Magic and Science

Recently my dad made mention in conversation of the following Robert Heinlein quote: "One man's 'magic' is another man's engineering" and it reminded me of the quote from Arthur C. Clarke which I consider to be the "original" (true or not).

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

When I was trying to verify the correct wording it turns out that this was the third of four "laws" that Clarke was known for. They are:

  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
  4. For every expert there is an equal and opposite expert.

This however led to finding some parodies, rephrasing and related quotes that I enjoyed. So I thought I would list a couple here.

Leigh Brackett: "Witchcraft to the ignorant... Simple science to the learned."

Gibson's law: "For every PhD there is an equal and opposite PhD."

Larry Niven: "Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology."

In the first non-Asimov Foundation novel, Foundation's Fear, the emperor declares, "If technology is distinguishable from magic, it is insufficiently advanced."