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GonzoTheGreat
07-21-2009, 06:19 AM
I had an idea concerning the change from human to wolf (or other species) in David Edding's Belgariad series, and upon further contemplation I realised that this same problem also exists in the case of Rowling's Harry Potter series. Which means that someone can actually ask an author about it, which will probably result in quite a surprised author having to come up with an answer on the spot. So, what do you lot think?

In case it wasn't clear, yet:
Recently I read an article about all the various bacteria and such that live in our bodies. There are far more species of them than previously thought*, and they are often extremely specialised. For example: there are clearly distint populations on your tongue and palate, despite the fact that those are in contact with each other many times a day. The reason for this is that many bacteria are specialised in living on specific types of body cells, and different parts of our bodies have, obviously, different types of cells with different proteins on their cell wall.

Now, the problem with changing species is that most of those specialised bacteria can't live very well (if at all) in another species, so they would die. Which should, if nothing else, give rather severe digestion problems for the animagus. So how is that dealt with?

* It turns out that only about 1% of the species can be easily grown on the standard substrates in petri dishes. So 99% was basically overlooked until DNA analysis was done. This, of course, also invalidates a Mythbuster episode in which they did an experiment with licking things and then growing the bacteria.

Davian93
07-21-2009, 06:28 AM
Answer A: Eddings simply took out the multiple chapters of Garion, Aunt Pol and Belgarath having extreme diarrhea as a result of all the shape-changing.

or answer B: It's Magic.

Sarevok
07-21-2009, 06:44 AM
Or answer C (I haven't read Eddings, but I guess it won't be much different from HP): The wizard is still human: I'm guessing his intestines don't change when he changes shape. (it's called SHAPE-shifting, not species-shifting)
As for werewolves: they aren't human. Period.

Davian93
07-21-2009, 06:48 AM
Or answer C (I haven't read Eddings, but I guess it won't be much different from HP): The wizard is still human: I'm guessing his intestines don't change when he changes shape. (it's called SHAPE-shifting, not species-shifting)
As for werewolves: they aren't human. Period.

Eddings pretty heavily implies a Species-shift.

GonzoTheGreat
07-21-2009, 06:49 AM
So does Rowling, actually, since Scabbers doesn't weigh as much as an adult human.

Ishara
07-21-2009, 07:37 AM
Um, werewolves are human 28 days of the year - give or take!

Orc
07-21-2009, 07:41 AM
The answer is simple. The bacteria are also shape-shifters, and shift to whatever bacteria is appropriate whenever the person does.

Davian93
07-21-2009, 07:42 AM
Um, werewolves are human 28 days of the year - give or take!

They are also inherently good at basketball for some reason.

Which is an odd skill set all things considered.

Zanguini
07-21-2009, 08:33 AM
Well the specific bacteria in the various shapeshifting characters in the belgariad have become even more specialized able to do jobs both in wolf form or human form.

Also they could dissapear until needed lying dormant in another demension until needed. As explained in the book. there is nothing to say wolf bacteria wouldnt do the same thing while in human form.


Belgarath says as much in the 5th book ....and it is expanded further in the second or third book of the mallorean.

Sarevok
07-21-2009, 08:35 AM
Um, werewolves are human 28 days of the year - give or take!
One could argue that being an werewolve changes the entire genetic make-up of the person in such a way that they still look human, but can't really be considered human anymore.

Gilshalos Sedai
07-21-2009, 08:41 AM
Um, werewolves are human 28 days of the year - give or take!

They're human 27 days of the MONTH, dear, and wolves approximately 12 days a year. (Your way, there'd be 28 months. ;) )

Eddings' human to wolf transformation is entirely magical. Rowling's werewolves are magical as well. Even Meyers' are magical. There is no need to explain them further.

Hamilton's werewolves are diseased. But it's a virus that kills everything foreign in the body but soups up everything left, leaving the werewolf/shapeshifter with a superhuman immune system and other bodily functions. Werewolves, once infected, however, are no longer considered human in that world and are treated much like HIV+ patients.

Davian93
07-21-2009, 08:54 AM
http://cinematropolis.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/teen_wolf_1.jpg

Approves of this tread...

StrangePackage
07-21-2009, 08:56 AM
So wait, Gonzo's willing suspension of disbelief allows for the idea that people can change shape from human form to that of another species, but for some reason the plight of microscopic bacterium that dwell in the human form makes the above less credible?

Seriously, 'zo. You have better things to do with your time. Like, hating America.

GonzoTheGreat
07-21-2009, 09:05 AM
Hey, SP, if you can't handle a conditional willing suspension of disbelief, then you ... perhaps that sentence could only end in an ad hominem, so maybe not ending it is better

Anyway, why can't I be a bacteria hugger? They're our family too, you know, just as trees and Britney Spears. Though the latter can be a bit embarrassing occasionally, I have to admit. Oh well, every family has its black sheep. As this actual point shows, I guess.

Jokeslayer
07-21-2009, 09:30 AM
Have you considered that the bacteria themselves might be changed in the process?

GonzoTheGreat
07-21-2009, 09:33 AM
Yes, but that seems to be directly contradicted by the fact that the shapechangers don't change others they touch when they do change.

Ishara
07-21-2009, 01:20 PM
They're human 27 days of the MONTH, dear, and wolves approximately 12 days a year. (Your way, there'd be 28 months. )
LOL. Right. Well, you get the idea. ;)

tworiverswoman
07-21-2009, 01:25 PM
I wanna hear more about this Mythbusters episode.

They did WHAT?

Sarevok
07-21-2009, 01:27 PM
I wanna hear more about this Mythbusters episode.

They did WHAT?
Sounds like the put some spit in a petri dish and looked to see how many bacteria cultures they could grow.

the silent speaker
07-21-2009, 01:38 PM
You're forgetting, gonzo, that the bacteria are symbiotic enough to be affected by the magical penumbra. Something the werewolf merely happens to be touching isn't as closely connected. Clothing often gets a similar treatment (though not always).

Ozymandias
07-21-2009, 02:11 PM
Yes, but that seems to be directly contradicted by the fact that the shapechangers don't change others they touch when they do change.

Right but they change every internal aspect of themselves. And plus, its magic, its all assumed. I mean, all that stuff defies the Law of Conservation of Mass or Matter or whatever its called. So if you can suspend disbelief there... why not for some bacteria?

Jokeslayer
07-21-2009, 03:30 PM
Yes, but that seems to be directly contradicted by the fact that the shapechangers don't change others they touch when they do change.

The bacteria are inside them. Probably an important distinction.

GonzoTheGreat
07-22-2009, 04:12 AM
I wanna hear more about this Mythbusters episode.

They did WHAT?Read the double dip (http://mythbustersresults.com/episode-117-banana-slip-double-dip) part of these results. They also once tested the idea that dog saliva contains many more bacteria than human saliva, and they tested the "if food falls on the floor, it is save to pick it up within 3 seconds" idea. All their results in these things are prone to the same flaw I mentioned earlier in this thread.
The bacteria are inside them. Probably an important distinction.It would be more important if it were actually true. We also have quite a few bacteria on our skin, you know. Though there are a lot more internally, and far more different species too.

Still, if we do go with the "if it's inside your body it changes" idea, that raises new questions. Ones no one ever asked before, probably.
Suppose that a shapechanger puts a frog in his mouth, closes his mouth, changes shape, and openes his mouth again, then what comes out?

Neilbert
07-22-2009, 07:34 AM
The magic recognizes what bacteria needs to be preserved. It knows which passengers that killing would cause trouble in the long run so it just doesn't.

Or maybe all the bacteria gets stored away in magicland for a time, and it gets replaced by magical werewolf bacteria. Or werewolves don't need bacteria.

There's a lot of options if you look at magic as being somewhat intelligent, rather than as a simple computer program.

Mort
07-22-2009, 08:25 AM
I remember Belgarath telling Belgarion when Belgarion asked where his sword went when he shapeshifted. Belgarath said he still carried it with him. Same thing with his own body then perhaps.

It's kind of a moot discussion when when we probably can't ever know exactly what happens, since the explanation is "magical". Why not settle with that?

Zanguini
07-22-2009, 08:40 AM
"Some scientists think that the bacteria in the human mouth is among the strongest in the world, is to keep stronger forms of bacteria from growing in your mouth." - Greg Sanders

GonzoTheGreat
07-22-2009, 09:23 AM
It's kind of a moot discussion when when we probably can't ever know exactly what happens, since the explanation is "magical". Why not settle with that?"Settle with that"? Here on Theoryland?
No way!

Ishara
07-23-2009, 10:47 AM
Huh. So what was the verdict with the 3-second rule fr food?

Davian93
07-23-2009, 11:27 AM
Huh. So what was the verdict with the 3-second rule fr food?

Anything under 5 seconds is genuinely safe IMHO. Unless the floor is particularly dirty or is something really sticky that would just pick up hair.

GonzoTheGreat
07-23-2009, 12:19 PM
Huh. So what was the verdict with the 3-second rule fr food?from what I remember, the 3-second rule was busted.

If you really wanna know, check out the results. I'm sure it is mentioned somewhere on the Mythbuster site, to which I've already provided a link.

Birgitte
07-23-2009, 02:24 PM
Yeah, busted. It's covered in gross stuff from the second it hits the floor. Their results said that anything after three seconds wasn't going to grow any more bacteria, but I think with the new bacteria data, that part can be thrown out.

So, just don't eat stuff that's been on the floor. Unless you don't mind a little foreign bacteria.

Jokeslayer
07-24-2009, 04:22 AM
It would be more important if it were actually true. We also have quite a few bacteria on our skin, you know. Though there are a lot more internally, and far more different species too.

Since I don't die every time I touch my dog, I would think the species of the one on our skin is far less important.

GonzoTheGreat
07-24-2009, 04:39 AM
Since I don't die every time I touch my dog, I would think the species of the one on our skin is far less important.But if the bacteria on your skin change when you go wolf, and then don't change back when you return to human shape, then you might develop some mighty peculiar body odours. That could be a consideration for those who want to have any chance at dating or something like that.

Gilshalos Sedai
07-24-2009, 07:58 AM
Actually, depending on the author, Werewolves do smell differently to humans than, say, other humans.

GonzoTheGreat
07-24-2009, 09:03 AM
See? My question actually makes sense. :D

Jokeslayer
07-24-2009, 09:47 AM
But if the bacteria on your skin change when you go wolf, and then don't change back when you return to human shape, then you might develop some mighty peculiar body odours. That could be a consideration for those who want to have any chance at dating or something like that.

Changing with you one way but not the other makes no sense. At all.

GonzoTheGreat
07-24-2009, 11:03 AM
Changing with you one way but not the other makes no sense. At all.Which gives me an opportunity to throw back a reply someone else gave me in this thread:
It's magic.

Quite handy, that one. :p

Uno
07-25-2009, 09:28 PM
Inga: Werewolf!
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Werewolf?
Igor: There.
Dr. Frankenstein: What?
Igor: There, wolf. There, castle.
Dr. Frankenstein: Why are you talking that way?
Igor: I thought you wanted to.
Dr. Frankenstein: No, I don't want to.
Igor: Suit yourself. I'm easy.

Had to be done.

Marie Curie 7
07-26-2009, 02:22 PM
Inga: Werewolf!
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Werewolf?
Igor: There.
Dr. Frankenstein: What?
Igor: There, wolf. There, castle.
Dr. Frankenstein: Why are you talking that way?
Igor: I thought you wanted to.
Dr. Frankenstein: No, I don't want to.
Igor: Suit yourself. I'm easy.

Had to be done.

Okay, that was funny... :D Why don't you have rep turned on?

Jokeslayer
07-26-2009, 02:39 PM
Which gives me an opportunity to throw back a reply someone else gave me in this thread:
It's magic.

Quite handy, that one. :p

It's magic is not synonymous with It's bloody stupid

GonzoTheGreat
07-27-2009, 04:02 AM
It's magic is not synonymous with It's bloody stupidThinks of Voldemort who didn't have the brains to use a gun or a knife on The One when he first went to kill little Potter.
Thinks of scores of AS.
Thinks of Richard Rahl and his Randian philosophy.
Thinks of the Emperor in Star Wars who didn't figure out that Darth Vader was helping him quite well towards universal domination, so that he didn't really need that young brat, and could thus have Luke killed out of hand.

Are you sure they aren't synonyms?

Jokeslayer
07-27-2009, 05:33 AM
Those seem more like examples of Stupid people do stupid things.

GonzoTheGreat
07-27-2009, 05:44 AM
Yeah, but magic makes things easy, which means that you don't have to think, which makes you stupid.

Jokeslayer
07-27-2009, 06:36 AM
But the magic itself, and the rules that govern it, aren't stupid.