By now we’re all familiar with the wonderful wizardry of Harry Potter, and have long past the stage where we were first swept off our feet by the sparkling new broomsticks to head over to our first Quidditch match.
And even though Harry has finally solved all of the riddles that popped up at Hogwart’s and unlocked the mystery of Voldemort and connected the dots across each one of the books in the series, there are still a few questions that remain.
Namely: is there anything we can learn from Harry and Hogwarts when we look with a scientific eye? Or is the magic of JK Rowling just pomp and circumstance to dazzle us without leaving behind any calculated curiosities?
Let’s take a closer look at two of the books to find out.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Despite the introduction of the magical world in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, most of the magic in the first book of the series is related to the setting, and not the heart of the book.
The real magic begins to get going in book two, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, so let’s take a look there.
In particular, let’s look at the mythical creature named Fluffy, who guards the gate to the Chamber of Secrets.
This dog, though he isn’t particularly scientific, is in fact part of legendary tales from ancient Greece and Rome. In those, his name is Cerberus, not Fluffy, and he is a servant of Hades, guarding the gates to the underworld to prevent the dead from escaping.
If you ask me, the parallels with Fluffy are certainly clear.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Another example of magic that’s based on science comes in The Order of the Phoenix.
At the start of the book, Harry is escorted to Hogwarts via the company of other members of the Order, who have all sworn to protect him and fight against Voldemort.
In order to get Harry past the impending assault, the team drinks a potion to instantly look like Harry. Harry has also used this same potion to imitate Draco Malfoy earlier in the series.
There isn’t any hard science here either, but with recent improvements in facial reconstructive technology and plastic surgery, it is increasingly possible to change one’s appearance to look exactly like that of another.
Of course, it isn’t as simple as drinking a swag of potion!
More Magic vs. Science in Hogwarts
Check out this video for more insights into the science of Harry’s magic, plus a sneak peek behind the set of Hogwarts!