Yay, Halloween! I watched The Lost Boys again with my roommate the other night. I saw it the day it came out in 1987 and it instantly became my favorite movie (replacing 1986’s Aliens). That was almost 20 years ago, but the quality of the film has kept it from seeming dated, despite the presence of the Coreys, Feldman and Haim. I was already a big fan of horror films and sci-fi at 11 years old; The Lost Boys shot an injection of nitro into my adolescent imagination. I wanted to be a vampire! Still do, kinda.
Now that I am an evolutionary biologist and pursuing a career in academia, I think that being a vampire would be extra cool for me. Besides the benefits of having fangs and crazy evil eyes, flying, and kicking ass, I would be immortal—and that would allow me to do things no biologist has ever done. The two limiting factors in scientific research (and in life, generally) are money and time. Let’s say I am a vampire and that I can use my vampiric charms to get money, somehow. Reasonable amounts of money should be available for me to conduct research. And I’m never going to die—never going to run out of time—so time is no longer and issue. Awesome! I can conduct experiments and observational studies that extend over many years, maybe even centuries. Evolution in natural settings often proceeds slowly when viewed from the perspective of a frantic, mortal man’s life. But a vampire can patiently observe and document evolutionary processes, making insights that no mortal person ever could.
Of course, my life as a vampire biologist will have some foreseeable complications and limitations. First and foremost: sunlight will burn my ass like a campfire marshmallow until I am dead. If I want to conduct studies in the outdoors—and I do—I will have to study nocturnal animals. Hmmm… let’s see, what animals are generally nocturnal that I might find interesting? Oh yeah—amphibians! Hooray! Alternatively, lots of mammals, invertebrates, and birds are nocturnal. So there’s really no problem with only being able to go out at night. I will just have to make sure I am safely hidden from exposure when the Sun comes up. It might be hard to drag a coffin around in the woods.
The second issue is where I will work. If I don’t age, the people I work around will become suspicious after a decade or so. I will have to set up a private organization and work either alone or with trusted minions. And speaking of minions, I could always make a few trusted colleagues into vampires, so that we can work together into eternity.
The third issue is publication. I will author my research papers as Ivan Phillipsen, but for how long can I do that? Certainly not more than 70 years or so. Eventually, I would need to either use an alias or have other people (trusted mortal minions) publish my work under their own names. This doesn’t seem like too much of a problem.
The last problem is that of needing to participate in the scientific community. If I am a vampire, I won’t be attending many annual meetings, workshops, symposiums, etc. I might be able to swoop down to mingle at the occasional evening cocktail social that ends a day of presentations, but in general I will miss out on much of the interaction that is vitally important in the life of a scientist. Not sure how I will solve this problem.
Ah, but it will be worth it! I will be a great vampire biologist. It’s Halloween and my invitation is open to any vampires out there to come on over and do your thing. I mean, don’t kill me kill me or anything, but make me into one of you. Got it? To quote the Lost Boys tagline:
Sleep all day. Party [and do science] all night. Never grow old. Never die. It’s fun to be a vampire.