Michelle Case is a graduate of Batavia High School and is currently
majoring in biomedical engineering at NIU. Her interests include
reading, latch hook, and hiking. She hopes to earn her Master’s degree
and work as a biomedical engineer. “Magical Technology” is important
to Michelle because she has been intrigued with the concept of her
paper for quite some time.
Magic is said to be a way to manipulate nature through supernatural powers. Today, when we hear the word “magic,” we think of spells, incantations, wizards, and dragons. However, while these ideas embodied what the word magic meant many centuries ago, I do not think these concepts apply today. The basic connotation of magic is that it is a mystical power possessed by a few people. I believe that magic is the same as technology, and that in today’s society, technology is magic.
Scientists and engineers use technology to change the world. Wizards or mages used magic to change something in their own world. Therefore, engineers and scientists are like modern-day wizards. For example, during the Middle Ages, a flashlight would have seemed like a magical device. Today, we take flashlights for granted. However, in many fantasy novels, a mage can produce magical light to be able to see in the dark. Engineers and scientists use the same concept. They have manipulated the forces of nature in order to produce something that will serve their purposes. Magic is the art of manipulating nature to produce a phenomenon that would not have occurred naturally. This can be seen in many technological devices, from something as simple as a flashlight to something as complicated as a computer.
The idea of magic and technology as being the same thing is not new. Alan Dean Foster, author of Season of the Spellsong, writes: “Magic’s pretty much the same no matter what world or dimension you exist in. Only the incantations and the formulae are different” (Foster 33). Foster explains that magic is the same as science and math. In the world we live in, scientists use math and science to develop new technology. In a different world, such as in Foster’s novel, these devices are created through magic. Therefore, although the methods are different, the end product is the same. In our world, magic is created through science and math. The product of this magic is technology.
Terry Goodkind writes more about this idea in his novel The Law of Nines:
In many ways technology and magic are interchangeable. You could almost make the case that for all practical purposes they’re really the same thing. … In your world there must be people who understand the complex technology of phones, but I bet that most people using phones don’t really know how they work. (174)
Goodkind is saying that technology is magic because while some people understand how a cell phone works, many people do not. Therefore, to most people, cell phones are like magic. Goodkind further argues, “What’s important … is that people [in our world] use their minds to create this technology in order to accomplish their ends, much like [wizards] where I come from think up ways to create things using magic to accomplish what we need to accomplish” (92). Technology is produced to create things that are needed or wanted by society, just as magic has been looked to in order to help society. For instance, while today’s scientists may not wave a magic wand in order to produce a car, it is still a magical process. Nothing but creative and determined minds could have thought of the unique concept of a car and produced it, and people forget how incredible inventions such as the car were when first invented. Without the ingenious minds of scientists, none of these unique ideas would become reality. Scientists and engineers use the laws of physics and nature to create something as strange and impossible as a car; a car or cell phone could never have existed naturally.
Over time, scientists have continuously managed to manipulate nature to benefit humankind. For example, people invented the water mill in order to manipulate nature for their own benefit. The car is another example. Nature could not produce a car. The specific parts and the gasoline could not have been combined naturally in nature. Without engineers, the car would have been an impossible invention because most technological devices involve complicated processes or programming and many people do not understand how these work. Most technological devices seem like magic because they are. Magic is the art of controlling nature. Technology is, thus, also a form of magic.
However, as scientists have discovered the laws of nature over the years, the world seems to have become a less magical place. Many people state a rational reason why the earth rotates and why the seasons change. In the past, these unexplainable forces would have been rationalized as magic. But just because humans have discovered the secrets of nature does not mean that those secrets are not magical. We have merely come to understand what was once called magic, and now we create even more magical devices because of this understanding.
Magic is the act of manipulating the forces of nature in order to produce the unnatural or an unnatural occurrence. This can be seen in today’s technology, which would not exist if scientists and engineers had not magically produced them. Therefore, engineers and scientists are today’s wizards. The idea of magic and technology being similar is not a new one. It can be seen in novels written by Alan Dean Foster and Terry Goodkind. Magic and technology coincide. Magic takes the form of science and math in this world, and the product of magic is technology. The fact that someone can use a cell phone and communicate with another person miles away is magical, and people should consider it as such.
Foster, Alan Dean. Season of the Spellsong. New York: Nelson Doubleday, 1984. Print.
Goodkind, Terry. The Law of Nines. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2009. Print.