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Explaining Magic, part 1



To make things clear: I don't believe magic exists in our world, I'm just considering it in context of a fictional universe, like MLP. I don't like the "It's magic, you don't have to explain it" approach. If magic is an integral part of a fictional world, then it should be explained like any other part of it. And that's what we will try to do here. We'll start with the sources of magic. What causes it? I think what Starlight says in "All Bottled Up" is a good explanation:


Well, I've always found magic is tied to my emotions. Whatever I'm feeling fuels whatever I'm doing, and the stronger I'm feeling, the stronger the magic.

Of course there are other things that need to be considered here, for example the unicorn horns seem to be a tool that helps focus the magic, and do things like forming it into a laser beam. But the basic idea that magic is fueled by emotions is the most important thing that we need to know. It explains why the magic of friendship and love seem to be the most powerful forms of it, as friendship and love are very strong emotions. Also, sometimes when we see ponies drained of magic in the show, they also seem to be devoid of emotions, at least to some degree.

In the next installment we will talk about the effects of magic. What kind of physical limitations should it be able to overcome? If you have any ideas about that, let me know in the comments. I will share mine in the next entry.

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Magic does not exist in the real world, so it's used to mean the opposite of science/technology, hence the "I'm not going to explain" part.


However, in fictional worlds, like MLP, magic and science or technology are pretty much the same thing, or rather, magic is just one of the forces/laws of nature. You can analyze it, try to figure out how to make a spell stronger and such, so it is really no different than how we treat technology in the real world. Someone had to figure out that combining the eye of newt with a pegasus feather and boiling them in liquid rainbow while chanting something achieves the desired effect. Presumably they tried different things and gradually refined the recipe. After all, some recipes are specific enough that it's very unlikely that whoever invented them did so by accident. Same applies to spells, while spells in MLP usually do not require ingredients, they have some sort of structure, or it would be impossible to write them down, requiring every unicorn to "invent" them from scratch.


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In some works of fiction, you have to ask, what is the logical progrssion of magic? Wouldn't a wizard create magic items to sell? Magic would replace technology. Nobody would invent a steam engine because someone made a magically powered vehicle.

I don't think MLP has permanently powered magic devices. It seems that all magic needs to be actively created by unicorns. There is the Tree of Harmony, but that is not something that can be harnessed for power.

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magic exist in the real world.... magic are things that are not explainable or not yet explained by science.

alchemist is a mix of both.

there's a lot of things that science can't cure here in the Philippines... and yet a witch doctor here could.... you know why? because they themselves made the sickness and they themselves made the cure.... I know, we assholes....

anyway once magic is explained it's science... hence a magician never reveals his her secret.... because if he does .... it's science now.....

disappearing bunny! if not explained it's magic!

if explained slight of hand!

friendship if not explained the process of it's connection to one another is magical!

if explained...... it kinda cheapens the friendship.....


science is also about the force/ law of nature but explained.... while magic is not.

Edited by Kujamih
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let's make an example...


for an adult with knowledge.... it's technology...

but to primitive people it's a magic boom stick.


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@Pentium100 I agree that magic in a fictional world should be something like science or technology, and should be explained as such. However, I think there should be something special about it, it should allow things that aren't possible any other way. More about that in the next entry.

@Thankful Brony 42 There is one unicorn-independent magic-powered device that comes into my mind: Tank's flying apparatus. It's a very interesting thing from the lore perspective, and we don't really know who created it or how it works.

As for magic replacing technology, it all depends how effective it is at doing things. If it's more effective than technology at everything then yes, it will replace it. But if magic is better at some tasks, and technology at some other tasks, then it can lead to parallel development of both, and creation of some interesting hybrid devices.

@Kujamih What you're talking about here is called Clarke's Third Law. If you can't explain something, it looks like magic to you. I think it may be applicable to the MLP world to some degree, for example Twilight's lecture at the beginning of "The Cutie Re-Mark" suggests that some aspects of cutie mark magic are not yet explained.

Edited by PawelS
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When we start looking deep down at a quantum level of magic, se see that it have wave-like characteristics.... Well, it also behaves as a waves when displayed in the show. And the sparkles can be particles then.

The show defines magic as being friendship, as the logo of the show says. Interestingly, Starlight had a lot of magic without friendships for many years. Maybe the emotions are the main thing here after all.

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@Splashee "Friendship is Magic" doesn't mean that all magic is friendship. As we see many times in the show, there are many instances of magic that clearly doesn't come from friendship, especially when the villains use it. So negative emotions can be a source of magic too.

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