Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-03-02 03:59pm

Imperial528 wrote:
2018-03-01 11:19pm
If I recall correctly Hogwarts has an actual Muggle Studies class which even includes a research paper on internet use and other lessons on cutting edge things in Muggle culture.
There is a Muggle studies class. Very little about its curriculum, or how up to date it is, is ever revealed in the books, much less the films.

I don't recall any mention of it covering the internet specifically, but maybe Pottermore has more.
To a degree I am willing to buy that a majority of wizarding society in Britain are ignorant of the wider world because of how self imposed their isolation is and how complete it is for the average wizard.
Beware: elements of the fandom tend to exaggerate wizarding backwardness heavily.

There is no good reason whatsoever for most muggle borns or half bloods to be ignorant of at least basic trends in the Muggle world, and even for purebloods, it varies (according to Pottermore, Kingsley is a pureblood, and he was able to get a job in the PM's staff undercover and convince the Muggle Prime Minister that he was a model, but otherwise ordinary, employee).
As is they must have sizable portions of Britain completely obscured from the larger world and it would not surprise me if there's a sense that going on the outside unnecessarily would endanger that isolation.
Probably, yes, for many wizards.

Yet many clearly do socialize out of that bubble, given the number of half-bloods (note: this may vary by country and era- '20s Wizarding American in the Fantastic Beasts film was almost completely isolated by law, including prohibiting marriage to Muggles).

Also, keep in mind that the Wizarding population is small. Like, as in one small town spread across all of Britain small. Probably too small to really support itself in complete isolation (Hagrid says in CoS that if Wizards hadn't intermarried, they'd have died out, and he's probably right).

So the amount of land they have to conceal is probably relatively small, actually. The biggest area is almost certainly around Hogwarts/Hogsmede, which is an entire castle, grounds, forest, and village basically hidden away.

And of course, size can be deceptive with magic- Diagon Ally, for example, could be a pocket dimension that's much bigger on the inside. Also, a lot of their institutions build down underground- the Ministry appears to be mostly subterranean IIRC, as is Gringotts.
Add in that you don't get acquainted to things that you're not really around, and that for the purposes of wizarding society most muggle technology is rendered useless near magic or is obsolete in comparison (such as stitching a wound) then most wizards are probably in a cycle of ignorance that requires well placed effort to really get out of.
The "technology doesn't work near magic" thing is (as previously covered in this thread) a grossly exaggerated fanon brain bug. The only confirmed place where technology is interfered with is Hogwarts, and even then I think its only electronics specifically, at most.

Personally, I suspect that this is another symptom of the fact that many fanfic writers seem to shamelessly borrow from Dresden Files, plus the usual Flanderization tendencies of fandom.
Though frankly I find the existing material on the wizard's perspectives of muggle technology to be underwhelming. It'd be very entertaining to explore their reactions especially since there are several areas where modern technology and magic don't have true equivalents to each other.
Off the top of my head:

Technology: Space travel, the internet, film and television, possibly some medical techniques related to resuscitating the dead, possibly nuclear weapons (depending on just how powerful fiendfyre is).

Magic: Advanced and reliable non-lethal ranged weaponry, easy duplication of most resources (Wizards should be more or less post-scarcity, in most respects), personal stealth, fucking teleportation, time travel, human-like AIs, knowledge of what actually happens after death, and bigger on the inside pocket dimensions.
A thought I've had while reading this thread is on the nature of magical interference: My guess would be that magic is ultimately an electromagnetic phenomenon and so interferes the same way a powerful solar flare can cause interference in communication or surges in power lines.
Possibly, but if so, its a fairly weak effect. One spell, or ten spells, or a major duel, probably won't blow out electronics. I think it takes a high degree of saturation, based on canon evidence.
If this assumption is true then it shouldn't be difficult to shield electronics against low level magic the same as against weak EMP effects or other forms of electrical interference.
Indeed.
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-03-05 05:25pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-03-02 03:59pm
A thought I've had while reading this thread is on the nature of magical interference: My guess would be that magic is ultimately an electromagnetic phenomenon and so interferes the same way a powerful solar flare can cause interference in communication or surges in power lines.
Possibly, but if so, its a fairly weak effect. One spell, or ten spells, or a major duel, probably won't blow out electronics. I think it takes a high degree of saturation, based on canon evidence.
If this assumption is true then it shouldn't be difficult to shield electronics against low level magic the same as against weak EMP effects or other forms of electrical interference.
Indeed.
The problem with this would be figuring out how exactly magic intersects with the physical world. Once you have the physics of magic (so to speak) figured out, then you could start working on how to sort out its interactions with real-world physics.

Example: How do magical methods of flying work? Do they take advantage of some magical version of Bernoulli's principle, riding upon the 'winds of magic' (to borrow a term from WHFB)? Or is it each an individual charm that performs the simultaneous task of holding the flying object or person in midair, and moving in whatever direction the object/person is headed?

Apparation: Is it the being-disassembled-molecule-by-molecule transportation a la Trek? Or is it being bodily pulled through a wormhole of sorts? Stepping through a parallel dimension?

And so forth. Unfortunately we don't know anything about this side of how magic works. All we see is the user side of magic. They do stuff, it happens, and we have no idea how or why.
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-03-05 05:28pm

I doubt most, if any wizards know why it works. And most, they understand that there are certain things you can or cannot do with magic. I don't think we've seen much in the way of a scientific method of magic.

It may even be (as in some other settings) that magic works mostly off of emotion and/or symbolism, rather than physical laws that can be easily quantified.
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-03-05 06:28pm

Well there's towards the end of this rather fun thread that I raise that actual issue... viewtopic.php?f=32&t=165313 (totally worth a re-read)

Alyrium answers that in some depth: viewtopic.php?f=32&t=165313&start=75#p3983116

Pertinent quote:
Alyrium Denryle wrote:
2016-08-05 01:06pm
There doesn't seem to be any kind of Spells Research and Development department at the Ministry. There's a Department of Muggle Affairs, but it mostly seems to consist of Arthur Weasley tinkering with Muggle electronics. It doesn't look like there's anybody, for example, sitting down with a wand and reading words off a list while he or she waves the wand to see what happens with specific words. There's a Magical Theory class in first year (according to background material in the film), Hermione owns the book. But what does it consist of? Is there any way laid out for people to research and develop new spells, potions, counter-curses, and all that?
The ministry of magic has two research departments. The Committee on Experimental Charms, and the Ministry of Magic research committee.

They also have a sufficient understanding of the atmosphere to want to regulate atmospheric charms due to their long-term environmental effects.

Which brings me to another thing. I would hazard a guess that at least some wizards (likely muggleborns and the like) who DO have some grasp of at least the principles of muggle science and the non-magical laws of nature, even if they go about studying them in a completely different way (because you dont need a massive laser when you have an interferometer spell). I do seem to recall seeing a wizard at some point reading A Brief History of Time while casually stirring a potion...

That knowledge might be rather specialized, but it is likely present.
Absolutely non-canon of course, but does make sense. There HAVE to be at least a few wizards, Muggle-born or not, who are aware of scientific method and have explored the underlying physics of magic (insofar as magic can be said to have 'physics' anyway). It simply doesn't get explored in the books because a.) there's no reason for the characters to be concerned about it, b.) Rowling would have had the dickens of a time coming up with a system of magical physics that actually made sense particularly as she basically winged it with a few common tropes as far as her magic went, c.) these magic-physicists, if they exist in the same proportion as real-world physicists do to normal people, probably aren't very common.

You would have thought there might be at least one at Hogwarts, but it's possible that this is a very advanced class, like Sixth or Seventh Year, and not enough students were interested to make it practical to keep an instructor in Magical Physics around. I could totally see it being something Hermione would've been into, though.
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-03-05 07:01pm

Ghetto Edit: That's not to say that magic necessarily works along a set of established laws. However, since it's not completely arbitrary and as noted there are things you can and cannot do... that, in its own way, suggests that there's underlying principles that can be found, established, and extrapolated from. And since it interacts with the physical world, there has to be some component that enables the interaction in a consistent fashion.

I don't particularly have the time to get into it, nor would I know where to start, but emotion and symbolism probably do play a part to some degree. The Unforgivable Spells for example seem to require a certain component of aggressiveness, anger, and hatred to successfully pull off. Brooms are used for flying-- why brooms? Why not a boat, or a skateboard? Because they're a classic tool of mythical 'witches'. So that's emotion and symbolism right there. How does Imperio work its way into the brain chemistry, though, if all that's required is 'emotion' to pull it off?

If there is any kind of 'science of magic' in the Wizarding World... I think it's probably safe to assume that, the basic methodology aside, the actual methods and techniques used to study magic and its fundamental laws are probably very, very different from anything we recognize as 'science'. As Alyrium notes, why use a massive laser when you can do the same thing with a spell? Why use, for example... a detailed autopsy of a cadaver to teach people about how muscles work, when you can just cast a spell to make some graduate student's skin transparent? And then when you get into something that's even more unknown to us than higher level physics is to most people, what the heck is that going to look like?
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-03-06 03:29am

Well, regarding wizard research, our chief research character is Newt Scamander. A magizoologist. It seems that before him, research into magical creatures was non-existent, or chiefly dealt with how to kill them. The idea of research seemed to be a bit alien to the wizards of New York, either because it had to do with creatures, or the concept of studying and researching in detail is somewhat of a foreign concept to them.

A century later, his book is standard reading at Hogwarts. It's unknown if it's been revised over the years, or kept as is.

Either way, Newt is quite a pioneer in the Wizarding world.
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Crazedwraith » 2018-03-06 04:19am

Luna's mother was also a magical researcher who invented spells. Though she did blow herself up doing it.

Snape also invented spells
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-03-06 01:15pm

^That is probably a major reason why there's not as much magic-science as there's... real-world-science (for lack of a better term). An errant charm can have major repercussions, a single ingredient right or wrong in a Potion can change it dramatically, even having the right mental or emotional state can affect how a spell is cast. Witness Hermione turning into a half-cat thanks to a few wrong hairs in her Polyjuice Potion, and all the various mishaps Neville Longbottom endures, or Ron Weasley for that matter. In real world science... get a few digits wrong on your calculations, odds are nobody gets killed. Use Imperial units rather than metric, you lose an expensive probe, but nobody actually dies.

So for the great mass of wizards... it's better to play it safe. Use known spells and charms. Follow recipes as exactly as possible. Get very good at a bunch of basic spells, perhaps specialize in some area or other, but a *known* area. I would not be surprised at all if the aforementioned Ministry of Magic research committee has hunting up historic spells that are known to have been successful, as much as coming up with new spells. Quite probably there's a prescribed method of coming up with new spells that's considered 'safe'-- perhaps remotely manipulating a wand or something like that. Patronuses can be made to speak IIRC; perhaps they can be used for the verbal component of spells?

I wonder if there's a HP-verse equivalent of a Golem...
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-03-07 09:33pm

Keep in mind also how small the Wizarding World is. There just aren't as many brilliant scientists, because there aren't as many people.

If one in million people is an Albert Einstein or Steven Hawking (and its probably less), then there might only be one or two in the world at a time, in the Wizarding population.

Dumbledore for his generation, Snape and the Marauders for theres', and Hermione and the Weasley twins for theres', might really be the best Britain has.
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Alyrium Denryle » 2018-03-10 01:30am

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-03-05 05:28pm
I doubt most, if any wizards know why it works. And most, they understand that there are certain things you can or cannot do with magic. I don't think we've seen much in the way of a scientific method of magic.

It may even be (as in some other settings) that magic works mostly off of emotion and/or symbolism, rather than physical laws that can be easily quantified.
Hogwarts actually does have a class called Arithmancy, which is if I recall the mathematical deconstruction and construction of spells. Which means there is actually some underlying laws behind spells and some interaction with muggle physics in all probability.
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Gandalf » 2018-03-10 05:49am

I'm pretty sure it was more like how some numbers are just more magical than others, or something like that.
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-03-10 01:55pm

Alyrium Denryle wrote:
2018-03-10 01:30am
The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-03-05 05:28pm
I doubt most, if any wizards know why it works. And most, they understand that there are certain things you can or cannot do with magic. I don't think we've seen much in the way of a scientific method of magic.

It may even be (as in some other settings) that magic works mostly off of emotion and/or symbolism, rather than physical laws that can be easily quantified.
Hogwarts actually does have a class called Arithmancy, which is if I recall the mathematical deconstruction and construction of spells. Which means there is actually some underlying laws behind spells and some interaction with muggle physics in all probability.
Arithmancy is never exactly defined in the books or films IIRC, though "numbers-based magic" is a reasonable conclusion based on its name alone. Maybe there's more specific information on Pottermore or something.

But yeah, Gandalf is right about some numbers supposedly being more magically powerful. The whole idea of their being seven horcruxes was predicated on that. So there is some numerical basis for at least some magic, certainly.
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Alyrium Denryle » 2018-03-10 03:03pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-03-10 01:55pm
Alyrium Denryle wrote:
2018-03-10 01:30am
The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-03-05 05:28pm
I doubt most, if any wizards know why it works. And most, they understand that there are certain things you can or cannot do with magic. I don't think we've seen much in the way of a scientific method of magic.

It may even be (as in some other settings) that magic works mostly off of emotion and/or symbolism, rather than physical laws that can be easily quantified.
Hogwarts actually does have a class called Arithmancy, which is if I recall the mathematical deconstruction and construction of spells. Which means there is actually some underlying laws behind spells and some interaction with muggle physics in all probability.
Arithmancy is never exactly defined in the books or films IIRC, though "numbers-based magic" is a reasonable conclusion based on its name alone. Maybe there's more specific information on Pottermore or something.

But yeah, Gandalf is right about some numbers supposedly being more magically powerful. The whole idea of their being seven horcruxes was predicated on that. So there is some numerical basis for at least some magic, certainly.
Think about it for a moment. Why would spells require specific want movements and words specific down to syllable stress (unless you are good enough to utter the words in your head)?

It's because intent matters a lot less than some structure underlying magic, which almost has to be math.
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-03-10 03:05pm

That structure could be tied to a form of non-mathematical symbolism, conceivably. But you make a convincing argument.
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-03-10 03:54pm

If that is the case, what does this mean for magical animals? They do not recite words, or do specific movements. Nor do House Elves.
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2018-03-10 04:03pm

I suppose that "magical" creatures have a much closer connection to whatever magic is than humans do - in the human species, magic is a very rare trait, but in species like house-elves it's apparently 100%, we never here of a squib house elf or goblin, we never hear if such things are even possible.

For instance, we are told in the books that silent, wandless casting of spells is extremely hard and only the most powerful can do it, and even then they still use wands for big stuff (Voldemort, Dumbledore, Grindelwald et al) - house-eleves do it literally all the time, though as we see from Dobby, gestures are still needed (snapping his fingers).

It's entirely possible that humans are not inherently magical like elves but at some point developed an extremely rare genetic mutation that allows them to use magic in a limited way, possibly by interbreeding with an actual magical species. Which would be hilarious given pureblood-supremacist beliefs.
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-03-10 04:21pm

But magical children use subconscious accidental magic without wand or words- it appears to be driven by instinct or emotion. Moreover, some adult wizards and witches do learn at least limited wandless magic, and non-verbal magic is taught at the sixth year level.

That would suggest that specific rituals, tools, or formulas are not necessary for humans to perform magic. Merely a crutch/tool to help the inexperienced wield it more effectively than they otherwise could.
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2018-03-10 05:21pm

I should have said controlled wandless, silent casting, though given that I said "casting spells" not "using magic" I thought that was implied.

Non-verbal magic clearly isn't a difficult thing, it was the wandless casting I was pointing out, that is supposed to be difficult to do outside of the very powerful and/or very experienced and/or very determined. Even then, for large-scale or powerful magic, wands are still preferred or possibly easier - witness the Dumbledore/Voldemort duel in the Ministry of Magic, two of the most powerful wizards known and both use wands. Likewise, we never hear of wandless patronus charms, unforgiveable curses, or other major combat magic.

The point still stands though that human magic-users do need wands for at least some if not most magic - the only branches of magic that do not need a wand at all that I can think of are occlumency/legilimency (note I am not including potions or herbology in that because that's not casting or using magic) - whereas house-elves do not need wands at all. Logically, house elves do not use wands because they don't need to, which suggests a much stronger connection to magic than humans have.

Though come to think of it, while centaurs, goblins and merpeople are also classed as "magical races," do we ever see any of them casting magic? As best I can recall, they are only ever seen using bows, blades or spears/tridents respectively. The same is true for dragons, acromantulas, vampires and dragons. The only beings capable of directly using magic, as in casting spells on things, seem to be humans and house-elves. Which is very curious indeed.
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Alyrium Denryle » 2018-03-10 06:00pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-03-10 04:21pm
But magical children use subconscious accidental magic without wand or words- it appears to be driven by instinct or emotion. Moreover, some adult wizards and witches do learn at least limited wandless magic, and non-verbal magic is taught at the sixth year level.

That would suggest that specific rituals, tools, or formulas are not necessary for humans to perform magic. Merely a crutch/tool to help the inexperienced wield it more effectively than they otherwise could.
Or, some sort of emotional energy is just the fuel, or they have untapped reserves of some other sort of energy that, when they are young and haven't been taught how to use it, essentially query the universe constantly. Most of the time, comes up nothin'. Sometimes, by random chance, something happens.

As for wandless/non-verbal magic... think of it like math, again. If you have chalk and a blackboard, it's a lot easier to do math than it is in your head, but if you're really really good and really disciplined, you can totally do pretty complex math in your head.
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Simon_Jester » 2018-03-10 07:11pm

Eternal_Freedom wrote:
2018-03-10 05:21pm
Though come to think of it, while centaurs, goblins and merpeople are also classed as "magical races," do we ever see any of them casting magic? As best I can recall, they are only ever seen using bows, blades or spears/tridents respectively.
My understanding is that Potterverse wizards actually go to some lengths to keep wands out of the hands of the goblins.

The wiki says goblins can do at least some wandless magic; I'm not sure how seriously to take that.
The same is true for dragons, acromantulas, vampires and dragons. The only beings capable of directly using magic, as in casting spells on things, seem to be humans and house-elves. Which is very curious indeed.
Other creatures seem to be identified as 'magical beings' because magic is an innate part of their biology and constitution.
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FaxModem1
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-03-11 07:48am

Alyrium Denryle wrote:
2018-03-10 06:00pm
The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-03-10 04:21pm
But magical children use subconscious accidental magic without wand or words- it appears to be driven by instinct or emotion. Moreover, some adult wizards and witches do learn at least limited wandless magic, and non-verbal magic is taught at the sixth year level.

That would suggest that specific rituals, tools, or formulas are not necessary for humans to perform magic. Merely a crutch/tool to help the inexperienced wield it more effectively than they otherwise could.
Or, some sort of emotional energy is just the fuel, or they have untapped reserves of some other sort of energy that, when they are young and haven't been taught how to use it, essentially query the universe constantly. Most of the time, comes up nothin'. Sometimes, by random chance, something happens.

As for wandless/non-verbal magic... think of it like math, again. If you have chalk and a blackboard, it's a lot easier to do math than it is in your head, but if you're really really good and really disciplined, you can totally do pretty complex math in your head.
Does not doing math kill talented math inclined people?

Looking at the Obscurus, and what happens if magical ability is knowingly suppressed, it seems less like math and more like a magical version of a stress induced ulcer from having an identity crisis and being told that it's wrong to do so.

Magical humans apparently NEED to use magic, or they will die, it appears.
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Simon_Jester » 2018-03-11 01:52pm

Your statement isn't incompatible with Alyrium's.

It's entirely possible BOTH that small children's wandless magic is fueled by some internal well of power driven by their emotions and uncontrolled due to their lack of understanding of the power, AND that deliberately bottling up this well of power can gradually turn the child proto-wizard into an Obscurus.
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-03-12 05:02pm

Simon_Jester wrote:
2018-03-10 07:11pm
Eternal_Freedom wrote:
2018-03-10 05:21pm
Though come to think of it, while centaurs, goblins and merpeople are also classed as "magical races," do we ever see any of them casting magic? As best I can recall, they are only ever seen using bows, blades or spears/tridents respectively.
My understanding is that Potterverse wizards actually go to some lengths to keep wands out of the hands of the goblins.

The wiki says goblins can do at least some wandless magic; I'm not sure how seriously to take that.
The same is true for dragons, acromantulas, vampires and dragons. The only beings capable of directly using magic, as in casting spells on things, seem to be humans and house-elves. Which is very curious indeed.
Other creatures seem to be identified as 'magical beings' because magic is an innate part of their biology and constitution.
Re goblins: they seem to fill a role similar to Dwarves, in that they hoard wealth and are viewed as fine craftsbeings. A subplot in Deathly Hallows (book, not so much movie) was that the Sword of Gryffindor was goblin-made. IIRC there is reference to some other valuable items made by goblins; Ravenclaw's diadem possibly. These are frequently magical items; whether these effects are from the human owner endowing them, or in-built from goblin magic, is unstated.

Re other creatures: Centaurs are capable of Astrology or Divination, one or the other; certainly Firenze didn't seem to think much of Sybil Trelawney's skills. I suspect other magical creatures have their own abilities, we simply don't see them using those because the opportunity never comes up or it's never mentioned. House-Elves for example would be invisible were it not for Dobby and Winky. I suspect the Fantastic Creatures films will expand greatly upon this; for example we already saw that the Thunderbird is capable of manipulating weather in the first one.

Re fundamentals of magic:

The way I think of it is that there are basic rules that anybody with magical abilities can come to understand and use, if only through rote memorization. Wave your wand a certain way while doing certain spells, pronounce specific words in a specific manner, and so forth. This is your basic stuff like levitation charms, making dishes wash themselves, etcetera.

Then as you get deeper into it, further elements come into play like emotion and specialized knowledge. Certainly children can accidentally use magic by way of unconsciously channeling their abilities in moments of great emotion, the trick is being able to control it and channel those emotions towards specific desired effects. Knowledge comes into play when you're doing more specific tasks and missions-- your higher form, post OWL classes, and whatever further research students are capable of doing post-Hogwarts. The Weasley twins' Wizarding Wheezes didn't come out of nowhere, after all-- they required knowledge to create and innovate. Starting a shop with those was merely business.

Deeper research is probably not seen as needed for most members of the wizarding community as they're using century-, possibly millennia-old spells that do well known and well controlled tasks. It's likely rather difficult at this point, actually, to find tasks that *cannot* be done by some spell or other. So there are only a few paths to be undertaken as far as getting really deep into magical-science goes-- historic research (trying to hunt up spells and such that aren't used anymore, were only used by a few or single wizards, etc, that aren't redundant and do have a desired effect), studying magical physics and how magic interacts with the physical world and with Muggle technology (hey look it's back on topic), and quite likely looking into the long term effects of magic is part of the picture. One thing that comes to mind regarding the latter is that I don't recall any examples of a long term spell, one that is cast at a time in the past and only comes to fruition at a certain appointed time in the future. Prophecies might qualify? There are long *lasting* spells-- Voldemort's magical traps surrounding his Horcruxes being an example-- but other than that, almost all seen magic in the HP verse is either fixed to an object or person (broomsticks, Animagi, etc.) or immediately cast.
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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by Exonerate » 2018-03-19 10:02pm

I think one thing worth remembering that Wizards derive their sense of identity from their magical powers - I would assert that Wizarding society as a whole maintains a carefully studied ignorance of the Muggle world as a part of that identity. Modernity still manages to diffuse in as new Muggle-born Wizards join, intermarriage, etc, but it's a slow drip. If you look at the reaction of all the Muggle-born students, they are all eager to abandon their previous lives and embrace Wizarding society. They form no new connections with Muggles and maintain only the most tenuous connections with their Muggle family after induction. In a society of magicians, it should come as no surprise that magical prowess is prestige (Note how squibs are treated as second-class citizens). What kind of real Wizard would willingly associate themselves with Muggles? (Only a loser like Arthur Weasley :P) I'm sure there are experts on Muggles, but maintaining a few of them doesn't translate to the average Wizard knowing much.

I'd argue that the Hogwarts Express and the Knight Bus are facsimiles of technology - they don't actually run on steam power or an internal combustion engine, they run on magic. And once they've been reduced to magic, it's easy to rationalize it away - Wizarding society certainly wouldn't be the first to have "borrowed" something from another and then proceeded to claim it as their own.

Electronics fail to work in Hogwarts because of the heavy concentration of magic, but that doesn't preclude the use of magic Faraday cages or something if there was a real desire to make use of Muggle technology. It isn't that they are incapable of adopting technology, they have chosen not to. And if that's the case, pureblood sentiments might be understood as not just magical supremacy but also a rejection of something that they feel threatens the cohesion of Wizarding society by blurring the boundaries. Frankly, Wizarding society is in a slow motion crisis. Up until pretty recently (the last century, perhaps) magic was capable of more than technology in every field. Today, technology has advanced to a point where it is superior in many respects and still advancing. Once that technology becomes more advanced than magic, where does that leave Wizards? Instead of wide-eyed 11 year olds eager to join your super-secret club, you get apathy and an inability to maintain your population.

If it comes down to a conflict, Wizard strategy would have to focus on seizing/disrupting the means of organization to prevent the whole of Muggle society being brought to bear against them. And if it got really bad, they could destroy transportation nodes, electrical and water infrastructure, etc to starve vast swathes of Muggles. But once the secret is out worldwide and the Muggles start finding their footing again, they're in a world of hurt. A much better alternative to fighting a war, if exposed, would be to come out and basically say "Hey, we might be Wizards, but we're friendly Wizards. We're just like you except we can do some magic, there's nothing to be afraid of!". A particularly forward-thinking plan to lay the groundwork for such a public relations campaign would be to plant the idea of Wizards being awesome in impressionable minds by creating a popular series of children's books and movies...

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Re: Muggle Technology in Harry Potter

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-03-20 12:33pm

Exonerate wrote:
2018-03-19 10:02pm
I think one thing worth remembering that Wizards derive their sense of identity from their magical powers - I would assert that Wizarding society as a whole maintains a carefully studied ignorance of the Muggle world as a part of that identity. Modernity still manages to diffuse in as new Muggle-born Wizards join, intermarriage, etc, but it's a slow drip. If you look at the reaction of all the Muggle-born students, they are all eager to abandon their previous lives and embrace Wizarding society. They form no new connections with Muggles and maintain only the most tenuous connections with their Muggle family after induction. In a society of magicians, it should come as no surprise that magical prowess is prestige (Note how squibs are treated as second-class citizens). What kind of real Wizard would willingly associate themselves with Muggles? (Only a loser like Arthur Weasley :P) I'm sure there are experts on Muggles, but maintaining a few of them doesn't translate to the average Wizard knowing much.
I don't think there is one standard Wizarding view of Muggles.

I think you can probably break it into about five main categories, from what we see in canon:

1. Conservative purebloods. Will be indifferent to Muggles at best, if not outright hostile (though they may still have some knowledge- see Draco Malfoy knowing what a helicopter was in book one).

2. Ministry employees who work directly with Muggles. See Kingsley Shacklebolt, who could convincingly pass himself off as a capable member of the Prime Minister's staff. For a somewhat less impressive example, Arthur Weasley.

3. Muggleborns/half-bloods. Have a foot in both worlds, and likely retain some connections in both. Ironically Voldemort would fall into this category by birth, though he moved to category 4 by choice as an adult.

4. Muggleborns who fully embrace magic and largely leave behind the Muggle world. Harry seems to largely fit here, probably because his experiences in the Muggle world were fairly shitty. Others might do so simply to avoid the pressure of trying to lead a double life.

5. Wizarding folk who leave the magical world for the Muggle. Probably quite rare, but IIRC in the old days squibs, being born without magic into magical families, were sometimes encouraged to do this.

6. Wizarding Muggle enthusiasts. See Arthur Weasley. Basically just hobbyists who have an interest in a foreign culture.
I'd argue that the Hogwarts Express and the Knight Bus are facsimiles of technology - they don't actually run on steam power or an internal combustion engine, they run on magic. And once they've been reduced to magic, it's easy to rationalize it away - Wizarding society certainly wouldn't be the first to have "borrowed" something from another and then proceeded to claim it as their own.
That is quite possible. Certain the Knight Bus does things that cannot be accomplished with an ordinary internal combustion engine.
Electronics fail to work in Hogwarts because of the heavy concentration of magic, but that doesn't preclude the use of magic Faraday cages or something if there was a real desire to make use of Muggle technology. It isn't that they are incapable of adopting technology, they have chosen not to.
Or that, being a fairly small and insular society, they simply don't have as many brains and resources to apply to scientific research as the Muggles.
And if that's the case, pureblood sentiments might be understood as not just magical supremacy but also a rejection of something that they feel threatens the cohesion of Wizarding society by blurring the boundaries. Frankly, Wizarding society is in a slow motion crisis. Up until pretty recently (the last century, perhaps) magic was capable of more than technology in every field. Today, technology has advanced to a point where it is superior in many respects and still advancing. Once that technology becomes more advanced than magic, where does that leave Wizards? Instead of wide-eyed 11 year olds eager to join your super-secret club, you get apathy and an inability to maintain your population.
Oh, I think we're a long way to the point where people will regard magic as blasé, given some of the more out-there things it can do (like personal flight, teleportation, and bigger on the inside architecture). Not to mention actually being able to confirm at least some shit about the after life.

But yeah, the Wizards are facing a world that is becoming more and more insecure for their way of life. Most importantly, that between rising populations, mass surveillance, and the internet, its probably only a matter of time before the Statue of Secrecy suffers an irreparable failure.
If it comes down to a conflict, Wizard strategy would have to focus on seizing/disrupting the means of organization to prevent the whole of Muggle society being brought to bear against them. And if it got really bad, they could destroy transportation nodes, electrical and water infrastructure, etc to starve vast swathes of Muggles.
Yes. Harry Potter magic isn't all that impressive in most ways for direct combat, compared to some other settings.

It'd be hell in an insurgency, though, if competently utilized.
But once the secret is out worldwide and the Muggles start finding their footing again, they're in a world of hurt. A much better alternative to fighting a war, if exposed, would be to come out and basically say "Hey, we might be Wizards, but we're friendly Wizards. We're just like you except we can do some magic, there's nothing to be afraid of!". A particularly forward-thinking plan to lay the groundwork for such a public relations campaign would be to plant the idea of Wizards being awesome in impressionable minds by creating a popular series of children's books and movies...
Heh, yeah.

The problem with that is... if Muggles suddenly find out that there is a whole secret world, fully of scary creatures, with the ability to control minds. Which had the power to solve all sorts of problems and save millions of lives and chose not to use it... what do you think is going to happen?

You'll get the fundamentalist witch hunt crowd, conspiracy theorists fear-mongering about a wizard Deep State, an enormous global political clusterfuck due to Muggle leaders having known and helped cover it up, outrage over memory wipes and Wizarding terrorist attacks that were covered up, Muggle politicians and corporations wanting to use magic for their own gain, magic-based cults, a complete re-evaluation of our understanding of the laws of nature, and another massive clusterfuck over the fact that the Wizards are acting as sovereign nations which are not formally recognized by Muggle governments, claiming territory within Muggle states.

There is no way that that does not result in a multi-sided global conflict. Which would fuel the "Kill/enslave all Muggles" types on the Wizarding side. Bet you we'd get a whole bunch of Voldemort types taking power, promising to Make the Wizarding World Great Again.

The best one could probably hope for is that some countries would manage to avoid it descending into outright genocide or mass mind control.

Of course, there's not much you can do about it, because any attempt to end the SoS triggers the crisis. Its a horrible situation, really. The best thing, I think, would be a gradual exposure- slowly broadening the number of people who are allowed to know. Like maybe extend it from just close Muggle relatives to more distant Muggle relatives. Allow wizards to apply for special permission to tell Muggle associates outside of their family. Widen the number of government officials who know. Or, as you say, cultural propaganda. Etc. So its not just a sudden shock.

But you'd probably need to get the whole ICW on board to implement such a policy very effectively.
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