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Magic and technology.... how indiscernible are they?

mark-t (151149) writes | about a year and a half ago

User Journal 1

Clarke's third law suggests that any sufficiently advanced technology would be indistinguishable from magic.

The reverse might also appear to be true... that magic would be indistinguishable from a sufficienlty advanced technology.

Clarke's third law suggests that any sufficiently advanced technology would be indistinguishable from magic.

The reverse might also appear to be true... that magic would be indistinguishable from a sufficienlty advanced technology.

So to that end, I've wanted to speculate on the manner of magic... I mean real magic. Is there anything imaginable that magic might be able to do, which could not be duplicated by any imaginable technology? In particular, if hypothetically magic could really exist, is there any possible way that we could really recognize it as such, or could we always fall back on the reverse of Clarke's Law, and assume that there must some sophisticated technology behind any otherwise apparent "magical" event? Is there anything, however inconceivable such a thing might be, that one could not possibly dismiss as a function of some higher technology, and genuinely be irrefutably compelled to acknowledge a magical origin?

What about hearing sound in space, for example? No atmosphere would mean that it's impossible for sound to travel in space... would the ability to hear the sound of something that happened where there was no atmosphere mean magic must be involved, or could some phenomenon that we can imagine that is consistent with the laws of physics be at work in such a case to produce that effect?

Here's another one to ponder: as a person speaks, everyone who can hear this person's voice, and without any additional technological apparatus, hears the voice in their own original language. Telepathy might be one possibility, but what if the person was recorded with conventional recording technology, and the audio on playback exibited the same phenonmenon? Even if the recording is further duplicated, the duplicates also exhibit the characteristic of anyone who listens to it being able to understand it.Some form of telepathy on the part of the speaker could probably be ruled out at this point, since the original speaker is not present, or necessarily even aware of evveryone who is listening. What hypothetical technology could such a speaker employ that might have those effects? Would that be magic?

I'm going to be adding to the article as time goes on, but anyone who reads my rantings is welcome to comment below.

1 comment

Paradox (1)

TuringTest (533084) | about a year and a half ago | (#41332037)

Magic is a form of speech, the literal transliteration of thoughts into the real world; and thought is well known to create unsolvable paradoxes. With magic, you could create a barber who shaves those who don't shave themselves, and ask him to shave in the morning.

The examples you give are still technological effects that could be accomplished through physical gadgets. But magic *could* be inconsistent with the laws of physics. You could put two pigeons plus another two pigeons into a hat, and get not four but one rabbit out from it.

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