Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Those Darned Wizards

Just one thought about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (not a spoiler, don't worry, this is something that was already clear from previous books in the series):

Wizards (and witches) can make some pretty incredible, stunningly dangerous spells come out of their wands. The spells can stun you, cause you horrible pain, make your body swell up, make you do the spellcaster's bidding, slice parts of your body off, or, of course, kill you.

But -- they can't aim themselves.

Apparently the magical community has spent centuries perfecting what the spells do, but never seems to have given a moment's thought to improving the spells' ability to hit their targets. No, they just wave their wands in the general direction of the target and hope for the best. The spell itself apparently appears as a bolt of visible light (green light, if it's the death spell), which zooms toward the target, but not so fast that the target can't see the spell and twist out of the way.

Didn't it ever occur to these folks that if they can make a bolt of light come out of a hickory stick and kill someone or overpower his mind, they might want to equip that light with just a tiny bit more intelligence and have it follow the target as the target tries to run away? It must take a fair bit of mental capacity for a bolt of light to take over someone's brain; surely it could sense where the brain is and follow it? At least give it some heat-seeking desires.

Sheesh. Even we Muggles realized a long time ago that it's no use having a great missile if the missile doesn't hit its target. A couple of heat-seeking servomechanisms help a lot. You'd think somebody might have worked out a magical equivalent.

And if not, could they at least send the students out for target practice once in a while? That skill seems sadly missing from the Hogwarts curriculum.

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