Friday, 8 May 2009

Hurrah! Some good news at last!

In these dark times of economic collapse, incompetent government, rising threats from pikeys and ragheads, isn't it great to hear some good news?

Well, here we go, then: physicists have proved that vampires don't exist:

Two physicists have published an academic paper where they demonstrate, by virtue of geometric progression, that vampires could not exist, since they would almost immediately deplete their entire food supply (a.k.a, all of us).


Very droll, you might think. But no, they are perfectly serious:

Efthimiou and Gandhi conduct a thought experiment: Assume that the first vampire appeared on January 1, 1600. At that time, according to data available at the U.S. Census website, the global population was 536,870,911. Efthimiou and Gandhi calculate that, once the Nosferatu feeding frenzy began, the entire human race would have been wiped out by June 1602 (thus forever changing the course of history by preventing the invention of the slide rule eighteen years later).

The physicists note:

Another philosophical principal related to our argument is the truism given the elaborate title, the anthropic principle. This states that if something is necessary for human existence, then it must be true since we do exist. In the present case, the nonexistence of vampires is necessary for human existence. Apparently, whomever devised the vampire legend had failed his college algebra and philosophy courses.


Oooh, snap! But, this gauntlet had been barely thrown down before it invited a rebuttal from mathematician Dino Sejdinovic. In his article, "Mathematics of the Human Vampire Conflict" (Math Horizons, November 2008) Sejdinovic faults Efthimiou and Gandhi's logic, since they have not "accounted for the birth-rate of non-vampires and death-rate of vampires (actually the death-death-rate since they are already dead, but when they die again they should stay dead but stop being living) due to close encounters with stakes, garlic and holy water." Moreover, "vampires are presented exclusively as greedy consumers: a rational strategy of managing their human resources is not considered."

Here, Sejdinovic cites the pioneering research conducted by Austrian mathematicians Richard Hartl and Alexander Mehlmann, who published the landmark 1982 paper, "The Transylvanian Problem of Renewable Resources," later followed up by "Cycles of Fear: Periodic Bloodsucking Rates for Vampires" (Journal of Optimization Theory and Application, December 1992). Hartl and Mehlmann argue that vampires would never be stupid enough to deplete their entire food supply, and by applying the Hopf-Bifurcation Theorem (don't ask), they demonstrate how vampires can adopt an optimal "cyclical bloodsucking strategy."


Seriously. And yet:

However, there is a serious flaw in the Hartl and Mehlmann model: The assumption that human beings would be docile prey. Their research provoked an outraged response from economist Dennis Snower, who in his article "Macroeconomic Policy and the Optimal Destruction of Vampires" (The Journal of Political Economy, June 1982), declared:

One wonders what conceivable interest the authors could have had in helping vampires solve their intertemporal consumption problem. The implicit assumption of the Invisible Hand (or Fang)-whereby vampires, in pursuing their own interests, pursue those of human beings as well-is of questionable validity. The study by Hartl and Mehlmann is not concerned with the macroeconomic implications of blood-sucking behavior modes. Nor does it consider the policy instruments whereby human beings can protect themselves from vampires. Instead, humans are modeled as passive receptacles of blood whose cultivation and harvest are left to vampire discretion.


So, we can relax. The world's finest minds have looked at this worrying problem and proved that we're not going to be eaten by vampires. You don't need to hope that Blade finds you before the suckheads do.

Isn't that a relief?

18 comments:

Guthrum said...

Thank God for that ! I can throw the silver bullets,garlic and cricifix out

Brewblogger said...

Wonder if we will get an EDM on this?

JuliaM said...

"Thank God for that ! I can throw the silver bullets,garlic and cricifix out..."

Well, don't be too hasty. Mandelson is still ambulatory...

"Efthimiou and Gandhi conduct a thought experiment..."

Get on and build that bloody hyperspace drive, you wastes of oxygen!

Rob Farrington said...

Yeah, but they still haven't proven conclusively that there isn't a plesiosaur living in Loch Ness.

Granted, there are no fish in Loch Ness for plesiosaurs to eat, but what about UNDEAD, ZOMBIE PLESIOOSAURS?!!?!!?

We need real scientific research, people. Real science and real research. Only then can we know the truth.

Andy said...

Are you stupid?

Do you seriously think this work is really to do with the practical problem of vampire food supply?

Mathematicians and scientists often use thought-experiments to help them create models of real world situations. The fact that the model is about vampires, doesn't mean that the maths can only be applied to vampires.

Einstein's work on relativity was entirely thought-experiment. Things like: "what if the train I was travelling on was travelling at the speed of light, and I shone a torch at person standing at the station?". It's a damn good job he didn't have the likes of you standing behind him shouting "Einstein you eejit, trains can't travel at the speed of light, and even if they could, we don't have enough track to run them for more than half a second".

Those scientists aren't half stupid aren't they:
- Quarks, up, down, top, charm, strange - that's just stupid right?
- Imaginary numbers? HA! What use is an imaginary number? All the numbers I know are real.
- Transcendental equations? What are they? Equations that meditate?
- Uncertainty principle? It can't be very good if it's not even sure itself.
- Fibbonacci series? Where did he find an infinite number of rabbits to test it?
- Raido waves? Don't make me laugh - if I can't see it it's not there.

Chalcedon said...

They assume vampires exsanguinate their victims to death. They don't. They 'milk' them. Of course I'm talking about in literature and film of such literature. They do kill occasionally, but not at every feeding for the very good reason they don't want to eventually starve to death. Physicists should stick to physics, not metaphysics.

Where's me garlic?

Obnoxio The Clown said...

Are you stupid?I might be, but at least I have a sense of humour ... :o|

Andy said...

I might be, but at least I have a sense of humourPerhaps I don't. Or perhaps I think your threshold for humour is pretty low.

If you had written a fun article exploring the implications of vampire-maths, then you could reasonably play the "sense-of-humour" card. You didn't though. You just cut and pasted snippets of someone's work and added some sarky "oh really?"s. How wrong I was to not have seen the humour.

You post plenty of funny stuff here, but this is the equivalent of pushing speccie-four-eyes around on the playground because he likes to collect stamps.

countdruncula said...

@Andy - get a fucking grip, man.

Ross said...

Their model is flawed because they assume that instead of conserving their food source and practicing sustainable vampiric practices they instead embark on a tragedy of the commons style free for all.

This seems unlikely to me given that vampires are immortal and therefore have a strong interest in planning for the long term.

Obnoxio The Clown said...

@Andy: let me guess, you're a speccie four-eyes and you got pushed around the playground a lot?

For fuck's sake man, I made no comment at all about how I feel about the research. I don't think it was particularly rigorous but I was amused that not just one, but a number of academics had posted papers on such a light-hearted subject.

When you get back from your next counselling session, perhaps you will be too, instead of being so fucking uppity.

Twat.

JuliaM said...

"If you had written a fun article exploring the implications of vampire-maths, then you could reasonably play the "sense-of-humour" card. "

Really, Andy? Just where are these 'Rules for the Reasonable Application of Humour on the Internet' displayed, exactly?

You know, so we can all be sure that we are abiding by them in future. Wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of the Humour Police, after all!

"You just cut and pasted snippets of someone's work and added some sarky "oh really?"..."

Well, it seems you do understand the Internet after al. So why make such a pillock of yourself?

JuliaM said...

"When you get back from your next counselling session..."

So, that's what Dolly Draper is doing with his spare time! He's doing Andy*!

*in the counselling sense, of course.

Obnoxio The Clown said...

I've heard some rumours about Dolly and blokes before ... :o)

Andy said...

@Obnoxio:

The reason I get "uppity" about this sort of thing is that in one breath we (as in moaning internet types) will decry the fact that we have no manufacturing base, a shitty education system and a rapidly declining research industry and in the next breath will have a good laugh at people doing some actual productive work because it's a bit geeky. It's not a suprise then that we have a country filled with people who's idea of success is to win X-Factor, be on big brother, or get a free flat in which to cage their spawn.

I know you're not stupid, I've read this blog enough to know that. Because I know you're not stupid, I also know that you understand that none of the researchers were really working on vampires. That means you were just picking on the speccie kid because he's an easy target.

It would be easy to do the same piss-taking to you with your Informix/Oracle/Linux/PHP posts; but I suspect most people recognise that a technical ability is a skill to be prized, not mocked.

I apologise for being so aggressive about it, but I don't think my point is wrong. Equally, you are right that a load of articles about vampires is funny. What I am objecting to is the way that observation is highlighted.

When I see (what is to me) bad-mockery like this, all I can think of is 1980s Ben Elton on the Beeb shouting "Mrs Thatcher, Mrs Thatcher", and the audience rolling around. It's not a joke, it's pandering to a prejudice. That prejudice is no more apparent than your response let me guess, you're a speccie four-eyes and you got pushed around the playground a lot?. You assume that the only way I could care would be if I were of that group; worse, that that would be relevant. As it happens I suspect I was more likely to be the pusher than the pushee, but my excuse is that children are psychopaths.

Anyway, I can see that my point won't be accepted. I can also see that I'm painting myself into the whiny-corner. I can also see that I have overreacted a smidge.


@JuliaM: Really, Andy? Just where are these 'Rules for the Reasonable Application of Humour on the Internet' displayed, exactly?So what you're saying is that I should laugh because you think it's funny? I see. You are keeper of the rules, and you were trying to trick me into saying I had a copy, when you know they are in your pocket... Got it.

Obnoxio The Clown said...

That means you were just picking on the speccie kid because he's an easy target. See that thing way up there? That's my point.

JuliaM said...

"So what you're saying is that I should laugh because you think it's funny? "

Did you feel a 'whoosh' just then? Just above your head?

;)

Otto said...

Of course, vampires exist! Their habitat of choice is the House of Commons, and they've been sucking us dry for years.

Bit tricky though, getting rid of a prime minister who is not merely evil and insane, but immortal too. ;-)