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Particle Physics and Pony Fiction Experimentalist


This story is a sequel to The Art of Rainbow Engineering

Following Twilight Sparkle's explanation of the scientific method, Diamond Tiara asserts that the sonic rainboom is a scientific phenomenon. Scootaloo insists it is magic. The Ponyville schoolhouse is the scene for an unprecedented intellectual dispute.

It's a sonic rainboom. How not scientific could it possibly not be?

A side story to The Art of Rainbow Engineering - you don't need to read that first.

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 55 )

This is such an awesome idea. Upvote! :twilightsmile:

This is awesome.

Ponies and Science, I can't think of a better way to spend an afternoon.

Need MOAR!!!!

These are very interesting

Science is about trying to understand the rules by which the universe works. Magic, however, is when we use our power to deliberately break those rules, and do things which could never happen without it.

No no no, Twilight's got it all wrong. :raritydespair: Magic is a part of the Equestrian universe, so Equestrian science would attempt to understand the rules about how magic works as well; and once you've figured out the rules of magic, well, magic obviously isn't going to break any of those. Although, given Feeling Pinkie Keen, Twilight isn't actually very good at science, so maybe that's what's going on here.

Thank you - I was hoping for some comments like this.
Everyone has their own personal head-canon about how magic works in Equestria. I had to take a slightly different line to achieve what I wanted in this story. Magic is in effect a tool used by the script writers to do whatever they want without being limited by reality, therefore I think of it not so much as an natural Equestrian force, but as a super-natural cheat function, allowing the user to bypass the laws of nature and ignore conservation of energy and all that. I imagine Twilight is well aware of the laws of physics, as she uses magic to break them, but she has trouble accepting Pinkie, as Pinkie is controlled by a different supernatural force.
In this story I use the 'science' sometimes to mean 'reality as understood by a human science teacher', and sometimes to mean, 'taking a rational, objective analysis', which leads to the irony that you can use science to show the rainboom is not science.

3022701 I generally say magic breaks the laws of physics, and that might be even more wrong really, but I think it gets the idea across. There are the physics we know, and then there is magic which directly opposes them.

Oh yeah, magic definitely doesn't obey the laws of physics as we know them. But 'physics' or 'science' isn't tied to a specific set of rules; it's the process you use to examine the world and discover its rules. Presumably, Equestrian scientists have come up with a different set of 'laws of physics' than we have, and magic does obey those laws.

Awesomeness flies faster than sound. Rainbooms are magic.

Awesome indeed.

You, ma bro, are very persistent with adding stories.


Not bad. Never read a fic where the author actually gives Diamond Tiara some intelligence. I think most fans (including myself) think she's probably rather dim. Anyway nice fic a feel free to add this ribbon to the long description of the fic.

Thanks. Diamond Tiara isn't dim - she has shown she can be very manipulative and creative in finding ways to bully other ponies. She just uses her brain power to be unpleasant.


Magic is in effect a tool used by the script writers to do whatever they want without being limited by reality, therefore I think of it not so much as an natural Equestrian force, but as a super-natural cheat function

The problem with this is, it breaks the suspension of disbelief. If you acknowledge that magic is just a narrative gimmick, that reminds your audience that they're really just reading a fictional story, and the world you're building falls apart.

Kind of reminds me of this story. :twilightsmile:

“Don't you get any ideas about turning her into an egghead Twi,” she warned.

Rainbow might be a bit too late there :rainbowdetermined2: :twilightsheepish:

3023568 Yeah, not many really gives her much credit, considering she's shown to pay attention in class and to whatever Miss Cheerilee teaches. One doesn't become editor and chief which comes with the responsibiliy of reading over, correcting and fixing mistakes in grammar and so forth. Look to the opening of S2 Return to Harmony, and of course Ponyville Confidential showed us lots of things, including how she isn't quite so one tracked minded as the CMC and their cutie mark scavenger hunting.

Diamond Tiara just doesn't get breaks because she has a very strict view of how things should be. She's rich. Pretty. And smart. Believing that to be factual, it bugs her that she isn't seen as special or as right as she thinks she deserves to be.

That said, she is rather terrible when teamed up with Silver Spoon. Her insecurities tend to get the best of her as well. She's very emotional for one who claims not to care about feelings ;P

That was a nice story. I still feel a bit disappointed that Magic is being given preference over science, and some things just didn't really prove anything other than to disprove some of Diamond's rebuttles. There are still too many unknown variables to dismiss the Rainboom as just Magic.

Aside from that, the story felt one sided from the start. Diamond didn't put much effort into trying to disprove the magic theory so much as what was mentioned of her just wanting to overwhelm Scootaloo with too many arguments to disprove. Sly one that little pink filly be. lol

Overall, I still enjoyed it. I just wish it was more of a debate debate. But that would be pretty hard to pull off and no need to drown readers in too much science xD

You get a like from me at least. Overall enjoyment: 7/10 :twilightsmile:

Thanks. Trying to find a scientific theory of the sonic rainboom is a fun exercise for physics students (see http://www.fimfiction.net/blog/70177/physics-from-a-nonbrony-the-sonic-rainboom-unraveled-reposted-from-another-forum). But in the end you can't do it without cheating - or at least you need a very contrived set of circumstances and selective interpretation of evidence. And we should finish with a "reality" check - this is a cartoon about a magical land of flying ponies.

Diamond Tiara's debate took me a while to write, as at first I wasn't at all sure how to write an argument which is completely wrong, but still sound plausible and scientific, and enough to convince a class of foals. Then I hit on the idea of modelling it on 'creationist science' debates.

Now here's a story that makes you want to snuggle up with your graduated cylinder plushie and meticulously tally up the number of words you come across that you don't understand. It delves into the unrealistic world of Equestria and confronts a handful of its impossibilities with a scientific eye, and not just the magical ones. Cartoon science is a noteworthy topic for a story, because it's an interesting way to deal with the question of what the inhabitants of a world find to be normal and what they find to be abnormal. They live by different rules, but they still have their own sense of what can and cannot happen; although, in Equestria, it's more of a case of what can happen and what they're just surprised to see happen.

Though the subject matter goes into heavy detail, the premise is contrarily simple. Scootaloo thinks Rainbow's signature move is magic. Diamond Tiara does not. They try to prove each other wrong. Game start.

I like how you used the scientific method in your story, first by explaining, then by applying. Even though it wasn't exactly implemented in the correct order, I think it nicely complements the immaturity of our focus characters. Since they're so young, it only makes sense that they would jump the gun and form a hypothesis before doing any research and then jump it again to come to a conclusion before doing any experiments. It reminds the reader that the focus is on the minds of aspiring scientists rather than professional ones.

Concerning the debate itself, the fact that it kept going is highly believable. They both had their pride invested in their claims and refused to back down because of it. However, the reason the debate started in the first place is what threw me off. Why does 'not magic' = 'not awesome'? Regardless of the how, Rainbow's still flying faster than the speed of sound and creating a giant blast of color that can shatter rocks and blow up barns. Wouldn't being able to do that without magic be the more impressive feat? If anything, it seemed to me that Scootaloo and Diamond were on the wrong sides of the argument. I think the debate would make more sense if Diamond were trying to claim that Rainbow is 'cheating' by using magic to do a rainboom while Scootaloo tries to prove that Rainbow's awesome enough to do it without any kind of supernatural assistance. As is, it really does support Telaros's theory of magic = better just because.

Diamond makes a claim against Scootaloo's reasoning, Scootaloo goes to Twilight and finds out why it's wrong, and then Scootaloo goes back to school and explains why it's wrong. I recall this sequence of events happening vividly, because it happened two times in a row. It almost happened a third time, but fortunately it was subverted by Diamond going to Twilight instead of Scootaloo. Reading redundancy in a story is a lot like watching someone from a distance carry a bunch of heavy boxes up a flight of stairs one by one when there's an elevator and a dolly right nearby. It's not so much a problem of efficiency. It's just that watching it is much more monotonous than it could be. What we're left with in this story are two scenes where Scootaloo basically parrots Twilight and Rainbow as a means of presenting her own argument when it could have worked just as well if Diamond brought up the "faster than the speed of light" point during their first meeting and we could have had only one trip to the library instead of needing two.

My favorite part of the story was the debate. Originally, I thought the entire story would consist of just the debate, but the buildup to it made it a bit more rewarding. Though the argument was more or less one-sided, I thought you at least gave both sides some good points. Diamond's debate strategy was a believable one, and though the class's reaction to it said Scootaloo's going to win before she even got to speak, I like the contradiction of natural law you came up with to show the rainboom was magic. You effectively used science to prove magic, which really ties back in to the focus of the story.

Characterization fit the subject matter well. I like that you made both Diamond and Scootaloo interested in science for believable reasons. Scootaloo wanted to find out about Rainbow's rainboom and then later to move faster herself, while Diamond was interested solely for the purposes of being right and boosting her ego. With a story like this, it's very easy to make everyone suddenly interested in science for no reason, and while I got that sense a little bit, it wasn't overpowering or distracting. I also have to congratulate you for telling a story that made Diamond a rival rather than a strictly villainous enemy. It's something that you really don't see too often in fanworks, but it really does make her more believable as a character. Also, Cheerilee as a barely competent teacher was an interesting change of pace. I've never seen a story where she needs to call in someone else to teach her class for her and doesn't know how her own equipment works. At least she's smart enough to teach math.

Grammar errors were kept to a minimum, and I didn't catch any crepuscular handbagging. Overall, I think you have a logical science story here. It has an understanding of its topic, problems are resolved by logic rather than bad writing, and the exploration of cartoon science is consistent throughout. I feel there's a little too much focus on the information as opposed to the debate, which does slow the story down, but your analysis of the rainboom is certainly well-considered and good for stirring up some scientific intrigue. I'd call this story a honey-filled cantaloupe. On the outside, it looks like a healthy snack, and on the inside it is a healthy snack with some sweet brain food inside.

Make the most!

Wow! Thanks for the full critique.
You're right of course that Scootaloo's premise that the rainboom must be magic because it's so awesome, is a bit weak. Although young children do get such ideas. This was effectively imposed on the plot as Scootaloo had to win in the end (as everyone likes Scootaloo, and we couldn't let the class bully come out on top).
As for the excess shuttling between the school and library - you should have seen my first draft - I think it happened three or four times there. The trouble being that although this is Scootaloo and DT's debate, Twilight is the only pony qualified to provide the intelluctual input.

That closing line...

I was expecting an MOR-esque reimagination of Rainbooms and Royalty. I think this is better. (I don't really like RaR so much).

That's not a bad idea. But I don't have anywhere near enough free time to write anything on the scale of those two fics.

I want to see Scootaloo achieve that!

Oh dear lord that needs to be written!

I think one thing that irks me is that the "science" the ponies apply here is patently about *our* reality, not theirs. In Equestria however, magic is a natural and not a supernatural phenomenon; being testable, repeatable, and observable. As such it also falls under the purview of science, and "it's magic" is not a satisfactory answer. In this universe, I'd expect theories of magic to exist which may or may not explain the formation of a sonic rainboom.

the differences you showed between magic and science are like a description of the difference between how helicopters and aeroplanes fly that i once heard.

"Aeroplanes use physics to fly where as helicopters pummel it onto submission"

Aeroplanes are science and helicopters magic, or that's the message got anyway.

Scootaloo is best scientist?:derpyderp2: Huh.

The thing that sticks in my mind from this story, more than anything else, is Twilight having to restrain Rainbow from trying to exceed the light barrier. It's hypothetically possible but I really wouldn't want to test whatever magic it is that protects her from hypersonic airflows to that level.


“I need to reach the speed of sound on my scooter,” finished Scootaloo.

This can only end in treesap.

And so, after reading this and it's prequel, I believe I have obtained what I call a "science boner".:moustache:

This was a fun little story. Fimfic needs more rational ones as this.

The sonic rainboom is something really magic.

Did you make a mistake here, or did grammar fail Twilight?

Something less scientific than Sonic Rainbooms. Hmm...

Discord. Tree of Harmony. Celestia and Luna's movement of the sun. Time traveling magic (seriously, I learned more about that from Dr. Who than I ever needed to). Canterlot's size vs support. Pinkie Pie.

Consider that a list of things to explain for us. And yes, basically all of those have theoretical scientific explanations.

3890549 Dash would likely disintegrate long before she got anywhere near the speed of light -- the force of air molecules impacting against her would literally dissolve her body as she flew in a very painful and sudden process, leaving nothing but scattered atoms and possibly a thermonuclear explosion.

'This house believes Luna is best princess'

I wish that were a resolution.

This house believes the sonic rainboom is a purely scientific phenomenon

Pretty sure that this is incorrect format for the type of debate you're portraying. The resolution you have would require the debaters to define "this house" as something, and then argue about what it believes. The resolution you're looking for is "The sonic rainboom is a purely scientific phenomenon." Diamond Tiara would argue in affirmation of the resolution, and Scootaloo in negation.

The main problem with this and its prequel is that more or less they aren't really stories. Sure. they are ostensibly such, and are written in the general format, but in the end what they really are is fairly transparent excuses to talk about optics and the sonic rainboom.

Does that make them bad? Not exactly, but they feel like they have a lot of cruft.

I like Scootaloo's elegant demonstration how the rainboom violated the rules of physics and therefore must be magical. Very clever.

I like this story and shall read your other stories. I myself wrote a blogpost about the physics of Unicorn-Teleportation:

The Physics of UnicornTeleportation

I use relativity, but try to keep the mathematics to a minimum. You and anypony else may use the physics in your stories. I demonstrate conservation-laws, gravitational potential, and show that in the absence of changes in gravitational potential, the energy of unicorn-teleportation should scale by distance, mass and volume.

Diamond Tiara brings the Gisch Gallop to Equestria. She truly is worst pony.

Entertaining and delightfully light-hearted. :twilightsheepish:

You do need to use more commas, though, particularly when separating a dependent phrase or addressing a character by name.

Those children would be too young to grasp vector calculus...but I was under the impression that after several adult pagasi failed to understand Twilight's explanation for measuring airspeed, the Ministry of Education decided to overcompensate.

Silly Diamond Tiara. That's how arguments work, not the scientific process. Bratty charm and prep can't trump solid proof, and Scootaloo is too down-to-earth for you to compete with.

Cool story. It's the only one I've read dealing with the difference between the speeds of light and sound, and you tackled it effectively.

“But you can't prove that it isn't magic.”

“I don't have to. All I need to do is fire off enough plausible explanations and challenge Scootaloo to disprove them. And Twilight is going to give me some ammunition.”

I feel like this is a common misconception that people here on earth tend to have, and needs to be addressed. If someone comes up with a theory, no matter how brilliant, no matter how likely it is to have happened, the onus is on them, not their opponents.

For more on this, read a bit about burden of proof. It's why no self-respecting scientist or mathematician will ever say, "Well, you can't prove me wrong."


And that's why Scoots destroyed her.

Comment posted by TechSavii deleted Aug 2nd, 2014

Sufficiently explained magic is indistinguishable from science.

Great story.

Sequel about Scotaloo's Scooter-Rainboom-Experimen, please!:twilightsmile:

The cloppler effect?

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