Jul 19, 2019 10:11 AM
Margaret in Medallion
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"Did the council say that would work?"

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She looks back over her notes of the conversation for a minute. "They didn't specifically say I could get help from multiple people, but they also didn't say I could only get help from one person. I'm going to show them a detailed proposal before doing anything, so if they veto it you won't have done any extra work."

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"Well, I don't mind taking notes according to a study design if you get the council to clear it."

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"Awesome, thanks! I'll let you know if and when I get a study approved."

Her next step is to email Bella with an update on the situation, and a request for introductions in the unlikely event she knows a magic-savvy scientist.

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They're not being very reasonable. It's like they don't care about upside potential at all.

I don't know anybody, though, sorry.
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They're really not. Though to be fair, what I have right now is basically a cheaper way of fixing minor ailments. I'm sort of thinking of this as a trial run for de-aging, so that if and when I get it I'll be able to scale it as fast as possible.

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I mean, there could be intermediate steps. A bigger healing diagram would probably make a heavier-duty healing object.
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Most likely, yes. I'm going to do some more healing work once I'm either done with medallions or stuck waiting for something. I wonder if I should do a really massive version of the healing diagram I've got and use *that* for the study, or if the Council would freak out about it not being the exact same as last time in spite of basically saying last time didn't count.

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Couldn't tell you. Is there harm in asking?
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No, probably better to ask permission than forgiveness here. The worst they're likely to do is insist I use the medium-sized one.

 

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Best of luck!
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She's not sure she wants to deal with the Council again so soon, and they might not want to deal with her again so soon either. She'll call them tomorrow. In the meantime, the incantation for her next tape recorder experiment is done.

This one is a little different. Instead of magically attaching the sound to the cassette, she's going to try to put it it on the tape as though it was recorded normally. The first incantation she tries for this is "Record on the cassette tape the sound of the first incantation used to enchant the medallion, at sixty decibels."

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Doesn't work, doesn't expend the diagram.

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Huh. That's the first time in a while she's gotten a failure that didn't use up the diagram. She tries again, this time attempting to record only the sound of a ringing bell, in case it's a problem of too much complexity for the available power.

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Same result.

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Maybe the magic doesn't know what she means by recording. How about "Record in the magnetization of the cassette tape the sound of a ringing bell, as though it had been recorded with a microphone and so that it can be played back, at sixty decibels."

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Same result again.

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She writes down some hypotheses (magnetization=too much data handling? Fine matter manipulation? Magnetization itself? (Try making superconductors?)) then winds the cassette tape all the way back to the beginning and tries a different tactic. A nontrivial amount of time and French dictionary usage later: "Cause the cassette to produce the sound of the first incantation used to enchant the medallion, at sixty decibels, repeating from the beginning when it finishes, whenever the tape is moving from the reel that is currently full to the reel that is currently empty, and to pause whenever the tape stops moving and resume when it starts again."

Of all the things magic might turn out to require, "lung capacity" was not one she would have guessed, but here she is.

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That works fine.

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Awesome! That should do pretty well unless someone tries fast-forwarding, and they're more likely to think "weird technical glitch" than "magic". She puts the other three incantations on three more cassettes and emails that Latin professor with the story Bella helped her come up with: she found some tapes in her great-grandmother's attic, she can't identify the language being spoken on them, can she buy the professor lunch and show the recordings so she can learn something about her family history.

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The professor is flattered, isn't sure she'll be able to help, suggests a Vietnamese restaurant near campus, but of course Margaret doesn't need to pay for it.

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Margaret is appreciative and understands that of course there are no guarantees. She shows up at the restaurant with the recorder and tapes at the time they agree on.

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The professor is dressed as she said she would be in the email and has already started on some pho. "Margaret?"

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"Yes, that's me. Thanks for meeting me." she says, setting the recorder down on a corner of the table and glancing over the menu.

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The items all have Vietnamese names and English descriptions.

"It's no trouble," the professor replies. "Now, a lot of ancient languages we're only guessing what they sounded like, and presumably whoever recorded these tapes was guessing, too, and maybe differently. Was there any writing at all with the tape recorder?"

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