Entries published on December 3, 2007
In yesterday’s article I spent a fair amount of time talking about the word “magic”, specifically in the context of Clarke’s Third Law, which states that
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
A big part of what I was getting at was that a lot of things which seem to be explicable only by appealing to “magic” are really just cases of technology — sometimes extremely simple technology — being used in a complex way. Or, to borrow an excellent turn of phrase from Terry Pratchett, “ninety percent of most …
Clarke’s Third Law
Every so often, a TV producer who wants to get ratings will air a “documentary” about some wonder of the ancient world. Say, the great pyramids at Giza. The formula for this “documentary” is pretty simple: you get a bunch of people from modern, industrialized nations to go crawl over these huge ancient monuments in Egypt and speculate on how those ancient Egyptians managed to build them. And, inevitably, a lot of these people will throw their hands up and decide that the Egyptians must have had help from aliens …