A Brief History of Magic

Kirk Burkle twirled his finger round lackadaisically, mirroring the motion of the spoon in the cup a couple of inches below it as it swirled the sugar into his coffee. It was a skill he had become quite adept at; wandless magic involving spoons. Indeed, the practice of wandless magic at all was a tricky thing, and even a great wizard could struggle to perform it on something larger than kitchen utensils, but Kirk liked to think he had become quite the master of using it on cutlery. Maybe it was a curious hobby, but it was one that had fascinated him ever since he had discovered the peculiar Muggle phenomenon of using 'magic' to bend spoons with the 'power of the mind'.

Of course, there was no true magic involved, but Muggles seemed very entertained by illusionists manipulating objects by seemingly supernatural means. Kirk's first encounter with such a thing had been a chance viewing of a Muggle programme on television (quite a spectacular invention, he thought, considering it had been made without magic) as he was passing through a Muggle pub one evening. The pub was nearby Diagon Alley, and as such was sometimes frequented by wizards in secret when The Leaky Cauldron became too crowded. On this particular night, there was a TV in the corner to provide entertainment for customers, that was broadcasting a show by a man called Uri Geller. The people around Kirk had seemed quite pleased by the man's feats with spoons, and Kirk himself had been somewhat impressed, perhaps even suspecting the man was a wizard in secret. Kirk could think of no other satisfying explanation for the phenomenon he had witnessed, although he knew such a thing would contravene the International Statute of Secrecy. But it was the reactions of those around him he found most intriguing.

It had quite surprised Kirk that people who led a lifestyle completely devoid of magic and were supposedly ignorant of its existence should be interested in such tricks, yet the evidence suggested that they were. And even though there were sceptics and rationalists who knew that it was merely an illusion, there were still those among Muggles who were open to the possibility of there being more to the world than met their eye.

It was that surprising discovery that led Kirk to investigate more about the customs and philosophy of Muggles, that went largely ignored by the wizarding world. In the process, he found that it was not the Muggle fondness for tricks and illusions that intrigued him most, but their thirst for knowledge and discovery.

Without magic, they had had to find other means of accomplishing certain tasks, and in the process they had come to search for answers to questions about the most fundamental nature of the universe. Kirk was not from a Muggle background in any way - he was about as pureblooded as they come - but the more he discovered about Muggles, the more he began to believe that wizards were as ignorant of their capabilities as magic folk believed Muggles to be of theirs. The most impressive feats of magic were more than rivalled by the greatest achievements of Muggle science.

Muggles may not be able to levitate or transform an object with a mere swish of a wand and an incantation, but it was not wizards who had split the atom. Nor was it wizards who had sent a man to the moon, mapped the human genome or invented medicines to cure the deadliest diseases that had, in the past, claimed the lives of Muggle and wizard alike. Truly, Kirk thought, that even without the advantage of magic, Muggles were quite extraordinary.

The discovery of many of their previous scientific accomplishments had only made Kirk eager to learn more, as Muggles continued to look for answers to questions that were mostly unexplored by the wizarding world. Currently, he was most fascinated by cosmology and quantum physics, and how scientists were searching for a theory that could explain the origin of the universe. As such, he was currently engrossed in reading Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time as he sat in the pub indulging in his spoon hobby.

Previously, he'd had a few conversations with Muggle scientists that had intrigued him immensely as they explained their theories, and in return he'd both frustrated and delighted them with the spoon tricks he'd been practising. He'd never explained the true method behind the trick, of course, although in fact it was perhaps just as scientific as it had been magical. It was Maxwell's Equations of electromagnetism that had allowed Kirk to figure out the process by which wandless magic could work, using the conductance and permittivity of different materials as a means to model how magical force could be directed through a medium other than a wand. It was a far cry from the methods he had been taught in Hogwarts, but undoubtedly effective, nonetheless. Really, Kirk thought that wizards could learn a lot from the Muggle scientific process. After all, it was that process which had allowed Muggles to invent machines that could fly without magic, at speeds far greater than the fastest broomstick; or to send information half way round the world in the blink of an eye, without the need to bother an owl.

Levitating his spoon to settle down beside his cup, Kirk picked up the drink and took a sip, before setting it down again and turning another page in his book. The more he read, the more he grew enthralled by the theories and mind-boggling possibilities it presented, and he wondered where all this knowledge and investigation could one day lead. He knew that in the past, a mere couple of centuries ago, that the capabilities of wizards had been far superior to anything Muggles were able to accomplish by their own means. Yet in recent times, the advancement of Muggle science had been so rapid, he sincerely found himself contemplating that some time in the near future, science may be capable of such feats far beyond the limits of anything magic could ever hope to achieve. Kirk hoped he would be around to find out.