The Science of magic

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GhostNinja
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The Science of magic

Postby GhostNinja » Wed Oct 14, 2015 8:59 am UTC

World building atm to set my stories in, using history as reference, these stories are set in relative to earth's history in the early medieval era, late 19th-early mid 20th century, a small jump past our present times and the future. Comparatively speaking my fictional world history somewhat resemble ours with a twist, the existence of mages with a solid grounding in science, especially concerning the conservation of energy and matter and reality relative to the era (none of that happy go lucky fantasy stuff).

The premise of the mages are that as a natural progression of human evolution individuals with the "mage" gene (probaly recessive and/or activates only under the right biological conditions) appear developing a new (effectively a black box) part of the brain that allows them to manipulate energy and matter. They do not "replace" the early homo sapiens by sheer superiority because of the restrictions I put on them for the sake of plot, world balance and to prevent them from becoming untouchable omnipotent beings. The point of this thread is that I want know if my restrictions have loophole or unforseen consequences that I haven't thought of that would make them overpowered or cause some weirdness to happen. Keep in mind these guys are around from cave men times to the modern era with the related sciences and technology.
These restrictions or rules are at the moment as follows:

1.Mages can not manipulate energies and matter that they do not understand,for example they cannot turn lead into gold without an understanding of atomic theory (and having the energy to do so) but even the most basic and uneducated mage can stop a thrown object mid air as Newtonian physics is an easily understood thing even to a child.And yes mages have assisted with the development science by actually testing out theories.

2.Mages can not manipulate energies and matter that they can not perceive (mainly see), Example they cannot manipulate a trajectory of arrow without seeing it but they can manipulate the flow of electricity if they have confirmed its presence by being shocked by it or having a current to flow through them.Amended (while writing this) Mages can manipulate energy and matter that they cannot perceive by acting like it is there. Think like waving an invisible hand around trying to catch a ball with your eyes closed, a mage can enlarge the "hand" to increase the chance of interception but the energy requirments increases exponentially the larger the "hand" or net is, effectively sufficently powerful mages can create general purpose "shields".

3.There is an inherent energy limit that mages can absorb, use and store, I refer to this as flow and capacity. Capacity refers to the energy that a mage can hold on to without needing to release it, this capacity is inherently linked to their actual body energy reserves so if a mage uses all his or her energy or "magic" they are probably physically exhausted and feeling hungry. The energy stored can be built up by being absorb (with rule 1 in mind) from the outside or naturally from the food the mage eats but can be sapped away by malnutrition and starvation. A mage with a large energy capacity does not mean he or she is powerful it just means they can store a lot of energy, which leads to flow. Flow is the actual "magical strength" of a mage and is the amount energy that a mage can absorb, hold on to temporarily, release and use to achieve tasks. Flow is not linked to capacity and both vary from mage to mage for example a mage with a large capacity but low flow means that he or she is only strong enough to telekineticly lift a pebble but due to a large energy reserve can it keep floating for a long time, on the other hand a mage with large flow but low capacity can lift a boulder but not for long on their own internal energy reserve. The limits of flow and capacity are largely genetic but can be expanded to a certain limit by training and practice.

When a mage exceeds his or her flow or capacity by this results in a form of necrosis (needs a better name), aka "overload", of the nervous system and the brain, how much damage is done and whether it is permanent or temporary and even resulting in death depends on how much the limit has be exceeded. The noticeable symptoms of "overload" often starts with the loss of feeling in the finger tips, gradually the mages loses their senses bit by bit, generally sight and or hearing being the last then brain damage and motor function impairment occurs often permanent, although there has been cases of motor function and brain damage occurring before the mage loses all their senses.Generally these symptoms occur in more rapid succession dependant by how much the limit has been exceeded.


So those are the so call three rules and if you guys have any question to ask feel free to do so I don't mind giving details (to a certain limit) and in part you will probably help me flesh out details of the world and for me get a opinion other then my own.
Last edited by GhostNinja on Thu Oct 15, 2015 1:04 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Science of magic

Postby Neil_Boekend » Wed Oct 14, 2015 9:56 am UTC

First off: it sounds like a great basis. The better stories always have a good mechanic for their magic. A mechanic that imposes limitations and opportunities.
Most of the exploits of the system will be limited, due to the limitations you posted. However, in a book I read there were similar limits and it caused specific problems and solutions.
If the mage simply gives a command like "lift this boulder 2 meters" and another mage gives the command "Keep that boulder where it is" that specific system of magic would try to do both, draining energy from both mages. The mage that dies from exhaustion first looses, since they both can't "uncommand" it. They had to place limitations and stuff to be sure they would survive casting the spell if another magic user started interfering. For example "Lift this boulder with a force of 3000N for 10 seconds or until it is 2 meters high". Will this risk be present in your system or do the magic users have to keep the energy valve open manually, so to speak, allowing them to stop it when they get tired?

Also, there was a trick there where work that costed lost of work but not actually that much energy was cheaply done with magic (embroidery for example). This was an awesome source of income.
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Re: The Science of magic

Postby GhostNinja » Wed Oct 14, 2015 2:09 pm UTC

Neil_Boekend wrote:If the mage simply gives a command like "lift this boulder 2 meters" and another mage gives the command "Keep that boulder where it is" that specific system of magic would try to do both, draining energy from both mages. The mage that dies from exhaustion first looses, since they both can't "uncommand" it. They had to place limitations and stuff to be sure they would survive casting the spell if another magic user started interfering. For example "Lift this boulder with a force of 3000N for 10 seconds or until it is 2 meters high". Will this risk be present in your system or do the magic users have to keep the energy valve open manually, so to speak, allowing them to stop it when they get tired?


In short yes. Well I imagine my magic system to be much more "instinctive" and less calculated especially early on, magic is for mages are almost a natural extension of their bodies. So in your example if a mage wants to lift the boulder it would be like if a non magical person wanted to do so, like the person the mage does not know the weight of the boulder thus the energy required to lift it. Both will try the person will find that he does not have the physical strength likewise when the mage tries he will realise by "feel", like the person, that he is reaching his magical strength limit aka flow or is exhausting their energy reserves and stop before surpassing it. The mage can not cast a spell or have a sort of programmed magic because at present there is no set system, mechanics or science in my world to do something like that.

Back to the original problem applying my logic, assuming infinite energy reserves, if mage A wants to lift the boulder and mage B wants to ground it, it comes down if Mage A has the magic "flow" or strength to not only lift the boulder but also surpass the force that that Mage B exerting down on it. If Mage A total force applied is greater then total weight of the boulder plus the force that Mage B exerting the boulder will levitate (though not for long dependant on mage A energy reserves alone), if less it will not. If it was cardboard box it would be crushed by the probably ridiculous amount of force being exert on it and if mage B wants to be a jerk he can absorb energy mage A is exerting on the boulder and turn it around and mage A is probably doing the same it comes down to who has more magical flow (strength).
Neither are committed to actually following through said task through, both can stop if they feel they are reaching their limits of strength, like if 2 people were physically doing it. That said mage fights are not simply about who is stronger or has more endurance like real fights people are smart about it and magic is only an limited but powerful tool/weapon.As it is important to use techniques, tactics, taking advantage of the environment and outsmarting and witting your opponents. Traits useful for melee combat would be useful to combat mages like reflex and agility,for example it is probably more safer to physically dodge a thrown spear rather then concentrating to absorb the kinetic energy of the spear stopping it in mid air and even absorbing the gravitational potential energy as it falls to the ground, though it is net energy negative it's quicker to produce an opposing force to stop the spear or to deflect it or again just dodge it. A tactic used against mages is to take advantage of their blind spots and surprise attack them, use of darkness, smoke and sand to blind mages are one of many other things mages and non mages alike also use against mages.

Also, there was a trick there where work that costed lost of work but not actually that much energy was cheaply done with magic (embroidery for example). This was an awesome source of income.

Yes mages of this world would have niche for work where hands human hands are unsuitable or just inefficient though that said mages doing embroidery would have to actually have to concentrate to do said task (because of the lack of said programed magic) until at least they get use to it like muscle memory (magic memory?) and even then they probably still need to keep an eye on the task. Though the military value of mages will not be ignored, for example one of my characters is a mage conscript in the medieval Jutar army (a nomadic steppe civilisation modeled after the mongols) and the Zetians (modeled after the medieval Chinese) in effect has a breeding tradition or program where houses and clans families sole purpose is to produce mages to become soldiers, assassins and guards for the Imperial family.

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Re: The Science of magic

Postby Copper Bezel » Wed Oct 14, 2015 2:46 pm UTC

Yeah, that makes sense. If they're visualizing invisible things to be able to interact with them like you said in the first post, then there's an intuitive level to this, and the scenario with the boulder would just be a struggle between opposing forces. Potentially with weird conservation of momentum effects as discussed in the other thread.

I think it's a fantastic basis. You can make the magic interesting and exciting but predictable enough that we understand the rules and consequences of the game being played enough to follow it.

I agree that someone who can strangle anyone to death as long as they have line of sight would make a better than average assassin, but definitely think about these trade and industrial roles they might take on. Those are going to be extremely powerful forces in shaping how this society works.
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Re: The Science of magic

Postby GhostNinja » Thu Oct 15, 2015 1:29 am UTC

yeah the industrial and scientific value of these mages are obvious and I admit I did get carried away with imagining military and covert combat implications but the mages in my world are not as common as I think you imagine them to be.

Well first off I want mages to be somewhat rare and a minority world and plot wise (haven't really thought of a good reason why though other then "recessive genes") because I think in a way mages will assist with scientific progress and industrial production probably having an accelerated rate of progress compared to our time the problem is if there are too many mages it might actually retard technological development. Think it as this if mages were really common, what is the point of developing guns if the king or emperor can simply hire a couple thousand mages to fight for him, why go to effort of developing a complex crane system to build your big church where you hire a team of mages to literally do the heavy lifting for you and what's the point of loom or the sewing machine where you can get a bunch of mages to do it, its like in a way how slavery retard our technological progress after all why develop and make a harvester where it's cheaper to get bunch slaves to harvest the crops for you.
Though there are some areas science and technology will progress regardless of the mages like chemistry and metallurgy but such imbalance in progress and the presence of that many mages would create such a divergent history compared to our own that I would have to essentially build a pure fantasy world from the ground up with no historical precedents and examples to build from. The reason I don't want to do this is partly out of laziness, as I would get buried in working out details of the world that would be interesting but in the end, novel and mostly irrelevant to the plot. Furthermore it is harder create civilisations, societies and governments that would seem "realistic" for example in my fictional world (needs a name) there are the Jutars who in effect a mutated copy of the our Mongols. On the Mongols I can do research on culture, values and various other things and translate it across to my fictional world with a twist or two as the Jutars. Where if the tribal population of the Jutars is largely mage there would be a huge diffence, they would not need to use or rely on their famous composite bow as much, they would value intelligent strong mages over physically tough enduring and skilled individuals again which the steppe tribal people are famous for and in turn to develop these mages they probably require a education system to teach high level magics to compete with other societies and so on this bogs me down to pure world building and when the plot starts taking place on a geopolitical scale where different groups and people are interacting it's hard to extrapolate what could and would happen in a realistic down to earth matter. In contrast if mages were a small minority in the Jutars tribe although they would be still pivotal but, not to the point where it warps the society and culture of the Jutars to the point that they bear little resemblance to their inspirational fore-bearers, since my Jutars do resemble the Mongols I can look back to their history and see how they interacted with other people like the Chinese and translate it across with the plausible variations with the mages being important but not hugely influential.

That being said I realise as my narratives progress down the eras its world will become more divergent to our own. The existence of mages even as a small number will indeed be a powerful force in shaping this world in many ways including socially, a theme in some of my stories is how the societies of the different eras deals with people who are different, inherently dangerous and biological speaking better then the standard human. These mages through the histories will be used, revered, persecuted, be heroes, be experimented on, end wars, start wars, be the leaders in progress, be left behind by progress, be slaves and be the elite rulers but their exsistence will not be the sole centre of my stories. Edit They will be in some

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Re: The Science of magic

Postby tomandlu » Thu Oct 15, 2015 10:39 am UTC

In some ways, although your magic rules are more grounded in reality, it sounds a similar premise to "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell", but on a wider scale.

I'm always fascinated by how authors handle magic. Most settle for the a-wizard-did-it approach (Harry Potter, Discworld (?)), but I find it more satisfying when their are at least some governing rules. My favourite is Ursula Guin in the Earthsea books: magic is cast using the language of dragons, which permits no lies. As a consequence, if a magician says "I am an eagle" in dragonish, the universe will make him a bird, rather than allow a lie to be spoken (becoming a bird is merely highly improbably; lying in dragonish is impossible).

The other thing your system reminds me of is Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, where Harry is able to extend the use of magic because he has a better understanding of modern physics than the wizarding world.

Anyway, good luck and please keep us updated - it sounds a fascinating project. My only advice is write something every day (aim for at least 3 pages), keep a notebook handy at all times, and make sure you know your plot from beginning to end before you start (relying on "oh, I'll think of something by the time I get to that bit" is fatal). Also, take a close, technical look at a variety of fiction books - when should paragraph breaks be inserted? How is speech punctuated, etc.? Personally, I'd recommend that you write the first draft long-hand, but that's largely personal taste. I've found that typing directly to a PC makes the temptation to be constantly editing overwhelming, and slows me down and breaks my flow.
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Re: The Science of magic

Postby Neil_Boekend » Thu Oct 15, 2015 1:42 pm UTC

GhostNinja wrote:(haven't really thought of a good reason why though other then "recessive genes")

Recessive genes combined with infertility? As in a mage cannot become mother or father, for example because the gene also prevents the forming of the right hormones to have functioning sex organs? The techniques to administer such hormones are not old enough to have significant effect on the muggle/wizard balance.
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Re: The Science of magic

Postby Whizbang » Thu Oct 15, 2015 1:51 pm UTC

Robert Jordan, in The Wheel of Time, tied the magic to schizophrenia. In our modern age, where magic is sealed off, people with the genetic disposition for magic go schizophrenic. When the ages turn and magic again is accessible, these people could potentially learn to use the magic (or go schizophrenic and die if they don't). So, he had a nice, measured rate (% of people with magic/schizophrenia) to leverage, as well as some realistic consequences and costs to the magic.

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Re: The Science of magic

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Oct 15, 2015 2:40 pm UTC

You might be interested in Name of the Winds magical systems.

Personally, I think magic that fits within the confines of reality is fine and good, but kind of drab. Being able to generate large amounts of energy and blast a fireball at your opponent is neat, but kind of rote. The interesting stuff is in the execution, and most importantly, in the rule breaking. Though, of course, tying your magical system to reality sort of seems like a whiff to me. I'm not interested in a mage that understands Newtonian physics or atomic theory, I'm interested in Korra's connection to the spirit world and her mastery over the bending styles.
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Re: The Science of magic

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu Oct 15, 2015 4:39 pm UTC

Maybe, but I also think of Avatar as the gold standard for making "magic" a consistent part of a fantasy society. In the Last Airbender era, the economies of the four Nations are built around their respective benders - the Fire Nation has become a powerful threat because of the invention of industry, the Earth Nation has great, impenetrable cities with aqueducts and transportation and so on and the biggest, happiest population, only the Water Tribes can live at the poles, etc. In the Korra era, the implications of all these bending forms in a rising industrial society shape what that society looks like - the special forms discovered or uncovered in Airbender like lightning and metal bending become niche specializations that make particular industries possible, while other technologies are being developed to directly compete with what benders can do. So you end up with things like the powered suits developed as weapons against benders being used by the Earth kingdom and driven by metalbenders....

It's not what makes the story good at all, and frankly, in Korra's case ... eh. But the series are pretty damned open to following these things to the logical conclusions and then exploring the repercussions.

I really think a really solid fantasy epic takes both parts.
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Re: The Science of magic

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Oct 15, 2015 4:57 pm UTC

Valid point, but I felt one of the issues Korra faced at first was the way it sort of defanged Bending by making it as rote as it was. Everyone who watched TLA wondered why the Fire Nation didn't have lightening benders shooting bolts into capacitors, but then actually seeing that happen in Korra removed all of the mystery and danger and wonder that is lightening bending, so much so in fact, I felt, that Mako's exhaustion and exasperation at being a line worker who does little more than separate cosmic/spiritual energy into conductive spires so people can enjoy modern living, is mirrored by the viewer. We mastered the necessary forms so we could do this shit?

One of the driving themes of LotR is how the ages of magic and wonder are coming to a close, and how while great evil was vanquished with Saurons defeat, so too did some of the strength of the crafts of the past depart as well. I think Korra did a good job underlining this sentiment, with the need of the Avatar being questioned, and indeed, not always evident.

Ultimately, I think a story is only as good as the telling, and there's no right or wrong way to do this, but all of these sci-fi techs or fantasy magics should really only serve to change something we take for granted in the world around us, and then explore how that change affects people. The coolest magic system in the world is useless and irrelevant if there's a boring story told through it.
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Re: The Science of magic

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu Oct 15, 2015 6:17 pm UTC

True, Mako's bit was pretty SMBC Superman, and intentionally so, but I think things were fudged in the opposite direction to get it there. (If you have a skill that only a tiny fraction of the population can perform and further requires intensive training, then that skill is by definition skilled labor, not line work, and will be treated as such.) I'd agree in general that Korra generally demystified and made rote far too much of its magic, but it often didn't feel entirely organic to the setting when it did.

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That damn spirit vine nuke. = /
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Re: The Science of magic

Postby GhostNinja » Sat Oct 17, 2015 9:14 am UTC

Neil_Boekend wrote:
GhostNinja wrote:(haven't really thought of a good reason why though other then "recessive genes")

Recessive genes combined with infertility? As in a mage cannot become mother or father, for example because the gene also prevents the forming of the right hormones to have functioning sex organs? The techniques to administer such hormones are not old enough to have significant effect on the muggle/wizard balance.

Yeah not a bad idea I was going to pull some sh*t out of my ass and say that the gene can only be pass down mother to daughter effective cutting the number down by half (I think?) and added (by implication of rule 3) that mage babies are more likely to miscarriage or to be born with a disability (mostly mental, motor function and nervous system related) furthermore this is more likely if the mother (if a mage at all) is using magic or experiences overload when pregnant. If I decide to add your idea that I'll call it the Neil Boekend syndrome in your honor.

The coolest magic system in the world is useless and irrelevant if there's a boring story told through it.

Exactly like I said I don't want to mages to be the sole centre thus decided to make them a minority to help with this, some stories won't even have mages or magic to play an important role or element.

Speaking of Air bender I was more or less inspired by Fullmetal alchemist (FMA) combine with a train of thought,if the classic wizard cast spells by saying specific words, doing specific actions, drawing specific symbols?...who discovered said things?...does this imply a divine influence on the world?....so it does it matter if they're still pulling energy and matter out of no where?...in turn aren't these magic users divine\supernatural beings themselves and would seem so to normal humans and be treated that way? In a way FMA and air bender (from what I know) are good examples for what you guys are talking about, FMA had more of focus on plot and characters and less about the implications of the existence of "magic" (they called it alchemy) and the Air bender world is more developed and built around these benders (which are way more common % wise) I haven't seen much of the either series (Ang or Korra) in a cohesive manner so I can't put my judgement on the characters and plot but if they are as good as the FMA maybe I should probably get around watching it.

I aim to make a world where there was no implications of outside or supernatural influence and be about humans with comprehensible powers in a world where humans are still human not unnaturally good nice human like beings or unnaturally bad\evil human like beings, thus the emphasis on drawing on our history where we see real examples of human nature. I hate the good guy vs bad guy stories, people aren't born good or evil, people act and do things because they are human and are shape and influence by things that often they have no choice or control over. In effect I want the hard (somewhat this is fiction after all) reality of the world to run along with existence mages and the implications of it on the world and the mages.

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Re: The Science of magic

Postby tomandlu » Sat Oct 17, 2015 3:52 pm UTC

I've been thinking about it, and one thing that occurs to me is that you need to find some way of using your form of magic in a intriguing way. So far, what you have are limitations - now you need to find some way of transcending them, of making magic delightful, and not just a show of force.

The other thing that occurs to me is that all scientific models are inadequate and approximate - the only thing that really distinguishes models is whether they accurately describe the observations. Would a mage who understood relativity have more power over the forces of gravity than a mage who had only got as far as Newton? There's also the contradiction that, even when the models were plain wrong, such as early models of gravity, people could still catch a thrown ball. On some level, we have and always have had, an instinctive understanding of gravity, even when the models describe behaviour at odds with reality (such as different masses falling at different speeds).

Also, for mages, if power and ability is linked to the accuracy of the model, then wouldn't science advance very quickly? A mage would know that a new hypothesis was correct or not, depending on the effect on his abilities. Magic, in other words, would be a perfect test-bed for turning a hypothesis into a theory.
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Re: The Science of magic

Postby Copper Bezel » Sun Oct 18, 2015 7:27 pm UTC

I guess my thinking is this: if you're introducing a big difference from the world we know, it needs to do be doing some work for you. What it's accomplishing can be any of a number of things - some stories can be very clinical what-if stories and be very good, and others can be an unlikely collection of seemingly contradictory elements and handle them in a lighthearted and self-aware way and create a fun and interesting world and story that way, and so on, but whatever you're presenting to the reader, there has to be some purpose in mind - it's a part of the contract you're drawing up with them when they decide to come live in your world for a while. Devices aren't good for their own sakes.

If you're introducing magic to your world, that's necessarily going to be one of the biggest differences from the world we experience in life. That implies that it has some central significance to this story you're telling - it helps you tell this story in a way you couldn't without it.

FMA and Avatar - well, I've not seen Brotherhood, which means I'm working from the original run, and I think for a lot of reasons Airbender is more cohesive as a story, so I'll have to focus on the first presentation of each. They are definitely both good models to look to, but I wouldn't make them quite so much a dichotomy as you're saying. The way that alchemy is used in FMA is different from the way bending is used in Airbender in that it's more thematically central and in that the series doesn't explore knock-on effects in the same way, but alchemy is still the core device of that story, and the big historical events we're aware of that made the world we're seeing tended to be precipitated by things relating to alchemy, too.

I think as stories, Airbender is better at its minor characters than FMA but not structured around quite as compelling a central concept for its core protagonists - FMA is a (non-romantic) love story and Airbender is just, well, not. I actually think Airbender has the better character writing of the two, partly because it is so much built around putting these things into the world and seeing how they develop, particularly at the character level, where FMA feels a bit more synthetic. But in a lot of ways, the individual episode structures are the opposite of the dichotomy you're describing - FMA will use new alchemical devices and freaks-of-the-week to drive episodes, where Airbender's most overused formula is "and the heroes are forced to work with a [town / tribe / band of nomads] who have a [custom / schism / local practice / survival strategy] of [thing]." a sort of sociological freak-of-the-week phenomenon instead. (There's a shitton of overlap, obviously - whether it's your stark battlefield images of a small line of bendermists taking out an army of infantry or the heroes' boss fight near the end of both series with a hitman who uses tattoos to spontaneously combust people. I'm just pointing out where I think they differ.)

But I think if you're thinking in terms of "some stories" that "won't even have mages", you're already doing a different thing from either of these series. FMA's alchemy is a thematic device as much as it is a plot device, and it's about Edward and Alphonse's story - they're powerful alchemists to enable their hero quest, and that power ends up being self-defeating in a thematically important way. Airbender is a quasi-sociological thing about how our backgrounds shape us and how those backgrounds are informed by culture, and separating the bending among the four nations gives each nation a cultural identity that informs its way of life and philosophy and also has concrete effects on how that culture makes a living in the world - bending is a neatly packaged stand-in for cultural identity and strengths. So if you want to decide how your magic is going to shape or fail to shape your world, you kinda have to ask what you're hoping to get out of it as the first question.

Edit: And I know you're talking about that to an extent in saying that you imagine this as a world in which there aren't inherently good or bad people and mages aren't special, but that's telling me more about what magic isn't than about what it is.
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Re: The Science of magic

Postby Xanthir » Mon Oct 19, 2015 9:50 pm UTC

Just sliding in to say... that's an amazing critique. A+
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Re: The Science of magic

Postby Copper Bezel » Mon Oct 19, 2015 10:16 pm UTC

I can honestly say that I wasn't using that master's in English for anything else, so I just had it lying around somewhere....
So much depends upon a red wheel barrow (>= XXII) but it is not going to be installed.

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GhostNinja
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Re: The Science of magic

Postby GhostNinja » Mon Nov 09, 2015 4:38 am UTC

Sorry for the late reply have been busy

I've been thinking about it, and one thing that occurs to me is that you need to find some way of using your form of magic in a intriguing way.
So far, what you have are limitations - now you need to find some way of transcending them, of making magic delightful, and not just a show of force.


but that's telling me more about what magic isn't than about what it is.


Well said that said one of the points of mages in my story is fighting with brains (not just scientific and technical knowledge) vs fighting with brawn and how being educated and genetically lucky is an unique form of brawn itself. Even with these limitations, mages, I feel mages are powerful enough, don't worry though I've have a list of interesting "loopholes" and interesting effects and implications of magic, though only a few are fully developed, telling you would spoil the fun, I'll run some by you guys if I'm unsure.

The other thing that occurs to me is that all scientific models are inadequate and approximate - the only thing that really distinguishes models is whether they accurately describe the observations. Would a mage who understood relativity have more power over the forces of gravity than a mage who had only got as far as Newton? There's also the contradiction that, even when the models were plain wrong, such as early models of gravity, people could still catch a thrown ball. On some level, we have and always have had, an instinctive understanding of gravity, even when the models describe behaviour at odds with reality (such as different masses falling at different speeds).


Fair point and here I think we start to see the limitations of mages, in effect mages with a relativity understanding of gravity will not have more power over gravity then mages with a Newtonian understanding other then precise calculation (for more energy efficient use though minor) and prediction. The reason I say this is that with my understanding of gravity (didn't we find a particle related to gravity?) is that mages are effectively telekinetic, to the subatomic level, they can not manipulate gravity without something tangible to manipulate like a "gravity" particle, understanding how produces it gravity and how manipulate it to make a difference. On the other hand electrons, neutrons, protons and some of the electromagnetic spectrum we do have some understanding on what they are and how they interact with stuff. By extension this applies to magnetism (with my understanding at least) mages will not be able to manipulate magnetism purely, they can manipulate it to extent that we know to manipulate magnets and magnetic fields conventionally, like smashing magnets around or heating it up to weaken it, running electrons through it to magnetise a piece of metal and turning it into an electromagnet and cooling down magnets to turn to make them stronger.

Some scientific models will not useful to practicing mages as it will be only good at predicting, describing observations and calculations to perform actions, mages would be very good at testing out theories and as I said the scientific and technical progress of this world would be accelerated compared to ours, but there are limits on how they can help especially when we get subatomic and hard to observe stuff.
For example say there was an model that theorises a sub atomic gravity particle that in effect can be turn off and on, how can a mage experimentally prove or disprove this model?, to prove it he/she would have turn on or off enough "gravity" particles to make a detectable difference, a mage may feel that they are feeding energy into something and/or even feel resistance if it involves say breaking the particle away from something but by our scientific standards that is not enough until there is an detected difference.

The experiment can end in many ways first it was success a change in gravity was detected thus the model is validated. On the other hand when mage attempted to "pull" the particle around but "feel" that there was no resistance and there is no detected difference it could mean many things
No.1 the model is wrong,
No.2 the mage maybe misinterpreted the model (this can alleviated by having multiple mages) or
No.3 it is a particle that mages can not influence,

Further more, it is more complicated if the mage does feel he or she is influencing something, feeling resistence or that the energy is being absorb by something but there no detected difference could also mean

No.1 the model is partly wrong the experiment only proved that something is there furthermore
No.2 the mage misinterpreted the model and is influencing something else
No.3 the mage is simply not powerful enough to cause detectable difference (can alleviated by having multiple mages working).

Mages are good test beds but not the perfect test bed nor will they be solely responsible for all scientific and technological progress after all someone actually has to think up these theories and the applications of it.

That said mages can "feel" remotely, so they know the limits of their magical strength and energy expenditure, but how well and what they "feel" depends on how sensitive, "in tune" and the particular focus of the mage, imagine like an invisible hand being there only putting up minimum resistance or magical influence trying to "feel" something (insert prev joke). They in effect can discover how to manipulate things without actually understanding the scientific priciples of it, like heat. If a medieval mage concentrates and meditates long enough trying to "feel" heat and knows by touch what is hot and cold they will in time will figure out how said energy "feels" like and in turn and time how to manipulate such energies like heating things up and extracting heat from them. Obvisously the smaller less tangible stuff would be harder to detect by "feel" (this can be shortcuted if they are told what it is or what we think it is). Furthermore this will create an interesting dynamic where scientist would actually have build to reasonable theories explaining what the mage is "feeling" and what and how they are doing said things.
I am having to start creating plausible fictional science in the world, a little bit in the post modern but mostly in futuristic era of the world.


So if you want to decide how your magic is going to shape or fail to shape your world, you kinda have to ask what you're hoping to get out of it as the first question.


To me it was like a historical thought experiment if mages existed what would realistically happen especially throughout the different eras. The more I thought of it stories and characters came into being as I applied the mage and magic twist to our world with my knowledge, understanding and view of it and its history. Furthermore I already had some unrelated story concepts and characters kicking around in my head and I just found it convenient (as oppose to creating separate settings to suit the unrelated stories and characters) to add, set and fuse these ideas into my fictional magical world with its related stories and characters, as it give them interesting backgrounds, help fill out and develop these outside ideas and some ideas just came together the way I like it. These stories and the characters vary a lot in scale from micro insignificance in the grand scheme of the world and history to macro world changing things. About 60% percent of the story arcs are unrelated directly to each other, about half of them will have major mage characters, about two thirds would have have something (major and minor plot wise) to do with magic and mages but all the stories are set in a world changed by the exsistence of mages and magic.

Thanks guys for all the talk it really helps me out in many ways, the way you guys are bouncing things and ideas back at me (whether I like it or not). Working on a timeline of the world and developing keys details in the different eras atm (pulling me away from actually writing these stories :? ). Though I see now it is important if i want to write cohesive non contradictory stories in this world

I'll put it up the timeline (soonish?) so you guys can see where I am going with all of this mainly how scientific and technological progress of the world influences the mages and magical applications and vice versa how the exsistence of mages and magic influences and world.
Be warn though although I'll leave a lot of details out, there are some things that will be spoiler as it directly and indirectly it gives away major plot events, twists and ruin the tension and mystery overall.

Edit: Didn't realise I didn't tell you guys, another implication of mages being tied to genetics means, like how we are getting smarter naturally as part of evolution and natural selection, mages in turn are getting more powerful as time goes by.

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Copper Bezel
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Re: The Science of magic

Postby Copper Bezel » Tue Nov 10, 2015 12:52 am UTC

I feel like if you want to play the historical thought experiment out, that's precisely the case where you're going to need to think really deeply about how these mage powers are going to influence the structure of the civilization. Even if they're rare or weak or both. I mean, these abilities are older than civilization, right? Doubtless there would be all manner of superstition about them (as there has been with every other major force on human experience), and being a mage is going to have meant a lot of different things in a lot of different societies.

The brains-and-brawn thing is an interesting thematic idea, and yeah, I think you could do a lot with it. Bears noting that "brains" (in the sense of humanity's conspicuous features of intelligence) evolved as a way of manipulating other people, not so much the environment, and it's worth thinking about where magic falls on that continuum in various societal contexts, too.
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Re: The Science of magic

Postby GhostNinja » Sun May 15, 2016 6:38 am UTC

Its been a while I have been busy with life and everything you know. The long promised "Science, technology and timeline" (hardly an appropriate description). Please note this timeline is not set in stone and can be and probably will be subjected to change and undoubtedly additions.
In addition it only shows the broad strokes of the science and magic world giving the you guys specific details will would lengthen this post to a ridiculous level not mention is kinda covered with what below. Let me what you guys think don't hesitate to ask me to elaborate or point out something i may have missed. Yeah spoiler alert too I suppose too.
Early Medieval Era (Age of Struggle)
Spoiler:
Magic is quite primitive and often is done instinctively since the scientific method has not been formally established magical advancement is often dependant on individual mages.
The Archetypal “Fire and Ice” magic effectively heat manipulation. Although early mages did not understand that heat is the vibration of molecules (or energetic molecules). They did understand heat can be created by rapid pin point agitation of “magic” energy on matter inversely heat can be snap away by generating a magic field to smother and absorb these agitations (heat) from given area or object. They do not however understand heat can be also a form of infra red radiation. This magic was not discovered by scientific means or reasoning but through mages simply trying to understand the nature of fire and heat by sensing and feeling it through magic feeling its “agitation” and experimenting to replicate it. A simpler form of fire magic is simply manipulating burning fuel or material or the actual flames of a fire. A few mages even note that ice can be made without water by cooling a surface or air until water and/frost starts to condense.

-Alchemy, not actually chemical conversion more like fine matter manipulation and filtration.Alchemy despite its connotations mages at this point cannot alter elements or compounds into one another. Instead alchemists are more like magic smiths; first they are highly valued blacksmiths because of their magic they can work more effective and finely than conventional blacksmiths not to mention their ability to feel remotely to sense the metal weight or density and its strength at a given point. Second spice and salt, a practised enough and attuned sensitive mage can feel the individual weights of grains making them excellent at filtering grounded and liquid mixtures the commercial value are obvious. But it is these mages later on are drawn into chemistry as black powder becomes more widespread, used in fireworks and weapons. Thirdly, crafting tasks that require fine hand work mages are able to do better and at a faster rate this field is often considered the least skilled in magic, manufacturing fabrics, ropes and other types of weaves.

Some sufficiently powerful mages are even capable of sustained flight although most prefer to do it by holding onto or mounting a object and then exert force on the object, as even skilled mages on many occasions have sustain injuries haphazardly applying magical force on their own bodies to fly not to mention balance and flight control issues. In theory a sufficiently powerful mage should not be able to die from a fall as they can absorb any acceleration energy due to gravity (they still fall at a minimal terminal velocity because gravity is still pushing down) and use the captured energy before impact to slow themselves down to a survivable impact velocity.
-Despite some of the skilled niches mages their most basic ability of telekinesis is also used mainly in construction and combat.


Renaissance and Age of enlightenment (Age of Fire and light)
Virtually not detailed at all atm because it is not included in my first cycle of narratives hence lower priority
Spoiler:
Due to the obvious synergtic combination of scientists and mages it goes without mention is an explosion of industrial, scientific, technical and magical advancement at an extreme rate compared to our history leading to a social “shock” to all the change and progress. This effectively pushes the mages underground and out of common public knowledge into urban legends and government secrets although not in consistent manner globally speaking.


Early-Mid Twentieth Century (Age of the War)
Spoiler:
The scientific and technical advancement of humanity has completely outpace mages as industrial, technical and scientific development goes beyond scope of mages pushing them further away from the attention of society. This is for a number of reasons first as I have stated before mages are a very small minority, cheap industrial mass production has completely driven mages out of their niche areas of expertise, machinery has replace a number of tasks mages do and areas where mages are needed, mages are found to be not powerful enough or are a temporary solution until a machine or device replaces them.
Scientific speaking mages have found the upper limit on how much they can assist in scientific research as experiments and theories develop without mage assistance. The ones that do, require incredible amounts power to make a difference (mainly molecular manipulation) or manipulate notoriously hard to manipulate things like light, time and other magic “energies and/or fields”. Even military use of mages is now limited mainly because bullets are too fast for mages to perceive, therefore stop, let only artillery shrapnel only the rare mages among the few are powerful enough to do anything effectively. This does not however exclude mages from combat.
Despite the mages withdrawal from common society they still influential primary through high powered mages who are pivotal in a number of ways mainly in science and the discovery of various industrial materials and chemicals. High powered mages are instrumental in confirming atomic theory and are in high demand across all fields from nuclear physics to metallurgy and chemistry. But since there are so few existing and few of these few are known the related institutions even more few are willing to assist in experiments as it is infamously known some mages overloading badly and/or be exposed to dangerous chemicals and compounds and other mysterious effects (radiation mainly). Despite this discoveries are made, although kept secret or disseminated carefully to disguise the source.


Post-Modern Era (Age of Conspiracy)
Spoiler:
As populations explode and a result of natural evolution mages are getting more powerful, the threat of nuclear capable mages is exponentially growing. With the advent of electronics techno-mages coming into being able to interfere with circuits between electronic modules and even some skilled and learned mages can even interfere and/or control intricate circuit boards and chips. Powerful mages with an understanding of nuclear fusion and fission and chemistry can change their physical environment at will. Some very skilled mages can even manipulate electromagnetic radiation.
Here we see medical science starting to systematically study the case of mages and their existence and inevitable experiments. Although most of the research and experiments fails to shed light on the mages, some things do become clear.
The gene sequence for mages is identified furthermore it is discover that a primitive variant of gene sequence is found on primates although, for a yet to discovered, reason primates are unable to use magic let alone confirm if the primates have a magic “black box”. A connection is formally established between mages genetics and magical strength although any attempts to transplant the specific mage gene of a powerful mage into a non mage or weaker mages DNA always results the human being having no magic powers at all. It is assumed that other genes of the DNA of Mages, although resembling human DNA, somehow lends and supports the mages use of magic these genes are yet to be detected and identified.
In addition medical work around the Mallon syndrome is discovered, where mages suffer from infertility due to being overloaded, is discovered. Although the work around does not protect pregnant mages who overload or use magic, as the child if not killed by the overload outright (mage foetuses have low tolerances for magic) , will still be afflicted by the syndrome and any damage done by the overload.
The segment of the brain responsible for the magic is identified, any damage or alterations to this part of the brain prevents the mage from doing any magic however if that part heals correctly the ability returns. The mage seems to be able to retain the ability to do magic regardless of damage done to their bodies and even their brains this opens the door to primitively augmented mages with enhanced perception and even some with integrated computers are able to apply their magic on things that normal human mages cannot react fast enough to and/or perceive, with greater precision and efficiency.
Magic is understood as a form of force projection via a form of energy, seems to be generate out of nowhere including in vacuums this energy can behave a number of ways primarily as a field or exerting force. Magic is hypothesized to be a particle that is not attracted or repulsive to each other but connected somehow to create field and/or exert force.
As a result of high energy sub atomic particle physic research a particle is discovered that not only resists magical influence but when energised creates an anti magic field that actively cancels out magic (probably like how flowing electrons create electromagnetic fields) but only proportional to the energy of the field generated meaning the field can be overcome if the mage is powerful enough. The discovery is very hard to make use as mages cannot influence the particle and the particle is unstable and tends to fuse back with other particles if left to do so.


Still working on the basic science for the Age of Stars that era is gonna take a bit longer as I'm having to create actual fictional science to add.
Last edited by GhostNinja on Wed May 18, 2016 3:34 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

DanD
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Re: The Science of magic

Postby DanD » Mon May 16, 2016 2:42 pm UTC

On the genetic side of things, my first thought is to treat it like the gene for sickle cell anemia. A single copy results in a mage. Two copies is lethal (in the womb).

This gives you a birth rate of 50% mages from one mage, and 66% from two mages, but with lower fertility.

The only problem I see with this is that only mages would have mage children, and you're very rapidly going to develop a class system.

So from there, maybe you tack in a second gene, likely a simple recessive. Either both are needed to work magic, or the safe one allows magic to be worked at some low level, the lethal one allows more, and both together produces more capability, but infertility, or something along those lines.



Alternatively, the double mage gene isn't lethal, but eliminates the mage ability (burns it out in the womb, say). In that case, two mages produce children that are 50% mages and 50% not. And of the non-mage children, some will always produce mage grandchildren with a non-mage, and (again) go 50/50 with a mage, and be 0% with some non mages from mage families and 100% with others.

Combining something like that with a tendency for mages to (lethally) burn themselves out, and you end up with a relatively low mage population, a reason for mage families to marry (or breed with, at least) non-mages, etc.

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Re: The Science of magic

Postby ijuin » Tue May 17, 2016 9:31 pm UTC

Regarding science for the "Age of Stars", you mentioned that some mages are able to perform crude manipulation of space/time. Perhaps investigation of this would lead to the development of subspace/hyperspace theory necessary for FTL travel, etc.

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Re: The Science of magic

Postby GhostNinja » Wed May 18, 2016 4:34 am UTC

DanD wrote:On the genetic side of things, my first thought is to treat it like the gene for sickle cell anemia. A single copy results in a mage. Two copies is lethal (in the womb).

This gives you a birth rate of 50% mages from one mage, and 66% from two mages, but with lower fertility.

The only problem I see with this is that only mages would have mage children, and you're very rapidly going to develop a class system.

So from there, maybe you tack in a second gene, likely a simple recessive. Either both are needed to work magic, or the safe one allows magic to be worked at some low level, the lethal one allows more, and both together produces more capability, but infertility, or something along those lines.



Alternatively, the double mage gene isn't lethal, but eliminates the mage ability (burns it out in the womb, say). In that case, two mages produce children that are 50% mages and 50% not. And of the non-mage children, some will always produce mage grandchildren with a non-mage, and (again) go 50/50 with a mage, and be 0% with some non mages from mage families and 100% with others.

Combining something like that with a tendency for mages to (lethally) burn themselves out, and you end up with a relatively low mage population, a reason for mage families to marry (or breed with, at least) non-mages, etc.


Wow, spot on, I was going for this more or less but with triple genes, didn't know that stuff like sickle cell anemia existed, that puts the genetics of mages on more solidly grounding.

Regarding science for the "Age of Stars", you mentioned that some mages are able to perform crude manipulation of space/time. Perhaps investigation of this would lead to the development of subspace/hyperspace theory necessary for FTL travel, etc.


Space/time yes time specifically alone no although they do try.

Still working out FTL and non FTL space travel (and other tech and science...) in the age of stars. Plot and world wise I know how FTL works mechanically but supporting it with reasonable scientific sounding detailed explanation is something I'm still working on. As of time of writing there's three ways of traveling in space.

One the conventional newtonian way using conventional thrust technology but you know alongside chemicals rockets are now nuclear powered ion/plasma engines and unadulterated nuclear fusion and anti matter engines.

Second is Non FTL "jumping" this is effectively the ship instantaneously accelerating and decelerating to and from near or light speed. Toiling with the idea that the passengers and ship aren't crushed by ridiculous amount of force maybe by positing that every atom of the enclosed area (the ship, people and cargo) is simultaneously accelerated and decelerated so that nothing is pushing against each other thus no human milkshakes although the ship can only travel in a straight line and cannot alter course whilst in near light travel however can decelerate at will if there is enough power. Plot wise this means ships can travel reasonably within a star system without resorting to full on FTL (which comparatively requires more energy and effort) and allows the ship to have "travel time". Obviously there are plenty of problems already like colliding with space debris, detailing the way of how its actually technically done
Spoiler:
haven't decide if it should done through Artificial intelligence with an artificial mage drive or another way, I wanna save the AI mage for something else....
but the course of a ship "micro jumping", I shall call it, being altered by gravity however is something I intend for (black hole U-turns FTW).

Third is true FTL best described as portal travel, the ship creates two identical "portals" whose diameters is enough for the ship or craft to pass through, the portals are in front and behind the ship and then one portal falls or collapses to the other taking the ship and anything within the closed space with it. Simultaneously at the destination the exact same thing is happening where is another pair of portals are already there hopefully collapsing on empty space but instead of nothing appearing after the collapsing portal appears the ship. That happen is that the portals effectively swapped space so technically there are four portals or two depending on the science, the pair of portals could be said to be existing at the same time at the destination and departure point. Meaning the ship didn't actually move but swapped places or spaces. No scientific or technical grounding at all other then the name Hyper Dimension Quantum Wormhole (effectively mumbo jumbo) and it is preferred that the destination either be in deep space or a pre scouted area and the departure and destination be away from points gravity or have very similar gravitational topography as since one is swapping space and space is distorted by gravity the craft and its occupants are stretched or squeezed to account the difference in space between the destination and departure. Although distortions from gravity still affect FTL in deep space the "stretch" is slight enough to be acceptable and survivable.
Last edited by GhostNinja on Mon May 30, 2016 1:54 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Science of magic

Postby Neil_Boekend » Wed May 18, 2016 12:56 pm UTC

GhostNinja wrote: Neil Boekend syndrome

Please rename that.
Mikeski wrote:A "What If" update is never late. Nor is it early. It is posted precisely when it should be.

patzer's signature wrote:
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Re: The Science of magic

Postby GhostNinja » Wed May 18, 2016 2:40 pm UTC

Neil_Boekend wrote:
GhostNinja wrote: Neil Boekend syndrome

Please rename that.
roger that will do do you still want a reference to you or a say in the matter?

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Re: The Science of magic

Postby Neil_Boekend » Wed May 18, 2016 3:06 pm UTC

GhostNinja wrote:
Neil_Boekend wrote:
GhostNinja wrote: Neil Boekend syndrome

Please rename that.
roger that will do do you still want a reference to you or a say in the matter?

I don't need a reference. I just don't want my name attached to an infertility disease, not even a fictional one, because AFAIK there are many diseases named after the first patient.

PS: I know you didn't intend that. It's how I read it.
Mikeski wrote:A "What If" update is never late. Nor is it early. It is posted precisely when it should be.

patzer's signature wrote:
flicky1991 wrote:I'm being quoted too much!

he/him/his

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Re: The Science of magic

Postby GhostNinja » Wed May 18, 2016 3:31 pm UTC

Fair enough I'll think of another name probably pulling one from medical history


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