It's Halloween, so odds are you're going to see some zombies today. But fear not, because if they were real zombies, they wouldn't be able to shamble, feed, see, or really do much of anything, Rutgers professor and forensic consultant Kimberlee Sue Moran explains to the South Jersey Times. After getting freaked out by 28 Days Later, Moran decided to look into the science of zombies, and discovered that there's nothing to fear, thanks to autolysis. That's the body's self-destruct sequence, and it kicks in right after death.
"You hear about friendly bacteria and probiotics all the time," Moran explains, "and they are friendly until the body dies, then they get a bit hungry." Decomposition sets in, and with it liquification, and within three days "the body would not be stable enough to run around." Besides, without blood and oxygen flow to the (also decomposing) brain, any vision or movement is impossible. The truth is, corpses break down pretty quickly, recycling into the ecosystem. And then, Moran muses, "you are kind of the living dead, in a way." LiveScience, meanwhile, tackles another Halloween mystery: Why witches ride brooms. Its fascinating explainer references poisonous plants, a woman who allegedly killed her husband in 1324, and the anointing of "hairy places." Read it here.