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    Trump-12 Applies (Pseudo)Science to: The Magic of the Main Pony Races

    I recently got to thinking about the different magics of the three races, and what the best description of each would be. Bear in mind that these thoughts are only my current headcanon, but I believe it is roughly consistent with what is seen on the show.

    I suppose we should start with:
    Unicorn Magic

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Trump-12 Applies (Pseudo)Science to: The Magic of the Main Pony Races · 3:02pm Oct 28th, 2016

I recently got to thinking about the different magics of the three races, and what the best description of each would be. Bear in mind that these thoughts are only my current headcanon, but I believe it is roughly consistent with what is seen on the show.

I suppose we should start with:
Unicorn Magic

Unicorn magic is the most commonly seen form of magic in the show. It is extremely versatile, allowing for the creation of a large number of different effects. When magic is in use, the horn of the caster glows, emitting light on a frequency which is dependent on the caster, but which does not change depending on which spell is being cast (except for rare exceptions such as dark magic).

Beyond this, we actually know very little about how unicorn magic works, but we can make some basic observations.

1. Unicorn Magic behaves more like a group of particles than waves, at least partially. Celestia's beam fight with Chrysalis in 'A Canterlot Wedding' clearly shows that two beams of magic fired into each other will block each other, with the less intense beam being pushed back towards its source. If magic behaved like a wave in this situation, both beams would pass through each other. Admittedly, neither Celestia nor Chrysalis is actually a unicorn, but the mechanics of that sort of spell shouldn’t change, just because the caster is an alicorn or a changeling. Shield spells also indicate a particle-like state of magic.

a) It could actually be a combination of the two. Particles to produce the effects, and waves which manipulate the particles.

2. Both the horn of the caster and the target being affected glow when a spell is cast, but not necessarily anything in between. This suggests some form of energetic interaction between high densities of magic ‘particles’ and normal matter which emits light. The fact that the colour doesn’t normally change depending on spell effects suggests that the particles emitted are always the same, but it is the way they are arranged which produces the wide variety of effects.

3. Magic travels at low speeds (relativistically speaking). Beam attacks visibly grow from the horn of the caster, and Twilight’s teleportation spell has a visible lag between disappearance and reappearance. We have no reference for exactly how fast magic travels, but it can probably be assumed that travelling faster than magic is possible (see my section on Pegasus Magic).

4. All spell effects require energy. It can be assumed that unicorns (and for that matter, the other races) must have very efficient digestive systems to extract so much energy, possibly utilising some form of magical direct matter-energy conversion.

5. Unicorns have grooves running up their horns in a spiral/helical shape (it's kind of both). It seems unlikely for this to have developed naturally, so it may have some role in controlling magical output, similarly to rifling on a gun. No evidence available on whether angle, number or depth of the grooves correlate with power or control.

6. The signature colour of a unicorn’s magic often (though not always) matches their eye colour. This could indicate high concentrations of magic in the eyes, indicating that they are either strongly enhanced by magic, or are used for magical storage. Further evidence of this came in ‘Twilight’s Kingdom’, where drained ponies lost their eye colours. No evidence as to whether their eyesight deteriorated, or if those unicorns whose magic doesn't match their eyes are weaker magically.

a) Starlight Glimmer has dark blue/purple eyes and turquoise magic. Is her magic stored in her mane/tail stripe instead? (See my theories on pegasus magic later.)

7. Unicorn magic can emulate pegasus magic. As seen with the cloud-walking spell. No evidence on whether it can copy earth pony magic yet.

Earth Pony Magic

Many people associate earth pony magic with physical strength, but I disagree. Earth ponies are consistently shown to be stronger than unicorns, but they seem to be at most level with pegasi. I therefore attribute their greater strength to the fact that they have to do their jobs physically rather than magically. Bear in mind that the physically strongest pony we’ve seen is Bulk Biceps, a pegasus.

This leaves open the question of what their magic actually does. It seems that there are a very wide range of jobs which are associated with earth ponies. We’ve seen them associated with:

1. Farming (growing plants)
2. Construction
3. Rock Farming (mining, forming gems in rocks)
4. Baking
5. Whatever the Pie family and Cheese Sandwich can do (Pinkie/Maud/Cheesy sense, offscreen teleport, etc).

Surprisingly, there is a way to tie these areas together: Probability Manipulation, focussed mainly on the area of their talent.

If we assume, for now, that all earth pony magic falls under this then we come to the following conclusions:

Applejack’s trees grow big and strong because she lowers the chances of a bad outcome. Earth ponies in construction would make the building less likely to collapse, and bakers would find that experimenting with random ingredients is far more likely to produce something tasty than it should be. Rock farming would therefore be more about making it likely that the chemicals in a rock react in the correct way to form gems.

The Pie family abilities, and Cheese Sandwich, could therefore be explained as the logical extension of this: manipulating probabilities on a quantum level (offscreen teleportation), and either subconsciously sensing the probabilities as things become almost inevitable, or subconsciously manipulating events in response to a certain trigger (Pinkie/Maud/Cheesy sense).

The latter of the two options seems unlikely, as Maud sense didn’t have a visible trigger the only time we saw it used, suggesting she just followed the path which had the highest probability of finding the target.

The terrifying implication of this, is of course that Pinkie Pie would be one of the most powerful earth ponies in the world, where Applejack’s powers are much more strongly focussed on apples.

As for the mechanics of how it is applied, who knows. We certainly haven’t seen much evidence of an obvious mechanism in the show. Through the hooves, as most people believe, is plausible, but we really haven’t seen enough to say either way.

Pegasus Magic

Many of my observations on pegasus magic come from the same source. The sonic rainboom provides a lot of information on the mechanics of pegasus magic with a little thought.

Pegasus magic appears to function primarily as a wave, although, similarly to unicorn magic, there must be a particle-like component too. The expanding ring of the sonic rainboom makes sense as the shockwave given off as the source of the magic starts to move faster than the wave which controls the magic can travel. The particles which make the effects can then only be released out behind the pegasus in question leaving the distinctive trail behind.

I would also argue that the core of pegasus magic, other than basic flight, is making things more solid than they should be. Clouds become semi-solid under the hooves of a pegasus and Rainbow Dash has crashed many times at high speeds, but the only serious injury she’s ever had is the broken wing from ‘Read It and Weep’. Again, we see this as Rainbow is about to perform the rainboom. Some people have identified the wave of dense air in front of her before she gets to the required speed as a mach cone, suggesting that she is already travelling faster than sound, but that doesn’t explain how she was able to bounce off it. Instead, it could be a shield formed by pegasus magic causing the air to partially solidify as an extra layer of protection from the wind. The shield glows red hot as she approaches the sound barrier because the magic is starting to build up more and more rapidly.

As I already mentioned, there must be a particle-like component, or the trail left behind by a rainboom couldn’t persist for so long. Interestingly, unlike unicorn magic, these particles can produce several different colours when interacting with normal matter, suggesting that there are several types. These particles seem to only be present in low concentrations under normal conditions, as pegasus magic doesn’t normally glow. As we have only seen one pegasus perform a rainboom so far, we can’t draw any conclusions as to whether an entire rainbow of colours is common, or whether, similar to unicorn magic, that is a unique signature to Rainbow Dash. If it is unique, this leaves open the possibility that the ‘particles’ of pegasus magic are stored in the mane and tail. Why they are arranged in such an orderly manner is still a mystery.

Alicorn Magic

Alicorns have the abilities of all three races, but are generally regarded as being much more powerful to boot, at the very least in unicorn magic. This could be seen as the strengths of each type of magic compensating for unicorn shortcomings. Pegasus toughness would allow for the casting of spells with higher recoil/backlash, while earth pony probability manipulation would make the spell more likely to succeed and do what was intended.

Has Twilight actually messed up a spell since she ascended? Other than when she was supercharged with the magic of four alicorns, I can’t think of any. That should also have made her probability manipulation stronger, which wasn’t immediately obvious, but as soon as she got into the fight with Tirek, where it really mattered, all her spells worked perfectly.

This would also explain why Starlight was able to keep up with her when they fought: Twilight wasn’t actually more powerful in terms of raw unicorn magic, and still had the psychological blocks that kept her from casting spells she couldn’t handle when her body was still a unicorn and wasn’t reinforced.

As for Luna and Celestia’s agelessness? Who knows. I know Word of God says that Twilight doesn’t have it, but I’ve never seen any reason why she shouldn’t in show. Maybe it has something to do with being linked to celestial bodies.

Comments ( 3 )

Bear in mind that the physically strongest pony we’ve seen is Bulk Biceps, a pegasus.

I'd suggest that Maud Pie is the strongest on-screen pony; didn't she trivially punch a boulder many times her size into gravel? :rainbowlaugh:

4275921 Could be, I forgot about that. Although it could also be that if my theory on probability manipulation is correct, she could have been hitting weak points by pure chance. When trying to apply this stuff to a cartoon, there are always going to be some minor inconsistencies, or things that can be explained multiple ways.

4276017 Oh, well yeah. The whole place kinda runs on cartoon physics; see Twilight getting a piano dropped on her head, or Tirek tackling her through a mountain... :rainbowlaugh:

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