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October 26 2006

Researcher mathematically proves that vampires don't exist. University of Central Florida physics professor Costas Efthimiou has come up with a mathematical way to disprove the existence of vampires.

Just a fun little article, enjoy guys!

Silly researcher, don't they know that according to God Joss, a victim has to drink the blood of his or her sire to become a vampire! And if I were a vampire, I certainly wouldn't be making a bunch of other vampires. I'd like to make sure that my place at the top of the food chain wasn't shared with too many others.

Of course, I'd turn my husband, but that's all.
But vampires don't turn everyone they bite! The bitee has to suck the vampire's blood as well. It's a whole big sucking thing. :-) Someone should let this guy know.
He's also missing important variables such as vampire deaths caused by a teenage girl with super powers and extreme romance problems.
The dude needs to get an understanding of why we have and need myths and legends such as vampires, and the reason they use them to cover for the true horror that exsist in humanity. It's easier to believe in monsters than it is to comprehend what one human can do to another. There was a movie starring Vincent Price called 'The Monster Club' (1980), in it Vincent (playing a vampire) tells and a horror writer (John Carradine), that humans have over a million different ways to kill their own kind. Making human the largest population of monsters on the planet. We don't care if the are real, we just need them to survive.

[ edited by RavenU on 2006-10-26 02:02 ]
This person is wrong. Vampires exist. End of story.

Joss is God. Amen.
Dude, that's so sad. Vampirism isn't a disease, Vamps have to be sired in the blood sucking ritual--older even than Joss and Buffy.

Besides, I know vampires are real. My imagination tells me so.

[ edited by twa_corbies on 2006-10-26 02:58 ]
I wonder how much his research grant was ;-)
He forgot that it was a whole sucking thing needed to turn humans into vampires, and that mostly, they just kill you. Also, he didn't take into account the fact that into every generation, a slayer is born. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons and the forces of darkness.

After 2003, the above fact is no longer true, and if that scientist takes into account the fact that all the potentials have now been activated, it is no wonder that we are surviving and thriving as a species.
Wait. Vampires and zombies aren't real? So, can I leave my apartment?
Well, he forgot to carry a three and divide by pi in there somewhere, I'm sure.
Costas Efthimiou- that's a TRANSYLVANIAN name, isn't it? Talk about hiding in plain sight....


Can anyone say, "Keyser Soze?"

Hmmmm.........
So, this professor has nothing better to do with his time than to try and disprove the existence of a fiction. Whatever they're smoking in physics departments these days, put me down for a pound and a half.
How funny... I was planning to write a paper about how I used vampires to prove mathematics doesn't exist.
Well, that's a breather. Those bloodsuckers are so troublesome. I'm laughing silly!
This obviously-flawed every-vampire-infects-every-victim premise was already debunked in this topic here.
Simon, please forgive me. This thread has started me to giggle.
Costas Efthimiou- that's a TRANSYLVANIAN name, isn't it? Talk about hiding in plain sight....

It's Greek.

At any rate, the biggest flaw in his argument (aside from it existing at all) is that he hasn't considered that we all may be vampires, but have lost touch with our true identities.
I don't know what's more pathetic... the fact that he thinks we actually need mathematical disproof of vampires or the fact that he so completely fails to provide anything resembling a decent argument.

On second thought, the most pathetic part is that he believes he succeeded....
This kind of stories propping up always saddens me, since it showcases the completely wrong way to do a beautiful science as mathematics. Basically, mathematics lives in a seperate world (you can have many philosophical arguments over what this world is, but let's not get into that), and you can only prove things mathematically in that world.

One of the interesting things however is that this mathematical world in many ways resembles the world we live in. To me it's an amazing thing that if you put 3 and 4 apples together you get 3+4 apples. The validity of any such connection to the real world is however completely independent of mathematics and can therefore not be proven mathematically.

However in order to make mathematics more "interesting" to the general public (or just the children at school) some people deem it necessary to present mathematics only in "applied" situations, thereby losing focus of the beauty of the mathematics itself and making themselves (and in association mathematics in general) look foolish by the ridiculousness of their real world stories.

Quite likely this professor wanted to teach people how quickly the exponential function grows using a story which would attract the attention of a lot of people who would otherwise not look at any mathematics. And he succeeded in so far that this is a story which gets posted on Whedonesque twice, while I can't recall any other stories related to mathematics on here. Unfortunately the posts above show that the reaction obtained is not one of gushing about the beauty of mathematics, but it's about the ridiculousness of the work of a "mathematician". Thereby he inflicts more damage to the image of mathematics than that he improves it.
Celebithil: I'm married to a mathematician. I always fall asleep before he gets to the part about the beauty of it all .

Seriously, though, you are probably right about this professor using the example to get the attention of his students.

However in order to make mathematics more "interesting" to the general public (or just the children at school) some people deem it necessary to present mathematics only in "applied" situations, thereby losing focus of the beauty of the mathematics itself and making themselves (and in association mathematics in general) look foolish by the ridiculousness of their real world stories.


Mathematics do not really live in a "separate" world (there are in fact different worlds of mathematics, with connections between themselves) and applied mathematics can be as beautiful as pure mathematics.

PS: and I am not *married* to a Mathematician: I am a Mathematician. ;)

[ edited by Le ComitÚ on 2006-10-26 09:53 ]
Anyhow, I know for a fact that vampire exist. And tomorrow, I am killing another of them (he works in my lab, his office is just accross the corridor; he faints to be human - he even laughs at my jokes - but I know he is not; and tomorrow, he is dead (well... *more* dead, anyhow... the kind of dead that no longer moves)).
Dust can move, in a stiff breeze. If you have allergies he could still get you Le Comite ;).

I wonder if Celebithil is talking about the way maths clearly describes and is related to the real world but we're not absolutely certain how or why (e.g. Pi or the way the Fibonacci sequence pops up in unexpected places) ? Or maybe we are sure how and why and it's just me that doesn't know ;). I agree though, applied maths is every bit as worthwhile as pure and probably more useful in teaching.

BTW, the two-way blood flow isn't always a requirement for vampirism though it is in Joss' version so his proof isn't really flawed, it just has some unstated assumptions (at least in the linked article). His axioms of vampirism disagree with Joss' is all.

Personally, i'm all for attempts to get people more interested/literate in maths and science (shows like 'Numb3rs' are great for that even if the maths is sometimes a bit dodgy and even 'House' always presents a rational world view). It's a constant puzzle to me that in most circles you can make elementary mistakes in maths, just shrug your shoulders and say 'Gosh, i'm really hopeless with numbers' and everyone just smiles and nods understandingly. Imagine if an adult were to say 'Gosh, i'm really hopeless at reading' ? I reckon the reaction may differ.
"(e.g. Pi or the way the Fibonacci sequence pops up in unexpected places) ?"

Well, Pi is the ratio of the circumfrence of a circle to its diameter, so I think we know where that comes from. The Fibonacci sequence doesnt really pop up in unexpected places, but I do think you are referring to the golden ratio, which appears in a bunch of places that baffle us. And its interesting because if you ever measure your arm from shoulder to elbow and shoulder to fingertip and then divide the two, in most people you will get the golden ratio (1.618). Same goes with the rings of sunflowers...

In a way, math is like any other science, it is discoverable, and in that sense Im guessing that clebithil was referring to this fact. For if it is discoverable, then it does seem to exist outside of us, not necessarily in a another world, but that which is in coherence with the coherence theory of truth, for instance. In other words, if it exists outside of us then it must exist somewhere and in some capacity. But thats philosophy of mathematics...

Uh the best I have about the article is that the ratio of 2^n would not seem to work when the vampire population overcame the human population because if there are now more vampires than humans, not every vampire would have a human to bite. Hence, the function isnt continuous (where I would assume that he assumes this) under the conditions the professor sets out, and hence he is incorrect. Thats all I got...

Edited because that was some pretty interesting grammar...

[ edited by jerryst3161 on 2006-10-26 11:03 ]
jerryst3161 re: Pi I actually meant the way it crops up in probability and in the distribution of primes among other unexpected places (it's even related, obliquely, to the length of rivers).

Clearly maths describes the world at a pretty fundamental level but do we know why it all makes so much sense i.e. what causes the 'hidden' order ? And though it's true that maths is similar in some ways to empirical science it's also true that maths can throw up paradoxes whereas if you find a paradox in science your theory has issues (and not the world ;).

(you're absolutely right though, I mixed up Fibonacci numbers with the golden ratio - which is from Fibonacci numbers but isn't the same thing. Busted ;)
I would comment but, gorram it, the sun is coming up!
re: Pi I actually meant the way it crops up in probability and in the distribution of primes among other unexpected places

Does Pi(x) have something to do with the value of Pi? I had a quick read of a few sites and couldn't find anything. Am I missing something obvious?
I'm more than amazed by amazing lack of relevance of this artikel. That said. The model is extremely simplistic. If vampires do exist you only have to bless all the water and they will get extinct very quickly. Of crouse there is a balance somewhere and vammpires can exist.


Third. His conclusion is wrong. The idea that we would all be vampires is very much true. Hence, vampires exist.
Vampires exist.

Maths is soooo overrated! :p
Ah, no Grounded. Pi(x) is the prime counting function which returns the number of primes less than or equal to x. The notation's the same because mathematicians hate normal people ;).

(OK, OK, there might be a good reason for it which I don't know but it's still hella confusing)
I know, I just wasn't sure what you meant when you mentioned the distribution of primes being related to Pi. Either way it gave me an excuse to read a little maths, which I haven't done for too long ;)
The only conclusion that I can come up with (mathematical or not) is "the guy creating the theory, is a guy who is a vampire." And this is from the theory "you smelt it you dealt it."

Period.
Bayne, I think the saddest part is that someone published this guy's theory, even though it's so obviously, well, in no way logical, correct or even reasonable (fictional characters, yo).
I don't care what they print in the newspaper, I do not believe that Mathematicians really exist, humans really couldn't survive like that: there would be no reproduction rate....er, what was the artical about?
Heh, it's amazing how far the smelt it/dealt it theorem can take you ;).

... the distribution of primes being related to Pi....

Grounded, that's something I thought I read a while back in something like "Fermat's Last Theorem" or a magazine column or similar (I think the stuff about river length was in there too). Upon searching not all that deeply (bloody work ;) the closest I can find is this link which talks about the density of relative primes being 6/Pi^2 (obviously not the same thing as primes). Glanced at some stuff about the Riemann zeta function but by that point I was teetering precariously on the brink of my own ignorance so I slowly backed away from the edge ;).

Anyone more qualified know how (or I guess if) Pi and primes are related ?

(I agree it's reminded me of or introduced me to some great sites out there though - so maybe the article was worthwhile after all)
I think the saddest part is that someone published this guy's theory, even though it's so obviously, well, in no way logical, correct or even reasonable

What's illogical about it? If there is a logical way to approach disproving the existence of vampires, why shouldn't this be it?
There's goes the other shoe.
I guess he forgot the whole having to be sired thing...and come on the reason there are still humans is because we stake vampires...I'm off to stake some as soon as the sun goes down...isnt that what we all do?
Oh, great balls of fire, this discussion is priceless, or worth its weight in Golden Numbers.

And it reminds me of this classic & much-loved (by me) comment by narky: "It is disgusting and reminds me of math."

(Madhatter, I'm always waiting for the third shoe...)
I like the explaination from this website website better:

Neither vampires nor imaginary numbers exist, yet we treat them like they do, simply because it suits our purposes. Imaginary numbers let us posit hypothetical mathematical scenarios; vampires let us imagine hypothetical human scenarios. Want an addiction analogy? Vampires. Epidemic? Vampires. Alienation? Vampires. Need to have your protagonist exist both now and two hundred years in the past? Just make him a vampire.

[ edited by Brisco on 2006-10-26 22:16 ]
"Anyone more qualified know how (or I guess if) Pi and primes are related ?"

Well, Im not sure that Pi can be related to primes because prime numbers are whole numbers and pi is an irrational number with no end. Both the golden ratio and pi are irrational numbers (numbers that cannot be expressed as the ratio of two whole numbers) so I think any link between Pi and rational numbers (which include integers and fractions) is tenuous at best. Ive never heard the river thing, but that certainly doesnt mean that it doesnt exist, it could be that I am just dumb.

Actually, Saje, I believe that the fibonacci sequence wasnt used to discover the golden ratio, I believe both were discovered independently and it was later discovered that the fibonacci sequence was related to the golden ratio. How so?

The FS is: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34...

If we take the first two numbers and divide them its 1, the second and third is 2, the third and fourth is 1.5, and the fourth and fifth is 1.67. If we take that new sequence, 1, 2, 1.5, 1.67, and take the limit of that sequence as the FS approaches infinity (because it consists of numbers, the FS will never stop) the limit is...1.618, the golden ratio.

LOL, I am such a math nerd, and I should probably stop now...

ETA: The reason I believe that the golden ratio is so interesting (at least to math nerds) is that its relationship to life itself almost creates a scenario where one could argue an intelligent designer behind such precise and interesting mathematical anomolies. For instance, it just so happens that the FS is limited in the way it is to the golden ratio, and there are numerous instances in nature which also seem to employ the golden ratio. Its certainly interesting enough I suppose...

[ edited by jerryst3161 on 2006-10-26 23:49 ]
Neither vampires nor imaginary numbers exist, yet we treat them like they do, simply because it suits our purposes.

It's not exactly a glowing recommendation of the book on imaginary numbers the author is reviewing if he came out of it willing to state that imaginary number don't exist!

LOL, I am such a math nerd, and I should probably stop now...

Math threads are a rare breed - might as well make use of this one while it lasts!
"It's not exactly a glowing recommendation of the book on imaginary numbers the author is reviewing if he came out of it willing to state that imaginary number don't exist!"

LOL thanks Grounded.
Heh, I knew that 'from Fibonacci numbers' comment would get me into trouble. Nice, clear explanation though jerryst3161.

Well, Im not sure that Pi can be related to primes because prime numbers are whole numbers and pi is an irrational number with no end

Hmm, not sure that really follows (no offence ;). As you say yourself, Pi is related to the diameter and circumference of a circle either of which may, obviously, be a whole number (though, equally obviously, not both at the same time ;) so the fact primes are whole doesn't seem particularly compelling one way or another. And it is related to the probability of any two random integers being relative primes (which are also, obviously, whole numbers).

Remembering "Fermat's Last Theorem" helped find this site which talks about the ratio of a river's length to the straight line distance from source to mouth. I dug my copy out at home and Singh talks about it (annoyingly briefly) on pgs 17 and 18 of the Fourth Estate paperback edition if anyone has it and wants to take a gander (can't be arsed to type it all in and the above link gives the gist).

Found a link on Mathworld (which is a terrific resource, despite being missing an 's' ;) which drops a tantalising hint about prime distribution but then doesn't explain it (mentions the river thing too).

pi crops up in all sorts of unexpected places in mathematics besides circles and spheres. For example, it occurs in the normalization of the normal distribution, in the distribution of primes, in the construction of numbers which are very close to integers (the Ramanujan constant), and in the probability that a pin dropped on a set of parallel lines intersects a line (Buffon's needle problem). Pi also appears as the average ratio of the actual length and the direct distance between source and mouth in a meandering river (St°lum 1996, Singh 1997).

(my emphasis)

And also these usenet posts which start off talking about the Mathworld entry (wondering exactly what we're wondering) and then rapidly lose me ;(.

It's like a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, wrapped within something really fucking annoying ;).
"Hmm, not sure that really follows (no offence ;). As you say yourself, Pi is related to the diameter and circumference of a circle either of which may, obviously, be a whole number (though, equally obviously, not both at the same time ;) so the fact primes are whole doesn't seem particularly compelling one way or another. And it is related to the probability of any two random integers being relative primes (which are also, obviously, whole numbers)."

Oh no, I simply meant that it would difficult to show a relation between rational and irrational numbers because anytime you perform a mathematical operation on a combination of irrational and rational numbers, the product you recieve will be an irrational number. Hence, because Pi is a relation between the circumfrence and diameter of a circle, at least one of them must be irrational number too, and thus it would be difficult to do show any sort of relation between the two sets of numbers.

For instance, if you took a string of whole numbers and multiplied them, the result would yield a whole number, but say you threw pi into the mix. The product would then always be irrational because whether you multiply, divide, add, subtract, or anything else, the product of a rational and irrational number will always be irrational. Thats not to say of course, that it cant happen, im too far gone from the theoretical number sense class I took, but there that you go.
I love this place--especially this thread. And I know jack about maths.

the rivers thing


does exist. Just ask the guy who's clapping with one hand. . . . Oh, all right. I'll go away.

Or no. 'Cause I just thought of something. Any of you math people out there ever hear of U.I.C.S.M.?
As usual the human, or in this case, the vampire factor gets left out. A vampire may be a bloodthirsty monster or a dark prince of the night but they're not stupid. They'll control their urges so to keep their feeding stock in bountiful abundance.
I think some people might have slightly misunderstood me when I said I loathed "applied" mathematics, for saying I disliked applied mathematics. The first is the invention of tales to show certain mathematical concepts, generally leading to the non-solution of non-problems. The second however is using the "unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics" to solve some real world problems, which not only is useful for having solved an actual problem, but can also lead to interesting new mathematics. Unfortunately the formulas tend to get more complicated and the math more obscured if you study a real world application, which is probably why so often invented problems are used in teaching.

As for Simon's argument about vampires being able to control their urge to reproduce to keep enough food around for everyone, the state of the world today does not show that this is a thing humans can do, but maybe vampires are smarter.

As for a connection between pi and primes; I think I've seen different connections somewhere, but 1/zeta(2)=6/pi^2 = (1-2^2)*(1-3^2)*(1-5^2)*... (product over all primes).

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