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Old 11-10-2015, 02:27 AM   #31
David Johnston2
 
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Default Re: What Makes a Great Magic System?

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Originally Posted by ak_aramis View Post
Chemistry and nuclear physics are intimately interrelated. As in, Chemistry is nuclear physics as observed from a blurry distance.

Chemicals exist the way they do because of nuclear physics..
Which is not actually all that intimate a relationship between the disciplines for the reason mentioned. The point is, however that even though the disciplines actually are connected they are not the same and it is not a matter of chemistry being wrong and physics right or vice versa. The difference between chemistry and physics is not a misunderstanding. While both are part of a unified whole, you can say the same about every single thing and force in the universe.
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Old 11-10-2015, 07:06 PM   #32
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Default Re: What Makes a Great Magic System?

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The point is, however that even though the disciplines actually are connected they are not the same and it is not a matter of chemistry being wrong and physics right or vice versa. The difference between chemistry and physics is not a misunderstanding. While both are part of a unified whole, you can say the same about every single thing and force in the universe.
Well, while nuclear physics and chemistry are not exactly the same thing, they are pretty related--more so than, say, Astronomy and Astrology. Importantly, they (physics and chemistry) are understood and harnessed using the same scientific approach. I like the idea of magic being someting that wizards can experiment with so as to make use of it with predictable outcomes due to what amounts to a scientific understanding of it. Others could harness it without really understanding it in the same way.
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Old 11-11-2015, 12:18 PM   #33
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Default Re: What Makes a Great Magic System?

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There's a third option, that the different kinds of magic are no more connected than physics and chemistry.
Which is to say, they're strongly connected but deal with situations different enough that it's usually easier to study them separately? I mean, you can in principle solve problems in chemistry using physics, but it tends to be an unreasonably large amount of work for not much gain.
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Old 11-11-2015, 04:27 PM   #34
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Default Re: What Makes a Great Magic System?

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I mean, you can in principle solve problems in chemistry using physics, but it tends to be an unreasonably large amount of work for not much gain.
There is an emerging field called "chemical physics" which seems to be about doing just that. A friend's daughter is taking her undergraduate degree in it, so it isn't that specialised. There's a lot about electron shells.
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Old 11-11-2015, 05:20 PM   #35
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There is an emerging field called "chemical physics" which seems to be about doing just that. A friend's daughter is taking her undergraduate degree in it, so it isn't that specialised. There's a lot about electron shells.
I came across the term physical chemist, or possibly chemical physicist, in a very old Asimov short story. The some kind of mixing of the two has been going on for a very long time.

It's also worth noting that most laypeople would assume MacGyver to had studied chemistry, because of all the times he mixes stuff to make it blow up, when in fact he earned his degree (presumably a BS) in physics.
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Old 11-11-2015, 05:35 PM   #36
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Default Re: What Makes a Great Magic System?

In another thread, some time ago, Vicky posted this:

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Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
As for arbitration by GMs, I absolutely agree that some amount of control is required. However, it is really bad form to pick individual spells and cut them down 'because it would not make a good film', so to speak. When I get a magic system for a setting, I pretty much expect that the rules of said magic system will shape the setting, that the setting is built based on clearly discernible consequences of its premises (including its magic systems), and that at least some part of the characters knows these things and uses them the way they work.
See also MagicAIsMagicA.
Like last time I cross-quoted the above to another thread, I've used boldface text to emphasize the section that I find to be particular important.
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Old 11-11-2015, 06:03 PM   #37
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Default Re: What Makes a Great Magic System?

One thing is there should not be a one-to-one fit between magic and technology. The Yrthian hotel with a magical elevator for instance.
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Old 11-12-2015, 08:10 AM   #38
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I like the idea of magic being someting that wizards can experiment with so as to make use of it with predictable outcomes due to what amounts to a scientific understanding of it. Others could harness it without really understanding it in the same way.
That's something I would go out of my way to avoid. My feeling is that if you can understand something by scientific methods, experiment with it, achieve predictable outcomes, and so on, you've made it unmagical.
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Old 11-12-2015, 08:17 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by Peter Knutsen View Post
I came across the term physical chemist, or possibly chemical physicist, in a very old Asimov short story. The some kind of mixing of the two has been going on for a very long time.

It's also worth noting that most laypeople would assume MacGyver to had studied chemistry, because of all the times he mixes stuff to make it blow up, when in fact he earned his degree (presumably a BS) in physics.
The stuff with electron shells goes back to Linus Pauling's work on the quantum mechanical basis of chemical bonding. You can do that for simple molecules, but the computational costs increase as you involve more electrons. But it's a core part of the physical chemistry curriculum.

The other core part is a lot older: chemical thermodynamics and chemical statistical mechanics, the study of energy relationships in systems of huge numbers of molecules (a mole, the standard quantity of a substance, is 6.023 x 10^23 or 602,300,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules). Once you're at that point your statistical regularities become near certainties. And even before statistical mechanics became integrated into chemistry, Josiah Willard Gibbs showed that you could use thermodynamics to predict exact outcomes of chemical reactions.

This latter, by the way, seems to have been one of the inspirations for psychohistory, which gave highly exact predictions by examining the behavior of huge populations of human beings—though I doubt that even the Galactic Empire came anywhere near six hundred sextillion inhabitants.
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Old 11-12-2015, 02:23 PM   #40
David Johnston2
 
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That's something I would go out of my way to avoid. My feeling is that if you can understand something by scientific methods, experiment with it, achieve predictable outcomes, and so on, you've made it unmagical.
I consider that a feature, not a bug. To me a great magic system is the product of a comprehensible set of alternate natural laws.
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