Margaret Peregrine is a high school sophomore. Most of the time, she's either at school, at the school robotics club, at the school chess club, or doing schoolwork. Today, she's cleaning out her late great-grandmother's attic.
I can see why that would be interesting, but why is it practically important beyond knowing what specific things it can and can't do? Are you worried we're siphoning energy from the sun or something?
It probably won't matter from a practical standpoint for millions of years, but "does the universe have an expiration date" is the sort of thing I'd like to know for sure. And transmutation vs. creation could turn out to be relevant sooner, e.g. for space travel stuff. Probably not the most important thing to be working on now, though, you have a point there.
Oh, I guess it would be relevant for fueling spaceships, yeah. Unless you can just bypass fuel by applying motive force directly.
It wouldn't surprise me if you could! Magic is pretty awesome.
Eventually she has finished and waited on and scrutinized another diagram draft, this time including the "knowledge" meaning, and she sends it over.
This one checks out. The runes are such a blunt instrument, it's kind of frustrating.
Very. The clumsiness of runes and the sophistication of natural language incanting is such a weird contrast.
I wonder if there are other ways magic could work and this one is just the one people stumbled on? Critter natural magic isn't like this.
Yeah. For that matter, maybe there are loads of rune meanings neither of us know about, and some way to specify more of what we're doing in the diagrams. As-is it kind of seems like someone set out to invent a rune-based magic system, then gave up and switched to an incantation-based one halfway through.
I don't think there can be more rune meanings in this system, because when you derive new runes you only select one meaning and the others are independent.
Yeah, it's pretty unlikely that there'd be a meaning that none of the runes in our dictionaries had any of. Somebody would've stumbled on it. It's probably just the blunt instrument it looks like.
She has her French incantation (the version that just asks for runes to appear on the paper without specifying ink) done by this point. She enchants a glowing rock, puts it and a fresh sheet of paper on the new diagram, and incants.
She pulls up the glowing rock diagram and starts comparing.
Well, she did ask for "the runes", not "the diagram". She'll work on it. In the meantime, did the spell in fact put ink on the paper or did it change the color of the paper directly? She might need to go find a magnifying glass to be sure.
. . . that is, somehow, hilarious. It's so complicated from a human standpoint and so simple from a physics standpoint!
I tried the reverse-engineering draft; it got all the runes but didn't output their size or positioning, just a list. I need to lengthen my incantation; it must be a day ending in Y.
Also, when I don't specify how it should put the runes on the paper it appears to go with "faint burning" as opposed to either conjuration or more complicated transmutation. Which sort of makes sense from a chemical efficiency perspective, but it's still funny.
Huh. Did you have leftover fire?
She finds her notes from when she was checking the spreadsheet's math and rereads the leftover meanings.
There is a tiny bit of leftover fire, yes. I'm going to work on revising my incantation to get the whole diagram instead of just a rune list, but if you want to try redoing this one without any fire I'd be interested in whether you get a different result.
I can put it on the list but I'd have to retranslate the incantation, since I work in Spanish...
Yeah. Inconvenient that we picked different languages to study. I guess in theory you could incant in French without knowing what all the words meant, but getting confident enough in the pronunciation to be safe would probably be harder than retranslating it.
Yeah, I wouldn't have good pronunciation.
I don't want to try Spanish for the same reason. I guess you could send me the diagram and I could do the actual experiment, if you think it's worth the time.
I don't really have a good sense of your short-term research priorities, actually. Mine are reverse-engineering and healing items.
I still consider myself to be in an exploratory phase.