Muggles No More


With Halloween just around the corner, all the festive movies seem to be taking over my TV. I was thrilled to see Harry Potter amongst the Halloween movie madness and began to watch the familiar wizarding world. I remember watching as a little kid and thinking, "...if only these spells really worked." Today, science isn't too far behind J.K Rowling's "far-fetched" magic and spells.



In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, a spell is used to erase the memory of his professor, Gilderoy Lockhart. The spell leaves him completely dumfounded and unable to even remember his own name.

Science has found and tested a drug that has a similar effect to this spell. The drug is referred to as a "amnesia pill" or an "obliviator". It targets the molecule responsible for long-term memory (protein kinase M zeta) and is used to boost the activity in the molecule to improve memory, rather than erase it. BUT, a study done on rats, performed by Dr. Andre Feton and his colleagues at the State University of New York, proves that this drug can erase memory as well if controlled properly. The rats were taught how to escape an electric shock and preserved this learned skill for a month. After given the drug, the rats weren't able to remember how to escape the shock at all.

Invisibility Cloak

The famous cloak Harry receives for Christmas during his first year at Hogwarts is used for invisibility. Harry simply drapes the cloak over him and he can sneak around the Hogwarts castle unseen.

Unlike the obliviartor pill, the science of invisibility isn't yet tangible but certainly a possibility. Researcher Sir John Pendry concludes we can make light waves move a certain way and bounce off of "metamaterial" to create the illusion of invisibility. This has been stimulated using a computer, but not yet experimented. If this can be transferred from the computer into the real world, it will be a while until it is deemed a safe and ethical product for us muggles to use. Other studies conducted have used temperature in light or a thing called the mirage effect to create invisibility.

Other topics making a cross over from wizard world to the real world include limb regeneration and antigravity. More details on these and the topics I covered can be found here.

Not being a huge fan of science myself, this blog makes me appreciate science a bit more. I am in love with Harry Potter and always wished the magic in the movies could somehow be real. With the research I've done I'm starting to realize science can be a bit magical itself and create the unthinkable.

Do you think reality is on its way to being a world like Hogwarts? Is science really bringing J.K. Rowling's wildest dreams to life?


This is such a fun idea for a blog post! I'm also a huge Harry Potter fan! I thought what you mentioned about the Obliviate-like pill study done on rats was really interesting. Studies like that prove that science really had the ability to control every aspect of our lives- in this case, even our most precious memories. The study also reminded me of the movie, Limitless, where the main charachter gains access to a drug that makes him, well -limitless. If society was given free access to pills like this (that erase memories) I think it would be extremley taken advantage of. Findings like this really bring up a debate about the ethics of science. Is it ethical to make a pill that virtually wipes the memory, or learned skills of human beings? I think it's certainly ethical to make a pill like this, but unethical to sell it in a public market and make it accessable to the the everyday human. I believe it should only be created for scientific feat purposes, not recreational use. What do you think?

Such a creative blog post idea! I agree with Carolyn, and I think the pill could be okay if it was used properly. I think this pill could be easily abused, and it reminds of the movie "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," in which a couple erases each other from their memories. I can see a pill being reasonable for traumatic situations, but not something that's part of everyday life, like a breakup. I think there's definitely some potential for ethical issues with the type of science that could imitate the "magic" in Harry Potter, but could definitely be useful if used properly.

I've always been a huge Harry Potter fan and I loved how you found this information. What I question like the people above me is if the obliviator pill is really ethical? I feel like the ability to make certain drugs like this could become a big deal in war on terrorism. If these pills were to fall into the wrong hands then there could be serious risks for our country as well as others. Personally, I don't think its ethical. Even if the pill is made for fun the risk it could cause if it fell into the hands of terrorists outweigh its ability to be ethical.

Like everyone else who commented above, I am also a huge Harry Potter fan and was drawn to your post by your Hogwarts picture. You bring up a very interesting point of the possibility of J.K. Rowling's imagination coming to real life, something that I think MANY people would love. I don't know if it is possible to bring the magic of Harry Potter into the "muggle" world, but I don't think scientists would turn it down. After almost two months of this class, I have found that anything seems to be possible to test and that there is someone out there who would probably try to test out similar items from this imaginary world, into the real world. The first part of your post, "Obliviate", really spiked my interest. One of my best friend's grandfather suffers from Alzheimer's disease, a disease where many of us probably know someone affected by it, and I think something that would solve this would be a very magical thing. I know that you discussed a drug, the "amnesia pill" that was suppose to help boost brain activity, but was later found in rats that it actually erased memory, I wonder if there is any other type of drugs out there that would help this problem. Did the article that discussed this pill talk about any further studies that were being done?

I actually searched the internet a little bit and found an article that discussed something similar, but it was a smart pill. This article discussed a possible negative side of "memory drugs" where students are taking illegal pills to help boost memory and intelligence to help in the classroom. Do you see a possible negative side of some of this "magical" items that could hurt us down the road?

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