Get Real: Vampires, Ghosts Are Not, Says Physicist

Article excerpt

Byline: SETH BORENSTEIN

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Horror stories may be the place for vampires, ghosts and zombies. Just remember, they are not real, warns physicist Costas Efthimiou.

Obviously, you might say.

But Efthimiou, a professor at the University of Central Florida, points to surveys that show American gullibility for the supernatural.

Using science and math, Efthimiou explains why it is ghosts cannot walk among us while also gliding through walls, like Patrick Swayze in the movie "Ghost."

That violates Newton's law of action and reaction. If ghosts walk, their feet apply force to the floor, but if they go through walls they are without substance, the professor says.

"So which is it? Are ghosts material or material-less?" he asks.

Zombies and vampires fare even worse under Efthimiou's skeptical microscope.

Efthimiou looked at the most prominent child-turned-zombie case that zombie aficionados cite: the 1989 case of a Haitian 17-year-old who was declared dead and then rose from the grave a day after the funeral and was considered a zombie.

The boy, who never died but was paralyzed and could not communicate, had been poisoned with toxins from a relative of the deadly Japanese pufferfish, later research showed.

Efthimiou takes out the calculator to prove that if a vampire sucked one person's blood each month _ turning each victim into an equally hungry vampire _ after a couple of years there would be no people left, just vampires.

He started his calculations with just one vampire and 537 million humans on Jan. 1, 1600 and shows that the human population would be down to zero by July 1602.

All this may seem obvious, but to Efthimiou and other scientists, the public often is not as skeptical as you might think. …