Synopses & Reviews
Magic and science may seem like strange bedfellows, but in this captivating and far-ranging book, respected science journalist Roger Highfield nimbly illustrates how the two disciplines are actually deeply intertwined in the Harry Potter books. Like Highfield's The Physics of Christmas
, The Science of Harry Potter
teases out the scientific explanations and surprising factual foundation of marvels and mysteries-only this time instead of reindeer and Santa, Highfield trains his eye on dragons, broomsticks, and all the wonderful oddities of J. K. Rowling's enchanted world. Highfield uses the amazing elements of the Harry Potter books as a springboard into discussions of fascinating scientific issues. He delves into the archaeology of witchcraft, tracing the origin and uses of wands and cauldrons as revealed at ancient European dig sites. He speculates on the astounding connection between hallucinogens and flying broomsticks and the bizarre drug-taking practices of medieval witches. The potions and charms that Harry has so much trouble replicating in Snape's class are in fact grounded in the science of ethnobotany. Here too is a plausible account of the cutting-edge physics that explains the invisibility cloak and the genetic engineering behind the creation of Fluffy the three-headed dog.
As Highfield reminds us, "wizard" actually means wise man-and wizardry and science were closely related fields before Newton. As enlightening as it is delightful, The Science of Harry Potter sheds light not only on Harry Potter's magical realm, but also on the magic that is taking place in labs and science classrooms in our own "muggle" world.
This book is not authorized, prepared, approved, licensed, or endorsed by J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any other individual or entity associated with the Harry Potter books or movie. Harry Potter is the registered trademark of Time Warner Entertainment Company, L.P.
"Obviously well versed in the Potter books, Highfield deconstructs and reassembles them to make his points. Fans of such science popularizers as Gould and Asimov will certainly get a kick out of Highfield's utterly fascinating take on the subject." Sally Estes, Booklist
For adults who like Harry Potter but want a more substantial reading experience, this volume proposes scientific explanations for the popular mythic story.
Can Fluffy the three-headed dog be explained by advances in molecular biology? Could the discovery of cosmic "gravity-shielding effects" unlock the secret to the Nimbus 2000 broomstick's ability to fly? Is the griffin really none other than the dinosaur Protoceratops? Roger Highfield, author of the critically acclaimed The Physics of Christmas
, explores the fascinating links between magic and science to reveal that much of what strikes us as supremely strange in the Potter books can actually be explained by the conjurings of the scientific mind. This is the perfect guide for parents who want to teach their children science through their favorite adventures as well as for the millions of adult fans of the series intrigued by its marvels and mysteries.
About the Author
Dr. Roger Highfield is science editor of The Daily Telegraph, which has published several thousand of his articles since 1986. A regular broadcaster on the BBC and the winner of several journalism awards, Highfield is the author of The Physics of Christmas and coauthor of such highly acclaimed books as The Arrow of Time and The Private Lives of Albert Einstein.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Science of Magic
1. Broomsticks, Time Travel and Splinching
2. How to Play Quidditch without Leaving the Ground
3. The Invisibility Cloak, Sorting Hat, and Other Spellbinding Apparel 4. The Mathematics of Evil
5. Owls, Snails and Skrewts
7. Bertie Bott's Every Flavor beans
8. Stars, Mystic Chickens and Superstitious Pigeons
9. The Greatest Wizard
10. There be Dragons. Really.
11. The Potions Master
12. The Origins of Witchcraft
13. The Quest for the Philosopher's Stone
14. Belief, Superstition and Magic
15. The Magic of Science
Glossary of Muggle Science, Potter Magic, Oddments snd Tweaks