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Thread: Electricity and magic?

  1. #11
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    EDIT: This should be below JoshB's post, #12


    If you've never had even the slightest education in physics then I doubt you'd have any idea how electricity works. I imagine he must have at least some working electrical items, if only a clock or something.
    But wasn't Neil's point exactly that Arthur Weasly doesn't have this education, and has no idea how electricity works? Most people are surrounded by electricity every day and don't understand how it works. Like magic is strange and fascinating and unexplained for us, electricity is for Arthur Weasley.

    Clocks can be mechanical if you wind them up. Also, magic. The Weasley Family Clock is definitely magical.



    Apart from that, you refer to the Quidditch World Cup Campsite as an instance where many wizards were in the same place over a stretch of time. However, this is quite remote, with only the Roberts Family possibly living there – and we don't even know where exactly they usually live. Most of all though, we don't know what kind of electricity they use there, and whether or not it worked during that time. The poor man was constantly being obliviated – do you think he remembers whether his radio worked in the evening?


    Grimmauld Place is shielded from sight – I'm sure that it has some sort of shield that prevents the magic from leaking out, too. Possibly there are Ministry rules – if you want to start putting spells on your house (like the concealment charms in GP, or the household spells in the Burrow), you have to put up an anti-magic-leak shield.

    I don't get the point you made earlier about giants and dragons. I can put my cheese in a plastic bag to keep it from smelling up the fridge, but if I put a mouse in there alongside it, it'll just bite a hole in the bag and get out, probably with the cheese. Magic itself and magical creatures are completely different things...
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  2. #12
    JoshB
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    Quote Originally Posted by Northumbrian View Post
    Hi
    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 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.
    If you've never had even the slightest education in physics then I doubt you'd have any idea how electricity works. I imagine he must have at least some working electrical items, if only a clock or something.

    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.
    They are picked up by taxis in GF11, more info at the Lexicon http://www.hp-lexicon.org/about/books/gf/rg-gf11.html

    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.
    I find it hard to believe that 100,000s of wizards at a camp site for weeks (remember some people had been camping there for longer, H was lucky in getting there so close to the actual cup) would not have a strong affect on the nearby muggles. We have never seen an electronic device at those places because wizards have no need for them, but again the other houses in GP seem to operate fine, despite there being lots of wizards next door using only magic.

    The real thing we're trying to work out is how the magic is stopped from spreading to the outside, which it must be, there's no official canon answer or much consistency in this matter to help.

  3. #13
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    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.
    Can I just point out that in GoF (page 144 and 145, British edition), Mrs Weasley did get Muggle taxi's to take everyone to Kings Cross. I remember this because some Dr Filibusters Fabulous No-Heat, Wet-Start Fireworks go off causing Crookshanks to claw up the drivers leg. (Yes I remember amazingly weird bits of the books =D).

    I can't remember any references in the books about electricity and magic other than what Hermione said about it not working at Hogwarts. Whether this is purely down to the fact that there are so many witches and wizards in one place or just because the two simply don't go together I am not sure.

    Just needed to point that out

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  4. #14
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    Hi

    Alex’s original question was, simply:
    Basically how much magic does it take before a Muggle device won't work?
    She then explained:
    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.
    My (long) answer to that question is;
    1) 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
    2) 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.
    3) 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.
    4) We never see any working item of technology at either The Burrow or Grimmauld Place.
    5) In my opinion, 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.

    The books (and statements from Hermione, who knows such things) seem to bear this out.

    However as I said, 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.

    My short answer is, yes, in my opinion, Alex can get away with this. I’d certainly defend her decision in the circumstances she describes.


    Quote Originally Posted by JoshB View Post
    I imagine he must have at least some working electrical items, if only a clock or something.
    Why? The Weasleys don’t need electricity, and besides, as Kara says:
    Quote Originally Posted by Karaley Dargen View Post
    Clocks can be mechanical if you wind them up. Also, magic. The Weasley Family Clock is definitely magical.
    And you yourself say:
    Quote Originally Posted by JoshB View Post
    We have never seen an electronic device at those places because wizards have no need for them…
    As for the taxis:
    Quote Originally Posted by JoshB View Post
    They are picked up by taxis in GF11, more info at the Lexicon http://www.hp-lexicon.org/about/books/gf/rg-gf11.html
    Quote Originally Posted by crazy717 View Post
    Can I just point out that in GoF (page 144 and 145, British edition), Mrs Weasley did get Muggle taxi's to take everyone to Kings Cross. I remember this because some Dr Filibusters Fabulous No-Heat, Wet-Start Fireworks go off causing Crookshanks to claw up the drivers leg,
    You're both quite right, although this is actually straying a long way from Alex's original question, it does give us something to think about. In fact, Molly riskey going into the village and telephoning for "three Muggle taxis" which is quite astonishing. They drove into the yard, too.

    I am quite certain that we’re coming at this issue from entirely different perspectives. You say:
    Quote Originally Posted by JoshB View Post
    I find it hard to believe that 100,000s of wizards at a camp site for weeks (snip) would not have a strong affect on the nearby muggles. (snip) …but again the other houses in GP seem to operate fine, despite there being lots of wizards next door using only magic.

    The real thing we're trying to work out is how the magic is stopped from spreading to the outside, which it must be, there's no official canon answer or much consistency in this matter to help.
    Are we? I’m not trying to be flippant, but you seem to be working on the assumption that “magic WILL leak” Why?

    Why should the adjacent properties in Grimmauld Place have problems? Why should magic “leak” from one place to another? It’s magic, not radiation.

    My view (and feel free to knock holes in my logic) is that most Wizard properties are (in many different ways) highly magical. Many spells are cast, magical devices used and in most cases the properties are magically hidden (all of these apply to Hogwarts, The Ministry, St Mungo’s, Diagon Alley and most wizard houses). At these places we never see any electronic technology. It is not difficult to make the leap that these are connected, therefore:

    The presence of concentrated magic prevents electronic technology from working.

    I admit that I have no proof of cause and effect. But the previous paragraph is a useful theory and it can be easily tested. All we need to do is find one occasion in canon where an electrical item is shown working in a magical location and the theory fails.

    Of course “concentrated magic” is a very woolly term, but that's deliberate on my part, as it gives authors some leeway. Factors may be: “power” of spells cast, number of spells cast, number of “permanent” spells, number of magical items and devices, number and type of concealment charms, I could go on, but, my motto is "when in doubt, make something up (and be prepared to justify it)".

    And, by the way, finding something hard to believe does not make it untrue. I have that problem all of the time (often about people who manage to get elected to public office).

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  5. #15
    JoshB
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    Why? The Weasleys don’t need electricity, and besides, as Kara says:
    Because Arthur collects electrical and muggle things! We encounter very few wizards who have the slightest interest in muggles, let alone collecting muggle artefacts. He has no need to do it, but he enjoys it and finds it fascinating. I doubt he would not collect some working electrical objects, knowing his interest in them.

    Are we? I’m not trying to be flippant, but you seem to be working on the assumption that “magic WILL leak” Why?

    Why should the adjacent properties in Grimmauld Place have problems? Why should magic “leak” from one place to another? It’s magic, not radiation.
    Fine, then where does the magic stop? Hermione says incredibly clearly in GoF that electrical items won't work - there's simply too much magic around. In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean they would work because there's no magic. The likening of magic to radiation, is, in my view, incredibly accurate. The more sources there are and the more radioactive/strong they are, the more radiation there is the area and the further you have to go to 'escape' it.

    If you say magic shouldn't leak then what makes these places so special? What's stopping it from leaving? The fact that INSIDE those places it is magical shows that it spreads around, as there's not a spell being cast by a person constantly on every square foot yet the place is still magical. I'm fairly sure in HBP Dumbledore can 'feel' the magical enchantments around the locket's protective devices.

    I quickly drew up this diagram to try and explain my point (apologies for the poor quality).


    Essentially the pink blobs are magical spells, whether in the form of wizards casting them or moving staircases, enchantments etc. The grey box indicates the magical place. Firstly, if magic doesn't leak then the entire house wouldn't be magical, and one would be able to use electrical devices in it. Obviously not every single inch can be enchanted.

    You are saying it doesn't leak outside the magical place, but I think it must. What is stopping it from spreading? Nothing!

    The presence of concentrated magic prevents electronic technology from working.
    Yes, that is true and is canon from what Hermy said.

    I admit that I have no proof of cause and effect. But the previous paragraph is a useful theory and it can be easily tested. All we need to do is find one occasion in canon where an electrical item is shown working in a magical location and the theory fails.

    Of course “concentrated magic” is a very woolly term, but that's deliberate on my part, as it gives authors some leeway. Factors may be: “power” of spells cast, number of spells cast, number of “permanent” spells, number of magical items and devices, number and type of concealment charms, I could go on, but, my motto is "when in doubt, make something up (and be prepared to justify it)".

    And, by the way, finding something hard to believe does not make it untrue. I have that problem all of the time (often about people who manage to get elected to public office).
    We're saying exactly the same thing here, what I'm trying to work out is why the magic is only limited to those magical places and why it doesn't spread around.




    I made a second post as I was getting confused doing it all in one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Karaley Dargen View Post
    EDIT: This should be below JoshB's post, #12
    But wasn't Neil's point exactly that Arthur Weasly doesn't have this education, and has no idea how electricity works? Most people are surrounded by electricity every day and don't understand how it works. Like magic is strange and fascinating and unexplained for us, electricity is for Arthur Weasley.

    Clocks can be mechanical if you wind them up. Also, magic. The Weasley Family Clock is definitely magical.
    But he was interested in electricity! No wizard ever has a need for an electrical item, but Arthur collects them. If he wanted to find out how they worked he would want working ones, would he not? We have no evidence that all of Arthur's collection was broken, but there is none to say any of it worked, either.


    Apart from that, you refer to the Quidditch World Cup Campsite as an instance where many wizards were in the same place over a stretch of time. However, this is quite remote, with only the Roberts Family possibly living there – and we don't even know where exactly they usually live. Most of all though, we don't know what kind of electricity they use there, and whether or not it worked during that time. The poor man was constantly being obliviated – do you think he remembers whether his radio worked in the evening?
    He and his family lived there for weeks with wizards all over the place. None of the electric lights would have worked, the fridge wouldn't have worked, the TV wouldn't have worked... unless the items were enchanted by the Ministry (a possible explanation, but no facts to back it up) then the items in his house should of stopped working. We must assume they didn't.

    Grimmauld Place is shielded from sight – I'm sure that it has some sort of shield that prevents the magic from leaking out, too. Possibly there are Ministry rules – if you want to start putting spells on your house (like the concealment charms in GP, or the household spells in the Burrow), you have to put up an anti-magic-leak shield.
    That is what I'm getting at. A spell so powerful as to stop all magic entering and leaving? We know that extra defences have to be put in place to protect the OOTP safe houses: if no magic could enter or leave with a basic anti-magic-leak-shied then this would't be needed.

    I don't get the point you made earlier about giants and dragons. I can put my cheese in a plastic bag to keep it from smelling up the fridge, but if I put a mouse in there alongside it, it'll just bite a hole in the bag and get out, probably with the cheese. Magic itself and magical creatures are completely different things...
    Yes, that is true.
    Last edited by Karaley Dargen; 08-16-2011 at 09:26 PM. Reason: merged your posts

  6. #16
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    Hi

    I think that this discussion is getting rather out of hand, and well beyond the scope of the original question.

    You believe that Arthur has some working electrical objects. In seven books we never see any and it is obvious that Arthur (bless him) has absolutely no idea how Muggle technology works.

    You ask: where does the magic stop?
    This question takes us into the realms of magical theory and there are probably several threads dealing with it.
    But my point was; why should “Magic” obey the inverse square law, or any of the laws of Physics?
    Wizards habitually break the laws of physics. Conservation of mass, conservation of energy, the laws of thermodynamics, gravitational theory, all are meaningless. Objects can be transfigured, moved, heated, illuminated and made to fly by magic.

    You ask: what stops magic from spreading? And, why is it limited to magical places?
    I’m happy with the explanation that magic doesn’t spread because it is limited to magical places.

    -N-

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  7. #17
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    I think your iPod will work just fine in the wizarding house.

    I think it would take quite a lot of magic for a very long time before it even started to affect anything. Hogwarts has been around for hundreds of years, and was likely built by magic. There are spells in its very structure. (i. e. chamber of secrets, Ravenclaw door knocker, suits of armor that move, enchanted ceiling....) Over hundreds of years of constant magic, I imagine the magic has left a sort of residue-- kind of seeped into the castle, making it even more magical. (Who knows-- maybe the staircases didn't use to move, but with all that magic, the castle took on a life of its own) I think the residue kinda zaps anything electrical that gets too close. But the magical residue has built up from hundreds of years of constant magic-- there are probably very few places with as strong a residue as Hogwarts. The Ministry, for example-- we don't know how long it has been where it is, but even if it has been there as long as Hogwarts has been where it is, I don't think it has as thick a residue. The place does seem magical (the lifts, the not-windows, the telephone booth entry,) but it doesn't seem to have anything quite as big as moving staircases, walls that pretend to be doors, and statues that will fight. Hogwarts seems to have almost taken on a life of its own, but the Ministry seems a bit more controlled. And, I imagine that untrained wizards are kinda leaking magic everywhere, and accidentaly letting it out more than trained, practiced adults. I think the spontaneous bursts of magic and first time spells of students probably have more extra magic that doesn't go into a spell and instead goes into the residue than adult magic, which probably has little to no extra magic escaping. I don't think you'd be really able to set up shielding spells against escaped magical residue, or else why aren't there ones on Hogwarts? But if you want to make it work, you probably could.

    On the Quidditch World Cup--
    This whole event, though packed with magic, did not in reality last very long. If I recall correctly, the people who came earliest were what, a couple of months early? And setting up the stadium probably began a couple years before the event. The magical presence in the area, though very prominent, lasted only a couple of years. In comparison to Hogwarts's time spent making magic, a few years is not very much at all. If the magical presence in the area had stayed as strong as it was for one hundred, two hundred years, I think you would have electronics fizzling out all over the place.

    On clocks in the magical world:
    They don't appear to have clocks the way Muggles have clocks. The Weasley clock doesn't even have numbers on it. Dumbledore's watch is said in PS (scene where he drops Harry off at the Dursley's) to be strange and have planets on the edge but no numbers, I think. The watch Harry gets for his seventeenth birthday doesn't have numbers either, I don't think. (It makes me wonder how wizards tell time at all)

    On Mr. Weasley's collection:
    I don't think we ever hear that any of it works. I suspect Mr. Weasley has been trying and trying to make to work, and perhaps forcing it to work with spells every now and then, but whether any of it works is not established. I think the main attraction is that the things can do stuff.

    The Burrow is a very magical building, but I don't think its magical residue would be strong enough to really stop magic from working. It's had what, nine or ten magical people, tops, for under fifty years (guessing here, but I didn't get the impression it was a Wizarding house before Mr. and Mrs. Weasley moved in, nor did I get the impression it was a house Mr. or Mrs. Weasley inherited) So I think if Mr. Weasley tried to make his stuff work, and knew how to do it, he might be able to.

    I think a lot of the reason muggle stuff isn't in magical areas is that wizards don't want, need, or understand electricity. In a few cases, I think the magical residue means electronics can't work in the area, but I think that is rare, a phenomenon found only in places where lots of magic has been cast over a very long period of time.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I think you could get away with an ipod in a wizarding house.

    Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong about anything.

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  8. #18
    JoshB
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    Quote Originally Posted by Northumbrian View Post
    You ask: where does the magic stop?
    This question takes us into the realms of magical theory and there are probably several threads dealing with it.
    But my point was; why should “Magic” obey the inverse square law, or any of the laws of Physics?
    Wizards habitually break the laws of physics. Conservation of mass, conservation of energy, the laws of thermodynamics, gravitational theory, all are meaningless. Objects can be transfigured, moved, heated, illuminated and made to fly by magic.

    You ask: what stops magic from spreading? And, why is it limited to magical places?
    I’m happy with the explanation that magic doesn’t spread because it is limited to magical places.

    -N-
    Those laws are a human's explanation of the world around us. They come from observing and collecting what we know to create simple formulas: the magical world, the world of Harry Potter, has a completely different set of physical laws not accounted for by any real-life physical laws.

    You're missing my point entirely. How do you define a magical place? Magic must *spread* to make the place magical, and then where are the boundaries? If it didn't spread then Hogwarts wouldn't be a magical place, it would be a place composed of magical objects which had no affect on their surroundings, which we know is simply not true.

    Imagine you're in a mine-field. The field is 'mined' but it's possible to navigate through without touching a single mine. This is because the mines have a small set area in which they can operate. If you had a field then full of magical items, instead of mines, it would not be possible to navigate through without being affected by the magic as it spreads. And again, because of this, there are no boundaries that suddenly make it stop from being a magical field and become a normal field.

    I also think this is entirely relevant to the question. It's about electricity and magic, and how magic works and spreads is related to it. Simply closing a thread because it deviates slightly from the OP's question will do no one any good at all. This is a 'reference' desk, to help people discuss and create theories to things regarding the books, it should serve as a resource, not the HP equivalent of Yahoo answers.

  9. #19
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    This thread (link) might be helpful with the iPod question. I believe it discusses the magic-electronics relationship in depth.
    Kinda really hiatus-y at present.
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