MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: How can I get magic powers with a potion?

Date: Wed Sep 20 13:36:37 2000
Posted By: Michael Weibel, Battelle Chemist
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 969321569.Ch

Greetings Joshua.

Thanks for your question. Scientists are people that make observations and categorize them. That is, they see things happen and put those happenings together by things that they have in common. The groups of happenings represent different areas of science, such as chemistry (the study of the interactions of the stuff that makes up "matter" (matter includes air, water, plastic, metals, glass and so forth)) and biology (the study of the processes which support life). I am a Chemist, having spent five years of college studying various areas with an emphasis on Chemistry, and another six years of graduate school studying ONLY Chemistry.

Now, let's put some knowledge to work on your question. You are wondering about magic powers. To answer your question, we have to define exactly what you mean. For example, if I drink a lot of milk and healthy beverages (even Gatorade), as I get older I stay much healthier than people that don't drink healthy drinks (too much soda and junk food can make you very fat, for example). In this case, you see a clear relationship called "cause and effect". It may not be fast, but something CAUSES a change (an EFFECT). Is that magic? probably not, because we can predict that this will happen (from many people's observations). Let's define magic powers as the ability to do something that a normal person can't (alone). This might include the ability to stop bullets, fly, see through things, lift tremedously heavy objects, and so forth.

Let's now define a potion. Let's call a potion a substance (it could be a liquid, but doesn't have to be) that creates a desired result.

Now, think about the "potions" you put into your body... air, food, water. Those all have the EFFECT of keeping you alive. They don't help you fly, or stop bullets. That's because your body was never designed to do these things. Birds are built to fly, bats built to "see" in the dark, and so on. You cannot make a car into an airplane just by putting a different type of gasoline into it.

Many great thinkers have realized this. rather than make people different to do these magic things, they have built devices to help people do these things. Think about the following inventions:

  airplanes (for flying)
  cars (for moving very fast)
  telescopes (for seeing things far away)
  cranes (for lifting very heavy objects)
  x-ray devices (for seeing inside things and people)
  bullet proof vests (for stopping bullets)
Man has realized that he wants to do magic things, but has not learned how to do it with a potion you eat or drink. Man has learned how to build magical devices (some of those listed above) using science which allow him/her to perform magical feats.

When I was your age, I used to read a lot of fantasy books. Ruth Chew was a favorite author, and she wrote about magical things (kind of like the Harry Potter books now). I was always very interested in magic, and wondered how I could make magic happen. It took me a long time to understand this, but science is magic. I hope that you find a way to make magic happen as I have.

Feel free to email me with any additional questions.

Best regards,
Dr. Mike

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