The last year has seen an interesting shift going on within the realm of the sciences. While science has always been cool, it hasn’t been treated as such for awhile but that’s beginning to change. The shift in highlighting the sciences has been exciting to watch because it puts something key to what humanity is and can do back in the spotlight, reminding us of the miracles that we make that are right in front of us all the time.
As the saying goes, magic is just science that we don’t understand yet.
Which is why the franchise A Certain Magical Index is so interesting. It’s a property that shows a really great blending of magic and sciences together and doesn’t diminish one or the other, but shows how they can, in a lot of ways, work together well. While also painting certain points of magic as simply being science that’s not yet understood.
First, let’s look at some of the things that are in the realm of reality or at very close in the scale of things to being a reality:
A long used concept in science fiction, it has its time in this franchise as well with background appearances in the series and a stronger use within the film A Certain Magical Index: The Miracle of Endymion. With the idea behind moving to a space elevator to deal with the orbital station above instead of relying on a spaceplane, which itself is the subject of an accident in the film is a great one. The visual alone for a space elevator is endlessly fascinating, both from a terrestrial point of view to an orbital point of view.
While space elevators are still largely considered science fiction, the reality is that it’s closer than it was when the concept first came up decades ago, enough so that Obayashi Corporation has plans to build one by 2050! Imagine seeing that against your landscape?
More and more is learned every day about how our brains work and there’s some fascinating research that goes into how our minds work. While the old adage again of our brains being simply computers is true on a certain level, there’s more to it than that when you factor in emotions and other areas. But we’ve seeing how there are false memory implantations being done in the labs out there and as greater understanding comes into play, we’ll see this play out even more so. This also appears in the franchise, as it does in a lot of science fiction series, with A Certain Scientific Railgun. This plays into the whole Mikoto Misaka storyline which, in itself, is an interesting one with its human cloning aspects, forced evolution and expansion of ones skills taken to the next level. With enough attempts and ways to do it, you can get almost anything you want. If you could create ten thousand clones of a brilliant mind, would that combined power do something that would be elevated to the next level? And if you could then take that kind of knowledge and implant it in others, what would that do for evolving the species as a whole? The mind boggles – and the anime explores!
One area where this franchise does some fun stuff is with the realm of weather prediction. This is done in the first season of A Certain Scientific Railgun as we see how the supercomputer that the city uses, the Tree Diagram, that uses its immense processing power to isolate the weather for a full month ahead down to the second across the city. That’s something that you can imagine people really wanting to have, while also pointing out how bad weather prediction is today. But at the same time, weather prediction today is vastly better than it was ten, twenty or thirty years ago by a huge order. With the number of models that exist and the extrapolations that can be done, forecasting has become much better, though there are still so many variations down at the “local” level that it can get people to being upset when the big picture weather events don’t quite impact them as they think they should.
The world of these franchises within Academy City play with a lot of science that is closer to reality than fiction used to be. Science fiction is the guide to what our futures will be like because many people grow up watching it and then try to figure out how to make it a reality. A franchise like this has a lot of science that it really does play with, from the closer to real concepts above and others like security robots and the like to utilizing the connected nature of the world through technology with potential brainwave networks – which of course can spark “fears” of a global consciousness! In the end, science does progress and humanity evolves and changes with each new piece. Sometimes in small ways, sometimes in big ways, and almost always with a lot of kicking and screaming along the way. Shows like A Certain Magical Index and its movie, The Miracle of Endymion as well as A Certain Scientific Railgun provide us a look at different kinds of futures and offer us guidance as well as simply asking the right questions about how we’ll deal with it. Because a whole lot of it is coming like we see here.