Monday, February 1, 2010

Cave Texting and Magic

Consider this item from Engadget:

You know what's really annoying? Teenagers. Even more annoying? Teenagers inventing legitimately useful things and getting awards for it. Meet Alexander Kendrick, the 16-year old inventor of a new low-frequency radio that allows for cave-texting, which isn't some fresh new euphemism, it just means people can finally text while deep underground. How deep, you ask -- well, Alexander's team of intrepid explorers went far enough (946 feet) to record the deepest known digital communication ever in the United States. What you see the young chap holding above is the collapsible radio antenna, though plans are already afoot to ruggedize and miniaturize the equipment to make it more practical for cave explorers and rescuers. Way to go, kid.

Now imagine if you were doing underground work in a world where any magic that existed were somehow atmospheric in nature. Magic would get fainter and fainter and eventually cease to function altogether the deeper you got, unless you had some kind of amplifying device, like this huge collapsible antenna. Beyond a certain point underground, in order for the wizard to be useful in combat, he first has to deploy (and defend) a huge wire cage to draw down magical energies from the distant surface. Afterwords he has to fold it all up again and cart it along, hoping everything still works the next time he has to cast a spell.

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