Ah, the creature of the night. The undead who has no reflection in a mirror. The Nosferatu, creature of death yet also of mythical ability to attract his (or her) next victim. The unholy, undying monster that only fears sunlight, crucifixes, garlic, wooden stakes and bad movie reviews.
And, incidentally, the mathematical impossibility.
University of Central Florida physics professor Costas Efthimiou's work debunks pseudoscientific ideas, such as vampires and zombies, in an attempt to enhance public literacy. Not only does the public believe in such topics, but the percentages are at dangerously high level, Efthimiou told LiveScience.
Legend has it that vampires feed on human blood and once bitten a person turns into a vampire and starts feasting on the blood of others.
Efthimiou's debunking logic: On Jan 1, 1600, the human population was 536,870,911. If the first vampire came into existence that day and bit one person a month, there would have been two vampires by Feb. 1, 1600. A month later there would have been four, and so on. In just two-and-a-half years the original human population would all have become vampires with nobody left to feed on.
If mortality rates were taken into consideration, the population would disappear much faster. Even an unrealistically high reproduction rate couldn't counteract this effect.
"In the long run, humans cannot survive under these conditions, even if our population were doubling each month," Efthimiou said. "And doubling is clearly way beyond the human capacity of reproduction."
Not that that stops some people from playing at being "vampyres", as they like to style themselves:
LONDON (Reuters) – Vampyres are prowling for new recruits in London as Halloween approaches to partake in wild parties, trips to Transylvania and bat spotting nights — but coffin-dwelling, blood drinkers need not apply.
With a penchant for custom-made fangs, striking make-up and gothic clothes, members of the London Vampyre Group (LVG) say it's their fascination with the romantic notion of vampires, rather than any darker intent, that draws them together.
"People who think they're un-dead, hundreds of years old, or that you have to drink blood if you're interested in the dark side of things, we can put them right on that," LVG's Mick Smith, 57, told Reuters in an interview in a London pub.
"The drinking of blood is a taboo. It's a point of view that we don't tend to represent, but we think it is something that should be articulated," said Smith, wearing a sombre black suit.
They may be conservatively attired lawyers or computer programmers by day, but Vampyres are transformed by flamboyant clothes after dark for the Dance of the Damned Vampire Ball and Requiem of the Resurrected parties with gothic belly dancing.
The Halloween Goth Ball in Whitby, where Bram Stoker was inspired to write "Dracula," is a major calendar fixture. Trips are planned to the Czech Republic's gothic castles and ossuaries, and to New Orleans, setting for Anne Rice's "Interview with the Vampire."
Ah well. If they want to play dress-up and pretend, who are we to nitpick? It sounds a bit silly and very pretentious, but we suppose 'vampyre' sounds more interesting than 'losyr'.