Physics Made Magical

Pontifications on Physics Personified, from two perspectives.
Here is the Harry Potter personification of physics.

0. Newtonian gravity is Ron.
Solid, dependable, good long heritage.
It has its limits, but is surprisingly powerful.

1. Electromagnetism is Snape.
You must master E&M, but so many have irrational fear or hatred of it.
It leads to deep unification and glimpses of fundamental symmetries, and is strangely beautiful yet powerful.

2. Special Relativity is Ginny.
Transcends classical mechanics, but in touch with its heritage.
Practical, explosive, generally high energy.
Underappreciated.

3. Quantum Mechanics is Dumbledore.
No one really understands QM, though many think they do.
QM has its roots in classical mechanics but goes a step beyond convention to deal with levels not imagined classically.
Steeped in contradiction and contains the seed of its destruction.
Quantum electrodynamics are both the end of QM and the beginning of what comes next.

4. General Relativity is Harry.
The culmination of classic physics, enormously powerful, providing deep insights but also intractable and limited in application. Rooted in special relativity.
Apparently orthogonal to EM, yet incomplete without it, GR provides a direction for the future and a deep insight that must be reconciled.
Where GR and QM meet is the paradox that must ultimately be resolved.

5. Quantum Field Theory is Draco.
The heritage is classical, and is the powerful but hideous mess you get when EM is forced to be reconciled with QM.
QFT looks indomitable at times, but fails just when it is needed most, leaving the field open to new solutions and better approaches.
Still there at the end, doing its thing within the limits of its applicability, in eternal opposition with GR yet always avoiding direct conflict.

6. Quantum Gravity is Neville.
It is whacky, full of missteps, but brings surprising insight when least expected and possesses hidden power.
And, deep down, you always have to think that maybe really QG is the ultimate answer.

7. Cosmology is Luna.
Ignored and mocked for so long, comes into its own as the other fields have matured.
Interesting, but a magnet for whacky ideas of all kind, but, hey you never know if maybe some of these crazy notions are really the way things are...

8. String theory is Hermione.
Beautiful, powerful, the signpost for future directions.
Tries to encompass all classical and quantum phenomena, and to develop and master all the most powerful techniques.
May contain all the other fields within it.
But, curiously directionless without classical direction, needs external input to be prodded into applying itself to real world issues.

Voldemort is Aryan physics - claims classical heritage, and the power and applicability of QM while rejecting GR.
Never really gets QM, although EM is classically contained within it.
QM could have put it right, but failed and a generation was lost.
Totally wrong about Relativity, misses the key insight and never gets the ultimate power.

Tags

More like this

In this post: the large versions of the Life Science and Physical Science channel photos, comments from readers, and the best posts of the week. Life Science. From Flickr, by Artiii Physical Science. Ice crystals on a frozen window. From Flickr, by *clairity* Reader comments of the week: On the…
tags: Harry Potter spoilers, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, books I waited to publish my review (and rant) of the last Harry Potter book until today because several friends and SciBlings wanted to also participate in the discussion, and further, I wanted to read the book one more time and…
Or: Deconstructing Dumbledore. (Major and serious spoilers for Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows follow. In fact if you haven't read them this will make very little sense.) There's a lot of villains in the Harry Potter series. They are young and old, male and female, human and otherwise,…
tags: Harry Potter, online quiz This is a silly quiz, but hey, there's worse out there, as I am sure you will remind me. Here are my results; Witch Harry Potter character are you?created with QuizFarm.com You scored as Hermione Granger "Just because it's taken you three years to notice, Ron, doesn…

This has got to be one of my all-time favourites! Thank you!

Continuing my quest to add Thermodynamics to every one of these lists... ;)

9. Thermodynamics is a Dementor
Very scary. It can appear at any time an threaten to suck the soul from anything it touches. Can be temporarily subdued, but it always comes back eventually.

"9. Thermodynamics is a Dementor
Very scary. It can appear at any time an threaten to suck the soul from anything it touches. Can be temporarily subdued, but it always comes back eventually."
And you can't get out of the game.

Numerical Analysis is a house elf.

Nobel Committee is the Ministry of Magic?

Internet Rule 34?

String theory trivially encompasses E&M, somewhere, we think.
It is all too trivial to bother with really.

In reality, were String theory to bother with E&M it might lead to something terribly useful, but String theory is too bookish to bother.

Better that than having string theory shacked up with boring old Newtonian gravity! All he cares about is Quidditch! :-)

I do like your pairing of special relativity with general relativity.