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Skythologies: What's the story, Dr. Zombie?

Dr. ZombieBefore you conclude that Dr. Zombie (some creativity on the name, huh) is a cross-dressing man-machine and Nutribun-topped hybrid, there really are scientific bases on why his costume is designed as such. Except of course, why he had to wear his wife's nightgown which still puzzles me.

The combination of man and machine, pardon the archaic alliteration, has been deemed the penultimate persona in science fiction. Metal is masculine, take it from the Terminator franchise and bachelor houses. And it's not happening in the make-believe or on celluloid--I just need to take a look at my octogenarian aunt, her limp corrected by a titanium implant on her hip joint. Biomaterials.

The official definitions of a biomaterial are:

  • It is a nonviable material used in a medical device, intended to interact with biological systems.
  • It is used to make devices to replace a part of a function of the body in a safe, reliable, economic, and physiologically acceptable manner.
  • It is any substance (other than a drug), natural or synthetic, that treats, augments, or replaces any tissue, organ, and body function.
Biomaterials are not a 20th-century invention or pseudoscience fiction. They have been with us over the ages. Gold has been used as tooth replacement for over two millenia by the Chinese, Aztecs and our Benguet nations up north. Glass is employed as an eye replacement, albeit for cosmetic purposes. Extensive research in artificial eyes have been undergone by the Materials Science Division of the Industrial Technology Development Institute in Taguig City and they have been successful in trials on stray cats. Breast implants and nose jobs at Belo Medical are also biomaterials (take note of the word "augment" in the definition above). And of course, my bionic auntie.

Going back to Dr. Zombie, let us trace his origin, speculatively, since there is no online material available to dissect him. Let's say Dr. Zombie has a PhD in biomaterials and biomechanical engineering from a university in the United States, where biomaterials is a lucrative, $100B business, increasing at a rate of 5-7% per year. He is a major stockholder of such a company, enabling him to follow his inventive quirks.

What made him go back to the Philippines is the Balik-Scientist Program of the Department of Science and Technology, a noble cause. He wanted every Filipino to own one of his inventions which is an obvious ripoff of Green Goblin's hovercraft. In fairness to him this could have freed us from petroleum dependence (to be discussed in a later analysis on Darna).

When Dr. Zombie diluted Sulfura with a firehose in a previous episode, she took this personally and hurled an acid bomb at the doctor. His left arm was burned, and probably the left side of his face, critically injuring his eye, peeling his left eyelid. So that explains the amber ball on his left eye and the tubes around his head--the amber ball protects his left eye like a normal eyelid, and the tubes flush his eye with artificial tears to protect it from drying up, exactly how our lachrymal glands perform, and why we blink unconsciously.

Mason Verger, one of the characters in Thomas Harris' Hannibal, also had a similar contraption when he was coaxed by Dr. Hannibal to peel his face using a shard of glass in flagrante delicto. Fatally kinky.The source of Dr. Zombie's artificial tears could be the redirection of one of his tear ducts through the tube, or a reservoir located somewhere (his Nutribun helmet probably) that recycles said tears over and over.

For his arms which suffered third-degree burns, he must have used artificial skin like Integra, a synthetic skin made from cow collagen and shark cartilage carbohydrate covered with a thin sheet of silicone. The silicone membrane is removed once blood vessels grow and resume blood flow as early as 14 days, and a graft from the patient's own skin replaces the membrane. Skin regeneration is achieved after 35 days. All this time Dr. Zombie could have stayed in the sterile environment of his laboratory or the hospital, but his misplaced vengeance for Darna makes his EQ lower by the day. He wears gloves to protect the sensitive and still-growing skin.

What is inside his helmet, aside from his artificial tear generator and a vestigial, blinking LED? I don't know, but it adds to the masculine aura of Dr. Zombie like his android predecessors. His palanggana top is probably ceramic, because if it's metal and he's in a tropical country with urban temperatures rising to 38 C, expect him to be dangerously hotheaded most of the time.

His helmet could have been more powerful, learning and relearning Darna's (and Sulfura's) moves. That LED must have a purpose. The amber sphere more than meets the eye.

Next on Skythologies: Is my Call Center Agent human?

Buddy Ratner, "An Introduction to Biomaterials"
Seattle Post-Intelligence, "Artificial skin offers genuine hope"
Integra LifeSciences
Image sourced from GMA TV's Darna homepage.

An aside on last night's ep: Darna was able to kill the zombies by uprooting a lamp post and shocking the undead. Electricity had to start and go somewhere, like flowing water. It has to have a source and a drain. Lightning for example, is not open ended. It starts in the upper atmosphere and drains into a lightning rod, a person or a tree. I assume that the lamp post she had has very long, stress proof wires to sustain the current that she imparts to the zombies. Beats me. She could have whacked the pole instead.

“Skythologies: What's the story, Dr. Zombie?”