Guest Blogger: Raul Jacque Mouton (aka MiSci Educator Tony Farris)
I cherish those Saturday afternoons when I sat in front of the TV with rabbit ears (one of the antennae bent), with a bag of Better Made cheese popcorn and Red Faygo pop waiting for “Sir Graves Ghastly” to come on. Whether he featured “The Curse of the Mummy” or “The Invisible Man,” I was eager and willing to suspend all belief for an afternoon of thrills and chills. However, even though I am a die-hard RKO Monsters fan, it grieves me to dispel the idea that vampires and zombies exist today in our society. Simply put, the numbers just don’t add up!
Let’s begin with the existence of vampires (forgive me Bela Lugosi). Two physicists, Costas Efthimiou and Sohang Gandhi have surmised that the ability of vampires to turn their victims into other vampires far exceeds the rate at which the human population can reproduce. They suggest a scenario in which the first vampire arrives in the year 1600 when the human population was a little more than 500 million. If vampires fed once a month, it would take just two and half years, for vampires to delete the human population – and their food source. This idea is based on a simple math principle known as geometric progression and as we all know – numbers don’t lie!
But could there be some science behind the myths? The medieval period was full of superstitious beliefs, lack of proper hygiene, and deplorable sanitary habits among the masses led to the rapid spread of diseases. Several diseases caused a lack of heme in the human blood system, which may have contributed to people being mistaken for vampires. Porphyria can cause toxins in the body which turn the skin pale and produce a sensitivity to light. In addition, the disease caused the gums to recede and lips to erode, which gave the individual a ghoulish appearance. Tuberculosis (TB) also caused coughing up blood, which could have been taken for an individual drinking blood.
For all you “Walking Dead” followers, I have some bad news. The zombie apocalypse is doomed to fail. You can blame Darwin for that one. Due to natural selection (survival of the fittest), slow-moving, non-complex thinking, brain-eating, flesh-rotting carbon units don’t stand a chance. They occupy the bottom rung of the food ladder. First, once one dies, all those healthy bacteria that are in our gut start to decompose the human body. Second, a zombie would be susceptible to other decomposers such as ants and worms or scavengers such as coyotes and vultures. Third, temperature in the form of heat would speed up the decomposing process, while cold would slow the mobility of a zombie down to a snail’s pace. Fourth, zombies would lack the ability to maneuver various terrain and geographic landscapes. Last, and most importantly, spreading a virus through a bite is not an efficient method to transmit a disease. It wouldn’t be too difficult to stay out of biting range of a zombie attack.
All that being said, I have a stash of Pop Secret Home-style Butter microwave popcorn, a 2-liter bottle of Sprite and a Blu-ray collection of classic monster movies to watch this weekend. And just in case, I have garlic in the fridge and an SUV with a full tank of gas.