Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

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Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2018-02-20 02:57pm

I've spent the last few weeks re-reading some of the Harry Potter books (it's been a while) and something has jumped out at me in almost every single one. We're told time and again that the magical world is, on the whole, either opposed to or indifferent to or ignorant of muggles. They have no knowledge of how to dress to avoid raising eyebrows among muggles, they are largely unfamiliar with technology of any form, and many of the pureblood elite are determinedly and in some cases violently opposed to anything even remotely muggle-related or indeed anything new or innovative. The only pureblood we see who has any great interest in muggles is Arthur Weasley, who thinks that plugs and batteries are something you collect and can't even pronounce electricity.

There are two things that make no sense given the above worldview: the Hogwarts Express and the Knight Bus. Why would a pureblood family, especially Death Eater families (Malfoy, Crabb, Parkinson et al) be willing to send their children to and from school on a muggle invention: a train pulled by a steam locomotive: incidentally, one that (based on the films anyway) isn't even that old for when the films are set - as in, the Express loco was, I think, a Castle class engine, a type built in the 30's or so; or within several character's lifespan.

How on Earth did such a muggle-inspired innovation come to pass? For that matter, how did students get to Hogwarts before the railways were built? (IIRC King's Cross station didn't appear until the 1850's or so). It's mentioned (IIRC) that the ride on the Express is "traditional," which seems odd when this tradition might only be two or at msot three generations old, which just doesn't seem to fit with the traditional, backwards, muggle-fearing society that is shown.

The Knight Bus is another case. While it's clearly been charmed and modified extensively, nothing can deny that this entirely commonplace form of magical transportation is based on an old London double decker bus!

So yeah, I have no idea how these two things fit in with the worldview that is described. Anyone else noticed this?
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Crazedwraith » 2018-02-20 03:01pm

Probably there any many more half-bloods, muggleborns and muggle savvy wizards than Harry realises. The books are from his point of view after all.

The creators of the knightbus, and the muggle ministry cars and the existence of Muggle Studies makes me things there's a lot more muggle knowledge behind the scenes it's just not popular or admitted by the community as a whole.
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2018-02-20 03:06pm

I forgot about those Ministry cars, or the Ford Anglia for that matter. You make a good point. The whole thing just struck me as...odd, not thought out even.
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Crazedwraith » 2018-02-20 03:14pm

Yeah, I agree it's not that well thought out. That's just my rationaliasations. Somethings have been accepted, cars and cameras are the prime examples I can think of.

They seem to have got some Victoria stuff thought they were still ahead and then missed all the massive advances since then.
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2018-02-20 03:26pm

My main thinking is that if the entire magical world went into hiding to avoid Muggles, which is apparently what they did, why would they then accept and embrace certain aspects of Muggle technology? Especially since the pureblood/anti-muggle sentiment doesn't appaer to be even remotely a new phenomenon, it seems astonishing that anyone could get something like the Express up and running in the first place.
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-02-20 03:30pm

Eternal_Freedom wrote:
2018-02-20 02:57pm
I've spent the last few weeks re-reading some of the Harry Potter books (it's been a while) and something has jumped out at me in almost every single one. We're told time and again that the magical world is, on the whole, either opposed to or indifferent to or ignorant of muggles. They have no knowledge of how to dress to avoid raising eyebrows among muggles, they are largely unfamiliar with technology of any form, and many of the pureblood elite are determinedly and in some cases violently opposed to anything even remotely muggle-related or indeed anything new or innovative. The only pureblood we see who has any great interest in muggles is Arthur Weasley, who thinks that plugs and batteries are something you collect and can't even pronounce electricity.
I think you have to make a distinction between "typical pureblood" and "typical wizard".

Purebloods seem to be becoming more of a minority in the books' timeframe (which no doubt contributes to pure bloods who feel that their culture is threatened wanting Voldemort to Make Wizards Great Again).

The average half-blood would likely have at least some knowledge of the Muggle world (given they'd have close Muggle relatives and might have spent their first eleven years, plus holidays during their Hogwarts years, often in the Muggle world).

Muggleborns, of course, would have known nothing else until age eleven, as a rule.
There are two things that make no sense given the above worldview: the Hogwarts Express and the Knight Bus. Why would a pureblood family, especially Death Eater families (Malfoy, Crabb, Parkinson et al) be willing to send their children to and from school on a muggle invention: a train pulled by a steam locomotive: incidentally, one that (based on the films anyway) isn't even that old for when the films are set - as in, the Express loco was, I think, a Castle class engine, a type built in the 30's or so; or within several character's lifespan.
Inevitably Muggle technology and cultural ideas would leak into the Wizarding World via half-bloods and Muggleborns, albeit at a slower rate. Hence, we see that they tend to be several decades behind, but not several centuries.
How on Earth did such a muggle-inspired innovation come to pass? For that matter, how did students get to Hogwarts before the railways were built? (IIRC King's Cross station didn't appear until the 1850's or so). It's mentioned (IIRC) that the ride on the Express is "traditional," which seems odd when this tradition might only be two or at msot three generations old, which just doesn't seem to fit with the traditional, backwards, muggle-fearing society that is shown.
No idea what they did previously.
The Knight Bus is another case. While it's clearly been charmed and modified extensively, nothing can deny that this entirely commonplace form of magical transportation is based on an old London double decker bus!

So yeah, I have no idea how these two things fit in with the worldview that is described. Anyone else noticed this?
See above.

I think that the conservativeness of the Wizarding World tends to get exaggerated somewhat by the fan base, as well.
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Simon_Jester » 2018-02-20 04:15pm

Eternal_Freedom wrote:
2018-02-20 02:57pm
I've spent the last few weeks re-reading some of the Harry Potter books (it's been a while) and something has jumped out at me in almost every single one. We're told time and again that the magical world is, on the whole, either opposed to or indifferent to or ignorant of muggles. They have no knowledge of how to dress to avoid raising eyebrows among muggles, they are largely unfamiliar with technology of any form, and many of the pureblood elite are determinedly and in some cases violently opposed to anything even remotely muggle-related or indeed anything new or innovative. The only pureblood we see who has any great interest in muggles is Arthur Weasley, who thinks that plugs and batteries are something you collect and can't even pronounce electricity.

There are two things that make no sense given the above worldview: the Hogwarts Express and the Knight Bus. Why would a pureblood family, especially Death Eater families (Malfoy, Crabb, Parkinson et al) be willing to send their children to and from school on a muggle invention: a train pulled by a steam locomotive: incidentally, one that (based on the films anyway) isn't even that old for when the films are set - as in, the Express loco was, I think, a Castle class engine, a type built in the 30's or so; or within several character's lifespan.
If it works, why would they care?

By and large, it's not that the wizards fear muggle contraptions, they just don't understand them and are hilariously (often inconsistently) ignorant of them. If a contraption that resembles a muggle contraption works and serves their purposes, why not adopt it?
How on Earth did such a muggle-inspired innovation come to pass? For that matter, how did students get to Hogwarts before the railways were built? (IIRC King's Cross station didn't appear until the 1850's or so). It's mentioned (IIRC) that the ride on the Express is "traditional," which seems odd when this tradition might only be two or at msot three generations old, which just doesn't seem to fit with the traditional, backwards, muggle-fearing society that is shown.
Presumably, previously parents had to fly them in on a tandem broomstick, or apparate/Floo powder/something them into Hogsmeade and then walk them to the school. Not entirely surprising that a significant number of parents would rather drop their kids off at a train station where they can be escorted en masse to the school.
Eternal_Freedom wrote:
2018-02-20 03:26pm
My main thinking is that if the entire magical world went into hiding to avoid Muggles, which is apparently what they did, why would they then accept and embrace certain aspects of Muggle technology? Especially since the pureblood/anti-muggle sentiment doesn't appaer to be even remotely a new phenomenon, it seems astonishing that anyone could get something like the Express up and running in the first place.
If they can demonstrate that it works, why not? Again, the sentiment is that if you are not a wizard, you are inherently inferior as a being to a wizard, and that if you have non-wizard parents you are lesser and inferior to those who have only wizard parents.

None of this would necessarily stop a pureblood from using, say, a wand made by a Muggleborn. Or a portkey or the like. So why would it stop them from using a carriage or a train?
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Bedlam » 2018-02-20 05:40pm

Is it ever stated that the entire school population gets there via the train? It may well depend where you live. For instance what's the point of a young wizard living in Hogsmead traveling down to London to catch a train back to his home? Why not just wander up the hill when term starts?

It may be that London is just a handy point for most of the school, half blood and muggleborn particular to meet up particularly as most of the younger students can't easily use other transport methods (brooms don't seem that suited for long distance travel).

Presumably before the train each student made their own way to school each year.

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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Ziggy Stardust » 2018-02-20 05:41pm

I don't really know much about Harry Potter and what is or is not canon, but the entry on the Hogwarts Express at the Harry Potter wiki seems to give more details, to quote:
In 1827, Ottaline Gambol rose to the office of Minister for Magic, and she made a daring and controversial suggestion to solve the ages-old problem of how to transport hundreds of students to and from Hogwarts Castle every school year without attracting the Muggles' attention. Intrigued by Muggle technology, the Minister saw the potential of using a Muggle steam locomotive as a secure and comfortable alternative to Portkeys or to unregulated means of travel. The locomotive for the Hogwarts Express itself was originally built by the Muggle engineers at Crewe, in Cheshire, England,[2] in the early-to-mid 19th century. In 1830,[1] the Ministry of Magic conducted a large-scale operation involving one hundred and sixty-seven Memory Charms, as well as the biggest Concealment Charm ever performed in Britain, in order to acquire the locomotive. The morning after this operation, the residents of Hogsmeade awoke to find the gleaming red Hogwarts Express and a Hogsmeade railway station that had not been there previously, and the Muggle railway employees in Crewe had the feeling they had misplaced something, which stayed with them for the rest of the year.[2] There was initial resistance from pure-blood families against using a Muggle-built device for wizard transportation (which, they claimed, was "unsafe, insanitary, and demeaning"), until the Ministry decreed that students would arrive to school on the train or not attend at all.[2]
Basically, it was a controversial decision that only really came about because of the efforts of one person. It also says that it dates back to the mid 1800s. That doesn't seem terribly inconsistent with the conservative depiction of the wizarding world. The story for the Knight Bus seems to play out fairly similarly, even taking place within the same basic time period of the mid 1800s, which could be chocked up to saying that there was one particularly progressive generation of wizarding leaders even if the overall community has remained fairly conservative and static (no reason to believe that it would be completely homogenous over an almost 200 year period, anyway, they are still people after all).

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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2018-02-20 05:47pm

Ok, that does indeed answer my question and makes a lot of sense.
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry

Post by Broomstick » 2018-02-20 07:38pm

It's pretty clear that Voldemort and the Death Eaters killed a lot of wizards. It may be that there was more of a muggle-leaning, innovative group of wizard before the whole Voldemort thing, after which that group was severely reduced in number and thus giving the appearance of a much more conservative wizarding world than in prior generations.
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Lord Revan » 2018-02-20 08:32pm

We should also remember that IIRC Wizards aren't "too dumb to breathe" stupid either just tribalistic and often quite of touch with the muggle world. So for a wizard if something works even if it's muggle made it'll be used, maybe with some handwave to appease the conservatives.
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Gandalf » 2018-02-20 08:38pm

I just assumed that wizards are like hipsters, and that it's trendy in the magic world to live as though it's the 1700s.

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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Solauren » 2018-02-20 09:54pm

The problem is the time period Harry is in.

Voldemort and his thugs were running around for 10 - 15 years, possibly longer, before 1981.

The Death Eaters, for the most part, were all rich, highly conservative, and politically connected.

Odds are, in the early days, they targeted people that saw as threats
i.e
Powerful people that supported being 'more muggle', or pulling in muggle-tech.
Politically skilled people
Competent ministry workers
Anyone that wasn't corrupt or easy to manipulate.

This would be followed by muggle-born, half-bloods, etc.

Then, when Voldemort disappears, they bribe their way out of prison (as they killed anyone that wasn't corrupt or easy to manipulate), and then resume old family seats, gaining a lot of influence in the world. They could then use this to pass laws they wanted.

Including say, banning muggle influenced tech, putting laws in place to prevent competition, etc.

In short, making things how the rich, anti-muggle assholes wanted.

There would be a few things they couldn't remove without causing problems, or admitted were useful, so they leave them alone.


By contrast, watch Fantastic Beasts and were to find them. The magicals in the US, who are not a bunch of racists (just elitist) seem to be at the same tech level as the muggles.
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-02-21 04:31pm

Solauren wrote:
2018-02-20 09:54pm
The problem is the time period Harry is in.

Voldemort and his thugs were running around for 10 - 15 years, possibly longer, before 1981.

The Death Eaters, for the most part, were all rich, highly conservative, and politically connected.
Were they, though? Fandom often tends to act like Death Eater=Rich Slytherin, but while the Malfoys and Lestranges get a lot of focus, were they really typical of the make-up of the Death Eaters? We also see thugs like Greyback and his gang, and I never got "politically connected elite" from the Carrows, either. Or Snape, for that matter. Hell, Tom Riddle himself was not politically connected or wealthy, except insofar as he built up those connections and wealth through his own efforts.

I would contend that Lucius Malfoy was likely so notable (and so prominent among the Death Eaters) because the wealth and connections he enjoyed were the exception, not the norm. If they had been, if the Death Eaters had that much clout in such a small society, they wouldn't have needed to conduct a terrorist campaign. They could have just elected a Minister who supported their views.
Odds are, in the early days, they targeted people that saw as threats
i.e
Powerful people that supported being 'more muggle', or pulling in muggle-tech.
Politically skilled people
Competent ministry workers
Anyone that wasn't corrupt or easy to manipulate.

This would be followed by muggle-born, half-bloods, etc.
That all makes sense, but IIRC, according to Rowlings' statements it was the other way around. They started out with attacks on Muggle-borns, and escalated to fighting the Ministry itself when the Ministry tried to stop them (I think that's from Pottermore).
Then, when Voldemort disappears, they bribe their way out of prison (as they killed anyone that wasn't corrupt or easy to manipulate), and then resume old family seats, gaining a lot of influence in the world. They could then use this to pass laws they wanted.
I don't know if you can put that down entirely to corruption, though- remember, it was Barty Crouch who was the main law enforcement guy immediately after Voldemort's fall. Its probably really hard to convict people in a world with mind control and memory-alteration spells, though.
Including say, banning muggle influenced tech, putting laws in place to prevent competition, etc.

In short, making things how the rich, anti-muggle assholes wanted.

There would be a few things they couldn't remove without causing problems, or admitted were useful, so they leave them alone.
Its certainly possible that there was a pushback against Muggle-inspired culture and tech. in the Voldemort years. For one thing, using such items would be seen as basically flashing a big sign saying "Death Eaters: Come attack my family." They don't even have to pass laws against it. Just create a society where being visibly sympathetic to Muggle stuff significantly increases your odds of dying a horrible death.
By contrast, watch Fantastic Beasts and were to find them. The magicals in the US, who are not a bunch of racists (just elitist) seem to be at the same tech level as the muggles.
What's weird is that in terms of their laws, Wizarding America in the '20s is way, way more draconian than Wizarding Britain between the Voldemort wars. They don't allow intermarriage with Muggles, or, apparently, for any Muggles to know about magic. Which begs the rather sinister question of what they do with Muggle-borns? Ignore them, except to mind-wipe any accidental magic? Steal them from their parents and raise them as wizards and witches, who are never permitted to go back to their families? Kill them?

Harry Potter world-building is weird. But endlessly fun to try to make sense of. :D
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Zaune » 2018-02-22 04:31am

Personally, I'd just put it down to a generous helping of hypocrisy to go along with the rampant corruption and nepotism, institutionalised class snobbery and other general unpleasantness that seems to be an integral part of British magical culture. After all, why would Disgusted of Hogsmeade take any more trouble to be internally consistent in their irrational bigotry and prejudice than Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells?
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Simon_Jester » 2018-02-22 08:46am

'Yes' to TRR's comment. While the surviving leadership of the former Death Eaters is mostly rich, well-connected types, there's a hell of a selection effect at play there, because any former Death Eater who wasn't rich and well connected probably wound up dead or in Azkaban in the wake of Voldemort's death.

In other words, Slytherin doesn't just groom rich aristocratic baddies, it grooms the grunts and thugs who will one day support those baddies.
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by tezunegari » 2018-02-22 10:26am

Wasn't there also a line about modern technology or electronics not working in magic rich environments like Hogwarts and the Alleys?

If so, how can a place like the leaky Cauldron and Diagon Alley exist in the center of London without interfering with, well, everything surrounding it?
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Simon_Jester » 2018-02-22 02:45pm

Set up the magical equivalent of a Faraday cage to block out the magical radiation?

Maybe extradimensional spaces that have access points in the Muggle version of London don't zap Muggle London with magical byproducts?
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-02-22 06:04pm

Simon_Jester wrote:
2018-02-22 08:46am
In other words, Slytherin doesn't just groom rich aristocratic baddies, it grooms the grunts and thugs who will one day support those baddies.
Crabbe and Goyle being a splendid example of this. I'm certain that for all the rich, well connected students in Slytherin there were probably a lot more who weren't anywhere near as well off, perhaps talented but nonetheless more or less destined to be thugs or soldiers. Snape would be a good example of a Slytherin without money and power; it took Dumbledore's personal intervention to save him from prison, IIRC. Hogwarts seems to take nearly -all- the magical students of Great Britain, after all-- the richer kids don't go to their own schools. This forced integration makes them the natural... if not leaders, then at least socially dominant in the context they are forced into.
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-02-22 06:27pm

tezunegari wrote:
2018-02-22 10:26am
Wasn't there also a line about modern technology or electronics not working in magic rich environments like Hogwarts and the Alleys?

If so, how can a place like the leaky Cauldron and Diagon Alley exist in the center of London without interfering with, well, everything surrounding it?
Simply: because the idea that any significant amount of magic shuts down Muggle technology is an exaggerated fanon brain bug.

I think it originates with a line in Goblet of Fire, where Hermione says that Rita Skeeter couldn't be bugging (as in planting electronic surveillance) Hogwarts because those devices don't work there. I think there's some basis for no electricity working at Hogwarts, though I don't have the exact quote on-hand.

There is not, however, to the best of my recollection, any evidence of such an effect in any other environment. Hogwarts is probably the most magic-intense place in the country, having trained large numbers of young witches and wizards for centuries and being loaded with magical defenses.

Its not a setting like, say, Dresden Files, where even a single minor spell can cause malfunctions in nearby electronics. Whatever effect there is, its either Hogwarts-specific (perhaps a product of defensive enchantments placed on the school), or requires truly high intensity of magic.

Note that even then, the Weasleys' magically modified car was able to run on Hogwarts grounds.
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Elheru Aran
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-02-22 06:38pm

'Magically modified' are the key words there. I think it's safe enough to assume that Hogwarts is probably exceptional, though. Likewise places like the Ministry of Magic are probably areas of long term magical exposure and use, so side effects are likely stronger there.

That said... again, the HP books are a very limited viewpoint, as we must always remember. They're one kid's experience of the magical world over less than a decade, after some major paradigm shifts in magical society. To be frank: while they're a primary source, they are quasi-unreliable, and any conjecture we draw from them must be strictly speculative.

Hence this whole thread :P
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-02-22 07:02pm

Yeah, the car was modified, but that also shows that its possible to modify at least some electronics to work in a high-magic environment (and again, there is probably no more high-magic environment in Wizarding Britain than the Hogwarts grounds).
"Well, Grant, we've had the devil's own day, haven't we?"

"Yes. Lick 'em tomorrow though."

-Generals William T. Sherman and Ulysses S Grant, the Battle of Shiloh.


"You need to believe in things that aren't true. How else can they become?"-Terry Pratchett's DEATH.


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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-02-22 07:38pm

To return to the original topic:

We don't see a whole lot of Muggle technology because honestly there's not much call for it in the Wizarding world.

~Medicine is a good example-- they have a potion for pretty much everything. Odds are good they can just magic away, for example, AIDS or cancer. Who needs a X-ray when you can just poke your wand at a portion of the body and somehow it tells you what's happened in there? So vaccinations and surgery aren't really a thing, and long lives are pretty routine.

~Technology: The HP books take place in the... early 90s? First book is 1991-1992. So a lot of modern technologies aren't much of a thing in the Muggle world, let alone the Wizarding world-- no Internet to speak of till the late 90s, no cell phones apart from old-school bricks, and so forth. Computers aren't going to be very common in a home context, though I want to say there was some form of Wizarding equivalent in the Ministry of Magic. Consumer electronics will be along the lines of radios/stereos, gadgets, power tools, etc; all of which have Magical equivalents. Why have a dishwasher when you can just wave a wand and the dishes literally line up and jump into the sink by themselves? Colin Creevey's camera, IIRC, is explicitly described as an old style analog film camera-- it doesn't require electricity, so operates perfectly fine in Hogwarts and the film can be treated magically to create moving photographs.

~Transportation, they've gotten that taken care of with the Floo Network, Portkeys, brooms, etcetera. The two Schools we see in the Triwizard Tournament have their own means of mass transportation-- Durmstrang uses some sort of magical ship (perhaps it teleports?), Beauxbatons has carriages pulled by flying horses. Suffice it to say that Wizards can probably get pretty much anywhere they want to go without much trouble. Apparation is pretty decent, as long as you don't screw up. Hell, if you have the nads for it, you could even ride a Dragon (might have to find one first though)... Magical cars like the Anglia are much the exception rather than the rule, obviously, and have to be jury-rigged somewhat. Likewise Sirius Black's motorcycle.

~Communications: No cell phones in the Muggle world yet, no reason for them to exist in the Wizarding. That said, we never really see a proper Wizarding equivalent of the telephone (IIRC). Honestly they could use something like that. There are the portraits which can travel between versions of each other. Their postal system of owls seems reasonably quick, but vulnerable to predation. One has to wonder how their international communications work. Presumably Ministers of Magic have portraits via which they can communicate with their counterparts. Do they have any equivalent of, say, telegraph/cable systems? Molly Weasley seems to have some sort of... charm? placed upon family members which keeps track of their movements and vital status. Likewise there's some kind of charm upon underage wizards in Britain to keep track of whether they're using magic outside Hogwarts. Perhaps adult wizards are capable of doing something like this with each other if there's a reason to facilitate instant communications between each other?

There is one distinct lack-- television and film. There doesn't really seem to be anything like this in the Wizarding world. Radio does exist. But no visual media aside from paintings and photographs. It's hard to imagine that they wouldn't have been aware of television after the 1950s, 60s at very latest. Ditto film. This is pre-Voldemort, so no reason to be absolutely ignorant of these media.

So, yeah. They don't really have many Muggle technologies, because they don't NEED them. There are a few holes, and if the books were only a decade later (2000s rather than 90s), the lack of Internet would be a distinct question mark. But overall it's easy enough to explain away how they don't have Muggle technology.

Technology that -resembles- Muggle tech is another question, but honestly it's not hard to explain that either. They have to notice what the Muggles are doing if they want to keep their secrecy, and that means being at least marginally abreast of advances in the Muggle world.
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-02-22 08:17pm

Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-02-22 07:38pm
To return to the original topic:

We don't see a whole lot of Muggle technology because honestly there's not much call for it in the Wizarding world.

~Medicine is a good example-- they have a potion for pretty much everything. Odds are good they can just magic away, for example, AIDS or cancer. Who needs a X-ray when you can just poke your wand at a portion of the body and somehow it tells you what's happened in there? So vaccinations and surgery aren't really a thing, and long lives are pretty routine.
Largely correct, though depending on how you interpret the whole "no magic can bring back the dead" thing, Muggles surpassed Wizarding medicine in at least one aspect the moment CPR was invented.
~Technology: The HP books take place in the... early 90s? First book is 1991-1992. So a lot of modern technologies aren't much of a thing in the Muggle world, let alone the Wizarding world-- no Internet to speak of till the late 90s, no cell phones apart from old-school bricks, and so forth. Computers aren't going to be very common in a home context, though I want to say there was some form of Wizarding equivalent in the Ministry of Magic. Consumer electronics will be along the lines of radios/stereos, gadgets, power tools, etc; all of which have Magical equivalents. Why have a dishwasher when you can just wave a wand and the dishes literally line up and jump into the sink by themselves? Colin Creevey's camera, IIRC, is explicitly described as an old style analog film camera-- it doesn't require electricity, so operates perfectly fine in Hogwarts and the film can be treated magically to create moving photographs.
Yeah.

On that note, I'm really curious as to how the Statute of Secrecy is supposed to stand up in the age of surveillance cameras, cell phones, and the internet.

I don't know, maybe people just write off footage of magic as CGI? Unless its a big event with a lot of witnesses/physical evidence (so the Oblivators can just focus on major incidents)?
~Transportation, they've gotten that taken care of with the Floo Network, Portkeys, brooms, etcetera. The two Schools we see in the Triwizard Tournament have their own means of mass transportation-- Durmstrang uses some sort of magical ship (perhaps it teleports?), Beauxbatons has carriages pulled by flying horses. Suffice it to say that Wizards can probably get pretty much anywhere they want to go without much trouble. Apparation is pretty decent, as long as you don't screw up. Hell, if you have the nads for it, you could even ride a Dragon (might have to find one first though)... Magical cars like the Anglia are much the exception rather than the rule, obviously, and have to be jury-rigged somewhat. Likewise Sirius Black's motorcycle.
Oh yeah, they've got Muggles beat hands-down on mass transit tech. (at least over short distances- we never really see how intercontinental travel works for Wizards, but as Snape said, time and distance matter in magic, and its possibly telling that Newt Scamander took a Muggle ship to America). With the notable exception that Wizards never seem to have managed space flight.
~Communications: No cell phones in the Muggle world yet, no reason for them to exist in the Wizarding. That said, we never really see a proper Wizarding equivalent of the telephone (IIRC). Honestly they could use something like that. There are the portraits which can travel between versions of each other. Their postal system of owls seems reasonably quick, but vulnerable to predation. One has to wonder how their international communications work. Presumably Ministers of Magic have portraits via which they can communicate with their counterparts. Do they have any equivalent of, say, telegraph/cable systems? Molly Weasley seems to have some sort of... charm? placed upon family members which keeps track of their movements and vital status. Likewise there's some kind of charm upon underage wizards in Britain to keep track of whether they're using magic outside Hogwarts. Perhaps adult wizards are capable of doing something like this with each other if there's a reason to facilitate instant communications between each other?
They match or surpass Muggle communications prior to the internet, yeah.
There is one distinct lack-- television and film. There doesn't really seem to be anything like this in the Wizarding world. Radio does exist. But no visual media aside from paintings and photographs. It's hard to imagine that they wouldn't have been aware of television after the 1950s, 60s at very latest. Ditto film. This is pre-Voldemort, so no reason to be absolutely ignorant of these media.

So, yeah. They don't really have many Muggle technologies, because they don't NEED them. There are a few holes, and if the books were only a decade later (2000s rather than 90s), the lack of Internet would be a distinct question mark. But overall it's easy enough to explain away how they don't have Muggle technology.

Technology that -resembles- Muggle tech is another question, but honestly it's not hard to explain that either. They have to notice what the Muggles are doing if they want to keep their secrecy, and that means being at least marginally abreast of advances in the Muggle world.
I'd expect film and television and computers, or analogues, to make the transition eventually, if only through some clever Muggle-born film geek who sees an opportunity to exploit a new market. Like I said, they seem to be decades behind, often, but not centuries.

Edit: The other big gap in Wizarding vs. Muggle capabilities is probably the lack of any observed firepower comparable to nuclear weapons, though Fiendfyre might qualify. Though really, Potterverse magic is more geared toward cloak and dagger shit. Nukes, I think, would be of very questionable utility to them, barring perhaps an open conflict with Muggles.

Their biggest shortcoming vs. Muggle industry is probably simple numbers. Even with stuff like engorgement and duplication charms, their are just so many more Muggles than Wizards. Hell, there might very well be more Muggle factories than their are Wizards, or close to it. :lol:
"Well, Grant, we've had the devil's own day, haven't we?"

"Yes. Lick 'em tomorrow though."

-Generals William T. Sherman and Ulysses S Grant, the Battle of Shiloh.


"You need to believe in things that aren't true. How else can they become?"-Terry Pratchett's DEATH.


I am a dual citizen of the United States and Canada.


Fuck Civility.

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