A little piece of Hogwarts may someday be reality: firefighters could eventually replace their hoses with flame-snuffing wands, the Daily Mail reports. Scientists attached a 600-watt electrical amplifier to a wand that blasted a foot-high fire with electricity, and the flames were extinguished almost immediately, they announced at a conference this weekend. Even a weaker current would have an effect, said one.
The current, experts believe, shifts the position of the gases and particles that constitute the flame; the process can weaken or put out the fire entirely. Along with the wands, the idea could lead to electric “sprinklers,” a researcher notes—and unlike gushing water, these gadgets wouldn’t destroy property. But they won't exist for a few years, and even then, they’ll mainly be suited to “enclosed spaces,” the Mail notes; hoses will remain the weapon of choice against forest fires. (Read more firefighters stories.)