CHAPTER INTERLUDE: “On studying magic”
(From Chapter One of Dr. Henry S. Williams’s Magic: A New Age Dawns. This is the passage where he posits some of the basic features of magic, which by and large seem to have been borne out. He also comes up with the magical energy unit now named after him, the Williams, abbreviated wm or wms, and generally pronounced “whims.”)
The problems of studying magic scientifically were twofold.
The first has now been solved. With “The First” and scores of others having been demonstrated genuine by experts from around the globe, the debate over whether or not there is magic is now over.
The second remains, and may be all but insuperable. How do we study magic?
The problem is one of subjectivity. Magic may or may not follow the laws of physics. I for one think that it will be shown that it does. I also believe that it will be shown to be a new form of energy, one which for some reason may be channeled and called upon by certain processes within the brain.
But even assuming that it does follow the physical laws, it remains deeply subjective. We can study light because if we get a certain element to glow at a certain temperature, we get specific wavelengths of light to emanate. It is duplicatable throughout the world, and probably throughout the universe. But if a wizard casts a spell that creates light, how do we get another wizard to cast the same spell to create the same wavelengths of light? For that matter, can we even get the same wizard to duplicate his own spell?
Because of this deeply subjective nature, we also often have trouble putting bounds on the spells themselves. The energy is not coming from the body or brain of the user; it instead seems to be released from somewhere else. Since this energy is both not from the subject and highly fungible, it is very difficult to say how much energy is being used.
If the spell is, for instance, causing light to be emitted, the light itself may be measured and thus, assuming no loss in energy in the change from magical energy to light, we can know how much magical energy is being used. But how much energy does a disguise spell use? A hypnosis spell? How can these, and a thousand others, be measured?
Though not a perfect solution, I would say that a reasonable first step would be to quantify what we can. I have been using a 1,000,000 calorie base. This is equal to 1,000 kilocalories—the kind that dieters count and just call “calories.” This amount of energy is enough to heat one liter of water by 1,000 degrees Celsius. It seems a reasonable amount, given that only a few spells fall below the 1,000 kilocalorie level, and those so far measured above it do so without jumping too many orders of magnitude. I haven’t yet fully decided what to name this unit of energy. In my notes, I have started to call them magi units.
My greatest hope is that sometime soon, we will be able to fashion a device which is sensitive to magical energy being emitted, and will enable us to measure the use of magic directly.
Even once that happens, we will have a lot of work ahead of us. There are so many questions we have absolutely no answers to as yet. Does the magical energy come from some quantum source—perhaps from one of the seven non-infinite dimensions? Why is it sensitive to thought? Are animals capable of using magic in any way? Why is it some seem to have the capability, and others do not? Why is magic only happening now? Has it ever been here before, and where did it go in the meantime?
Assuming magic doesn’t disappear again tomorrow, we in the field of magology will have a lot of job security.