Friday, 22 April 2011

Ep 141: Science of Superheroes - Harry Potter

And we're back! It's been a while, but finally it's time for another podcast, so we've made it a long one. Take this episode on a long train ride or car trip, as Dr Boob and I explore the science of the spells of Harry Potter.

Attempting to find scientific and engineering solutions to Harry Potter spells is probably the most difficult task we have set ourselves yet, so we would be very interested to hear how you would made the Harry Potter spells a reality. The spells dealt with in this episode are:
  1. Lumos - Producing light from the end of a wand (A voice activated torch seems a logical solution),
  2. Aguamenti - Shooting water from the end of the wand,
  3. Alohomora - Picking a lock at a distance,
  4. Expecto Patronum - Protection against evil dementors in the form of some virtual creature,
  5. Sectumsempra - Slicing your opponent open,
  6. Aparecium - Reading invisible ink,
  7. Accio - Summoning things to you,
  8. Expelliarmus - Disarming your opposition of their wand,
  9. Confundo - Confusing the victim,
  10. Stupefy - Stunning the victim,
  11. Invisibility cloak - Covering yourself in a cloak to make yourself invisible,
  12. Imperio - Forcing your victims to obey your commands,
  13. Obliviate - Erasing the memories of the victim,
  14. Legilimens - Telepathy.
Although some of these are quite clearly impossible at the moment, in every case we have come up with a scientific or engineering solution to take us at least part of the way there. Listen in to find out what we came up with, and please write in and let us know where we have gone wrong or what you would do.

Click play below or listen to this show here.

  1. Santos, V., Paula, W., & Kalapothakis, E. (2009). Influence of the luminol chemiluminescence reaction on the confirmatory tests for the detection and characterization of bloodstains in forensic analysis Forensic Science International: Genetics Supplement Series, 2 (1), 196-197 DOI: 10.1016/j.fsigss.2009.09.008
  2. A.J. Barnier and D.A. Oakley (2009). Hypnosis and Suggestion Encyclopedia of Consciousness DOI: 10.1016/B978-012373873-8.00038-4
  3. T.C. Jerram (1982). Hypnotics and sedatives Side Effects of Drugs Annual DOI: 10.1016/S0378-6080(82)80009-3
  4. Wood, B. (2009). Metamaterials and invisibility Comptes Rendus Physique, 10 (5), 379-390 DOI: 10.1016/j.crhy.2009.01.002


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