Implications of the Geometric Progression for the Undead

9 Nov

A paper published on the Internet by Costas Efthimion , a professor of physics at the University of Florida and his graduate student Sohang Gandhi indicates, amongst other things, that if  vampires actually existed they would very quickly have  overrun the human race.

This conclusion is based on the assumption that each person bitten by a vampire would inevitably become a vampire themselves and begin to bite, and therefore infect, others who would then go on to bite and infect yet more people, thereby leading to a geometric progression. IE one, then two, then four, then eight, sixteen etc.

If we accept this basic premise, then the conclusion follows with, quite literally, mathematical certainty.

The only flaw in this argument is the basic premise.

The literature is by no means unanimous on the subject of how vampirism is spread. In Bram Stoker’s Dracula the implication seems to be that being bitten by a vampire is sufficient, while in Whitley Strieber’s The Hunger and Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, for example, more is required in order to pass on the ‘dark gift’.

I should point out here that (Blade films notwithstanding) the undead do not reproduce sexually. Vampires are incapable of sexual reproduction, since the males are prone to erectile dysfunction, while females do not menstruate. (It’s all to do with their problematic relationship with blood). 

Helpful hint: sexualized behaviour amongst vampires is all to do with predation, ie they’re hungry, they don’t really think you’re cute.

It’s difficult to say whether or not zombies might e capable of sexual reproduction given that the zombies themselves show no interest in sex and, being perfectly frank about it, they’re really not that attractive as partners.

Even where being bitten is sufficient in order to become a vampire, there is also the fact that vampires may, themselves, control their rate of reproduction.

One example of this is given in the case of  the vampire Marie, as played by Anne Parillaud in Innocent Blood, who makes a point of feeding only from bad people and who takes plains to blow their heads off when she’s finished with them in order to prevent them from resurrecting as vampires. (It’s a film worth watching for many reasons, but particularly for Anne Parillaud. She has the sweetest smile and swings a mean baseball bat).

If you think about it, it actually makes a lot of sense for vampires to control their numbers. The population of any given predator always has to be in proportion to the population of their prey, otherwise they’re going to go hungry. It’s worth noting in this context that even dung beetles limit their reproduction depending on the resources available to them, so given t hat vampires are generally depicted as being more intelligent than dung beetles, one would assume that they would follow the same principle.

Zombies are not necessarily any more intelligent than dung beetles. (I suspect that George Romero might dispute this point, actually, and he prefers to call them ‘flesh eaters’ anyway).

As a result of this relative lack of intelligence, and consequent lack of environmental awareness, zombies are not noted for limiting their rate of reproduction. And since they do reproduce purely through biting, their numbers do tend to increase very rapidly once an outbreak has become established.

Obviously this is important for them, because, let’s face it one zombie on his, or her, own isn’t very interesting and not very scary. (Although George Romero has probably managed to get as much character and interest out of individual zombies as anyone could). So you really need a crowd (plague?) of zombies if they’re going to make much of an impact. Given also that they’re not that hard to kill, all you have to do is shoot them in the head, and they never have learned to duck, they really do need a fast rate of reproduction.

This being the case, one is drawn to the conclusion that the geometric progression model of reproduction is much more applicable to zombies than to vampires.


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