webcomic with thrice-weekly updates created by Randall Munroe
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xkcd is a webcomic created by Randall Munroe, a former contractor for NASA. He describes it as "a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language." Munroe states there is no particular meaning to the name and it is simply a "treasured and carefully-guarded point in the space of four-character strings."

what if?
External links


Man: In what scientists are calling "pretty gay," I can't find my shoes.
Narrator: SCIENCE. It works, bitches.
Man: Staring at the ceiling, she asked me what I was thinking about.
Man: I should have made something up.
Man: The Bellman-Ford algorithm makes terrible pillow talk.
Narrator: We made it so far together but then I lost you in the trees.
Narrator: Finally.
Hat Man: I aspire to have more creativity than the common asshole.
Hat Man: I'm more of a classy asshole -- A class-hole, if you will. For example, I like poking tiny holes in styrofoam noodle cups at the grocery store--
Hat Man: Thanks to me, someone gets surprise boiling water in the lap.
Man: I am in awe.
Hat Man: It's even more fun to do to condoms.
Gamer: You know, our love is like a katamari. We travel along, rolling up more and more of the world into our shared experience, taking it and making it our own.
Gamer: The clutter of everyday life, with a simple core to tie it together, eventually becomes something grand as the world itself.
Hat Man: Dear Sony, Microsoft, the MPAA, the RIAA, and Apple: Let's make a deal. You stop trying to tell me where, when and how I play my movies and music, and I won't crush your homes under my inexorably advancing wall of ice.
Narrator: It's been over a decade since Jurassic Park opened, and I still size up buildings for their potential as shelter against velociraptor attacks.
Narrator: I love the time just before sunrise. It's quiet; no one is ever just walking about. It's like a secret.
Narrator: I always hope that I'll find someone else quietly hiding from sleep, and we'll see each other and sit and talk.
Narrator: I guess this is a bad place to meet people. I wish it weren't.


Narrator: Related to moral relativism, it states that ethics become subjective only when you approach the speed of light. That is, it's okay to be self-serving, steal, and murder as long as you're going really, really fast. (Note: This is why rap sounds better on the highway at 90 MPH)
Narrator: You are like the prime numbers: Unpredictable turns, unconstrainable, tantalizingly regular but never quite the same.
Narrator: I am like the Riemann-Zeta function: A rippled curtain of the imagined and real deeply tied with you in ways incomprehensible.
Narrator: Although, strictly speaking, the Riemann-Zeta function couldn't have given you herpes.
Man: When did we forget our dreams?
Man: The infinite possibilities each day holds should stagger the mind. The sheer number of experiences I could have is uncountable, breathtaking, and I'm sitting here refreshing my inbox. We live trapped in loops, reliving a few days over and over, and we envision only a handful of paths laid out ahead of us. We see the same things each day, we respond the same way, we think the same thoughts, each day a slight variation on the last, every moment smoothly following the gentle curves of societal norms. We act like if we just get through today, tomorrow our dreams will come back to us.
Man: And no, I don't have all the answers. I don't know how to jolt myself into seeing what each moment could become. But I do know one thing: the solution doesn't involve watering down my every little idea and creative impulse for the sake of some day easing my fit into a mold. It doesn't involve tempering my life to better fit someone's expectations. It doesn't involve constantly holding back for fear of shaking things up.
Man: This is very important, so I want to say it as clearly as I can: FUCK. THAT. SHIT.
Man in Chair: Make me a sandwich.
Man: What? Make it yourself.
Man in Chair: Sudo make me a sandwich.
Man: Okay.
Girl: But he believes the silliest things!
Professor: So? The universe doesn't care what you believe.
Professor: The wonderful thing about science is that it doesn't ask for your faith, it just asks for your eyes.
Girl: But he's a US Senator!
Professor: Ah, then yes, we do have a bit of a situation.
[A man is driving in a car, and the radio turns on]
Man: [singing along] Naaaa na na nana na na Katamari Damacy
Woman: And that's when you veered into the mailbox?
Man: It looked smaller than me. It was just instinct.
Narrator: When I walk past an automatic door and it opens for me, I worry that if I don't go in I'll hurt its feelings.


Narrator: I feel uncomfortable when my computer physically struggles with me. Sure, I can overpower it now, but it feels like a few short steps from here to the robot war.
Man: Dear God,
Man: I would like to file a bug report.
Alter-Self: Take wrong turns. Talk to strangers. Open unmarked doors. And if you see a group of people in a field, go find out what they're doing. Do things without always knowing how they'll turn out.
Self: Why tell me this?
Alter-Self: You're curious and smart and bored, and all you see is the choice between working hard and slacking off. There are so many adventures that you miss because you're waiting to think of a plan. To find them, look for tiny interesting choices. And remember that you are always making up the future as you go.

Self: Wait a minute; have you brought me here before?
Alter Self: I...maybe. Once.
Self: For another hint?
Alter-Self: Er. Actually we just made out.
Self: We wh-
Alter-Self: Bye!
Man Hanging from Tree: You were once shoved headfirst through someone's vagina. Why are you acting so dignified?


Rappeling Woman: You know how some people consider "May you have an interesting life" to be a curse?
Man in Office: Yeah...
Rappeling Woman: Fuck those people. Wanna have an adventure?
Man: Just once, I want a real action movie. 30 seconds of exposition followed by a perfect 90-minute action scene. One with a huge budget, a good choreographer, and a great director.
Woman: And they should center it around some character we already know, someone we never get tired of watching.
Man: I think we've got something here...
Narrator: Coming this summer: RIVER TAM BEATS UP EVERYONE
Narrator: [in the dark; clock reads 4:31] Lying awake at night. I realize how many little lights there are in my room. The alarm clock is the brightest. [clock now reads 4:32] Can't sleep. I'm alone with these glowing red numbers. Time slows. Does time even exist here? [clock now reads 4:33] Thoughts churning in on themselves. The madness can't be far away. [clock now reads 13:72] Ah, yes. There it is.
Alt Text: Crap, I have levitation class at 25:131. Better set the alarm to "cinnamon".
Narrator: Turing Test Extra Credit: Convince the examiner that he's a computer.
Narrator: I'm alone in this wasteland a thousand miles from you.
Narrator: But I haven't forgotten the feel of your skin, your mischevious smile.
Narrator: You'd think a thousand miles would be enough.
Narrator: I guess I'll keep walking.
Mrs. Roberts: Don't be silly. Record company employees can't just go into houses and slice people up.
RIAA Agent: Ah, so you haven't read the DMCA.
MPAA Agent: Title IV, Section 408: Authorization of deadly force.
Person A (outside frame): Are you coming to bed?
Person B (sitting at a desk with a computer): I can't. This is important.
Person A (outside frame): What?
Person B (sitting at a desk with a computer): Someone is wrong on the Internet.
Narrator: We've all seen The Matrix
Narrator: We've all joked about "What resolution is life?"
Narrator: But it doesn't blunt the shock of waking up one morning, and seeing dead pixels in the sky.


Woman: So, you found me after all.
Hat Man: You didn't make it easy.
Hat Man: You saw through me, all right. But not quite well enough.
Hat Man: Because if you wanted to stay lost forever, you made one mistake.
Hat Man: You took my hat.
Hat Man: I like my hat.
Narrator: Megan and I first met at a party at her sister's.
Narrator: We hit it off, opened up, shared secrets, and talked about everything. Around us, the party waned, but we hid from sleep together, talking through the deepest hours of the night.
Narrator: The dawn found us curled up on a couch, asleep but still together.
Narrator: That experience, connecting with a stranger and falling recklessly in love, is one of life's greatest joys.
Narrator: And now that you're married, you'll never experience it again.
Narrator: It's the price you pay for everlasting love. It's a small one, but I hope it stings a little.
Narrator: Anyway, I wish you and Megan the best.
Narrator: ...Hey, man, you asked me to do a toast.
Narrator: Instead of "in bed", I've found that fortune cookies are often more improved by appending "except in bed".
Hat Man: What was that?!
Woman: Remote mines under your car.
Hat Man: Oh those? I moved them to your garage before knocking.
Woman: Touché
Alt Text: Someday the 'In Popular Culture' section will have its own article with an 'In Popular Culture' section. It will reference this title-text referencing it, and the blogosphere will implode.
Man #1: Math is a game for the young. I need to sit back and let the future happen.
Man #2: You're thirteen.
Man #1: Yes, and it's time I accept that.
Alt Text: We need a special holiday to honor the countless kind souls with unsecured networks named 'linksys'.
Narrator: I haven't lived a perfect life. Made plenty of mistakes. Got my share of regrets.
Narrator: But there's one thing of which I'm proud. One stand on which I've never wavered.
Narrator: When someone calls my phone, it makes a goddamn ringing sound.
Narrator: Thinking of buying from Audible.com or iTunes? Remember, if you pirate something, it's yours for life. You can take it anywhere, and it will always work.
Narrator: But if you buy DRM-locked media, and you ever switch operating systems or new technology comes along, your collection could be lost. And if you try to keep it, you'll be a criminal (DMCA 1201).
Narrator: So remember, if you want a collection you can count on, pirate it. Hey, you'll be a criminal either way.
Narrator: (If you don't like this, demand DRM-free files)
Hat Man: I plead the third.
Congressman: You mean the fifth?
Hat Man: No, the third.
Congressman: You refuse to quarter troops in your house?
Hat Man: I have few principles, but I stick to them.
Chairman: We were convened here to review your nomination for the position of Internet Secretary.
Chairman: However, on review of your qualifications, we've decided to sentence you to death.
Chairman: An unorthodox move, sure. But the vote was unanimous.


Man: It wasn't that long ago that RSA was illegal to export. Classified a munition.
Woman: You know, I think the crypto community took the wrong side in that fight. We should have lobbied to keep it weaponry.
Man: Why?
Woman: Once they get complacent, we break out the Second Amendment.
Narrator: So I'm stuck in this desert for eternity. I don't know why. I just woke up here one day.
Narrator: One day I started laying down rows of rocks.
Narrator: I was able to build a computer. Each new row of stones is the next iteration of the computation.
Narrator: With enough time and space, I could fully simulate two particles interacting.
Narrator: But I have infinite time and space. So I decided to simulate a universe.
Woman: Where did you get this Christmas tree?
Hat Man: Nowhere.
Woman: Did you cut down the Yggdrasil?
Hat Man: Maybe...
Narrator: Every now and then, I announce "I know you're listening" to empty rooms.
Narrator: If I'm wrong, no one knows. And if I'm right, maybe I just freaked the hell out of some secret organization.
Woman: Man, that ride failed to be a metaphor for our conversation.
Man: Guess this isn't the Calvin & Hobbes-model toboggan.
Narrator: Trivia: It's possible to create events which Wikipedia can't cover neutrally.
Hat Man: In a week, I will be donating $1,000,000 to a recipient determined by the word count of the Wikipedia article about this event. If it's even, the money goes to pro-choice activists. If it's odd, pro-life.
Skateboarder: So wait. Summer's actually weird, Jewel's actually a mechanical whizz... will Morena Baccarin be here? Is she really a—
Nathan Fillion and Jewel Staite: [simultaneously] No.
Narrator: My hobby: Getting typography geeks heartfelt cards printed in "Papyrus" and watching them struggle to act grateful.
Title Text: I secretly, deep in my guilty heart, like Papyrus and don't care if it's overused. [Cue hate mail in beautifully-kerned Helvetica.]


Computer: AI Loaded
User: Analyze love
AI: A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.
Alt Text: Wait, no, that one also loses. How about a nice game of chess?
Woman: I've realized that I always secretly root for hurricanes. I watch the news hoping that they'll get really big and hit a city. I know my hopes don't actually affect it, but I feel bad.
Hat Man: Nah, that's just natural human attraction to spectacle. It's like watching the shuttle launch because you don't want to miss it if there's a disaster.
Woman: ...I guess?
Hat Man: Or dressing as an intern to sneak into operating rooms, in case a patient dies and you can watch them harvesting organs.
Woman: Wait, you do that?
Hat Man: Or stealing detour signs to direct highway drivers down backwoods roads strewn with caltrops. After the tires burst, you start shooting out their windows.
Hat Man: Then, when they flee the car in terror, you hunt them on horseback, like men once did.
Woman: I realized a while back that we're having entirely different conversations.
Harriet: They said if I were captured I should take my own life. But I'd just as soon take yours.
Narrator: Trivia: 30% of biologist first dates disintegrate into making Punnett squares.
Man: Our love is like a brontosaurus.
Man: Recognized as a mistaken combination long ago, lingering only out of misplaced affection for an imagined past.
Man: But if you're worried about bombs, why are you letting me keep my laptop batteries? If I overvolted them and breached the cells, it would make a sizeable explosion.
Woman: Oh God.
Man: It's okay, dear. In a moment he'll realize I have a good point and return my water.
Man: When you take apart a Lego house and mix the pieces into the bin, where does the house go?
Woman: It's in the bin.
Man: No, those are just pieces. They could become spaceships or trains. The house was just an arrangement. The arrangement doesn't stay with the pieces and it doesn't go anywhere else. It's just gone.


Ever notice how Wikipedia has a few words it really likes?
Ever notice how Wikipedia has a few words it really likes?
First man: How did the date go ?
Second man: I wanted to be prepared, so I looked up a sex walkthrough video.
First man: And...?
Second man: It turns out it was a speed run.
First man: Ouch.


Man 1: [going through the contents of a bookshelf] All your books are full of blank pages.
Man 2: Not true. That one has some ink on page 78.
Man 1: A smudge.
Man 2: So?
Man 1: There are no words. You're not reading. There's no story there.
Man 2: Maybe not for you. When I look at those books, I think about all kinds of stories. Reading is about more than what's on the page. Holding a book prompts my mind to enrich itself. Frankly, I suspect the book isn't even necessary. The whole industry is evil. Greedy publishers and rich authors try to convince us our brains need their words. But I refuse to be a sucker.
Man 1: Who sold you all these blank books?
Title Text: Our brains have just one scale, and we resize our experiences to fit.


Narrator: Protip: If you're not sure what to say, try "So it has come to this"–-it creates instant dramatic tension and is a valid observation in literally any situation.


Title Text: People get really grumpy when they realize you're giving them directions for how to go to the store and buy a GPS.
Narrator: Science Tip: Log scales are for quitters who can't find enough paper to make their point properly.
Alt Text: A human is a system for converting dust billions of years ago into dust billions of years from now via a roundabout process which involves checking email a lot.
Man #2: We can't answer every question.
Man #1: No. But I think we can answer any question.
Title Text: All music is just performances of 4'33" in studios where another band happened to be playing at the time.


Randall Munroe: "It's weird how I am constantly surprised by the passage of time when it's literally the most predictable thing in the Universe."
Man #1: I was trying to figure out why my browser was acting weird.
Man #1: Turns out it wasn't the browser – the issue was with my keyboard driver.
Man #1: Debugging that led me to a mysterious message from a system utility...
Man #1: Anyway, long story short, I found the sword of Martin the Warrior.
Man #2: I think at some point you switched puzzles.
Randall Munroe: "Websites that collect quotes are full of mistakes and never check original sources."
Randall Munroe: "I disagree strongly with whatever work this quote is attached to."
Randall Munroe: "This quote is often falsely attributed to Mark Twain."
Randall Munroe: "This quote was taken out of context."
Randall Munroe: "This quote is very memorable."
Randall Munroe: "I wrote this book, and the person quoting me here is taking credit for it."
Alt Text: "Since there's no ending quote mark, everything after this is part of my quote. —Randall Munroe


Ponytail: The Internet Archive is so weird. If it didn't exist, it would sound totally implausible.
Cueball: Seriously.
Cueball: Do you ever worry about how reliant we are on systems that someone happens to maintain for some reason but which could disappear at any time?
Ponytail: Yeah - the same thing freaks me out about having a body.
Alt Text: "Spellcheck has been great, but whoever figures out how to get grammar check to work is guaranteed a Nobel."

what if?


But I've never seen the Icarus story as a lesson about the limitations of humans. I see it as a lesson about the limitations of wax as an adhesive.

Your plane would fly pretty well, except it would be on fire the whole time, and then it would stop flying, and then stop being a plane.

140 characters may not seem like a lot, but we will never run out of things to say.

I don’t know why they do this because whenever I reach the phrase “shoot jets of blood from their eyes” in an article I just stop there and stare at it until I need to lie down.

In the first kind of system, the two stars are close together and the planet goes around them far away. This kind of planet is called a circumbinary planet. In the second kind of system, the two stars are farther apart, and the planet orbits one of them[1] while the other stays far away. This kind of planet is called [the other kind of planet].

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