Hot answers tagged

70

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 ...


40

The nanites use IPv6 for communication. Source of the image above: https://xkcd.com/865/ They are limited therefore to 2128 bots operating at the same time. Any extra nanobots are unable to communicate with the network and self-destruct themselves. Edit: I love this comment: You need to use IPv4. The Earth has a surface of 1.48 $\times$ 1014m2. That ...


28

Multinational corporations have been in the business of bending unwilling nations to their corporate will to allow for the extraction of resources, for a very long time now. They have a considerable arsenal of tools at their disposal to bring even the most unwilling nation to heel. Diplomacy and soft power: It's an American corporation, so surely the ...


27

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 ...


23

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 ...


17

Step 1: Use a Retrovirus Retroviruses clone themselves from RNA instead of DNA. RNA is less stable than DNA; so, virus that use it for replication mutate MUCH faster than those that use DNA. This means that you will not have a single virus you can just vaccinate against, but an ever growing family of viruses such that you will already have new varieties ...


15

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 ...


14

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 ...


13

(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 ...


13

The nanovirus can be hacked Since the foundation has figured out how to hack their communications signals, they can purge the homicidal nature from the infected nanites just by getting close to it with a wireless device. So, it is just as dangerous for the bots to go into a city full of routers and cellphones as it is for man to go into an undeveloped ...


12

Obvious naming aside, this is an awful insane movie styles plan. Honestly. The more complicated the plan is the more likely it will fail. Also you can't, not in a million years, cover up something as this. It will be known within a matter of weeks and oh boy are you in trouble. That is also a huge huge diplomatic crisis. Imagine England finding out that an ...


12

I'm not an epidemiologist, but I do a lot of computer science and at a high level, infection in computer networks and in humans have a lot in common. Ultimately both come down to two factors - transmissability and payload. Let's discuss transmissability first. In epidemiology, there is a factor called R0, or R-nought. This was made famous in the movie ...


12

Firstly, when the host is affected, their body will grow bigger than it would have originally been, but not much bigger, only about being 1/2 times bigger. Depends on the host, but if the animal species was one with indeterminate growth then obviously it is set up to get bigger, only there's a reasonable chance it would get bigger anyway. Maybe the virus ...


12

I can think of several, but here is my favorite. Fever. Headache. Nausea. Vomiting. Agitation. Anxiety. Confusion. Hyperactivity. Fear of water. An airborne version of rabies would be especially horrifying. It would result in extremely (almost 100%) lethality once you had symptoms and it would have a fairly large number of reservoirs amongst animals. ...


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

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) ...


11

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 ...


11

Viruses cannot achieve consciousness as we know it because they do not communicate among themselves. In the briefest terms, a virus is a piece of dna inside a microscopic capsule. The capsule has protheins that allow the viral DNA to enter cells and hijack their prothein producing mechanisms, but that's it. Therefore a virus can only be as intelligent as ...


10

Basic Reward Training Sheep aren't stupid and can give a lot of dogs a run for their money. A radio collar emits a beeping noise. To the sheep, this means a load of food they really like better than grass has been dumped in the sheep yards. The sheep will learn what the noise is and what it means pretty quickly and you can watch them actually run all the way ...


10

Living in Shadow Nanotech has something of a reputation for being hard to kill and hard to contain. It's mostly unfounded. Nanotech in reality is quite fragile and limited in capability. A swarm of nanomachines could feasibly disassemble a person, but once they did, UV radiation from the sun would quickly destroy most of them. Nanites are vulnerable to ...


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

It’s a Prion There is already a deadly neurological disease caused by the consumption of human flesh. Kuru is a neurodegernative disease that causes uncontrollable shaking, loss of coordination, outbursts of laughter, ataxia, and a general state of delirium followed by wasting away. It was once common among the Fore People of Papua New Guinea, who were ...


9

You have not defined the nanites, which you should have done. Consequently, I'm making outrageous assumptions. Assumptions: (a) Your nanites are synthetic, not biological,1 (b) the purpose of the P-organ is to manufacture synthetic nanites.2 (c) Your nanites are electrically based.3 (c) Your nanites are not capable of carrying an infinite supply of power.4 ...


8

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, ...


8

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 ...


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 ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible