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I'd just like to stick my spoon into the subject by going back to the Wikipedia where they say the name "Cancer" was given in the Greek era, 'cause "it mostly looks like a crab (cancer) with all the veins and stuff" or something like that. So Greeks already knew of carcinoma, the swelling that happens from mutated cell that grows too fast, even when they didn't know about cells back then.

BUT, back again to Wikipedia, it says live cells were first witnessed by Anton van Leeuwenhoek in 1674. That would be XVII century, while The Witcher seems to be based on late medieval era, XIV to XVI centuries. I think it's pretty sound that by means of magic (mostly, magnification) the achievement could be done 300+ years before a non-magical world did.

C'mon, sorcerers could freaking teletransport themselves - making lenses to see how the living works doesn't sound that far-fetched. On top of that, the making of a Witcher involved the know-how of mutation, cell feedback and alike, so Geralt should know what cancer is.

Of course, this technological advances were done thanks to magic and magic was granted to few lucky ones who had the gift and the means to become sorcerers. It wasn't much of a collective work of humankind, and thus, this few ppl were very jealous of their knowledge. It's plausible to me a world with such magic where most common folk still live in the medieval times.

PD: I mean, I really like this idea. Magic is powerful, but most worlds/games/set-ups represent it as the power to throw a fireball. Please... Here at least Sapkowski gives tidbits of what researches can achieve when magic is involved. Though I still have to read The Name of the Wind as suggested by Superarthur.
Post edited April 10, 2013 by dariusblackdeer
superarthur: If their technology is that advance, they would've made nuclear weapons and send people to the moon.
Poland cannot into space!
superarthur: When Geralt visited the Kayran's lair, Triss mentioned not only genetic mutation and cancer, and also how mutations/cancer contrast natural selection.
If people in the Witcher universe has knowledge of those things, why are there no guns and aeroplanes yet? If their technology is that advance, they would've made nuclear weapons and send people to the moon.
The article states that "the now prevailing concept of Darwinian evolution and the stepwise progression of tumours was perhaps most convincingly articulated by Peter Nowell in 1976."

Base on what the fact that Triss was so sure about her theories, the Witcher universe must be as advance as ours in 1976.
Thinking about technological advancement is actually quite interesting, and by no means is our current development path the only possible one. For example, think about the rise of the computer. One might think, you need all kinds developments like electricity, transistors etc, But, Charles Babbage created an universal computer, the analytical engine, already in 1837, along with working programs for it. If not for lack of funds, the computer age would have begun 100 years earlier, in quite different circumstances (->steampunk).

The basics for genetics as developed by Mendel (and the theory of evolution by Darwin) were based purely on observation, the prerequisites for recognizing those rules were already met BC (finding the structure of the molecule and analyzing DNS sequences is another matter).

Magic might hinder the development of black powder based weapons a lot. Imagine the history of the first cannon in the Witcher world: "*Boom* it fires at the wall & destroys it, everyone is impressed. Enemy mage creates spark in black powder reserve *BOOM* -> OMG we destroyed our own camp, kill that crazy inventor!" And thats it for black powder weapons...

Also, if you postulate magic = power source (instead of steam, combustion etc.), one could think of many contraptions, experiments and "machines" only available to those with magical talent. Combine it with the usual secrecy in the medieval period (alchemists guarding their formulas, guilds guarding their trade secrets etc.), scientific knowledge in the hands of an elite few might be logical.

Edit: Oh, and i agree, "The Name of the Wind" is a must read :)
Post edited May 23, 2013 by kirell