Updated: July 13, 2011
After prophecies and ghosts, it is time to pit vampires against the infallible roundhouse kick of science. One by one, we debunk popular myths, urban legends, folklore, and other phenomena using nothing but a bit of quantum physics and maybe a sprinkling of mesons. Today, we impale the vampires on the stake of physics.
Let us first characterize a typical vampire. The modern vampire likes to wear black and hang around nightclubs listening to techno and rave. There's a loose affiliation to Eastern Europe ancestry, which is used to fool the geographically challenged audience. Vampires like blood. They die after being burned, exposed to sunlight, staked through the heart, or submitted to religion. There are many logical fallacies with this image. If you happen to believe in vampires, then here's a handful of reasons why your belief is misplaced.
It is obvious there's a very heavy Christian bias toward vampires. This comes as no surprise given the fact the modern vampire and its arch-boss, Dracula, were born in the heyday of the ultra-depressive Victorian era. It was an Irish guy who revived the romantic horror and embedded it in Romania, which sounds pretty far off and mystic to a typical denizen of the British Isles. There's the obvious church connection, as well as not so subtle undertones of perversion and sex. But that's secondary, as those are reflections of society. Let us focus purely on the religious aspects of vampirism. Vampires seem to be Christian, mingle with Christians and live and die by Christian symbols.
Therefore, you can use implements like holy water and the cross to scare or defeat vampires. Which begs a question, what happens to Muslim vampires? Or an atheist vampire? How are they supposed to react to symbols that had no meaning in their former-life religion? Does it mean non-Christians cannot be vampires?
Obsession with Romania
And Transylvania, specifically. I don't know where people got the notion that Romania is the cradle of vampirism, when in fact, the most famous medieval vampires were no other than Serbs! Truth to be told, you get tales of vampires in all Slavic cultures, and Romanians aren't even Slavs. Most Slavs are Orthodox, but it stands to logic that an Irish writer would go for a predominantly Catholic country, which is why you get Serbian vampires out, Romanian vampires in.
Not as sinister as they make it look, but a bit of GIMP and it becomes a real horror treat. Now, it looks like a place where a crazed Romanian warlord might force the villagers to practice acupuncture with rusted spikes. My GIMP skills are really sharp. Hihi.
Taste and style in music and clothing
Vampires like crap music, fact. They also like to dress like emos. Which is weird. Now, you don't need to go a hundred years into the past to realize people are fixated in a very particular time frame when it comes to what they like. Contemporary 40-year-olds mostly like 70s music. People born in late 70s and early 80s mostly like 80s music. If you're as much as a day above 30, you probably can't stand any of the modern diarrhea they play today.
So imagine what would a typical vampire, born a thousand years ago in some hamlet in the Carpathians, like to listen to? MC Hammer? Hardly. Even Carmina Burana would be ultra-progressive. In fact, the mere fact someone ought to have a music taste after a thousand years of existing is a difficult concept, especially since they are long dead and have spent some 900 years without electricity. We presume people used to listen to music in the past, but it was not so. Only a tiny, tiny percentage of rich people could enjoy music on a regular basis. Orchestras were a rarity. Bards used to sing in taverns, but most people spent their days fighting for survival. Radio changed that, and then TV changed that some more. But it's only recently that we have music aplenty just like running water. So no MC Hammer, but Jan Hammer, definitely. Everyone just loves his work.
The same applies to how vampires dress. Would you trade in your sturdy urine-colored tweed and dog-brain tanned leathers for crotch-nipping spandex and a tubetop? I don't think so. If you were born in 1122 in ancient Singidunum, you would be a hardcore conservative, raised in an age of terrible ignorance and fear. You would think Spanish Inquisition was progressive. And you would speak either Latin or some bastard form of Pomeranian.
Speaking of when you were born, vampire lineage seems to be limited to medieval ages. There seem to be no vampires dating back ten thousand years ago. You don't get any Mesopotamian vampires complaining how things used to be better back then. All of the vampires are fairly young and modern. This begs the question, what happened to the ancient vampires, and if they did not exist, how come you get vampires showing up all of a sudden like Igor and Rurik pounding on Kiev's gates.
Influence & intelligence
For some reason, modern vampires happen to be nothing more than tribal thugs, outcasts, weirdos, techno and punk music aficionado, molesting anemic teens in suburban America. You get the usual mix of depression, would-be Gothic elements of culture, melancholic angst, and general loser attitude.
Let's take your average vampire, born in 1543, died in 1573, ever so lo-lo-lo-lonely. We must assume that vampires retain human intelligence and can learn new things and adapt to new realities. So they transition from being day-dwellers who require one type of food into night-dwellers who require a different type of food, except far more physically powerful, virtually indestructible, to say nothing of magical skills and glamor.
So you are a medieval vampire. Across the span of five hundred years, you have a superb opportunity to grow your influence and become a living [sic] legend. Now, not all vampires would have the ambition to learn and evolve, just like humans, but there would be a few choice prodigies out there. You would master languages and new technologies. You would learn beyond the capacity of an average human, becoming immensely powerful. You would become a master strategist, the perfect negotiator, the perfect tradesmen, the master debater, and a cunning linguist. You would grow immensely rich, even by cultivating modest assets. In fact, you would have to do very little to become the most powerful thing on this planet.
You start off by being a mercenary or the underworld boxer. After a few decades pummeling everyone into pulp and slicing throats in the night while ignoring the perils of simple human death, you accrue considerable wealth. Then, you become a lawman in a town and climb your way to the top. You use your monies to bribe the gents, you establish respectable guild houses, you become the mayor, you become a politician, you become the voice of reason and logic.
It's just about time for the industrial revolution, so you start buying shares of new, emerging technologies, see your profits quadruple. You finance ventures and sponsor scientists. By 1900, you're the richest man on this planet, with the most extensive network of workers, spies and allies.
Think about it. Even if you're just a humble middle-class vampire, you have an eternity to build your reputation, power, skills, knowledge, and wealth. You can finish two hundred PhDs and learn dozens of languages. Even if you save only USD1,000 every month, after a hundred years, you have 1.2 million, plus interest. However, as the perfect worker in pretty much every profession, with decades of experience, you can be the CTO of every large corporation, rolling in thousands of stock options and huge annual bonuses. In reality, your assets would account to tens if not hundreds of million dollars without doing anything risky or drastic.
The other side of the coin is that immortality grants stupidity. You no longer care about time, you no longer have the sense of urgency to evolve or you can't evolve. In that case, you truly become a social outcast. But then you surely wouldn't speak modern English, go across the Atlantic with the first settlers and listen to Infected Mushroom.
If I were a vampire
So what would I do, if I were a vampire?
Base of operations
Rather than renting an expensive villa in upstate New York, I would go to Antarctica. Yes, you heard me. First, there's no one around. Second, there's six months of darkness to enjoy. As a vampire, you don't care about the cold, so the extreme weather is a bonus. You can have a secret lair, with no prying eyes, where you can conduct all kinds of evil or benevolent experiments.
In theory, I might have two bases, the other one at the North Pole, which meant I would have 24/7 freedom of movement, while enjoying a beautiful, untouched landscape, no human pollution or excessive nagging, and the ability to do as I please.
Vampires do not need much to eat really. In fact, here's the formula that shows that vampires could coexist in human society without any problems whatsoever. I do not know whether vampires can have children, but numbers vary between none and a gazillion bat-like thingies. Which begs the question, why the need for a classic neck-bite infection, if you can procreate like everybody else?
Anyhow. A typical vampire needs no more than two liters of blood per day, and that's an overestimate. Which means that a vampire needs about 700 liters of blood annually or roughly 1,500 pints. One pint is a typical blood donation. An average, healthy adult human is allowed to donate blood once every three months. This means that you need about 400 humans to produce sufficient food for one vampire indefinitely, without any starvation, coercion or anything alike.
And if vampires need only one liter daily, you need as little as 200 workers. And you don't have to go for full donations either. You just need one liter of blood daily. It can be provided by two adults, in which case, you can't have more than 0.5% vampire prevalence among humans without harming the population. Or it could be any other number. In fact, spacing out the typical portion of 500cc across a three month period, you can have an average 5cc donation daily, so you could in theory milk 5cc from every adult every day, allowing for a much higher prevalence.
So if I had a corporation, called Vampirica Antarctica LTD, which operated from Wilkes Land, the only thing my workers would have to do is donate blood every three months. And if I had a very large number of workers, say a few thousands or so, then donations would be mandatory once a year, if that. No more demanding than a typical modern company, which sucks your blood all the time.
Revenue = other uses for vampires
Apart from the usual ways of earning money, that is being a multi-billion corporation with a billion patents, thirty international offices, and a Youtube channel, I would establish Vampire Special Operations (VSO) teams, which would do things no human could. For example, deep-sea salvage operations. Humans are quite sensitive when it comes to breathing underwater. As a vampire, you don't care about air, freezing temperatures or the crushing pressure. You could prowl the seabed and just collect the thousands of tons of gold lost in shipwrecks since the dawn of humanity.
Then, you could also volunteer for Liquidator kind of operations. You could be a nuclear disaster rescue worker, entering the damaged reactor cores and fixing things without worrying about extra neutrons. Just think of the tremendous benefit to humanity. No longer would vampires be considered evil, they would be the saviors of our world. Screw Superman, here come your real heroes.
You could use vampires for any kind of terrible, hazardous job, as long as it does not involve silver, holy water, hawthorn stakes, and alike. Which begs the question; could a vampire witness a hydrogen bomb detonation up close? Wouldn't that be a blast [sic]? Does that constitute as fire? Other possible uses include satellite repairs in Earth's orbit, with or without the space suit, biohazard cleanups, mine rescues, and more. Copiapo, Fukushima, Challenger, vampires could be there and do all kinds of wonders for the betterment of humanity.
No, this article is not a pun on other kinds of vampires, like de Havilland Vampire. But that would be a great laugh. Only this time we focus on blood-sucking vampires rather than riveted aluminum ones. And we're done here, ladies and gents.
Like the rest of fairy tales intended for children, insipid teenagers with a severe case of attention seeking, people with unpaired chromosomes, and humans convinced they are otherworldly creatures of myth, vampires also fail the simple test of basic reason. Their behavior might look wise and tricky if shown to a medieval cave dweller, but in a world where no-frost refrigerators and MacBook Air reign supreme, there's no place for people with elongated fangs.
Vampires sure don't do anything they ought to be doing, like being immensely rich and powerful. Music? Fail. Religion? Fail. Geography? Fail. Nothing that could make your intellect sweat. And so we end on a happy note, with another folklore tidbit teabagged. Stay tuned for more goodies.
P.S. Antarctica glaciers, North Lights, and all vampire images are in public domain.