How Does It
By Adam Horvath
I'm sure if you're reading this you've probably seen the film The
Thing or at least know enough about it to know that the Thing was
frozen in the ice for at least 100,000 years. Basically, I plan to
provide an explanation as to how an organism can perform such a task.
ELEMENTS OF THING BIOLOGY
The first item we need to examine to find this out is to look at
the parts of Thing biology we already know. We know it is a viral
organism capable of assimilating and perfectly imitating other
organisms. We know it is a non-terrestrial species (Obviously), so it
does not have to seem 'possible' compared to native species. We know
it can manipulate it's own cells at will. We also know its metabolic
rates are of the charts, making it capable of changing its form
entirely in a matter of minutes.
ELEMENTS OF HIBERNATION BIOLOGY
It is pretty obvious that the Thing did not just lay there
wide-awake for 100,000 years, motionless. That would be enough to make
anything go insane. That makes it slightly possible that the Thing
went insane in the ice and attacked once it was thawed, but I'm not
here to try to prove that. If you want to try, go ahead.
So, we can establish that the Thing went into some form of
hibernation. Now, hibernation basically means going to sleep for a
long time, and not waking up for any normal bodily functions or going
out to consume something. So how could it stay alive for 100,000 years
and not eat anything?
Let's look at bears. Bears pretty much eat a lot during the summer.
Also, they eat a lot of grass and rocks to plug up their intestines.
This is so they can reuse food that they ate. This works fine for
bears, but could this be how the Thing survived? No. That is not
possible. As far as we know, the last surviving Thing crawled out of
the ship, walked a few meters, and then froze in the ice. It had no
chance to eat anything, so unless it got prepared for hibernation
before the trip, which also is very unlikely, this form of hibernation
Now let's look at frogs. Frogs dig themselves into the ground
before winter and hibernate there. When winter comes, they freeze
solid in the ice and cease all body functions. Even the heart stops
beating. This is made possible because amphibians are cold blooded, so
the icy temperatures do not harm them as much. Another thing is that
their blood generates a special antifreeze sugar to ensure the ice
doesn't crack their skin and bleed them to death. Similar to human
attempts at cryogenic freezing. However, even though frogs don't eat
dirt and rocks, they still eat a lot before hibernation. So, while
this method is more likely, let's try to think of non-terrestrial ways
to accomplish this task.
First we need to establish what type of terrestrial species the
Thing can be classified in. First off, the Thing is a single celled
organism that works with other Things when it has to, but ultimately
it only tries to ensure it's own survival at any cost. It invades
other species and infects them. This is the easiest part of
classifying the Thing. It is a viral species.
Now, there is a large difference between how warm and cold-blooded
species hibernate. Bears crawl into a small dry space that remains at
a relatively constant temperature year round, such as a cave. Frogs,
on the other hand, dig under the leaf litter and freeze like rocks.
Unless it is injected by some kind of antifreeze sugar, such as that
found in a fish or frog, no warm-blooded creature could survive frog
hibernation, or what the Thing went through.
It is unlikely the Thing is a naturally evolved species. It would
have eventually starved itself and it's planet, and it is unlikely
that such a species could develop space travel. Chances are, it is a
biological weapon, which explains it's viral nature. So, there are two
ways the Thing could survive a 100,000-year freezing. Either it is a
cold-blooded species, or it was injected by an antifreeze serum prior
to the trip. For ease, let's assume it is a cold-blooded species. This
makes more sense, because it is immune to cold yet very vulnerable to
fire. This also creates a hypothesis that the Thing's planet of origin
is an icy one.
So, what do we know so far?
So, we know it is cold blooded, so it can create antifreeze sugar
when it freezes. But one question remains: how did it eat?
Well, we know the basic nature of the Thing is to ensure its own
survival at all costs. We also know it can duplicate itself within
minutes, and we know that each cell is a different Thing. So here is
my explanation. When the Thing walked out of the ship and knew it was
going to freeze, it broke itself into its separate cells, forming a
blob of matter, which froze. (I know the book 'Who Goes There' clearly
states that the Thing was more or less humanoid, but the book never
had Norwegians thawing it out.)
Now, there is no reason to assume the Thing cells couldn't move in
the ice. Perhaps, due to its freezing planet of origin, it couldn't be
completely frozen - only encased in a coffin of ice. This gives us a
good explanation as to how each cell ate. Each cell could use its
extreme metabolic rates to duplicate itself. Then, its parent cell
simply ate it. That's how it survived for 100,000 years: cannibalism.
Remember: each thing only tries to ensure it's own survival.
The Thing is a cold-blooded biological weapon and a virus. When it
crawled out of the ship and realized it was going to freeze, it broke
itself down into it's original cells and froze into a coffin of ice.
When hungry, a cell would duplicate itself and then eat the duplicate
while it was still young and inexperienced. Once the cells realized
they were being chopped out of the ice by the Norwegians, it reformed
into whatever form it thought would be best, and got ready to be
thawed out by the ill fated scientists.