Fallout ghouls, people who lost their original appearance due to huge doses of radiation and tissue necrosis, can actually be explained with the help of science, claims one microbiologist on Reddit.
In a lengthy post, academically titled “The Microbiological Theory on the Root Cause of Ghoulification,” Reddit member Hinnerhynn explains how certain types of fungi and pathogenic yeasts can live inside the human body and require a constant stream of radiation to survive, possibly explaining why Fallout ghouls congregate near exposed areas.
“C. neoformans is often found in bird droppings, especially pigeon droppings,” explains Hinnerhynn. “C. neoformans is not necessarily part of the normal human mycobiome, but it is a fairly common fungal pathogen. power plants that use radiation as an energy source.
“Candida albicans” is another opportunistic yeast fungus… [который] can occur in many parts of the body, but usually occurs in the mucous membranes of the mouth, may spread to the pharynx or larynx and cause hoarseness. Both C. neoformans and C. albicans can also cause fungal meningitis… with symptoms such as fever, headache, neck stiffness, nausea, irritability, photophobia and phonophobia (sensitivity to light and sound, respectively), as well as altered mental status.
“Given all of this,” Hinnerhynn continues, “I believe that the gulification process is the result (in addition to human mutations) of radiotrophic strains of Cryptococcus neoformans and/or Candida albicans that have mutated on exposure to radiation to form a symbiotic, semi-opportunistic pathogenic relationship with human “ghouls”.
It’s a fascinating theory with a lot of solid scientific evidence, which I would say reinforces the creepy factor of Fallout’s feral ghouls – like the infected ones in The Last of Us, Fallout’s monsters become a lot scarier when you realize that potentially, sort of, they may actually exist. You can read the full Hinnerhynn theory, complete with much more scientific jargon, here.