Magic in the Muggle World: Is Technology Finally Catching Up?
The Harry Potter fan’s plight for over 20 years has been the inability to step inside the wizarding world themselves. Even after seven books and eight movies, it seems that fans are cursed to forever be on the outside looking in on our favorite characters living out our dreams.
Could such a curse be irreversible? Whenever I ponder the possibility of magic ever existing in the real world, I consider the inventions of the 20th century alone – the airplane, the automobile, the television, each of which once seemed impossible. Even back then, it appeared that technology was at its peak. Likewise, in modern times, it seems that the only thing that hasn’t been invented is supernatural powers, like those in the Harry Potter series. Could scientists someday create a means to perform magic?
One replica of a Potter artifact that sometimes appears in the news is the invisibility cloak. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley recently developed a microscopic invisibility cloak that could potentially be scaled to a larger size, just like the one Harry wears. The cloak is made from “gold nanoantennas and mirrors” and would conceal whatever it covers. If the invisibility cloak, considered the most valuable magical object in “The Tale of the Three Brothers,” can be replicated in real life, I have confidence that other wizarding world objects can be invented as well.
For example, the flying car seems to be the perfect next step for the Muggle world – it’s something that is within the realm of our current technology. While not commonplace for wizards, they are a staple in the Potter books, particularly Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It’s surprising to me that there is so little publicity being given to flying car research projects. California start-up Kitty Hawk has manufactured prototypes for flying cars that could be used by individuals. Those involved in the project seem to have full confidence that someday, flying cars could become the norm.
Even Muggle “spellcasting” could potentially have a place in our world. Of course, it’s improbable that we’ll be heading to Ollivanders or going to Hogwarts any time soon, but the effects of certain spells taught at Hogwarts are becoming more and more possible as technology progresses. Scientists have created chemicals that erase unpleasant memories from a person’s mind – a breakthrough strikingly similar to a Memory Charm or Swooping Evil venom. In fact, the chemical may even benefit non-Muggles like Ron Weasley by erasing their fear of spiders – something we never saw in the series. It could potentially be used to treat patients with PTSD or different phobias.
How many Potter fans would love to have a real-life wizard duel? Probably fewer than you’d think, especially if they’ve seen the latest “firebending” technology, punch-activated flamethrowers, which resemble pyrokinesis in Avatar: The Last Airbender and the beloved Harry Potter series. The downside? This technology could be lethal, just like duels in the Potter books. We’re a long way from being able to speak the word Incendio and conjure flames, but scientists are beginning to manufacture tools that resemble wizarding spells. If humans can manipulate a fuel chamber and valve to produce streams of fire out of a glove, who’s to say there’s no magic in the future?
Of course, Muggles are nowhere near achieving the feats performed by wizards every day. Mere mortals will very likely will never reach the level of J.K. Rowling’s imagination. But as technology progresses, the world we know is looking more and more like the world that Harry Potter once discovered.