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Thread: Electricity and magic?

  1. #1
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    Electricity and magic?

    I know its a fact that Muggle appliances which use electricity don't work in Hogwarts. I can't remember which book this is mentioned in, but I'm sure Hermione says it somewhere. However I thought this was because Hogwarts, and presumably Hogsmeade, had an unusually high concentration of witches and wizards performing magic and therefore in most wizarding homes electrical devices would work. After all, if the Ministry is underneath London, surely the magic used there would affect Muggle devices on the surface?

    Basically how much magic does it take before a Muggle device won't work?

    I want this for a very specific example- I want a character to listen to her ipod whilst staying at a wizard's house. It's his holiday home, so he's not there 24/7 and, even though she's a Pureblood, her ex-girlfriend is a Half-blood who likes Muggle music and has excellent (i.e my sister's) taste in music, so gave my OC an ipod. I think I can get away with this (the year is 2009) but since my beta queried it I just wanted a second/ third or more opinion.

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    Firstly it is Goblet of Fire where it's mentioned, I believe.

    Electrical items still work at the Weasley's even when there are 10s of wizards about. The places around St. Mungo's, the Ministry and Diagon Alley are full with wizards yet the muggle surroundings still function normally. Of course the Hogwarts Express is non-electric, so it still works even though there are hundreds of wizards aboard (but not practicing magic).

    I imagine it would take several hundred wizards at least for things to start malfunctioning and it would probably be dependent upon how much magic is happening; there's very little going on around Diagon Alley compared to Hogwarts, where spells are constantly being cast.



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    I don't think electrical devices don't work at Hogwarts because magic interferes with their function. I think they don't work at Hogwarts because (like Apparition) there is a charm that prevents them from functioning. So basically I think electrical devices could work without a problem in a magical house as long as there's not a charm against them. This is what I believe from what I've gathered from the books. I may be wrong, though.

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    No, Hermy clearly states they don't work because there's too much magic.
    Well, possibly it's that there's so much permanent, powerful magic at Hogwarts - the Anti-Disapparation Jinx and Unplottable-ness and spells to hide it from Muggle eyes and other security spells, covering the entire grounds. Not to mention all the magic in the castle itself: moving staircases, trick staircases, doors that only open on certain days, magical rooms that only open when you pace in front of them desperately wanting them or when you speak a certain word in Parselmouth. That place is filled to bursting with magic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Indigo Cygnus View Post
    I don't think electrical devices don't work at Hogwarts because magic interferes with their function. I think they don't work at Hogwarts because (like Apparition) there is a charm that prevents them from functioning. So basically I think electrical devices could work without a problem in a magical house as long as there's not a charm against them. This is what I believe from what I've gathered from the books. I may be wrong, though.
    No, Hermy clearly states they don't work because there's too much magic. Good theory, but canon contradicts



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    Quote Originally Posted by minnabird View Post
    Well, possibly it's that there's so much permanent, powerful magic at Hogwarts - the Anti-Disapparation Jinx and Unplottable-ness and spells to hide it from Muggle eyes and other security spells, covering the entire grounds. Not to mention all the magic in the castle itself: moving staircases, trick staircases, doors that only open on certain days, magical rooms that only open when you pace in front of them desperately wanting them or when you speak a certain word in Parselmouth. That place is filled to bursting with magic.
    I know Hogwarts is full with magic, I was trying to establish how much magic was needed: as the MoM and St. Mungo's, which have far more powerful magic in place, operate around very busy muggle areas.

    But I don't think the idea that things don't work because a spell has been cast to stop them, is very plausible.



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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshB View Post
    Electrical items still work at the Weasley's even when there are 10s of wizards about. The places around St. Mungo's, the Ministry and Diagon Alley are full with wizards yet the muggle surroundings still function normally. Of course the Hogwarts Express is non-electric, so it still works even though there are hundreds of wizards aboard (but not practicing magic).
    I'm just curious – what electrical items do we see in work at the Weasley home? Since their radio is obviously magical, I wouldn't count that.

    Concerning Muggle surroundings of St Mungo's, the Ministry, and Diagon Alley – I always assumed that there was a sort of shield charm that prevented magic from leaking out of these places. They do seem to be in sort of pocket dimensions (not really, but they are very much hidden from the outside), so I think it's plausible that they'd seal the magic away, too.

    As for the original question, I think you could get away with it, but just to show that you haven't forgotten about potential magic interference, you could have the music player act up occasionally. Maybe there are permanent household spells in the house your OC is staying in, so while the laundry is folding itself, there's this little crackling sound, or it randomly switches to a different playlist mid-song.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karaley Dargen View Post
    I'm just curious – what electrical items do we see in work at the Weasley home? Since their radio is obviously magical, I wouldn't count that.

    Concerning Muggle surroundings of St Mungo's, the Ministry, and Diagon Alley – I always assumed that there was a sort of shield charm that prevented magic from leaking out of these places. They do seem to be in sort of pocket dimensions (not really, but they are very much hidden from the outside), so I think it's plausible that they'd seal the magic away, too.

    As for the original question, I think you could get away with it, but just to show that you haven't forgotten about potential magic interference, you could have the music player act up occasionally. Maybe there are permanent household spells in the house your OC is staying in, so while the laundry is folding itself, there's this little crackling sound, or it randomly switches to a different playlist mid-song.
    Well Arthur's shed if full of electrical things, although objects like the car have obviously been enchanted, he also collects plugs and batteries and I assume they work. Taxi drivers came to pick them up from the Burrow, their cars would have had electric parts. Many witches and wizards live among muggles (we know this because in HBP it says you can protect the muggles on the your street in a Ministry pamphlet), and they all seem to live in peace.

    There were 100,000 spectators at the world cup, but I assume all the things of the campsite owner still worked. I guess they must have used some kind of charm then: I just don't like that idea because the concept of all magical spells being kept in one area and not allowed out seems rather dangerous (there would be a build up of magical energy/power) and as we know some spells can't be blocked - it's impossible. If it was possible to have a charm stop magic from leaving, I'm sure this could be extended to stopping magical creatures, such as giants and dragons, from leaving their homes (caves?) but then the ministry doesn't do that. (We're told by Ron at some point, probably in PS, that dragons being seen create problems for the ministry.)

    I really don't think there's any canon consistency on this matter, but I still think there's a certain number of wizards and after than magic will severely affect things. In OOTP with Harry's guard, and again in DH, there were loads of really powerful wizards and witches, but obviously the street's electrical items continued to work and so on.



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  9. #9
    Amelia_Bones
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    I also have a plot bunny hopping around that involves an electrical item. Since obviously some things do work, like the radio in DH and the car, I figured it would just be charmed to work in the magical world. I'm not sure having a preponderance of magic in one place would be the reason electricity wouldn't work. Perhaps it's the type of spells in place that prevent it.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshB View Post
    Well Arthur's shed if full of electrical things, although objects like the car have obviously been enchanted, he also collects plugs and batteries and I assume they work.
    Interestingly, I assume that they don’t, because Arthur has absolutely no understanding of how they work. Arthur doesn’t even know what electricity is
    'They run off eckeltricity, do they?' he said knowledgeably. 'Ah yes. I can see the plugs. I collect plugs.'
    These things fascinate Arthur because he knows that Muggles can do wonderful things with eckeltricity. My theory is that Arthur collects of plugs and (probably flat) batteries because he knows that without them, “eckeltrical” things don’t work. He wants to know why.

    Quote Originally Posted by JoshB View Post
    Taxi drivers came to pick them up from the Burrow, their cars would have had electric parts.
    The only time that happened (unless my memory is failing) was in PoA, and they were Ministry cars. Those cars (from the way they squeezed and slid their way through the traffic) were obviously magical. Arthur’s Ford Anglia certainly required neither petrol nor batteries to work.

    Quote Originally Posted by Amelia_Bones View Post
    … Since obviously some things do work, like the radio in DH and the car…
    The Weasleys own a radio, which is tuned to the Wizarding Wireless Network and in DH Ron has a portable radio which he tunes in to listen to Potterwatch (he tunes it by tapping it with his wand and muttering possible passwords). But Ron’s “radio”, like the Weasley’s “wireless” is not really a radio. It uses magic to pick up speech which has been broadcast magically. I’m struggling to find the reference, but I’m certain that (on her website) JKR said that Wizard wirelesses work by magic. I’ll keep looking for the exact quote. The magical community (it seems) occasionally steals ideas from Muggles (like the radio) but, because they don’t understand the technology, they simply enchant items to function in a similar way. Another example is Wizard cameras. They aren’t digital, they use a mechanical process and the film within the camera must be developed magically.

    Having a family of wizards living next door, or visiting, (or even having a young wizard living in a house full of Muggles) won’t affect Muggle technology; that’s obvious from the books. Even a huge influx of Wizards (as at the Quidditch World Cup) for a short time (several days) does not seem to have an effect. But a family like the Weasleys, who use magic for everything from washing dishes to holding their house up will (it seems to me) create some sort of field which prevents complex electronic technology from working. We never see any working item of technology at either The Burrow or Grimmauld Place.

    The bottom line (in my opinion) is that, in areas where a large amount of magic is used for a long period of time, Muggle technology simply will not work. This covers everywhere from inside the Ministry, Hogwarts and Diagon Alley, right down to individual houses, places like The Burrow and 12 Grimmauld Place.

    Under no circumstances would Ginny be listening to Justin Bieber on her iPod in her bedroom in The Burrow (yes, I’ve just had an unfortunate fanfic experience!).

    However (and this, to me, is the get-out), a single Muggle-born witch with a flat in Muggle London who chooses to use technology rather than magic in her home would not have any problems, provided that she isn’t constantly casting spells in the place. However, if she tried to hide the place from Muggles, she would have problems. I’ve given this a lot of thought (particularly for my story “Strangers at Drakeshaugh”) and I’ve decided that the Potters use of magic will effectively turn their new home into a magical area.

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