If you thought that author J.K. Rowling concocted Harry Potter and his wizarding world completely out of thin air, you might be surprised by a new exhibit at the University of South Florida.
Now through Dec. 1, USF's Hinks and Elaine Shimberg Health Sciences Library hosts "Harry Potter's World: Renaissance Science, Magic and Medicine."
The exhibit, put on by the National Library of Medicine, highlights the historical and scientific basis behind the people, potions and creatures that Rowling mentions in the Potter books, many of which were considered scientific fact in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Among the items on display are the academic texts of Nicolas Flamel, the real-life, 14th century scrivener who appears in the pages of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" as the chocolate card frog alchemist.
There are also pages from Renaissance-era books that illustrate dragons and centaurs as real animals, and a collection of herbs and items mentioned in the Potter books, displayed alongside explanations of the magical powers they were once believed to possess.
The exhibit is free and open to the public at the Shimberg Health Sciences Library located at 12901 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., on the USF Tampa campus. The library is open Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.