Hardly anything in fantasy is ever made out of metal, except swords. On the other hand, there's a lot of metal in science fiction. That might be a practical rule for distinguishing between the two fields.
And the difference between science fiction and real science? Real science involves physical chunks of metal, not just descriptions of it. The ideas that appear in our theory papers are just science fiction until we take our designs down to the machine shop and build something. That's what the scientific method means.
All the magic in our modern world is made out of metal, and before I started working in this lab, I took all those tiny, shiny things for granted. But someone has to make them. Even if they come from a factory, someone had to make the prototype. Look at the spring on your clickable ballpoint, and imagine trying make that. Now think about the parts inside the computer you're using. The ball-bearings on the fans.
We have a need for lots of "simple" things that don't exist, can't be bought off the shelf. Boxes, flanges, mirror mounts, but made out of vacuum-safe or magnetic-field-proof materials, at specific sizes, to hold custom made mirrors and lenses and cells. The sheer amount of skill, patience, and practical knowledge that goes into the creation of these things astounds me.
So anyway, I'm going to be taking a shop class this quarter. I'll probably blog about it. But it doesn't start until tomorrow, so I don't have any interesting experiences (finger amputations, brushes with death) to report just yet. Stay tuned.
The class has been cancelled.