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Comment author: grautry 22 December 2012 03:00:37PM *  8 points [-]

Re: Flamel and his open-secret-recipe for the Philosopher's Stone.

Here's a quote from chapter 61:

His strongest road to life is the Philosopher’s Stone, which Flamel assures me that not even Voldemort could create on his own

And yet, the recipe is openly available for everyone to see. If anyone could reproduce the stone from the recipe, it would be the very intelligent, rational(and very interested in immortality) Voldemort.

So, how do we reconcile these two facts?

One option is, of course, the published, known recipe is a fake. The stone is real but Flamel lied to everyone about the recipe. That's certainly a plausible - if boring - explanation of the facts. The other plausible explanation is as Harry says - maybe the stone is a fake. Maybe Flamel is immortal because of Horcruxes and he invented the stone as a way to keep people off the trail of his phylacteries. Maybe Flamel isn't immortal at all, maybe he pulls of a Batman Begins Ra's Al Ghul style of immortality. Any of a dozen options is possible.

However, if we take things at face value, I think we can end up with a more interesting conclusion - I think this might be our first piece of evidence(it's not very good evidence, but evidence nonetheless) that the Interdict of Merlin is an actual, real magical effect, rather than just a cultural thing or a legend. The reason people can't reproduce the stone is because the Interdict obscures some part of the recipe.

I guess this is testable - do we know if Flamel had any apprentices to whom he tried to personally explain how to make the Stone?

Comment author: 75th 20 May 2012 02:50:41AM *  4 points [-]

Beneath the moonlight glints a tiny fragment of silver, a fraction of a line...

(black robes, falling)

...blood spills out in liters, and someone screams a word.

That, of course, appears before the start of Chapter 1. It's gotten a lot of attention and a lot of speculation. Clearly it depicts something that happened in the past, or that will happen in the future, and we'll all get lots and lots of goosebumps when we figure out what it is.

But that passage has a little brother that I haven't seen anyone talk about. Before the start of Chapter 2, we get this:

"Of course it was my fault. There's no one else here who could be responsible for anything."

That doesn't sound that significant. It sounds like Harry Potter, to be sure, but it sounds like it could happen anywhere. The little blurbs before the chapters that follow do appear in those chapters, or at least in chapters nearby (I believe the Chapter 3 blurb appears in Chapter 6, and most of the rest appear in the body of the chapter they preface).

But this one does not. As far as I can tell with both grep and Google, this passage has not yet appeared in the story, 84 chapters later. Clearly it either (a) slipped Eliezer's mind and hasn't been revised in his several retcon binges, or (b) is way more important than it sounds.

To me, if I accept that this line must be important, it maybe sounds like something Harry would say after doing something really dark and evil, while he's in the depths of his Dark Side. Like, something horrible happens and it's not 100% clear that he did it, or someone like Dumbledore is in disbelief that he did it, and instead of denying it he just says "Of course it was me, idiot, who else?" Or maybe it's after he's out of his Dark Side, he realizes what he's done, and instead of trying to save himself he's just completely numb and confesses in a monotone.

EDIT: Or it might be Quirrell, sarcastically referring to everyone else's suspicion that all bad things must be the Defense Professor's fault. If so he's probably either confessing for real because he's beyond caring whether people know, or maybe he's hiding the truth in plain sight with false irony.

But I haven't been around for very long, so it's possible that people have whole edifices of theory about this quote and just don't talk about it because it's old news. Has it been talked about? If so, what's been guessed? If not, what do y'all think?

Comment author: grautry 20 May 2012 04:28:29PM *  7 points [-]

What it reminds me the most of is Harry's discussion with Hermione about the need for heroic responsibility - about always shouldering the responsibility for any final outcome of events, instead of thinking that your job is done when you, say, go to Professor McGonagall and tell her to do something about it.

My guess(though I wouldn't assign a very high probability to this) is that it will be uttered by Harry while he's away from anyone he considers to be sane or responsible(like, say, Quirrell) and he fails to prevent something tragic from happening. A more specific hypothesis: Quirrell's identity is revealed by him doing something unspeakably evil and Harry blames himself for not piercing the disguise earlier.

Comment author: grautry 24 March 2012 09:20:17AM *  0 points [-]

Deleted. I just noticed that a similar example has been posted.

Comment author: pedanterrific 22 March 2012 06:39:03PM 10 points [-]

Harry opened his mouth, and then, as realization hit him, rapidly snapped his mouth shut again. Godric hadn't told anyone, nor had Rowena if she'd known; there might have been any number of wizards who'd figured it out and kept their mouths shut. You couldn't forget if you knew that was what you were trying to do; once you realized how it worked, the animal form of the Patronus Charm would never work for you again - and most wizards didn't have the right upbringing to turn on Dementors and destroy them -

Comment author: grautry 22 March 2012 07:05:35PM 15 points [-]

I'm curious now...

We know that Obliviation doesn't erase everything - it erases memories but not every effect of the experience it erases. We've even seen it in story - Rianne Felthorne felt sad when looking at her "found" ruby. McGonnagall also hypothesized that Harry might have been abused(or otherwise experienced something awful) and then Obliviated.

Either way, I'm curious how this effect would interact with something like this.

If Harry told you the secret of the True Patronus(and you weren't the sort of person who could kill Dementors with that knowledge) and you Obliviated yourself, would that be enough to restore the capacity to use an animal Patronus?

Comment author: DanArmak 12 March 2012 03:28:51PM 17 points [-]

You can make copies of books and of software CDs very cheaply. Given a law of conservation, it can't be the case that destroying (sacrificing) a cheap copy would gain you powerful results, or else you could generate infinite resources very quickly (and wizards would realize this).

Maybe destroying the last extant copy of a software would achieve the effect. One wonders what great magic was fueled by the burning of the Library of Alexandria.

Comment author: grautry 12 March 2012 04:02:03PM *  4 points [-]

True, using copies to achieve that kind of power doesn't seem to make much sense - the law even says that you can get as much... let's call it "work" out of the ingredient as was "invested". It's true that there isn't much of an investment of resources in copies.

So, forget the copies, let's use the originals.

For example, could you take Einstein's original notes/notebooks(copying them beforehand, of course, so that you don't lose information), liquefy them into a Scientific Breakthrough Potion and use that Potion to quickly figure another brilliant breakthrough? That's the kind of thing I'm wondering about.

Comment author: grautry 12 March 2012 02:16:18PM *  18 points [-]

Ch 78 You know, of all the things in the chapter, the law of Potion-Making seems the most important, by far - if I understand it correctly, it has staggering implications.

It's clear that you can extract more than purely physical processes from ingredients - since we have potions that bestow even entirely abstract concepts like luck(and canon!Snape claimed to be capable of brewing fame and glory, I'm unsure if MoR!Snape claimed the same).

So, could you, say, take a CD with some software on it and use it as a Potions ingredient in order to extract the mental work that went into programming that software, creating a Potion of Excellent Programming or something? Or, even better - could you take a copy of some brilliant scientific research paper, extract the brilliant scientific genius out of it and use the resulting Potion in order to create an even more brilliant scientific breakthrough? That's godhood in one shot right there.

I also have to wonder how Potion-Making interacts with the Mind Projection Fallacy. If you use a video game as an ingredient, can you create a Potion of Fun out of the video game or no? Fun isn't an inherent property of video games, it's in the minds of the players.

Comment author: Alicorn 08 January 2011 11:14:25PM 2 points [-]

I could write about this, but one thing that helped me write more prolifically was accepting how utterly idiosyncratic it is and ceasing to wrestle with techniques I'd heard from well-meaning others that didn't feel right to me. So I don't know how much use it'd be for anyone else. I guess I could go meta and talk about how I found the techniques that work for me?

Comment author: grautry 09 January 2011 12:32:46AM 0 points [-]

So I don't know how much use it'd be for anyone else.

Well, maybe you're doing a sort of inverse of generalizing from one example in that you assume that your process wouldn't be of use to anyone else, when in fact, it might be useful? :-)

Your Seven Shiny Stories are also very specific examples that theoretically apply to that one person only but can serve to highlight more general principles.

Going for the meta article with "this is how you find those techniques" with an example added of "this is how I found this" might be the best though, similarly to how the Sequence/Seven Shiny Stories work now.

Comment author: alethiophile 08 January 2011 08:22:13PM 0 points [-]

New chapter is up.

Alicorn, lately the updates have been becoming later and (unless I'm imagining things) getting shorter. It may be worthwhile for you to switch from a M-W-F update schedule to a whenever-it's-ready schedule in order to prevent them from becoming work that is unseemly to contemplate, because that's the easiest way I can think of for this to end prematurely. And that would be sad.

Comment author: grautry 08 January 2011 10:28:08PM 0 points [-]

I don't think I've ever seen a fanfic that updated with this kind of regularity or speed.

Incidentally, Alicorn, I think that might be an interesting thing to add to your Luminosity sequence. Maybe make Seven Shiny Stories into Eight Shiny Stories(or add something like Ureshiku Naritai) and elaborate - based on your own example - how do you force yourself to write more, how you caught that without a schedule/that sensation of "somebody would notice" you don't update regularly and so on. I think it might serve as an interesting example of dealing with akrasia, just like Ureshiku Naritai serves as an interesting example of dealing with depression.

Comment author: alethiophile 05 January 2011 04:57:30AM 2 points [-]

I just thought of something. Given Alice's precog, could she, for instance, guess passwords? Assuming a numeric entry code, could she do something along the lines of 1. decide to press 0 first; 2. if she sees the door opening in her precog set, press 0 and then go to 1; 3. if not, then try 1 with the number 1 instead, etc. (i.e., does her precog give her a set of possibilities based on future decisions, or does it give her only one possibility based on what she has in mind at the time?)

If the latter holds, and hence the above algorithm won't work, then how long a password is it feasible for her to guess by exhaustive mental search of the command space (i.e. resolve to type 0000, then if she sees door opening type it, otherwise go to 0001, etc.) with vampire mental speed? The advantage of this over simply trying each password is 1. that it's likely to be faster, with physical bottlenecks removed, and 2. it doesn't trigger anti-brute-force alarms in the system.

Comment author: grautry 05 January 2011 11:02:19PM *  1 point [-]

That's an interesting possibility.

Though, I think there's an easier approach.

In the case of passwords or PIN numbers or whatever, she could probably look into the future and see the password used by an authorized user of whatever-it-is-that-she's-trying-to-break(eventually, someone's going to use it).

This is vastly less universal(she can't solve problems unless someone already knows the answer), but far easier. She could, for example, try to see who's going to use the ATM next, overlook the PIN and then decide to steal that person's wallet.

On the other hand, I'm not sure how that interacts with her ability. If she, say, decided to look into the future for the next PIN, wouldn't that influence the future so that no one enters the PIN at all(since she's going to steal the wallet of the next person)? Or, would she see herself entering the correct PIN(which would be an extremely interesting possibility)?

Comment author: RobinZ 04 January 2011 07:09:13PM 0 points [-]

Rereading, though: she was only started range exercises the day before they fled ... and then she fell asleep in a car and in a plane with Addy present and not touching, so yeah, it would have been noticed.

Comment author: grautry 04 January 2011 08:17:15PM 1 point [-]

Though, didn't Addy say that Elspeth still thinks of her power as touch-based even after she is capable of range?

Maybe she needs to think of her power as ranged on a more instinctual, subconscious level before she begins broadcasting her dreams as she sleeps.

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