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The Science of Fiction

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					 The Science of
     Fiction
 Scientific Aspects of
Magic in Harry Potter's
         World
Foundations of
Science
Natural Cause: The universe
behaves in a predictable way
under “rules” that can be
determined through
observation and
experimentation.
Uniformity: The “rules” are
constant through space and
time.
Foundations of
Science
Parsimony: All other things
being equal, the simplest
explanation is the best.
Efficient Cause (not Final
Cause)
Objectivity
Scientific “Method”
Observation   Theorize
Question      Publish
Hypothesize   Repeat (as
Test &        necessary)
Observe
Publish
Repeat (as
necessary)
Assessing Science in
Fiction
Within the world of the work
  are there rules?
  are they applied consistently?
In relation to the real world
  is there existing science or
  technology like this?
  is this something new?
  • can it be investigated?
Harry Potter
Author’s World
  magical ability is a genetic trait
  magic follows a set of natural
  laws
  magic can be investigated
  magic technology requires precise
  application
  magic is hidden from muggle
  science
Harry Potter
Relation to our world
  hidden from & ignored by muggles
   • would we notice?
  issues
   • what are the “laws”?
   • what are the “forces” involved?
   • how does it interact with and effect what
     we already know?
       gravity, electro-magnetics, atomic forces,
        thermodynamics, conservation of matter
Harry Potter
 Types of Magic    Methodologies
  Kinetic           Wand
  Transformative    Incantation
  Psychic           Potions &
  Creatures         Powders
                    Alchemy
                    Charmed
                    Objects
                    Astrology
Harry Potter
Kinetic
  Flight, Levitation, Unlocking spell
Transformative
  Transfiguration, Platform 9¾,
  Invisibility, Diagon Alley, Sorcerer’s
  Stone, Photographs, Apparation
Psychic & Biological
  Memory charm, Sorting Hat, Mirror of
  Erised, Divination, Binding Spells
Creatures
  Ghosts, Goblins, Dragons, Fluffy, etc.
   Scientific
Investigation
 Physics
   Thermodynamics: What is the source
   of magical energy?
   Conservation of Matter: What happens
   to matter when an object is
   transformed?
   Gravity: How is gravity counteracted?
   Light: How does light interact with
   invisible objects
   Astronomy: Why & how do the stars
   and planets impact magical abilities?
   Scientific
Investigation
 Chemistry
   What is the chemical composition of a
   potion?
   Can potions be synthesized?
   How does the Sorcerer's Stone work?
 Biology
   Why are some humans capable of
   magic?
   • Genetic markers
   • Anatomy and physiology
   What happens when a person is
Looking at Fiction
 Is the author working in our world or a
 fictional one?
 Are there rules?
 Are they applied consistently?
 Reading:
   “Science of…” books
   Committee for the Scientific Investigation of
   Claims of the Paranormal

				
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