Tag Archives: Harry Potter

Magic is the Only Explanation

Sometimes I accidentally delete things, then gleefully exclaim “prior incantato!” as I press ctrl-z. I also like to shout ‘LUMOS’ as I switch on a light switch. Or whisper ‘mishchief managed’ when I exit google maps.

The reality is that a whole of brain science goes into making these things happen. Behind every button or mouse-click many numbers are happening (or, more accurately, two numbers are happening a lot of times). Someone, somewhere, somewhen sat down and figured this stuff all out.

I know this. I know that putting your ear to a shell doesn’t connect you to the sea, and by the same token, that putting your ear to a phone doesn’t physically transport your friend’s voice into your house – or your auditory apparatus to the bathroom they’re pretending not to be in. But holy crap, technology is complicated, and sometimes it’s just awesomely fun to pretend the remote control is a wand*.

I don’t really have a physics and electronics mind. My most recent  technical accomplishment was building a bed on my own despite the very child-friendly instructions putting an aggressive cross through the picture of one amorphous gender-neutral blob; instead prominently displaying a picture of two identical blobs happily standing over a pile of planks. I’m not capable of mitosis, but I set to work, and, after a few hours, and an invisible thumb bruise, I was embarking on a celebratory nap.

Thinly veiled need-to-boast aside, my point is that when it comes to things like music storage, computers, cameras and television, the science doesn’t click. Records hold music based on the different patterns of grooves they have in their surface and using this technology, people have been able to make music from slices of tree trunks. Light shining on what seem to be identical discs can play anything from Belle & Sebastian to ‘The Best of the Kotsuzumi’.

There are so many steps to make everyday things happen, it’s easier to believe it is just magic. Hey, maybe it’s all just one huge conspiracy where secretly no-one actually understands it and wizards are just sneezing on water and that’s where electricity comes from.


*how do I have friends?



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