1569: "Magic Tree"

This forum is for the individual discussion thread that goes with each new comic.

Moderators: Moderators General, Prelates, Magistrates

User avatar
Dr What
Posts: 69
Joined: Wed Dec 26, 2012 6:43 am UTC

1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby Dr What » Wed Aug 26, 2015 4:52 am UTC

Image
title="Since people rarely try to cut down cell phone towers, after millions of years, as cell phone towers have gotten more treelike, trees have started growing fake cell phone tower attachments and shiny gray bark to protect themselves. This is a standard textbook example of convergent evolution."

And there will be Apples grown on those trees?

chenille
Posts: 430
Joined: Tue Dec 20, 2011 7:25 pm UTC

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby chenille » Wed Aug 26, 2015 5:28 am UTC

I don't think that is convergent evolution, where different groups develop similar adaptations in response to similar evolutionary pressures. It would be a type of mutual defensive mimicry, where each one models the other to avoid different threats.


time burglar
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Apr 25, 2013 9:26 pm UTC

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby time burglar » Wed Aug 26, 2015 6:15 am UTC

chenille wrote:I don't think that is convergent evolution, where different groups develop similar adaptations in response to similar evolutionary pressures. It would be a type of mutual defensive mimicry, where each one models the other to avoid different threats.


Agreed. An example of convergent evolution would be e.g. an Australian eucalypt and a British oak both evolving similar features to mimic cell towers.

Torbjörn Larsson
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Aug 26, 2015 6:17 am UTC

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby Torbjörn Larsson » Wed Aug 26, 2015 6:31 am UTC

Agreed, textbooks (presumably) says convergent evolution is an " independent evolution of similar features in species of different lineages", while mimesis is when " the mimic takes on the properties of a specific object or organism", e.g. correlated (dependent) evolution.

This is the first time in 1569 comics I have had reason to question the science. Not a bad record.

EDIT: The comment is spam marked, so I'll test removing the reference links. They went to "Convergent evolution" respectively "Mimicry" in Wikipedia.

User avatar
Copper Bezel
Posts: 2426
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:35 am UTC
Location: Web exclusive!

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby Copper Bezel » Wed Aug 26, 2015 8:10 am UTC

Yep. Had a moment of "aw, Randall, really?" at that....
So much depends upon a red wheel barrow (>= XXII) but it is not going to be installed.

she / her / her

User avatar
cellocgw
Posts: 2068
Joined: Sat Jun 21, 2008 7:40 pm UTC

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby cellocgw » Wed Aug 26, 2015 11:47 am UTC

Ok,
So beret guy here is a sort of Parsifal character, I guess. Or maybe his magic seeds were actually replicators.

I would have expected it to be BHG, coming up with a fairy-tale excuse for his sabotage.
resume
Former OTTer
Vote cellocgw for President 2020. #ScienceintheWhiteHouse http://cellocgw.wordpress.com
"The Planck length is 3.81779e-33 picas." -- keithl
" Earth weighs almost exactly π milliJupiters" -- what-if #146, note 7

User avatar
Neil_Boekend
Posts: 3220
Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2013 6:35 am UTC
Location: Yes.

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby Neil_Boekend » Wed Aug 26, 2015 11:52 am UTC

Or Beret Guy went on a massive bender and couldn't remember the last few weeks.
Mikeski wrote:A "What If" update is never late. Nor is it early. It is posted precisely when it should be.

patzer's signature wrote:
flicky1991 wrote:I'm being quoted too much!

he/him/his

speising
Posts: 2367
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 4:54 pm UTC
Location: wien

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby speising » Wed Aug 26, 2015 11:54 am UTC

Oh, i just realized the double meaning of Bender the robot's name.

User avatar
Reecer6
Posts: 101
Joined: Fri Nov 30, 2012 12:59 am UTC

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby Reecer6 » Wed Aug 26, 2015 12:14 pm UTC

Huh, I had no idea people put fake branches on cell towers to make them look like trees in some places. I've never seen anything like that myself. Of course, maybe I'm just really bad at recognizing trees.

User avatar
HES
Posts: 4896
Joined: Fri May 10, 2013 7:13 pm UTC
Location: England

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby HES » Wed Aug 26, 2015 12:32 pm UTC

Reecer6 wrote:Huh, I had no idea people put fake branches on cell towers to make them look like trees in some places. I've never seen anything like that myself.

Me neither. Is it just an aesthetic thing or does it help birds in some way?
He/Him/His Image

Slightslouch
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Aug 26, 2015 12:46 pm UTC

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby Slightslouch » Wed Aug 26, 2015 12:51 pm UTC

Does it strike anyone else that Beret Guy is kind of like the Kender race in DnD? Insofar as clearly he is intended by his creator to represent wide-eyed innocence and playfulness, and therefore be at least moderately well-liked by the audience, but in fact to see an adult acting like this makes me almost irrationally angry. Pretty much exactly like the Kender. To the extent where I would very much like to grab him by the lapels and vigorously agitate his brainbox, screaming, "NO ONE CAN POSSIBLY BE THIS NAIVE, YOU'D HAVE GIVEN A SEMI A SMOOCH TRYING TO CROSS A HIGHWAY BY NOW IF YOU WERE."

rmsgrey
Posts: 3656
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2011 6:35 pm UTC

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby rmsgrey » Wed Aug 26, 2015 1:26 pm UTC

I wasn't aware they made cell towers so tall... The one in the comic appears to be too tall by half an order of magnitude.

cryptoengineer
Posts: 142
Joined: Sun Jan 31, 2010 4:58 am UTC

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby cryptoengineer » Wed Aug 26, 2015 1:43 pm UTC

HES wrote:
Reecer6 wrote:Huh, I had no idea people put fake branches on cell towers to make them look like trees in some places. I've never seen anything like that myself.

Me neither. Is it just an aesthetic thing or does it help birds in some way?


I've seen quite a few in the Northeast. It's done for aesthetic reasons. Most aren't too convincing - a single pine tree rising three times the height of all the others on its hill, with an odd knot of dense branches near the top.

Put 'cell tower disguised as tree' into Google images, and you'll find lots of examples. The palm tree variant seems more convincing, but maybe I'm just ignorant about palms.

ce

cryptoengineer
Posts: 142
Joined: Sun Jan 31, 2010 4:58 am UTC

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby cryptoengineer » Wed Aug 26, 2015 1:44 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:I wasn't aware they made cell towers so tall... The one in the comic appears to be too tall by half an order of magnitude.


Out in rural areas this would be tall, but not unbelievable.

Panel 2 makes me nostalgic for the OTT.

ce

User avatar
Whizbang
The Best Reporter
Posts: 2238
Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2012 7:50 pm UTC
Location: New Hampshire, USA

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby Whizbang » Wed Aug 26, 2015 1:47 pm UTC

*Snort*

Spoiler:
Image

User avatar
Sprocket
Seymour
Posts: 5951
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 6:04 pm UTC
Location: impaled on Beck's boney hips.
Contact:

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby Sprocket » Wed Aug 26, 2015 4:07 pm UTC

it's a little like cargo cult evolution.
"She’s a free spirit, a wind-rider, she’s at one with nature, and walks with the kodama eidolons”
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Zohar wrote: Down with the hipster binary! It's a SPECTRUM!

jdrum00
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 10:07 pm UTC

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby jdrum00 » Wed Aug 26, 2015 4:52 pm UTC

Batesian mimicry is the concept we're looking for here. I don't know if mouseovers ever get changed or corrected, but yes, I'll throw in my two cents that the error just stabs daggers out of the screen if you're a biologist. Love the comic, though.

Justin Lardinois
Posts: 60
Joined: Wed Aug 26, 2015 4:47 pm UTC

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby Justin Lardinois » Wed Aug 26, 2015 5:08 pm UTC

Randall knows what convergent evolution is, and that title text clearly wasn't serious. You got nerd sniped.

Zylon
Posts: 142
Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2009 5:37 pm UTC

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby Zylon » Wed Aug 26, 2015 5:09 pm UTC

So... is today's comic supposed to be funny?

Granted, this is my response to every White Beret Idiot strip. But the question stands.

User avatar
Pfhorrest
Posts: 5487
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2009 6:11 am UTC
Contact:

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Aug 26, 2015 6:20 pm UTC

cryptoengineer wrote:Put 'cell tower disguised as tree' into Google images, and you'll find lots of examples. The palm tree variant seems more convincing, but maybe I'm just ignorant about palms.

I find the palm variant far less convincing. The first time one of those went up around here, I did a double- or triple-take and asked aloud "Is that... did they put up some kind of weird fake palm tree by the fairgrounds? Why? Was there a problem with the real palms?" that were right next to it and very, very obviously quite different from the fake palm cell tower.

Whereas I had no idea where the local, pine-disguised cell tower nearest me now was, until someone pointed it out, and that still took quite some close looking to spot it.
Forrest Cameranesi, Geek of All Trades
"I am Sam. Sam I am. I do not like trolls, flames, or spam."
The Codex Quaerendae (my philosophy) - The Chronicles of Quelouva (my fiction)

User avatar
Eshru
Posts: 146
Joined: Thu Jun 10, 2010 3:51 am UTC

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby Eshru » Wed Aug 26, 2015 6:30 pm UTC

As someone who has lived in both the west coast and the Midwest, I will attest to the fact that the cell pines are the more convincing of the two.

The real question, to me, is where did he get that axe at, or does it just have the ability to cut the tower down because he believes it to be a tree?

That Lego-Cell-Tower is epic too, btw.

DanD
Posts: 335
Joined: Tue Oct 05, 2010 12:42 am UTC

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby DanD » Wed Aug 26, 2015 8:36 pm UTC

Eshru wrote:The real question, to me, is where did he get that axe at, or does it just have the ability to cut the tower down because he believes it to be a tree?


Most pole type cell towers are mild steel tube, and not all that heavy for their size. Given a hardened axe and enough effort (and probably a few serious sharpenings), I bet you could take one down. It would be noisy, though.

User avatar
Flumble
Yes Man
Posts: 2266
Joined: Sun Aug 05, 2012 9:35 pm UTC

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby Flumble » Wed Aug 26, 2015 11:06 pm UTC

I'm wondering why Neil didn't ask, but: are cellphone tower disguises actually a thing? :o

It turns out, at one point in dutch history it was a small news item –a test with a disguised mast on a dune.

The only decoration we apply to telecommunication masts/towers is dress them up as a christmas tree.
Image

User avatar
Pfhorrest
Posts: 5487
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2009 6:11 am UTC
Contact:

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Aug 27, 2015 12:02 am UTC

Honestly I don't really get the point of disguising cell towers, given how much other visible technology isn't disguised. When the streets are lined with telephone poles with wires draping across them, and the houses have satellite dishes on top, and the sidewalks have those... I'm assuming some kind of fusebox or something, the big metal locking cabinets you see here and there... a pole with antennae on it here and there really doesn't stand out much at all. I mean it's neat to have the tech disguised and I like the idea in principle, but it seems sort of pointless to do when nobody else is doing it. Like sweeping a dirt floor.
Forrest Cameranesi, Geek of All Trades
"I am Sam. Sam I am. I do not like trolls, flames, or spam."
The Codex Quaerendae (my philosophy) - The Chronicles of Quelouva (my fiction)

DanD
Posts: 335
Joined: Tue Oct 05, 2010 12:42 am UTC

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby DanD » Thu Aug 27, 2015 12:06 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Honestly I don't really get the point of disguising cell towers, given how much other visible technology isn't disguised. When the streets are lined with telephone poles with wires draping across them, and the houses have satellite dishes on top, and the sidewalks have those...


The disguised ones a relatively rarely for urban areas. If you want to deploy a tower in a relatively wooded area (suburban or rural), especially if it's hilly, you're going to want it tall enough and with a clear enough line of sight, and the place to do that is a hill or mountain top, which are frequently wooded, and visible from a long way away.

User avatar
da Doctah
Posts: 997
Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2012 6:27 am UTC

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby da Doctah » Thu Aug 27, 2015 3:33 am UTC

Not only do we have cellular towers disguised as trees, we've had neighborhood groups demand that church steeples be disguised when they exceed what is considered (by people who don't belong to that particular church) a reasonable height.

User avatar
Eternal Density
Posts: 5591
Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2008 12:37 am UTC
Contact:

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby Eternal Density » Thu Aug 27, 2015 6:53 am UTC

I always thought cellphone towers were intelligently designed, but I guess that's heretical.
Play the game of Time! castle.chirpingmustard.com Hotdog Vending Supplier But what is this?
In the Marvel vs. DC film-making war, we're all winners.

User avatar
orthogon
Posts: 3104
Joined: Thu May 17, 2012 7:52 am UTC
Location: The Airy 1830 ellipsoid

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby orthogon » Thu Aug 27, 2015 8:45 am UTC

Eternal Density wrote:I always thought cellphone towers were intelligently designed, but I guess that's heretical.

I don't know about the towers themselves, but some antennas are designed by genetic algorithms, so did in a sense develop by evolution rather than intelligent design.

Basically antenna design is a horrendously conditioned optimisation problem where it's difficult to do better than trial-and-error. Even if you do get a good design, it probably only has the desirable properties in in free-space, not when it's stuck on some tower next to a whole load of other antennas and covered in bird dinosaur shit.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

User avatar
Neil_Boekend
Posts: 3220
Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2013 6:35 am UTC
Location: Yes.

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby Neil_Boekend » Thu Aug 27, 2015 9:26 am UTC

Flumble wrote:I'm wondering why Neil didn't ask, but: are cellphone tower disguises actually a thing? :o

I didn't ask because I have seen disguised towers once or twice. In large forest areas the stand out a little less, but I don't mind them standing out at all (same with windmills). I just mind them being around while I STILL HAVE NO DECENT INTERNET ON MY PHONE.
Mikeski wrote:A "What If" update is never late. Nor is it early. It is posted precisely when it should be.

patzer's signature wrote:
flicky1991 wrote:I'm being quoted too much!

he/him/his

User avatar
Znirk
Posts: 174
Joined: Mon Jul 01, 2013 9:47 am UTC
Location: ZZ9 plural Z α

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby Znirk » Thu Aug 27, 2015 2:06 pm UTC

da Doctah wrote:we've had neighborhood groups demand that church steeples be disguised when they exceed what is considered (by people who don't belong to that particular church) a reasonable height.

Did you link to the right news story there? In the one from your post the idea of disguising anything doesn't seem to come up, and the height issue mentioned is about zoning regulations, not neighbours' opinions.

Quey
Posts: 29
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2014 12:05 am UTC

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby Quey » Thu Aug 27, 2015 2:51 pm UTC

On my first reading of the title text I had assumed it meant cell phone towers and trees converged on the metal trunk with branches design. It specifically says that they both started taking on the characteristics of each other to find some optimum in the middle. It's a joke, so it's safe to assume that towers can evolve, too. Why does that set off everyone's biology alarms? Are people so eager to point out their pedantry that they're willing to miss the point?

chenille
Posts: 430
Joined: Tue Dec 20, 2011 7:25 pm UTC

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby chenille » Thu Aug 27, 2015 3:31 pm UTC

Quey wrote: It's a joke, so it's safe to assume that towers can evolve, too. Why does that set off everyone's biology alarms? Are people so eager to point out their pedantry that they're willing to miss the point?

I got and even appreciated the joke that they were both evolving, and that's why I said mutual defensive mimicry. It just...comes across as less funny for using what is clearly not the right term.

Imagine if the alt text had said they evolved over trillions of years; would you consider it pedantry to blink at such a glaringly out-of-place value? Well, maybe you would, but I doubt I'm the only person who would have tripped on it before getting to the punchline.

User avatar
orthogon
Posts: 3104
Joined: Thu May 17, 2012 7:52 am UTC
Location: The Airy 1830 ellipsoid

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby orthogon » Thu Aug 27, 2015 3:44 pm UTC

Znirk wrote:
da Doctah wrote:we've had neighborhood groups demand that church steeples be disguised when they exceed what is considered (by people who don't belong to that particular church) a reasonable height.

Did you link to the right news story there? In the one from your post the idea of disguising anything doesn't seem to come up, and the height issue mentioned is about zoning regulations, not neighbours' opinions.

I love the idea of a steeple being disguised. The steeple, as I understand it, is supposed to symbolise reaching for heaven; so you have a symbolic structure that's being disguised as something else... The only way that would make sense would be if the steeple were not merely symbolic, but was expected to actually interact with some kind of spiritual field, rather than just the electromagnetic one that it's apparently optimised for.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

User avatar
Znirk
Posts: 174
Joined: Mon Jul 01, 2013 9:47 am UTC
Location: ZZ9 plural Z α

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby Znirk » Thu Aug 27, 2015 5:02 pm UTC

Slightslouch wrote:Does it strike anyone else that Beret Guy is kind of like the Kender race in DnD? Insofar as clearly he is intended by his creator to represent wide-eyed innocence and playfulness, [actual point of the quoted post elided]

I wonder how much innocence and naiveté is intended here. The question-and-answer structure of the fourth panel makes it pretty clear that Acornhead is aware of the connection between "no more signal" and "no more tree".

operagost
Posts: 102
Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:23 pm UTC

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby operagost » Thu Aug 27, 2015 7:04 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Honestly I don't really get the point of disguising cell towers, given how much other visible technology isn't disguised. When the streets are lined with telephone poles with wires draping across them, and the houses have satellite dishes on top, and the sidewalks have those... I'm assuming some kind of fusebox or something, the big metal locking cabinets you see here and there...

Those are usually telecom.

rmsgrey
Posts: 3656
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2011 6:35 pm UTC

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby rmsgrey » Thu Aug 27, 2015 7:53 pm UTC

operagost wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:Honestly I don't really get the point of disguising cell towers, given how much other visible technology isn't disguised. When the streets are lined with telephone poles with wires draping across them, and the houses have satellite dishes on top, and the sidewalks have those... I'm assuming some kind of fusebox or something, the big metal locking cabinets you see here and there...

Those are usually telecom.

Here in the UK, there are metal cabinets by the road periodically, a bit under a meter tall, that contain lots and lots of electrical connections for phone, broadband internet, and cable TV. They're where the wire to/from an individual house connects to a cable to/from the local exchange - meaning services can be cut off and reconnected without disturbing the residents...

User avatar
Copper Bezel
Posts: 2426
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:35 am UTC
Location: Web exclusive!

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby Copper Bezel » Fri Aug 28, 2015 5:48 am UTC

Yeah, those only exist on the sides of houses or in apartment complexes in the US. And I think ours are dumber than yours (not necessarily in a derogatory sense.)

It is strange that we seem so embarrassed of modern technologies but make no attempt to hide old ones, but I think it's probably good that there's some aesthetic concern going into the modern infrastructure, and maybe things will look okay once everything's fibered up and we can knock down all those naturally occurring landline telephone trees that people carve their names into and put tire swings on.
So much depends upon a red wheel barrow (>= XXII) but it is not going to be installed.

she / her / her

Quey
Posts: 29
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2014 12:05 am UTC

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby Quey » Fri Aug 28, 2015 6:16 am UTC

chenille wrote:Imagine if the alt text had said they evolved over trillions of years; would you consider it pedantry to blink at such a glaringly out-of-place value? Well, maybe you would, but I doubt I'm the only person who would have tripped on it before getting to the punchline.

Yes I would, in fact. Such a, dare I say, hilariously large value is obviously a joke and not meant to be an assertion that life on Earth seriously evolved over trillions of years. You recognize it and move on, not linger fact checking every detail. It's like going to a comedy club, a guy doing standup says "so I was out with my girlfriend last night..." and someone shouts "Nuh uh! You were here performing a set!"
A lot of jokes are based on untrue set ups or punch lines; it's one of the basic formulae. Don't trip!

rmsgrey
Posts: 3656
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2011 6:35 pm UTC

Re: 1569: "Magic Tree"

Postby rmsgrey » Fri Aug 28, 2015 1:05 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:Yeah, those only exist on the sides of houses or in apartment complexes in the US. And I think ours are dumber than yours (not necessarily in a derogatory sense.)

It is strange that we seem so embarrassed of modern technologies but make no attempt to hide old ones, but I think it's probably good that there's some aesthetic concern going into the modern infrastructure, and maybe things will look okay once everything's fibered up and we can knock down all those naturally occurring landline telephone trees that people carve their names into and put tire swings on.


I think part of it with cell towers is the common idea that they're spraying invisible cancer beams everywhere...


Return to “Individual XKCD Comic Threads”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: mscha and 111 guests