Harry Potter science

Eva Amsen, on her Nature Network blog, reviews past science and medical extrapolations of Harry Potter novels and asks: "Are there science (or medical) lessons to be extracted from Harry Potter? I think so! For example, I have a very clear idea of which of the characters would make good scientists and why, and will discuss this later this week. Meanwhile, tell me: which of the HP characters do you think would make the best scientist(s)? And who would be terrible?"

Here is my answer: what’s yours?

Well, obviously Dumbledore would make a good scientist as he has an enquiring mind, is wise and non-judgemental, and he has a sense of the “joy of discovery”.
I have to say that Snape is also a good scientist, look at the depth of his potions knowledge.
Hermione, naturally (she’d be good at whatever she decided to do).
In an eccentric way, Fred and George Weasley, as their joke shop depends for its commercial success on innovation and targeted R&D.
Quirrell, well, maybe a bit of a failed scientist but he tries (tried).
I suppose one would have to say Voldemort, that recipe at the end of book 4. Very precise, and his life depended on it.
Minerva McGonnegal would have been one of those solid but uninspired scientists.

Now, terrible scientists. Harry and Ron, obviously. Technically incompetent and not the brightest bulb in the box. Sirius, far to impatient and rebellious. Lupin, too mystical. Moody, too impatient and ready to chase after crazy hypotheses. Luna Lovegood, also, is too ready to believe in cranky theories. Rita Skeeter would make a pretty bad scientist as she makes up her conclusions.
Barty Crouch Sr (too blinkered) and Jr (too erratic) would not have made good scientists.
OK, I’m stopping now before this gets out of hand. As you can see, I am suffering from “waiting for book 7 syndrome”, rather badly.

2 thoughts on “Harry Potter science

  1. Hermione, hands down.
    But you mention Dumbledore as if he might still be around to experiment. Do you know something we don’t, Maxine????

  2. No, I don’t know any more than you, Susan — my comments weren’t made with any thoughts as to “living or dead” (eg I mentioned Quirrell and another character who shall be namelss but whom I wish were not dead) — rather their qualifications for scientific greatness.
    I am not sure that Hermione would be the ultimate scientist, though. Fearsomely efficient, but does she have the imagination factor? Maybe if she partnered with someone with that wild element (Fred or George?) she would do really fabulous stuff.

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