Vampires and Sunlight
Sunlight has long been known to be the most effective
method of destroying vampires - Science, Application.
certain circumstances, magnesium can be an explosive element; this means that
no vampire will risk direct sunlight for fear of spontaneous combustion.
forensic evidence suggests that vampire perspiration contains magnesium-based
substances which are liable to combustion in certain conditions, including high
air temperature (greater than 42oC) and specific light wavelengths
560-580nm; when illumination is above 5cd/m2 (solar intensity above
approximately 500W/m2). In effect, this means direct sunlight around
dawn and dusk or a 'bright' day, even with substantial cloud cover1.
The 'smoking vampire', as seen on Angel
and Buffy , when the vampire exposes themselves
to briefly to sunlight at the margin, is a real possibility. Conversely, a vampire
could certainly venture out into Piccadilly at noon on a drab winter's day, provided
he first checked the cloud cover.
light can be used to destroy vampires, but the correct frequency is vital, and
the required brightness would be difficult to achieve other than in a fairly small
enclosed space. Hunting by night, even with a battery of spotlights (as featured
in The Little Vampire), would be almost certainly
be doomed to failure, and might prove foolhardy.
Sunlight has been used
effectively since long before formal records have been kept2, and has
been shown to be the simplest, surest and safest method of vampire destruction3.
risk lies in the methods used to force the vampire into daylight; attacking a
vampire at rest during the day is a challenge that has attracted many novel approaches;
a courageous woman, prepared to risk her life in distracting the vampire until
daybreak features in legend, and was first - and beautifully - portrayed in Nosferatu.
A combination of crossbow, harpoon and winch was effectively utilised in
John Carpenter's Vampires; dragging the
vampires from their sleep kicking and screaming into the daylight - but not without
some failures and human casualties. While the sunlight did not let them down,
the weapon design could have been better!
When the vampire cannot be brought
to the light, the light can be brought to the vampire; coffin opening as a plot
device has featured heavily in the lower-budget horror movie, but persuading a
vampire to sleep anywhere near direct sunlight might be problematic in the real
Vampires, unsurprisingly, have a mortal fear of sunlight; this fear
alone can be crippling, albeit briefly, and was nicely illustrated in the original
movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- Halocene, G.J., (2002) Throwing Light On Vampires; Fixing the Frequency. Cryptozoology
Research 38; 4, 56-63.
- Stoker, Bram, Dracula. Doubleday & McClure,
New York, 1899.
- Scrimp, J., (1937) Vital Statistics; Killing and Casualties
1900-1935 Vampyr Notes. 21; 4, 33-36.