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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 Flame... (read more)

It's possible that Quirrell's ongoing issues with fine motor control have been with him for long enough to become known. He's not going to be able to make the Philosopher's Stone that way.

Or making the stone has some mental prerequisite, like casting Avada Kedavra or the True Patronus. One, in this case, which Voldemort cannot meet.

I just took this at face value, that no one alive but Flamel is powerful enough to make the Philosopher's Stone.

This could be because the magic is going away, so no wizard of any generation much later than Flamel's can possibly make the Philosopher's Stone.

I like the Interdict of Merlin theory too, though.

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.

Why would we doubt it? It's a fact that high level spells cannot be passed down in writing. Surely many wizards tried to, if only to discover which spells are "high level". Presumably there's a sharp distinction between spells that can be written down and those that cannot. If wizards occasionally invented new ways to write down spe... (read more)

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.

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

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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?

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.

Or perhaps the original diary of Sir Francis Bacon?
For it to be "fair" destruction of General Relativity you'll need the information to be destroyed, not container. So everybody everywhere in the universe would need to forget it AND you need to destroy every physic book with it, and wikipedia, etc, etc.
Well, "invested" seems to be interpreted weirdly by magic. Sunlight is stored in acorns in the form of chemical energy, and the light you could get from a few acorns is about the same amount you'd get by burning them thoroughly (say, in oxygen flux). The effects of Harry's potion seemed to be much more powerful than that, I'd say of the level of the light absorbed by the entire oak for a year or more. So it seems like you can get something like "the entire effort" spent to produce something (grow a tree for a year) from just some of the results (nothing indicates they got all or even most acorns from a single tree).
No, because the notebooks do not "contain" the work Einstein did, Einstein's brain contains it. So you'd need the living brain of a scientist as brilliant as Einstein. Which may not be that difficult; Einstein was good but he was also lucky - he glommed onto exactly the right Big Problem at exactly the right time. It's quite possible that there are any number of equally-brilliant scientists alive today who just happened never to find their Big Problem. The point remains, however, that paper and notebooks are not sufficient, you need the brain which actually contains the comprehension. Moreover, since magic works by sensible-to-humans laws in the MoRverse, even if you copied the brain you'd have to use the original in the potion, and you only have one of those. The reason being, the copy hasn't "done the work" even though it contains the comprehension; and you can only get back out the work that was put in. This of course makes no sense, information should be information, but the laws of magic were apparently designed by a human.

If this were the case, could Hermione sacrifice the paper marked 42 for a Potion of Humanism?

Or if Harry wrote down his thesis on Partial Transfiguration, Hermione could make a potion from that (without reading it), and write down whatever discovery she made under the influence of the Breaking the Laws of Magic Potion, which Harry could then use to make a potion...

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 ... (read more)

This thread is a little silly, even by local standards. First of all, the fact that a potion can be no stronger than its ingredients doesn't imply that a potion will always be as strong as its ingredients -- there are probably all kinds of other restrictions on what can be effectively brewed. By way of analogy, most Volvo engines don't run at Carnot efficiencies and most split pea soups don't run at more than 0.01 efficiency.

Second, all of the canon/fanon magical ingredients are non-copiable...a feather or a squished animal is not like a CD or a video game... (read more)

Another thought: write down a description of a complex magical principle that you understand, but that the interdict of merlin would prevent someone else who was reading it from understanding. Use the parchment you wrote on as an ingredient in a potion to make a potion with the mental work needed to discover/comprehend that principle.

Poof, Interdict of Merlin loses its teeth entirely. :)

Another thought that occurred to me: Felix Felicis. No wonder it's hard to brew. Only way you could brew it is if you literally got lucky in the process of brewing it, by c... (read more)

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.

As I interpreted it, potions are doubly bound. The ingredients only 'remember' as much of an affect (light, luck, heat, strength) as was put into them, but they're also constrained by magic. Everything is bound by Magic In, Magic Out. Hence the talk of potions requiring magical ingredients. Under this interpretation, it means that potions act only as a coiled spring or temporary battery. Sacrificing software would only be useful if you needed intelligence right then and couldn't afford the magic at the time; if you just wanted to be generally smarter, you would just continually cast intellect charms on yourself (or perform a ritual). This also fits in cannonically, with many of the most powerful potions (Polyjuice, Felix Felicis, Veritaserum) taking months to brew and providing short duration benefits.

Might explain all those Nazi book-burnings. Grindelwald's human allies weren't just providing human sacrifices.

My intuition, my sense of fairness, says that you can't get back the work required to create information without sacrificing an appreciable fraction of the number of extant copies of that information.

I would guess that Magic and the Mind Projection Fallacy are sittin' in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G.

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.

Ha! Maybe. All right, I've added this to my list of posts to write, but I don't know when I'll write it up.

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.

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?

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 han... (read more)

In Luminosity, Alice was able to see her future conversation with Bella about how blood smells to her, even though after she told Bella her results there was no reason for her to ever have that conversation. However, getting arbitrary information by resolving to write it down once she knows it, then seeing herself write it down, seems different. It would also be an absolute game-breaker, so for narrative reasons it probably won't work out that way. (Maybe it wouldn't work if the information pertained to someone that blocks her. That would be less game-breaking, but still bad.)

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.


Maybe she's just exhausted and that's how it manifests itself?

Assuming that the answer is the same as in Twilight Canon, here's why this works(if you have not read the books and do not want to spoil yourself, do not decipher, obviously):

Va Gjvyvtug Pnaba, Ryfcrgu(be engure, Erarfzrr be jungrire gur cbxrzba vf pnyyrq) cbffrff na 'vairefr' cbjre gb ure cneragf. Vr. juvyr Rqjneq pna ernq zvaqf, fur pna fraq gubhtugf. Naq juvyr Oryyn vf fuvryqrq, fur pna crargengr fuvryqf.

This is only speculation in canon. I may or may not have chosen that interpretation :)

Were I involved in the decision-making, and assuming the Dementors are not just indestructible but also unimprisonable, unteleportable-to-the-surface-of-Jupiter, and so forth

They seem to be un-imprisonable, as far as I see. They can drain magic and decay matter. So that covers.... everything. Eventually, they'd get out of any ward or prison you'd devise for them.

Remember that Harry's hypothesis of Dementors having no structure but what the wizards involved think of them is untested at best. So they might take revenge if they were suddenly faced with wiz... (read more)

You are thinking only of passive static defense, which is an incorrect model that will predict much weaker ability than actual.
Can't you keep them imprisoned in a ring of Patronuses?
* People already are being "randomly" killed by cancer, and will continue to be until we develop a cure. There's no threatening left to do. * If I somehow had a choice between N random people dying of cancer every year or N people chosen deliberately by the government dying of cancer every year, and that was the only choice I had (that is, N is fixed), I would choose deliberate choice, with the expectation that we can pick victims who were about to die of other causes anyway and thus minimize the amount of life we destroy. But that reasoning doesn't apply to a fixed number of people being tortured at any given moment. * If instead of dying of cancer you pick something more analogous, like living with multiple sclerosis, then yes my reasoning is similar: I reluctantly choose randomness over government-selected victims. * As for the logistics of battling Dementors, I'm not sure why that's relevant: I've agreed to assume that there's no known way to neutralize them, either for the reasons you lay out or for other reasons.

Chapter 62.

Well, that was interesting.

I'm wondering whether the general opinion of Harry as dark is going to change as a result of a freaking phoenix following him around.

Incidentally, I've honestly got mixed feelings about this issue. Dumbledore is completely correct in his "it's not that simple" sentiment but Dementors are evil.

I'm actually wondering whether Wizards in general agree with Azkaban torture or if they just feel that Dementors have to be dealt with somehow. Since everyone 'knows' they're invulnerable, they decided to deal with them... (read more)

It's monstrous, yes, but does anyone here honestly have a better solution, if you accept the premise that Dementors are indestructible?

Were I involved in the decision-making, and assuming the Dementors are not just indestructible but also unimprisonable, unteleportable-to-the-surface-of-Jupiter, and so forth, I'd like to think I would present the following argument: "Right now, we can't defeat the Dementors, so we do best to negotiate some kind of agreement with them. We ought to continue researching a way to defeat them, and implement it when we f... (read more)

Well, with the story over, I've just got to say - I'm massively impressed.

It actually encouraged me to read your sequence(far more than MoR) simply because of how insanely productive you were. Eliezer has an exceptional update schedule, but you're like a machine. Post-singularity.

What surprised me the most was, perhaps, that the story forced me to take sparkly vampires seriously. Previously, I had an instinctive /facepalm reaction to them, whereas now I've got to admit, that a more skilled writer than Meyer can certainly make it work.

All in all, there's only two things left to say: Thumbs Up and I Need My Luminosity Fix Plx!!!111oneoenoe

Your enthusiasm is heartening. The sequel, Radiance, will start updating Nov. 8, and I plan to stick to the MWF updates with 4k+ words/chapter.


I certainly wasn't expecting that. Still, I'd like to congratulate you on actually going through with it, most people wouldn't have the guts to do something this big.

Anyway, is my interpretation - that Luminosity!Bella's shield also has some sort of an enhanced-immortality power - correct? If so, that would be an interesting turn of events.

If you want to phrase it that way, I suppose it's an okay label. When the existence of her mind is in danger, the shield will force her body into the minimum adequate configuration for her mind to go on existing, but it's not omnipotent. She would have died if it had been a long time since her last feeding, or if her pieces had been scattered over a square mile or more before being set on fire, or if she'd just been ignited again after the flames went out.
This is awesome writing. I totally didn't see it coming.

Well then, I'd be happy to correct you.

It's fairly common writing advice that you should do your best not to use any other verb than 'said' to carry on a conversation.

To put it simply, most people simply ignore the repetitive nature of 'he said', 'she said'. Therefore, conversation flows fairly smoothly and naturally. Constantly injecting synonyms for 'he said', 'she said' is a sign of a new writer.

Naturally this doesn't mean "never ever use anything else besides 'said' to mark the dialogue". However, the alternatives should be used only in plac... (read more)

I agree with the first, but not the last. There is also the option of dropping "he verbed" entirely.
5Eliezer Yudkowsky12y
I confirm that Grautry's answer is the conventional one, and that I often worry that I am overusing adverbs or verbs that are not simply "said", which is what we are told to worry about.