Field of Science

Magical Event Horizon

One concept I vaguelly mentioned yesterday, while going through the DNA extraction protocol, was that of the Magical Event Horizon. I love this concept (which I first read in a Terry Pratchett book but anyway) which works on the Arthur C. Clarke quote that "sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic".

The idea is, therefore, that everyone understands things up to a point. That point is the Magical Event Horizon (or MEH). For me, for example, bacteriophages and calculus are well within the MEH, relativity is sort of dancing along the line and the inner workings of computers are far, far over my Magical Event Horizon.

It's a neat little concept. Anything that you personally sort of feel to yourself works by 'magic' (like digital cameras. I have no idea how those work) goes over the MEH, everything you can explain stays within it.

2 comments:

Toby said...

So the MEH is relative to who you are and what you know?

I've thought recently that the whole magic thing is a bit overrated: manipulating and controlling the world just through force of will and magic powers... don't I do that already when I use force of will to move my arms to pick something up.

(And you're right, I shouldn't have been put off by the pictures of phages, however you spell it)

Lab Rat said...

Yep, everyone's MEH is different. Perl (for example) is way over mine but probably nicely within yours.

The main problem with magic is that it explains everything and nothing simultaneously.