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Harry Potter Spelling Reference

Wands from a Muggle Perspective

by David Haber

The wand is a very important tool in the lives of witches and wizards of the Harry Potter universe. I believe the magical wands of Harry Potter's world could actually be tiny hand-held computers. This is a look at those wands, from the perspective a muggle computer programmer, using actual examples from the Harry Potter books.

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Reader Comments:

Hilarious and very informative article. It actually serves as a nice primer for people unfamiliar with basic programming of standard Muggle computers as well as wands. Good job!

Posted by Marcia from Seattle, WA on September 10, 2006 4:18 PM

Very funny. I wish J.K. could see that. Suddenly understood a great deal more. And was entertained at the same time. Keep up the good work!

Posted by Charlotte from Denmark on September 20, 2006 12:44 PM

This is a work of hilarious genius! Just a couple of points, though:

1) I think in your club example you should have some more brackets:


That is, if you mean to call the leviosa() method on the Club object that you have cast from wingardium. Oh, and since Club is a class, it should be capitalised. As written you would be casting whatever wingardium.leviosa() returns, to a Club.

2) I think you'll find that the finiteIncantatum() method can also be called on a running instance of a Spell object. Thus we would have:


I refer you to the battle in the Ministry from Order of the Phoenix, when Neville is dancing the Tarantella.

I'd check the JavaDoc for this, but appears to be offline at the moment.

Posted by Martin McCallion from London, UK on September 21, 2006 08:20 AM

That was great! I can't really add to the praise already given, but I do have one question: How do nonverbal spells work? Would it sense when you're casting a spell, then do this:


and pass the result of that into another function that runs the right spell?

Posted by Mike on September 21, 2006 2:49 PM

Yes, this article was written before non-verbal spells were documented in Half-Blood Prince. The syntax would be:

User spell = new User.getTarget(SPELL);

Posted by Dave Haber from Los Angeles, CA on September 21, 2006 3:03 PM

Oh nice, that does make sense too. Great article, I shared it with my few friends who would understand it.:D

Posted by Mike on September 22, 2006 4:11 PM

Well, I do think that wands might be minute computers. And I really like the syntaxes you've given.

Posted by Poojitha from Dubai, U.A.E on October 15, 2006 08:21 AM

Well, the wands could act like miniature computers but could not be miniature computers. Remember, no electronic things work inside Hogwarts.

Posted by Robert from Iceland on November 3, 2006 3:48 PM

Well... not miniature muggle computers, anyway. We know muggle electronics don't work at Hogwarts. We don't know it's not possible a Wizard could get around that...

Posted by Dave Haber from Los Angeles, CA on November 3, 2006 3:50 PM

Unlikely. By this article, only wandmakers could create new spells. The Half Blood Prince, Snape, was not a wandmaker, but he made lots of new spells.

Posted by Toxicologist from Azkaban on November 29, 2006 6:35 PM

Nowhere in the article did it say that the programming of a wand was in something like ROM (read-only-memory). A wand wouldn't be very useful at all if it couldn't learn new spells (recieve new programming). It's most likely voice-based commands that allow you to add new spell syntax...

Posted by Dave Haber from Los Angeles, CA on November 29, 2006 7:06 PM

The question needs to be asked..
How would one go about "upgrading" a wand?

What if you found yourself in a job that required a lot of charms work but your wand was "hardwired" for transfiguration?

Could there be a market for aftermarket add-ons?

Posted by Kevin from Wisconsin on November 30, 2006 09:43 AM

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