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Thread: Magical Interference with Electronics

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  1. #1
    Seventh Year Ravenclaw
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    Magical Interference with Electronics

    We know from the books that magic interferes with electronics, but what is not explained is what kind of devices are affected and the range at which magic can affect electronics.

    The first question: Does magic interfere with anything that uses electricity, or only more advanced gadgets with microchips and the like?

    Now, I don't expect a mobile phone or a digital camera to work in Hogwarts, but what about simple electronic devices that do no "thinking"? Could a torch (flashlight) work in Hogwarts or Diagon Alley? What about a car engine, since it still needs electrical shocks from spark plugs to detonate the fuel-air mixture in each cylinder?

    We know that lightning still occurs around Hogwarts, so magic and electricity should not be mutually exclusive. This leads me to believe that very simple electronics should still work fine. What does everyone else think?

    And question two: At what distance does magic start messing with electronics?

    Canon seems to contradict itself when it comes to the range at which magic messes with electricity. Hogwarts, which has a high concentration of magic, supposedly makes electronic gadgets go haywire anywhere within the grounds. Yet the similarly very magical Diagon Alley is hidden right in the middle of London! If magic interferes with electronics, then shouldn't all of the telephones and televisions, and even cars not work in the adjacent areas? Since there is no evidence for this, do we then assume that electronics have to be within an absurdly close distance of even ultra-concentrated magic to start malfunctioning?

    Tim the Enchanter

  2. #2
    Inverarity
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    You could always hypothesize that Diagon Alley has been "shielded" by some sort of magic containment spell, and maybe the immediate area is notorious for occasional inexplicable brownouts or malfunctioning electronics.

    I think that flashlights and other battery-operated devices are just too useful for wizards to never use them if they were available, so magic likely drains or overcharges batteries, causing the device to die or burn out.

    On the other hand, wizards walk among Muggles sometimes, and their wands don't cause electronics to go haywire in their wake.

    Basically, the incompatibility of magic and technology follows the Rule of Drama: it works in whatever way is appropriate for the story.

  3. #3
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    Does magic interfere with anything that uses electricity, or only more advanced gadgets with microchips and the like?I think so. If lightbulbs or anything like that would work in hogwarts, they would probably have them. I suspect that cars used by wizards have some sort of magic thing that automatically acts as the spark pilugs or takes away the need for them or something like that. I think that something like lightning, which is natural, would not be affected, whereas something like a lightbulb is technology that is not found in nature, would. After all, people have a small amount of electrical current in their nervous systems, carrying signals to their muscles, so if all electricity were affected, nobody would be alive in Hogwarts.

    At what distance does magic start messing with electronics? I think it depends on the amount of magic used in the area, how often it is used, and the strength of it. Hogwarts, for example, has lots and lots of spells being used every day as well as a magical residue that I imagine would build up as a result of Hogwarts having been around for so long, whereas a wand in someone's pocket is probably not actively performing magic, so does not send out what I imagine would be like a magnetic field that would interfere with electronics. Like Inverarity said, I think Diagon Alley is probably shielded in some way. I suspect Hogwarts cannot be shielded simply because it has such a strong magical "field". The area around both Hogwarts and Diagon Alley probably has trouble with electronics, because I suspect that even if Diagon Alley has a shield, it is not going to be able to catch everything. With wands, becuase they are usually inactive when in someone's pocket, they probably have little or no magical field. I think, though, if a muggleborn had, say, a cell phone in her pocket and then put a wand she had just used to cast a powerful spell in the same pocket, the cell phone would probably die.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by msk8
    I think that something like lightning, which is natural, would not be affected, whereas something like a lightbulb is technology that is not found in nature, would. After all, people have a small amount of electrical current in their nervous systems, carrying signals to their muscles, so if all electricity were affected, nobody would be alive in Hogwarts.
    How and why would magic distinguish between "natural" electricity and "technological" electricity? How will it know the difference? Electricity is the same whether its in a lightning strike or if its coursing through copper wires. Could magic not actually affect electricity, but rather conductors?

    Tim the Enchanter

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    Can I just mention that I think the fact that Hogwarts interferes with electronics may have something to do with all the protections on it, a long-lasting and powerful magic that coats the whole grounds. So probably electronics don't work within the boundaries of the protections but outside - say in Hogsmeade - they would work just fine, despite the fact that both are magical places.

    That's what I always assumed, anyway...

  6. #6
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    Can Hogwarts be spotted by spy satellite?

    We know that the enchantments around Hogwarts interfere with electronics. We also know that the school is enchanted to appear like a ruin to Muggles from the outside.

    But will Muggle spy satellites be able to see Hogwarts for what it is?

    We know that the range of electro-magical interference is limited, as are Muggle-repelling charms. I highly doubt whatever charms Hogwarts castle might have cannot possibly extend into space. So, Muggle spy satellites would still work, as there will be no magical interference.

    Plus, I believe they will still be able to see the castle in perfect clarity, and here's my reasoning. Whatever spells Hogwarts has apparently fiddles with the minds of Muggles, making them see a ruin instead of a fully-functioning magical school. A spy satellite, on the other hand, is essentially a camera mounted in space, and doesn't have a brain that can be fooled. And since the enchantments on Hogwarts are likely to be hundreds of years old, they probably haven't been upgraded to counter such high-altitude surveillance.

    Agree? Disagree? Comments?

    Tim the Enchanter

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