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DrasticDreamer's avatar

More impressive that Albert Einstein?

Asked by DrasticDreamer (23983points) September 6th, 2009

This isn’t original, it’s from a book. I thought it was kind of interesting, so here it is:

Let us assume you met a rudimentary magician. Let us assume he can do five simple tricks—he can pull a rabbit out of his hat, he can make a coin disappear, he can turn the ace of spades into the Joker card, and two others in a similar vein. These are his only tricks and he can’t learn any more; he can only do these five. HOWEVER, it turns out he’s doing these five tricks with real magic. It’s not an illusion; he can actually conjure the bunny out of the ether and he can move the coin through space. He’s legitimately magical, but extremely limited in scope and influence.

Would this person be more impressive than Albert Einstein?

Please try not to simply say “Yes” or “No” – tell us why. :)

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14 Answers

sandystrachan's avatar

No cause we all know even real magic is faked :)

Zuma's avatar

If it’s “really” magic, then I am assuming that it can’t be replicated or understood. It would be interesting but would ultimately make no contribution to human knowledge or well-being. It wouldn’t even necessarily confirm the existence of the supernatural or anything else useful about magic. So, no, he would not be as impressive as Albert Einstein, who almost single-handedly changed the way we view the universe, and opened the door to a deeper understanding of everything.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@Zuma Yeah… I’m really tired and I’m beginning to realize that this isn’t as interesting as it sounded at first…

breedmitch's avatar

I think your choice of words here is important.

Magician: can do things outside of our knowledge of physics
Einstein: greatest theorist of our known physics

Magician: impressive
Einstein: important

markyy's avatar

No, unless his 4th trick is to pull Einstein from his head and his 5th trick is to make all of ‘us’ believers. I simply would be too sceptical and have a hard time believing him. Magic is something that doesn’t exist, it’s a word we invented to explain the unexplainable. The only thing this magician could do is:
. . . a) give great shows at children’s parties
. . . b) maybe prove some of Einstein’s theories right.

Ps. What kind of book did you read?

mattbrowne's avatar

If you’re interested in “magic” take a look at the core of our sun. It wouldn’t shine without the “magic” of quantum tunneling. Protons disappear and magically pass through the barrier of another proton reappearing on the other side close enough for nuclear fusion to occur. It’s like you entering your house through your front door without opening it. So one magician more impressive than Albert Einstein would be Erwin Schrödinger, also known to create cats that are alive and dead at the same time. Interested in a magic pet?

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

@mattbrowne I’ve never Liked Schrodinger’s cat. It seems very human-centric. The cat is only alive and dead because we don’t know which it is yet. it’s just based solely on human perception, which, I realize is all we have to go off of, but never the less, the universe does not simply cater to us, it just seems like faulty logic.

Qingu's avatar

As Arthur C. Clarke said, “There is no difference between magic and sufficiently advanced technology.”

The magician’s ability to conjure a bunny out of thin air would be based on a system of rules. In fantasy books, authors come up with mystical sounding names for these rules. Maybe he uses “magical energy” or “spiritual force.” But whatever the rules are, they can be codified and understood by the magician.

This is exactly what technology is. And if you look back on the history of science and technology, the “rules” also had magical names. Modern chemistry evolved from alchemy, which was ostensibly magical thinking. If you call electricity a “magical force” instead of a “flow of charged electrons,” it’s not inaccurate, it’s just less specific.

What the magician’s “real magic” would mean is that we would have to completely re-examine everything we know about the universe to accomodate the new rules he is using. But I’m not sure his ability to wield these rules would be more impressive than Einstein’s ability to understand and codify some of the most mysterious rules in the physical universe.

Jack79's avatar

He’s more impressive in that he’s unique. If this is real magic, then it changes everything we know about the world (the world Einstein tries to explain). Even if he can do one such trick, then all of Einstein’s theories go out the window and become irrelevant.

But of course there is no such person, and the question is hypothetical. If there were, we would not be learning physics at school and would never have even heard of Einstein. The debate itself originates more from the “Art for Art” vs “Art for Man” debate some 100 years ago. In that case, a scientist (or artist) who does something useful to Mankind is more important than someone else who does something truly amazing but with no value to the rest of the world (or, by the same logic, scientists are more important than artists).

mattbrowne's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs03 – Yes, well, animal activists never like Schroedinger’s cat experiment either.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

@mattbrowne haha yeah for some reason they don’t understand that it’s just an analogy. I actually had an argument well, conversation, rather with a person in one of my classes about that last week, she seemed pretty mortified at the thought that we evil scientists go around gassing kittens.

Ivan's avatar

Uh, unless the magician can use those tricks to completely revolutionize our understanding of the universe and spark a new revolution in science, then no.

Garebo's avatar

No, Albert was a creative thinker, he thought outside of the box, with a mediocre intelligence- which is always hard to define. Besides, he had a great doo, all the gals apparently loved him back then, must have been his prestige and money, either way to me he was magic, especially his quantum stuff. Scientists are still building on his ideas.

Briannalouise's avatar

You might be interested in Roland Barthe’s essay ‘The Brain of Einstein’

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