The science of vampires was tested not long ago (Justification for the existence of vampires) and now National Geographic has actually made a program that investigates the possibility that a vampire was buried in a mass grave in Italy: the lady in question was found with a brick between her jaws, apparently a common method of exorcism in the 16th century (Vampire Forensics). The program is one of several in the series Mysterious Science; other episodes include whether Armageddon will come in December 2012 as predicted by a Mayan calendar, whether Hitler had construction plans for a secret bat-like plane that would have changed the course of World War II, the history of strange lights and one episode about the phenomenon that is crop circles. Now, I have to say, I do know a bit about crop circles, not least because when I was an undergraduate, I knew people who knew the first people to do crop circles (apart from the aliens, of course) and they often disappeared on a Saturday night, up to mischief. At the very least, the fabulous patterns that are created mean it has to be worth a look. As a scientist, I fully expect there will be some shouting at the TV if the bounds of science are stretched too far but I feel it is my duty as a scientist to keep an eye on what is being presented in the mainstream TV media (if only I had Sky…).
National Geographic Channel watchers might already know that this series is coming but for anyone who didn’t, it might be worth your time. The series is screening in the USA this month so I don’t when it will reach other countries – I suggest you keep a weather eye on the horizon.
Continuing on the happy theme of vampires and death, Live Science gives us details about the top ten ways human beings deal with their dead: we burn them, mummify them, freeze them, stick them in caves, in peat bogs, up trees or cast adrift on boats. We plasticise them to share around the globe as educational tools and even mix their dismembered remains with flour and milk to make them tastier to scavenging birds. Which one will you choose?