Once Bitten, Twice As Shy…
“The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ but, ‘That’s funny…” – Isaac Asimov (Improbable.com)
Brains.. Brains.. BRAINS!! This phrase said in a droning voice is long associated with zombies, screaming humans and a lot of bloodshed and gore. No-one really thinks of what would happen if zombies suddenly went after, say vampires, or what would happen to vampires if humans weren’t around anymore. Personally I wouldn’t mind setting some of my un-dead brethren on those Twilight vampires, but that’s not the point. The point is if there was a zombie apocalypse and the entire human population was on the menu, what would happen to Dracula and the rest of his blood sucking buddies? Or has no one really cared to ask?
Southern Fried Scientist has examined this exact scenario in ‘Blood and Brains- Can vampires survive a zombie apocalypse?’ and uses principles of population dynamics to investigate the effects of a zombie outbreak on vampire numbers.
By examining a study, he identifies an estimated population size for the vampires, or carrying capacity:
– In short, a town of 36,000 can support about 18 vampires. Extrapolating out to the whole world (and this is a suspect figure at best) that gives us a standing vampire population of about 3.25 million
Along with variables for death rates and assumptions of zombie numbers, he uses population principles to explain the battle between two titans of the supernatural world and their fight for the survival of their respective species.
The reading is entertaining along with being surprisingly believable. He examines current information on vampire and zombie ecology, using actual methods for population estimates to ultimately determine the future for vampires, still whilst educating readers on actual, useful scientific principles.
Few people are happy to read a giant scientific text book filled with numbers and formulas explaining how if population A increases, population B will have limited resources and therefore population B’s size will decrease. By substituting zombies for population A and vampires for population B it makes the concepts a lot more reader friendly and ultimately more memorable.
He uses models of zombie populations to examine the effects on vampires and their common food source, humans. Ultimately he explains in gruesomely amusing terms, if a population (vampires) loses their food source (humans, due to a zombie apocalypse), they will die off. The only way of preventing the extinction of a species is to establish a source of food (farmed humans) or prevent their food from disappearing by removing the potential threat (banding together with the humans and eradicating the zombies. Methods to eradicate zombies can be found in The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks).
Southern Fried Scientist has succinctly described population theories in an entertaining way to enthral readers whilst cleverly educating them on tedious scientific principles.
However does this make principles memorable? Is making science an entertainment feature the best way to explain population dynamics, or will it just result in readers being concerned for their own fate if zombies started freely roaming the earth? Ultimately is it possible to learn actual scientific principles when they are portrayed as outrageous examples or will it merely be taken as a light hearted piece of writing?
And if you are just curious about the fate of the vampires, unfortunately it isn’t looking too good for them.
Southern Fried Scientist. (2009). Blood and Brains – can vampires survive a zombie apocalypse? Retrieved from: http://www.southernfriedscience.com/?p=2528