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Particle Physics and Pony Fiction Experimentalist

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Why write science themed pony stories? · 12:08am Dec 20th, 2013

Nice to see a good level of interest in my latest work, Rock Farms and Nuclear Reactors. Please take a look if you haven't already done so. In this story Pinkie Pie teaches Twilight Sparkle some basic nuclear physics. This is my third science themed pony story, following The Art of Rainbow Engineering, and Rainbooms and Rationality.

It seems a good time to write a blog post explaining what I'm aiming to achieve here.

I got into writing fiction quite late. As a student I was into science writing, and penned quite a few articles for student newsletters and websites on various topics in physics and astronomy. At the time I had a vague idea of pursuing a career in science journalism. In due course, I changed my mind, and became a particle physicist instead (which is much more fun). But I maintained an interest in writing and science outreach.

The aim of science writing is to describe some topic in modern science in way that a non-scientist reader will understand and enjoy. We want to teach the world about science, and show them that modern research is cool and totally deserving of large amounts of taxpayers' money. For some topics (such as astronomy) this is easy. For other, such as some of the more abstract bits of particle physics, it is much more challenging, requiring lots of elaborate metaphors, and wacky ideas.

I thus started writing fiction as a way to talk about science. I had the idea when I read the comic book 'The Rabbi's Cat' by Joann Sfar, which taught me something new about the history of Jews in Algeria – not a topic which I had any interest in before. I reasoned that if a cool story about a talking cat could draw me into Jewish theology, I could try the same idea for science.

When I saw My Little Pony, I immediately thought it had potential to describe the physics of rainbows. True, this is a cartoon with flying ponies walking on clouds, so the laws of physics don't apply. But the aim of science writing is not hyper-realism, but to explain a particular topic. Actually the crazy cartoon physics makes it easier, because we have the flexibility to do whatever we want. So we can have a pegasus weather team setting up an experiment, with the clouds just how we need them. This lead me to write, The Art of Rainbow Engineering.

Likewise, writing a realistic story about a nuclear reactor would be really dull. But with Pinkie Pie we can skip the boring details and focus on the cool stuff. This is one of things that I love about fan fiction – it is so flexible – you can always find a way to pull off the craziest ideas.

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Comments ( 2 )

Why? Because science themed pony stories are awesome.

As somebody who would like to get into nuclear engineering come college, I must thank you for the part you play in the science industry. From what I've seen, getting the support a high cost experiment needs really difficult. Especially when the public view consists of, say, "nuclear reactors = Chernobyl". What you do is so great because it opens the public eye to what's going on. It's like what media is supposed to be: a (mostly, cause you are trying to get funding) unbiased opinion trying to give the facts.

Well to be honest I'm hardly an expert on any of this :twilightsheepish:. Whether or not what I've said makes sense, good job getting into the featured box again. I'll be sure to read Rock Farms and Nuclear Reactors. Something tells me I'm going to enjoy it rather a lot...

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