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The Witching Hour,
Season 7

Season 7. Episode 10.

In this episode we talk about hypothetical science in the wizarding world ranging from magical genetics to the chemistry of potion making to the physics of transfiguration.

She a Mudblood- Danny Dementor
Squib- Hawthorn & Holly
Hermione Skrews up the Polyjuice Potion- Harry and the Potters
Potions Wizard- 8th Horcrux
Potions Yesterday- Draco and the Malfoys
Illegal Love Potions- The Parselmouths
The Making of a Puking Pastile- Gred and Forge
Felix Felicis- The House of Black
Polyjuice Potion- Hawthorn & Holly
Wizarding Skillz- The 8th Horcrux
Flash Bang Done- Oliver Boyd & The Rememberalls
Transfigure it Out- Into the Pensieve
My Patronus- Tonks and the Aurors
The Trace- Roonil Wazlib
The Mandrake’s Carol- Roonil Wazlib
Grindylows’s Garden- Draco and the Malfoys
Did You Ever Think (To Fight for the Environment)- The Whomping Willows
Dragons Make Very Nice Pets- Roonil Wazlib
Dragons and Beasts- Ginny and the Heartbreakers
I Believe in Nargles- The Whomping Willows

Hello dear listeners,
This is the assignment from my evolutionary developmental biology class that I read on air, if you want to read it. I have no idea if it actually makes sense or not, but at least the figures are cute, right? xo

The Magic Gene from ‘Harry Potter’ Explained by Evo Devo

By Anu Lingappa

In Harry Potter’s wizarding world, a range of morphological phenotypes from different phyla all possess magical abilities due to the expression of a single magic gene. In humans, only a select group of individuals can do magic. Gene duplication, canalization, posttranslational modification, and complex regulatory networks are all possible mechanisms for how the expression of this gene differs between species and within populations.

In a 2007 interview J. K. Rowling, author of the universally popular Harry Potter books, stated that within the wizarding world one’s ability to perform magic comes from the presence of a single magic gene1. If magic can be reduced to a heritable trait, its evolution and development in animals may be tracked and quantified.

The range of magical creatures is diverse, featuring a distribution of phenotypes that encompasses all extremes from fire-breathing dragons to tiny magical insects that cause levitation when they bite. Magic behaves differently even between morphologically similar animals such as humans and house-elves, as house-elves can do magic humans can’t and vice versa. Rowling specified that one gene controls magic, it’s unlikely the same magic gene would have evolved independently in multiple diverse phenotypes using a homologous pathway. If the magic trait only developed once, it would have been present in a common ancestor of all magical species.

Gene duplication2 could be a possible mechanism for the range of diversity expressed by the magic gene despite its monophyletic origin. Duplication of the gene would allow mutations to alter the gene, directing it to develop new features while maintaining the original function on the copy. After duplication, the magic gene would develop differently depending on unique mutations that arise within each lineage. This was seen in the development of the antifreeze protein in worms3, and if applied to the ancestral magic gene, it would create different versions of the gene, each controlling different magical outcomes.


Figure 1 | Proposed phylogenetic tree for divergence of the magic gene.

As the ancestral magic gene transforms, divergence occurs. Shown is the phylogenetic development and divergences of the gene in wizards, as it goes from the ancestral form, to vertebrates, to humanoids, to humans.

The magical gene would inevitably be involved in regulatory networks, affecting and being affected by the surrounding proteins. Repressors4 or activators could regulate the gene’s manifestation by determining its levels of expression.  Posttranslational modification is another way expression can be regulated, altering and controlling expression without supporting any mutations in the gene itself5. As mutations of the magic gene could be incredibly deleterious, a buffering process like canalization would be vital to ensure magical mutations are kept under control. Canalization, as proposed by Queitsch et al,6 suppresses phenotypic expression of many deleterious mutations, and it would have no effect on the regulatory pathways or posttranslational modification.


Figure 2 | Differential expression of the magic gene between muggles and wizards.

Differential expression of the magic gene leads to varied level of the trait in the phenotype in individuals.  Shown is a model to explain how regulation can determine why some humans have magic and some don’t. The magic gene is repressed in muggles, but a change in the regulatory pathway allows it to be expressed in wizards.

Humans are the only species to have both magical and nonmagical phenotypes within a population. Muggles who cannot do magic are not a different species from their magical counterparts by the biological species concept, since they can reproduce to form healthy, fertile offspring. Additionally, there are cases when muggle families produce magical children and cases when magical families produce squibs. By following the theory of a monophyletic origin, the common ancestor of muggles and wizards would have had the magic gene. Perhaps the mutations that differentiate muggles from wizards aren’t on the magical gene itself, but in its regulatory networks. If the magic trait in humans is not expressed due to repressors or posttranslational modification, a person’s ability to perform magic could be attributed to factors that allow the magic gene to be expressed, rather than its sheer presence. By this mechanism all humans are magical.


  1. Rowling, Joanne. Live Chat, July 30 2007.
  2. Hoekstra, Hopi E and Coyne, Jerry A. “The Locus of Evolution: “Evo-Devo and the Genetics of Adaptation.” Evolution 61-5: (2007) 995-1016
  3. Deng et al. “Evolution of an antifreeze protein by neurofunctionalization under escape from adaptive conflict.” PNAS 107, 50 (2010). 21593-21598.
  4. Jacob, Francois and Monod, Jaques. “Genetic Regulatory Mechanisms in the Synthesis of Proteins.” J Mol Bio (1961) 3, 318-356
  5. Kouzarides, Tony. “Chromatin Modifications and Their Function.” Cell. 128, 4 (2007).693-705.
  6. Queitsch, Christine, Todd A. Sangster, and Susan Lindquist. “Hsp90 as a Capacitor of Phenotypic Variation.” Nature 417.6889 (2002): 618-24.

We haven’t actually read this book. BUT, today we will be holding our much-anticipated SCIENCE SHOW! After all of the politics-y talk this season (and always) Anu will be gracing us with all of her scientific knowledge to talk about the interaction of magic and science in the Potter world! Tune in at 5pm PST! Also, we really want to read this book. If you have, let us know how it is!

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The Witching Hour

Season 7. Episode 2.

Why did Hipster Harry Potter burn his tongue? Because he drank firewhisky before it was cool. On this episode of The Witching Hour we take a break from mainstream wrock and play some of the most obscure songs out there. You’ve probably never heard of them. We certainly hadn’t.

Secret Kisses - 142 Staircases
Harry Potter and the Halfdub Remix - Terabyte Frenzy
I Don’t Tell Lies - 2 Cauldrons and a Broomstick
Flight - Witherwings
Wizards Loving Wizards - Tom Riddle and Friends
The Abandoned Boys of Hogwarts - Split Seven Ways
Someone Untrustworthy - The Sneakoscopes
Not My Son - QuickSpell
Wizard Rockers Unite - The Quaffle Kids
The Bravest Man I Ever Knew - Potter Noyz
Hogwarts Schomgwarts - My Magical Romance
Neville - MC Chris
On My Broomstick - Hogwarts Homeboi
Hey There Grindewald - Grindewald and the Greater Goody-Goodies
Dumbledore’s Secret - Hinky Punks
You Must Take the Train - Hogwarts Express
Ginny Can Just Shut It - Fleur Delacours
Broomsticks and Apparitions - Fawkes
Writing on the Wall - Essence of Dittany
I Kissed a Squib - Demi Towle’s The Cruciatus Curse
We Are Ravenclaws - DJ Accio
Ron’s Mum (The Sweater Song) - Alas Earwax!
Friends of my Friends - Thomas and Finnegan
So Much Love - Snidget
Here at Hogwarts - Shrieking Shack Disco Gang
Riddikulus - The Remus Lupins
Taking U 2 Skol - Dumbledore
Hogwarts Halloween - Hungry Hungry Hipprogriffs
Dragon Rock Rules - The Hungarian Horntails
Love, Ginny - Obliviate
Mister Minister - The Sectumsempras
Merlounge - Mermaids Above Water
I Want Harry Potter Back - Lily and James
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The Witching Hour

This week we get real academic with our discussion of how magic works within the universe of Harry Potter. 

Season 6 - Episode 6 - The Limits of Magic

"Music is Magic" by the Remus Lupins
"All My Magic" by Creevey Crisis
"It’s Magic" by Draco and the Malfoys
"History of Magic" by Gred and Forge
"Magical Fall" by the Hermione Crookshanks Experience
"Imperiused When I Left You" by Into the Pensieve
"The Ministry of Magic" by Ministry of Magic
"You Don’t Know Jack (About Magic)" by Oliver Boyd & the Remembralls
"Beyond the Veil" by the Remus Lupins
"Magical Me" by the Quaffle Kids
"Thoughts on the Ministry of Magic" by the Whomping Willows
"Broomsticks and Apparitions" by Fawkes
"The Art of Parseltongue" by Hawthorne and Holly
"Trio in Trouble" by Oliver Boyd & the Remembralls
"The Lonely Wild" by the Weasel King
"Where Do We Go from Here?" by Catchlove
"The Cold, Wild Yonder" by Oliver Boyd & the Remembralls
"And Winter Never Ends" by the Hermione Crookshanks Experience
"My Patronus" by Tonks and the Aurors
"Legilimency Victim" by the Sectumsempras
"In the Pensieve" by the 8th Horcrux
"Out of Ideas" by Draco and the Malfoys

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The Witching Hour

This week on the Witching Hour, it’s all about magic in wizard rock. We spin our favorite wizard rock tracks that discuss the metaphor of magic, zombies, dragons, wizards, dwarves, enchantments, and more! 

Season 6 - Episode 9 - Wizard Rock

"Magic" by One Direction
"Magic" by B.o.b featuring Rivers Cuomo

Ok, ok. APRIL FOOL’S! This week we’re playing our favorite muggle music about magic n’ stuff.

"Do You Believe in Magic" by the Lovin’ Spoonful
"Magical Mystery Tour" by the Beatles
"Tru3 Magic" by Mos Def
"Magic Spells" by Crystal Castles
"The Zombie Song" by Stephanie Mabey
"Monster Mash" by Crapcorps
"Magic To Do" by Ben Vereen from "Pippin"
"The Wizard Turns On…" by the Flaming Lips
"Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" by the Police
"Dragon Tales" TV theme song
"Time Warp" by the Rocky Horror cast
"Enchanted" by Taylor Swift
"Ceremony" by New Order
"Black Magic Woman" by Santana
"Love Potion No. 9" by the Clovers
"Gandalf Style" by Scream Team
"Song of the Lonely Mountain" from The Hobbit
"It’s Magic" by Pilot
"The Wizard and I" from Wicked
"Pinball Wizard" by the Who
"Magic Dance" by David Bowie
"You Can Do Magic" by Andrew Seeley
"Witchy Woman" by the Eagles
"Happy Birthday to us" by Gred & Forge

PS. Best moment, hands down:
Anu: That reminds me of in the seventh book…
Sara: —what book? 
Anu: Oh, oops.
Sara: Lord of the Rings? 
Claire: There’s seven of those books?

… We’ll be back soon with more, real wizard rock. <3

Just can’t get enough of these magical v-day cards

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The Witching Hour

Sadly, Claire is not with us this week as she has a nasty cold. Covering for her place will be Rubeus Hagrid, Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts!! lol jk we wish. This week we bring you all our favorite songs about magical creatures in the Potterverse, as well as a few of the wizards who had particular attachments to them. We have Newt Scamander’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on hand, so we’ve read excerpts from some of our favorite animals’ entries. From Acromantulas to Unicorns, Grindelows to Pixies, Nifflers to Trolls, from Owls to Thestrals—we’ve got you covered! Like the saying goes… Hagrid the giant has a posse. A posse of dangerous but awesome critters.

Season 5 - Episode 6 - Care of Magical Creatures 2

"Animals That Have Left Me" by the Mudbloods
"Help Me Hagrid" by Justin Finch-Fletchley and the Sugar Quills
"Accio Hagrid" by Harry and the Potters
"Follow the Spiders" by Harry and the Potters
"Eulogy for Aragog" by the Mudbloods
"Aragog Tonight" by Bella’s Love
"ARAGOG" by 25 Hour Unicorn Diner
"Hippogriffs Deserve to Die" by Draco and the Malfoys
"Freedom is Only a Hippogriff Away" by the Mudbloods
"Flight of the Hippogriff" by Danny Dementor
"Dobby" by Draco and the Malfoys
"S.P.E.W." by Harry and the Potters
"Two House Elves" by Harry Potter and the Magic of Music
"House Elf" by Dreary Inferi
"Evanesco Dobby" by Ministry of Magic
"Grindelow’s Garden" by Draco and the Malfoys
"Pixie Funk" by Blibbering Humdingers
"Sniffle My Niffle" by the Nifflers
"Basilisk and the Halloween Feast" by the Seven Potters
"I Believe in Nargles" by the Whomping Willows 
"Underwater" by the Giant Squidstravaganza
"On Thestral We Ride" Hermione Crook
"Thestrals in Heat" by DM
"Thestrals" by RiddleTM
"Trollin’ for Love" by Justin Finch-Fletchley and the Sugar Quills
"Troll in the Dungeons" by Stephanie and the Quaffles
"Snowy Owl" by Harry and the Potters
"Owl Post Strike" by the Owl Post and the Mudbloods
"Fluffy" by Harry and the Potters
"Fred and George" by Harry and the Potters
"The Real Story of Aberforth’s Goat" by the First Task is Dragons
"Expecto Patronum" by the Remus Lupins 

100th blog post!!

Check out our Valentine’s special next week!