You know those days when you read the latest xkcd comic, and you sit there, scratching your head, clueless as to the meaning, scared that someone will reference it and your response will immediately expose you as the idiot that you are? Relax, the explain xkcd wiki answers all your questions. You too can smile at the in jokes, understand the math, and get the obscure references. or you could just memail Randall
How Long Does It Take to Get to Tatooine? [The New Yorker] "We use much more brainpower on subjects that interest us."
In June of this year, POM Wonderful won "a round in a food fight with Coca-Cola" in the case about how a fruit juice blend is labeled. It's a case of commercial speech, to which John Oliver opined that "in Coke's defense, they only mislead us about what was in their juice. For years, POM Wonderful has mislead us about what is in pomegranates". Generally speaking, as long as the labeling isn't incorrect or harmful, it can make bold claims, to a point. For instance, you can't claim your cereal could improve kids' attentiveness and memory when it doesn't. Whatever you do, you shouldn't add new labeling to existing, even if it is to clarify that the product sucks less, or is asbestos-free. [more inside]
The solar system's solid surfaces stitched together. If you want some more detailed imagery, you can always browse around NASA's planetary photojournal archive.
Maps can help make sense of the world, but they can also distory your sense of reality (Archive.org stream view, page 58 of Elements of Map Projection with Applications to Map and Chart Construction). [more inside]
What would be the density of Asteroid B-612? (That's the home of the Little Prince. [full text]) Randall Munroe describes life there. [more inside]
The Greatest Crossword Puzzle In The History Of The World is now playable: Adobe Crossword
If you start typing "why" into Google, the autocomplete gives you a glimpse at the various mysteries people want answers to, such as "why is space black?" or "why are people stupid?" or "why is there yellow discharge in my underwear?" XKCD's current comic, "Questions," shows a glimpse at some of these questions, culled from a big list of over 33,000 that XKCD's author, Randall Munroe, generated from Google API queries. In response, Reddit user GeeJo made his best attempt at answering every single one posed in the comic.
Spanning more than four months and 3,000 individual panels, spawing more than 50,000 posts and 1.4 million views on the official thread in the XKCD forums, and generating countless fan theories and speculations, Randall Munroe fame has brought his epic "Time" to an end. [more inside]
At the end of March xkcd posted a comic called 'time' of two people sitting on a beach. It wasn't particularly funny. But then people noticed that the comic was slowly changing. Every 30 minutes the picture would update, and the characters would slowly begin to move. They're still moving to this day. Once this was noticed the xkcd forums began to go a little crazy, with folks staying up until the wee hours to watch for pic updates (now christened Newpix). The comic was now The One True Comic, the thread The One True Thread. A Wiki soon followed. In case you're curious what all the fuss is about, here's the full comic animated by frame.
XKCD/What If's Randall Munroe brings meaning to numbers. As a by-product. Of his day-to-day research. For your day-to-day entertainment.
Complex scientific concepts explained using only the thousand most used words in the English language. In the spirit of xkcd's Up-Goer Five comic. (Previously.) Use the Up-Goer Five Text Editor to make your own contributions.
If every person on Earth aimed a laser pointer at the Moon at the same time, would it change color? No? *sigh* Well, what if we tried more power? Keep asking that question and you get an astonishing result.
Let's take another look at Chris Wayan's PLANETOCOPIA (previously): A series of detailed conceptions and paintings of vastly different Earths based on differing climates and land mass position. A planet designed to speed up East-West cvilization development! A life-bearing super hot world! An Earth with most of the seas missing! Forever Ice Age Earth! [more inside]
The XKCD Holistic Browser allows you to type in a web address and get sent to one typed by someone else. (NB: Results may be NSFW or even outright harmful. Take suitable precautions.)
Flowcharts explain it all. Here is a flowchart guide. You dropped food on the floor - do you eat it? Should you have a cookie or a drink? Can you cook? (via) Look, a coffee pot! Playing D&D or WoW? Sex-act morality? Internet anger? Panflute? Which social search site should you use? Are you a cat or dog person? Are you a horse? Species identification. Are you happy? Should your band cover this song? Which Mahler symphony did you hear? Should you shave your legs?
A recent XKCD comic charted the difficulty of various games for computers, from Tic Tac Toe and Nim being solved for all positions, to computers mastering the physical game of Beirut and mental game of chess (the 2006 Deep Fritz vs Vladimir Kramnikin games, previously). There are other games that are basic on the face, but whose potentials for move combinations is so vast as to be beyond the scope of computers. Marion Tinsley was the last great human checkers player, matching off against Chinook in the last 6 games of his life, each ending in a draw (previously). Checkers was finally solved in 2007 (Google quickview; original PDF), and is largest game that has been solved to date, at 8x8. Solving Othello might be possible, if the decision tree were truncated, as the 10x10 board game tree complexity is very huge. The 19x19 Go board is is often noted as one of the primary reasons why a strong program is hard to create, though some programs are getting better at optimizing move evaluations. More: computerized gaming solutions previously, and the Wikipedia page for solved games.
The Root of Knowledge - "Wikipedia trivia: if you take any article, click on the first link in the article text not in parentheses or italics, and then repeat, you will eventually end up at 'Philosophy.' " (via) [more inside]
Nerds Ruin Everything. XKCD Sucks. Gamers Are Embarrassing. Defunct: Game Journalists Are Incompetent Fuckwits Stuff Geeks Love. Classic: Five Geek Social Fallacies
Statistical hypothesis testing with a p-value of less than 0.05 is often used as a gold standard in science, and is required by peer reviewers and journals when stating results. Some statisticians argue that this indicates a cult of significance testing using a frequentist statistical framework that is counterintuitive and misunderstood by many scientists. Biostatisticians have argued that the (over)use of p-vaues come from "the mistaken idea that a single number can capture both the long-run outcomes of an experiment and the evidential meaning of a single result" and identify several other problems with significance testing. XKCD demonstrates how misunderstandings of the nature of the p-value, failure to adjust for multiple comparisons, and the file drawer problem result in likely spurious conclusions being published in the scientific literature and then being distorted further in the popular press. You can simulate a similar situation yourself. John Ioannidis uses problems with significance testing and other statistical concerns to argue, controversially, that "most published research findings are false." Will the use of Bayes factors replace classical hypothesis testing and p-values? Will something else?
Randall Munroe of xkcd has created a second, updated Map of Online Communities. (His first map.) You can find MeFi Island in the Troll Bay, just off the coast of Twitter. [more inside]
Marketing firm Flowtown has an Updated 2010 version of the Social Networking Map first created by xkcd.
Comical is a program that lets you know when a webcomic you read has been updated and allows you to download the newest strip. It's great for people who (like me) follow a ton of different webcomics. It currently supports Over five-hundred different web comics. It even supports Newspaper Comics, Alt-Text, and Hidden Panels. If Comical is missing a comic you like, the program comes with the ability to add new comics manually or feel free to post a request for someone else to do it for you on the forums! [more inside]
Over 140,000 people participated in the xkcd Color Survey, naming various colors and the results are in. Among other cool things, you can see a nice map of RGB colors to color names and see the most commonly identified 954 color names. The webcomic is not the first institution to survey people about color choices and present pretty results. At the heart of color naming is a deeper debate about language, whether colors are universal, and how words shape perception. One highly influential view suggests that there are 11 universal basic colors, though the number of colors identified in native tongues varies across the world, but even the English origins of color words are complex. Perhaps you should test your own color perception, or just see a huge chart of color names in different languages. [also, prev.]
"There's also a Katamari level where everything is just slightly bigger than you, and a Mario level with a star just out of reach."
Your favourite comic sucks. "The problem is basically this: Randall does not write jokes, as such. He writes inside jokes."
Obsessed with xkcd's Movie Narrative Charts? (previously) So was Vadim Ogievetsky. For his final project in a Data Visualization course at Stanford, he developed a tool to generate his own, including the Star Wars Original Trilogy and Pulp Fiction. Now he offers the webapp online for you to take a stab at it. [more inside]
Geek Heroes sing "We Love xkcd" As a follow up to this animation of the original strip Neil Gaiman, Cory Doctorow, Wil Wheaton, Hank Green and a cast of dozens sing of love and geekiness.
Oh hai here's a flow chart showing the creative/organizational process of a (Walt) Disney film. Stay away from the morgue.
"I Love the Whole World" + xkcd Loves the Discovery Channel + Noah Raby + the Map of the Internet + Olga Nunes = I Love XKCD, a pretty cute bit of animation. (It's not the first time Raby's animated an xkcd strip.)
XKCD author Randall Munroe appears to have left a neat little cryptographic puzzle for Reddit users in his new book. They're trying to decipher it.
xkcd had an idea to counter YouTube comment stupidity, and apparently someone at YouTube was paying attention. Not everyone is convinced however. (And there's always Comment Snob).
Federal Reserve Fan Fiction via the XKCD blog.
Sean Tevis Takes On Intelligent Designer with Some Intelligent Design of His Own... Sean Tevis is running for State Representative in Kansas, against an opponent he describes as a proponent of intelligent design. Short on name recognition (and campaign funds) he took it upon himself to use his skills as an information designer to connect to his "constituents" - could he be the first true candidate for a generation that grew up on the Internet? Very clever xkcd-style infographic deployed against the agents of doom... (I donated, couldn't help myself) via BoingBoing
XKCD mocks Wikipedia's "in popular culture" sections. Wikipedians take the idea seriously. The article ("Wood"). goes on lockdown. But is adding correct, even if useless, information really WikiVandalism?
Geohashing: "As you may have noticed, today’s comic contains an algorithm for converting dates into local coordinates. For a given day, you can calculate what that day’s coordinate is for your region. Dan has put together a tool for calculating a day’s coordinates and show it using Google Maps." [more inside]
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