would necessarily need to be very similar, biochemically speaking, to ...


4

Assuming you have such a unbeatable and invincible virus, there would never be a transition to a new World-Wide internet network. Firstly, it becomes too risky to maintain the integrity of a new network. With billions of users world wide, all it takes is 1 idiot to connect an infected/old device and your new network is corrupted and you have to start again. ...


4

If you want to kill everyone globally at the same time, you need an external signal. That's going to need to be some kind of broadcast -- sound or EM. So, reverse engineering, that means we need a virus that makes humans susceptible to one of those two things. Let's tackle EM since it's far easier to coat the world in a particular EM frequency than to get ...


4

Genetically transferred virus User cegfault did a good job showing that Ebola would be a good candidate virus for killing 90% of the infected and causing grey hair and green eyes. But Ebola is not passed on genetically. BUT there are ways viruses could be passed on genetically. Here's how: Retroviruses insert themselves into the DNA of our cells, but we ...


4

No, but maybe yes. The idea of parasites or other diseases that can cause changes to behaviour is well established. For example there is fungus that takes control of ants. There are parasites that make mice and rats get eaten by cats. Rabies is a classic example as well. But changes as drastic as those shown in 28 days later? That's a bit more of a stretch....


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