Andromeda Strain

In the opening incident of the movie “Andromeda Strain,” a space probe sent into the upper atmosphere of earth crashes unexpectedly in a remote area of Arizona. The probe was sent up to determine if there were any organisms capable of survival in space. When the probe landed, two men from the Military were sent down to survey the area and obtain the probe. They found the town that it had landed in was in chaos. There were bodies everywhere. Upon driving into the town, they immediately died. It was immediately clear that the deaths of the population of this town and the space probe’s crash were not coincidental. A committee had been formed 5 years prior to the incident to determine what would be done in a situation such as this one. If the organism could not be identified and neutralized, a nuclear bomb would be detonated on the site. Clearly, the probe had brought something back from space. A team was assembled to determine exactly what that was.

The team consisted of 5 people from various fields of science. Most had forgotten The Wildfire Project. They were gathered from their homes throughout the country and flown to Arizona. The team consisted of 5 people. It was thought that these people, when working together, could quickly discover the nature of the organism and make a decision as to what would be done in destroying it.

The use of the nuclear device which the team was considering involved a very serious decision. In order to give civilians the power to detonate such a device, the odd man hypothesis was created. It stated that one of the members of the team be single, and that it would be his responsibility to make the nuclear decision. He was to be given a key that would only work for him. If a leak was detected in the examination facility, it would be up to him to stop the detonation. The odd man of the team was Mark Hall. This played a key factor in the climax.

The team was taken to the site of the landing. Upon examining the bodies they discovered that this organism was actually a virus, and it acted by clotting the blood and causing immediate death. They began to leave when they discovered that there were 2 survivors, an old man and a baby. This added a new, useful factor to the equation. It showed that this virus could be beaten.

After going through an elaborate sterilization process, they began work on the virus. They performed many tests on the virus. They ran it through the microscope, it was determined how large it was, and it was even determined how it worked. They did tests on the old man and the baby that had managed to survive, trying to find a link. The next day the scientist was trying to find out a solution to the problem. On the third day, the scientists try to meet a self- imposed deadline. The sooner the solution is found, the fewer people will die. It turns out that the organism can only live within a very narrow pH, the pH human blood. The survivors found at the beginning of the movie that both had abnormal blood pH- the baby’s pH was too high due to crying much of the time and the old man’s pH was too low because he drank sterno.

That is when the unthinkable happened. When Burton was working on the virus, he cut the gloves of his suit that sealed out the virus. Immediately the four men rushed to see Burton. He was panicked, and screaming. It had been found that the virus did not survive well in pure oxygen, so that was pumped into the room he was in. Burton appeared to be fine, and when a sample of the virus in Burton’s area was analyzed, it was discovered to be mutated into a harmless form. Apparently, the baby and the old man had been lucky enough to avoid the virus until it mutated into a benign form. The situation seemed to be under control.

But it was worse than they knew. The virus had contaminated the facility, and the automatic nuclear detonation process had begun. If a nuclear device was set off, the virus would mutate over and over into deadly variations, each killing in a different way.

One of the scientists was exposed to contamination, and he saves himself by increasing his breathing pace until he creates a respiratory alkalosis in his blood chemistry. The Andromeda Strain has now been caused by degeneration in the lab’s gasket seals, and the atomic self- destruct device is triggered. The scientist is aware that if the bomb goes off the blast could cause a chain reaction in Andromeda mutations that would be impossible to stop. He fights off toxic fumes, dodges lethal darts from a radar- controlled laser gun, climbs a ladder to the top level of the lab complex, and with a few seconds to left to spare, he inserts the red key in a disconnect lock. Later he learns that the Andromeda Strain has mutated into benign form, and that mission control is using cloud- seeding procedures to carry the organism out to sea, where it will be destroyed by the alkaline reaction.

In the movie pH scale was included in the experiment trying to see what happens to blood when someone hyperventilates and proteins. On the first day the experts were trying to solve the problem as to why the satellite retrieved from outer space was killing people and animals. Then the scientist had to design some experiments to find out more about the deadly organism. Second was to see how the organism was structured and how it works. Third was how to contain the organism and destroy it.

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