Search found 37 matches

by Spectrum
Mon Dec 26, 2016 3:21 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1776: "Reindeer"
Replies: 32
Views: 8035

Re: 1776: Reindeer

What I want to know is whether it's some kind of enormous arachnid disguised as a reindeer, or whether he's genetically engineered a reindeer with the extra legs. Maybe he hired Beret Guy's biotech company. Seems like the kind of thing he could knock up in an afternoon. My interpretation was that i...
by Spectrum
Fri Feb 27, 2015 4:04 am UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"
Replies: 99
Views: 34079

Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

It's interesting how little speculative fiction goes into the future. Most of it is confined to the next 1,000 years or so. IIRC, Niven's "The Ethics of Madness" extends several hundred thousand years into the future. The maximum I know of is Olaf Stapledon's "Last and First Men"...
by Spectrum
Sat Jan 31, 2015 1:29 am UTC
Forum: What If?
Topic: What-If 0127: "Tug of War"
Replies: 61
Views: 23755

Re: What-If 0127: "Tug of War"

Once the rope got to be a kilometer or so long, the curvature of the earth becomes significant. And given the tension in the rope, the people in the middle can't simply hold it up off the ground. Indeed, in the NYC to Washington, DC case, the analysis of exactly how the rope cuts into the earth migh...
by Spectrum
Thu Oct 09, 2014 4:29 am UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1431: "Marriage"
Replies: 442
Views: 73324

Re: 1431: Marriage

What purpose does the marriage license requirement serve these days? It seems counter-intuitive that there would be a legal requirement to acquire a license that legally can't be denied. I'm a bit confused about how marriage licence work. You have to obtain it before having a wedding? I think in my...
by Spectrum
Thu Oct 09, 2014 3:58 am UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1431: "Marriage"
Replies: 442
Views: 73324

Re: 1431: Marriage

Weren't there any states were same-sex marriage wasn't technically illegal because it hadn't occured to the lawmakers to actually make it illegal? My memory was that there was a state (Oregon?) whose law did not specifically exclude same-sex marriages and for a few months one or more bureaucracies ...
by Spectrum
Thu Oct 09, 2014 3:54 am UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1431: "Marriage"
Replies: 442
Views: 73324

Re: 1431: Marriage

Does anyone have a good reference for where Munroe got the polling statistics regarding gay marriage? My understanding was that "gay marriage" only became an issue in the very late 1990s, even in the gay community. My (married gay, in Boston) hairdressers claim that they hadn't heard about...
by Spectrum
Wed Oct 01, 2014 1:03 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1428: "Move Fast and Break Things"
Replies: 32
Views: 11945

Re: 1428: "Move Fast and Break Things"

Sysadmin. "Move fast and break things" is definitely what they're looking for in a sysadmin...
by Spectrum
Fri Aug 29, 2014 2:56 pm UTC
Forum: What If?
Topic: What-If 0110: "Walking New York"
Replies: 52
Views: 37658

Re: What-If 0110: "Walking New York"

Randall writes "I don't know how many 10 km square swatches it takes to cover New York City, but it's probably not very many." and footnotes it "Turns out it's a little more than 1 to cover the land and water." That's wildly incorrect: NYC's total area is 1,214 km2 and its land a...
by Spectrum
Wed Jul 02, 2014 1:53 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1389: "Surface Area"
Replies: 125
Views: 37213

Re: 1389: "Surface Area"

What if you properly accounted for all the small bodies and dust? Does the surface area of smaller objects decline fast enough to counteract their increasing numbers?
by Spectrum
Fri May 23, 2014 1:06 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1372: "Smartwatches"
Replies: 41
Views: 17331

Re: 1372: "Smartwatches"

Clearly the critical question is: Who will be the first to build this (and have it work)???
by Spectrum
Wed May 21, 2014 6:14 pm UTC
Forum: What If?
Topic: What-If 0097:" Burning Pollen"
Replies: 39
Views: 13305

Re: What-If 0097: Burning Pollen

Wouldn't it be that a handful of pollen burned will output the same amount of energy that a human will gain by digesting a hamburger? Digestion and combustion are radically different chemical processes - it's apples and oranges here. I don't know the science, but they do (or they used to) measure t...
by Spectrum
Sun May 18, 2014 8:08 pm UTC
Forum: What If?
Topic: What-If 0096: "$2 Undecillion Lawsuit"
Replies: 65
Views: 19564

Re: What-If 0096: "$2 Undecillion Lawsuit"

What if Au Bon Pain lost this lawsuit and had to pay the plaintiff $2 undecillion? Au Bon Pan would be saddled with a debt that it could not pay, and would likely go to into bankruptcy. The damages would be an ordinary debt, and so be at the same seniority with other general creditors, but junior t...
by Spectrum
Sun May 18, 2014 7:59 pm UTC
Forum: What If?
Topic: What-If 0096: "$2 Undecillion Lawsuit"
Replies: 65
Views: 19564

Re: What-If 0096: "$2 Undecillion Lawsuit"

I'm almost certain that by weight, the most valuable thing that's ever been sold on the open market is a human egg cell. Price: Up to $10,000 Hmmm... The world population is 7,234,000. About 3,617,000 of them are women. About 1 million oocytes per ovary. About $10,000 per oocyte. Giving a totoal oo...
by Spectrum
Thu May 15, 2014 8:42 pm UTC
Forum: What If?
Topic: What-If 0096: "$2 Undecillion Lawsuit"
Replies: 65
Views: 19564

Re: What-If 0096: "$2 Undecillion Lawsuit"

what i don't get is how a lawyer would actually support this. also, the source mentions "attempted murder". wouldn't that be a criminal charge? You've overlooked the magic words "pro se" in the description of the lawsuit in Lowering the Bar. That means he didn't have a lawyer. T...
by Spectrum
Wed Mar 12, 2014 2:30 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1341: "Types of Editors"
Replies: 88
Views: 25356

Re: Types of Editors

Real programmers don't want "what you see is what you get", they want "you asked for it, you got it". They want editors that are terse, powerful, cryptic, and unforgiving. In a word, Teco. -- after Ed Post, "Real Programmers Don't Use Pascal", in Datamation, July 1983, ...
by Spectrum
Wed Feb 19, 2014 4:07 pm UTC
Forum: What If?
Topic: What-If 0084: "Paint the Earth"
Replies: 47
Views: 18821

Re: What-If 0084: "Paint the Earth"

As Steve Wright is said to have said, "It's a small world but I'd hate to have to paint it."
by Spectrum
Thu Feb 06, 2014 5:13 pm UTC
Forum: What If?
Topic: What-if 0082: "Hitting a Comet"
Replies: 59
Views: 15416

Re: What-if 0082: "Hitting a Comet"

Would you rather bet a million dollars on a spacecraft landing engineer's ability to successfully perform eye surgery, or an eye surgeon's ability to land a probe on a comet? I'd go for the landing engineer. Those people are conservative and into careful planning, so he'd go out and get trained in ...
by Spectrum
Thu Feb 06, 2014 5:11 pm UTC
Forum: What If?
Topic: What-if 0082: "Hitting a Comet"
Replies: 59
Views: 15416

Re: What-if 0082: "Hitting a Comet"

Hitting the comet is harder than it appears from the path length that the spacecraft has travelled. That's because of the three slingshot events; those amplify any directional deviation beyond what the geometry alone implies. That is, several trajectories coming in to the gravity well that deviate f...
by Spectrum
Wed Jan 22, 2014 3:46 pm UTC
Forum: What If?
Topic: What-If 0080: "Pile of Viruses"
Replies: 95
Views: 23656

Re: What-If 0080: "Pile of Viruses"

MetLife Stadium, host of Super Bowl XLVIII, has a volume of about 1.5 million cubic meters. Earth's viruses could fill the stadium about 150 times over. Comparing this to a note in What-If #73, "football stadium filled to the brim with ants [Which would still be less than 1% of the ants in the...
by Spectrum
Wed Jan 22, 2014 3:40 pm UTC
Forum: What If?
Topic: What-If 0080: "Pile of Viruses"
Replies: 95
Views: 23656

Re: What-If 0080: "Pile of Viruses"

keithl wrote: A virus cannot make the gigantic mutational leap of recoding its entire genome at once. Unless somebody intentionally translated a virus, Gen2 bacteria would be immune to all natural viruses.


The fascinating question is how long it would take for Gen2 viruses to arise by evolution.
by Spectrum
Wed Jan 22, 2014 3:37 pm UTC
Forum: What If?
Topic: What-If 0080: "Pile of Viruses"
Replies: 95
Views: 23656

Re: What-If 0080: "Pile of Viruses"

grep_ wrote:[imath]{10}^{30}[/imath] is not that much. You can assign an IPv6 address to each virus and use up only a millionth of percent of all address space.


True... but installing the ethernet connectors would be difficult.
by Spectrum
Wed Jan 15, 2014 3:11 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1317: "Theft"
Replies: 60
Views: 12407

Re: 1317: "Theft"

The title text reminds me of the now-classic item from "Which language am I using?": C++ You accidentally create a dozen instances of yourself and shoot them all in the foot. Providing emergency medical care is impossible since you can't tell which are bitwise copies and which are just poi...
by Spectrum
Mon Dec 23, 2013 4:00 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1307: "Buzzfeed Christmas"
Replies: 33
Views: 7267

Re: 1307: "Buzzfeed Christmas"

Now I see why there was this sudden proliferation of ads with stupid headlines like "Lose your belly fat with this one weird trick.", that is, with a pointless adjective like "weird" or "shocking", and often a number. They're all faking Buzzfeed headlines...
by Spectrum
Wed Apr 03, 2013 1:49 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1194: "Stratigraphic Record"
Replies: 53
Views: 12058

Re: 1194: "Stratigraphic Record"

You never know what we'll know in the future. In 1853, Auguste Comte said that the composition of the stars is forever beyond our knowledge. By the 1860's, spectroscopy of stellar light was being researched.
by Spectrum
Wed Oct 03, 2012 4:20 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1116: "Traffic Lights"
Replies: 171
Views: 48121

Re: 1116: "Traffic Lights"

Alt Text:"There's an intersection I drive through sometimes that has a forward green arrow, a red light, and a 'no turns' sign all on one pole. I honestly have no idea what it's telling me to do." That combination is straightforward: The green arrow means that you can go straight. The red...
by Spectrum
Fri Jul 13, 2012 1:22 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1081: "Argument Victory"
Replies: 253
Views: 61706

Re: 1081: "Argument Victory"

A recent survey in "George" magazine indicated that three quarters of Americans believe that "the Government is involved in conspiracy." Depending on your level of venality, that statistic can be read as either mass psychosis or a marketing opportunity. -- Rick Martin and T. Tren...
by Spectrum
Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:49 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1078: "Knights"
Replies: 164
Views: 54589

Re: 1078: "Knights"

But getting back to the subject of customizing chess... There is "chess variants", which seems to focus on changes to the board and playing structure, and there is "fairy chess" (which I learned of from Martin Gardner) which focuses on inventing new pieces and working out their c...
by Spectrum
Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:47 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1078: "Knights"
Replies: 164
Views: 54589

Re: 1078: "Knights"

Unless it's about the Higgs boson and I've missed the reference through my unparalleled ignorance of chess and martial history.


I'm getting a premonition of an XKCD that somehow combines chess, military history, and the Higgs boson.

If it's possible, it will happen here...
by Spectrum
Sun Jan 01, 2012 5:46 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 0995: "Coin Star"
Replies: 105
Views: 21925

Re: 0995: "Coin Star"

The medieval notion of the just price as an ethical norm, with its implication that the price of a commodity or service that is nominally in some sense the same should not vary according to the circumstances of the moment, has a strong appeal even today. -- William Vickrey The problem with coins is...
by Spectrum
Sun Jan 01, 2012 5:40 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 0995: "Coin Star"
Replies: 105
Views: 21925

Re: 0995: "Coin Star"

JudeMorrigan wrote:(and let's face it, fiat chocolate currency would just be *silly*)


I have heard Europeans say, more or less, that most US chocolate is "fiat" chocolate, in that it is considered chocolate only because that is what the label says!
by Spectrum
Thu Oct 27, 2011 2:28 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 0969: "Delta-P"
Replies: 181
Views: 53058

Re: 0969: "Delta-P"

Two important points that have been overlooked: 1) It would take a while for the wardrobe to sink 2 km, and the flow rate through the portal would increase relatively gradually. So the White Witch would probably have plenty of time to get away, but in any case, she definitely would know what hit her...
by Spectrum
Mon Aug 01, 2011 3:16 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 0931: "Lanes"
Replies: 253
Views: 67898

Re: 0931: "Lanes"

(I haven't had had the time to read the rest of the comments, so my apologies if this point has been made already.)

At some point in middle age, one realizes that no matter what your health, the rest of your life looks like the last frame, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
by Spectrum
Fri Jul 22, 2011 2:26 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 0928: "Mimic Octopus"
Replies: 166
Views: 47672

Re: 0928: Mimic Octopus

Shouldn't the link from the main page to here be labeled "Fora"?
by Spectrum
Fri May 06, 2011 2:56 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 0895: "Teaching Physics"
Replies: 112
Views: 30645

Re: 0895: "Teaching Physics"

The truth is a bit stranger than that. We humans have a hard time thinking without such analogies but all the evidence is that the reality *is* the mathematics. Physicists routinely construct pretty equations based on very noisy data, but better data shows the equations are accurate to many more dec...
by Spectrum
Fri Jul 16, 2010 2:23 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 0767: "Temper"
Replies: 159
Views: 43503

Re: "Temper" Discussion (#767)

Although he did get some publicity when he joined a lawsuit to prevent the public from using the beach in front of his (expensive) house on one of the (expensive) vacation islands of Massachusetts.
by Spectrum
Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:22 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 0673: "The Sun"
Replies: 157
Views: 35424

Re: "The Sun" Discussion

"Sunshine" sounds a lot like "Phoenix" by Clark Ashton Smith.
by Spectrum
Tue Oct 13, 2009 3:13 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 0648: "Fall Foliage"
Replies: 85
Views: 16984

Re: "Fall Foliage" Discussion

An optical engineer I know says: "Argh.... Everyone knows that you should subtract some reasonable multiple of the chlorophyll spectrum, rather than simply shifting the hue!"

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