The Bottom Line
- Entertaining account of modern science, and how it relates to the world's best-selling book series
- Scientific discussions are appropriate for laymen and introducing kids to science
- A lot of topics covered, so the coverage on individual concepts may be superficial at times
- Viking Press (Penguin USA), 2002
- Written by the best-selling author of The Physics of Christmas (known in the UK as Can Reindeer Fly?).
- "Glossary of Muggle Science, Potter Magic, Oddments, and Tweaks" is a real treat.
Guide Review - The Science of Harry Potter by Roger Highfield
He begins the book with an exploration of various means of flight, from regular aeronautics (lift & drag) to anti-gravity and dark energy. He also explores alchemy at some length, as well as its relation to modern chemistry.
Much of the book is biology, such as means that various societies have used to get "high" without a broom, genetic mutations and various species related to creatures found in Harry Potter (both in myth and the real world), how the brain works, a fairly large discourse on various owl species, and the history of dragons.
A fair spattering of mathematics also comes across in the book, as he uses game theory to support the House structure utilized by Hogwarts to promote competition and keep students focused on their studies.
Perhaps one of the intriguing aspects of the book is that much of it, especially in the second half, is devoted to historical and sociological analyses of magic and magical societies. Highfield explores the origins of witchcraft, and how a belief in the supernatural seems ingrained in us.
Another fun aspect to the book is the "Glossary of Muggle Science, Potter Magic, Oddments and Tweaks" which fill the last several pages before the appendix. Here we find explanations of various concepts and how they relate between the Muggle Science and Potter Magic, such as what chemical Malfoy's "Densaugeo" spell would need to trigger in order to cause Hermione's teeth to grow at such an accelerated rate.