Transcript of a lecture given by Professor ████████████ on Applied Thaumatology.

 

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"Good evening. Please have a seat. You will find wine, water, bread, and salt at the back of the room, if you require refreshment. Also coffee and donuts and all the rest of that stuff. And go easy on the wine. I have rarely met a PHYSICS operative who could maintain decorum around free alcohol.

"While you get your refreshments and get seated, let me talk a little bit about rituals.

"Bread and salt is a traditional means of greeting distinguished guests in Eastern Europe. Unsurprising, after all: bread being considered the staff of life, salt being an expensive but necessary supplement in those days. It was traditional for the guest to tear a piece of bread off the loaf, dip it in the salt, and consume it. Does this ritual sound similar to anything else you may have encountered? Ah. I see that the Protestants in the room understand immediately. Yes, it is similar to the communion method known as intinction, where the bread is taken from a loaf, dipped in a common chalice, and the elements taken together. I see that some of the Catholics in the room are a bit confused. As are those of you who grew up in an environment where Holy Communion was taken in a different manner. In both cases, the ritual is a symbol not only of welcoming, but of fellowship. It is for that reason that we consider it an act of fellowship to 'break bread' together. Why so many dates begin with or include a meal.

"Also, water. When Saladin captured the Crusader leaders at Hattin, there was a man among them named Reynald de Chatillon who he hated over all else. Chatillon, in Saladin's opinion, was a cruel and untrustworthy man who broke his vows and acted with great perfidy towards the faithful of Allah. When the nobles of the Crusaders were brought to his tent, Saladin provided water for the Crusader King: Guy de Lusignan. The King, of course, passed the water to his friend, Reynald de Chatillon… at which point, Saladin pointed out, very curtly, that it was Guy who had given water to his hated enemy without his permission. Providing water to guests in such an arid region was considered a promise that no harm would come to them. Saladin, intending to kill Reynald, was very intent that his actions not be seen as breaking a sacred vow.

"Nowadays, we provide donuts and coffee as a courtesy to guests who may miss their breakfasts by coming to these seminars, and as a means of making sure that you do not need to leave to eat or drink, should you require refreshment. But it is not difficult to see a common line between this seemingly mundane courtesy and the sacred rituals of our past. All of which is a long and convoluted way for me to say, as all of you get to your seats: welcome.


"Allow me to introduce myself. My name is ████████████. You may call me Professor. I am a Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts campus of the International Center for the Study of Unified Thaumatology: ICSUT. My specialty is in Constructed Intelligence. The cat is my companion, Midnight. This lecture is intended to give you new PHYSICS operatives a working understanding of the basic principles behind Unified Thaumatology. Don't think that after this, that you can perform a working or summon an Outside Intelligence. But I hope that this short lecture will give you some understanding of what it is that we Type Blues do, and how we do it.

"We begin with first principles. Thaumatology is the study of magical principles as a practical science. In many ways, it is similar to Physics, except that it is born from very different principles. For instance, modern physics may be said to begin with the principles of Newton's three laws of motion. Thaumatology begins with a very different set of basic laws, called the Law of Contagion and the Law of Similarity. They may be summed up thusly: 'The part affects the whole,' and 'Like produces like.'

"You can already see where this runs into a problem. Physics already teaches us that these two principles are invalid: if I break a piece off of this loaf of bread and burn the piece, it doesn't cause the rest of the loaf to char. Neither does powdered rhinoceros horn cure male impotence, no matter how similar that appendage might look to a male penis. Which leads us to the third basic principle of magic, originally stated as: 'Magic requires a talented practitioner.' Only certain types of people can perform magic. How and why was never established. And this was the state of practical thaumatology for hundreds of years… up until the early 20th century.

"You see, up until that point, thaumatology… or magic, as it was still known back then… was in a crisis. Advances in science and physics were beginning to crowd out the grey areas that they had relied on. Practitioners were beginning to lose effectiveness. Theories were brought up ranging from human expansion changing the flow of mana in the world, to the very progress of science changing reality into a more stable state. Practitioners even went so far as to deliberately isolate themselves from modern society in order to avoid having their minds contaminated by scientific discoveries… up until a man named Heisenberg proposed a stunning proposition in 1927.

"Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle states that when dealing with a particle, the more precisely its location in time is known, the less precisely its current location is known. It was not this theory itself that galvanized the thaumatological world, but its correlating principle: observation changes the world. That is when the third principle of magic was revised from 'Magic requires a talented practitioner,' to 'Observation changes Reality.' Or, more simply put… certain minds can change the way the world works.

"Incidentally, it is now believed that Type Green reality benders may be persons with unusual talents in this area, hence the alternate name 'Outside Observer' proposed by some. There is, in fact, a movement to reclassify both Type Green reality benders and Type Blue thaumaturges within a single category. I don't know what we'll call it: Type Teal? Type Aqua? We shall see.

"As time went on, and new theories about quantum mechanics arose, the magical community came to realize that their world had more grey areas than they had anticipated. Nearly overnight, the magician changed from the reclusive hermit hiding from the world, into the young scientist, eagerly exploring it. Even the name of the field changed from the staid and superstitious 'magic' to the much more scientific 'thaumatology.'

"… then the Seventh Occult War broke out… and we faced the consequences of this new science, just as the world faced the sobering consequences of the nuclear age, leading to the formation of the Global Occult Coalition. But that is a lecture for a different time.


"So. What can an old wizard like me tell you about thaumatology?

"First of all… remember those three basic principles: Like Produces Like. The Part Affects the Whole. Observation Changes Reality. It is that third principle that is the main focus of modern thaumatology: the isolation of the EVE quantum, the fundamental unit of living energy, has taught us how observation changes reality. It is the guiding principle behind the COLLICULUS imaging system. And it has led to new technologies that would have been unimaginable just one hundred years prior.

"For instance: all of you have had a colloidal silver pattern tattooed somewhere discreet on your body. This is a vital defense against thaumatological attack: All of us shed bits of ourselves wherever we go, ranging from skin cells to hair cells. Were you not protected, a single hair from your body could be used to do you great harm. The wards break the quantum linkages between your living body and the unliving parts that it sheds, helping to protect you from your enemies with voodoo dolls. On the other hand, we can use those same principles to our advantage: getting a hair or DNA sample from a target could allow a GOC thaumatologist to track the person where our technological means cannot. Something to consider prioritizing when you're in the field.

"Let's go to something a bit more spectacular. This is an Apportation circle. It's basically one big magical quantum teleporter: it basically convinces every particle in your body that it should take the infintesimal chance that it's somewhere far away, rather than where it should be. It require incredible amounts of energy… and the process of forcing the universe to express such an improbable state causes many other improbable things to occur. We call it backlash, and it's the reason why we don't use Apportation as much as we could: every time we do, something weird happens, and we're generally in the business of stopping weird things from happening, not causing them.

"Yes, hands down, I know this sounds like a bad Douglas Adams story. Did you know he was inspired by quantum physics? Food for thought.

"Here's one more practical application to consider. Say hi to Midnight. Midnight here is what we called a 'familiar,' now better known as a Construct Intelligence. Think of her as a piece of pure intelligence given feline form. Where did that intelligence come from? Ah. These are the questions, aren't they? The ones we're trying to answer.

"Because thaumatology is a new science. It's been studied for years, but as mythology and superstition. It's only in the past fifty years or so that a real study of it has been made. And we've got a lot of things left to learn.

"In any case, I hope that I've helped to break some of the misconceptions around thaumatology, and illustrated a few places in which laypersons like yourselves can utilize it for your benefit. I'll be taking questions now.

Thaumatology Seminar Series
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