Saturday, March 07, 2009

The myths of the World of Harry Potter

Intermixing myths with science is what we are free to think in the University Scholars Programme. The speaker uses myths as a metaphor to describe nature as physics does. I, however, think that myths can be made into reality not so far in the future. As Arthur C. Clarke said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Let’s take a look on the world of Harry Potter (Rowling, 1999) for instance, and try to take the magic out of it.
Firstly, dragons, fire breathing creatures that can fly, can they really exist? No fossil evidence is available, most likely they are figments of imagination of ancient people who stumbled upon dinosaurs fossils. But wait, if dinosaurs can exist, can we somehow modify them, using the recently new genetic engineering to create dragons? After all, what is life form but encoded information within the DNA? Just change a few genes here and there (provided prefect knowledge of DNA is present), and we can create dragons. All other mystical creatures like centaurs, unicorns, and even giants are then trivial and can be accounted for.
 What about magic wands then? How can technology possibly mimic them? Well, nowadays nearly everything from the television to the laptop are remote controlled, or capable of being remote controlled. And imagine combining all the remotes of the world into one Universal remote kind of like the movie “Click” (Coraci, 2006). Wouldn’t that be like a magic wand? Ok you may argue that only pre-programmed devices can respond to it, but there’s a technology called nanotechnology. Imagine using the remote to control a bunch of small invisible “tamed” nanobots not unlike those in the novel “Prey” (Crichton, 2002) to lift anything when you said, “Wingardium Leviosa” (Rowling, 1999)!
Finally, we’ll tackle the hardest problem of all, time travel! There are actually no physical laws that prevent time travel, contrary to common sense. In fact, from the framework of general relativity, the theory that Einstein is famous for formulating, there’s more than one way to time travel! The most probable way is through wormholes. Although our current technology is far too crude to create a stable wormhole, it is possible to think that advanced civilisations can create “Time-Turners” (Rowling, 1999) is able to generate a mini wormhole from “quantum foam” (Michael S. Morris, 1988) at will and transport the user back in time. Well, back up to the time the mini wormhole was first created anyway.
In short, there are many seemingly impossible myths that can be realised through the creative usage of technologies and this is the irresistible attraction of the future and of science.
Coraci, F. (Director). (2006). Click [Motion Picture].
Crichton, M. (2002). Prey. HarperCollins.
Michael S. Morris, K. S. (1988, June 21). Wormholes, Time Machines, and the Weak Energy Condition. Physical Review Online Archive , pp. 1446-1449.
Rowling, J. (1999). Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. UK: Bloomsbury.

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