Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Title text: Tonight's top story: Lucifer, the Prince of Darkness, died in his home this morning at the age of [unintelligible rune]. Due to the large number of sharks inhabiting his former kingdom, no body could be recovered.
The Kola Superdeep Borehole is the result of a scientific drilling project by the Soviet Union in what is now north-western Russia that began in 1970 and continued through 1992. It was an attempt to drill as far into the Earth as possible. The deepest hole reached 12,262 metres (40,230 ft). It remains the deepest artificial point on earth.
Megan mentions the well to Hell hoax that the drilling hit a super-hot cavern which is disproved at www.snopes.com: "The Well to Hell". Although super-hot temperature was the reason the project was abandoned, no chamber or voices were discovered. As Megan notes, the hoax plays on the popular notion that Hell is literally a physical place below us — therefore by definition, towards the centre of the Earth — whereas Heaven is above us; often depicted in the clouds.
Megan suggests that the miners therefore sealed the hole to "seal in" Hell. There is no mention in the Wikipedia article about the hole being sealed; however there is a picture with the caption "The borehole itself (welded shut)". If "sealing the hole" is considered to mean filling the entire hole up with concrete or some other material, then given the potential for future scientific data, the 22 years spent drilling and the cost of sealing the hole, this would not seem to be a reasonable thing to do.
Black Hat suggests that if the Hoax were true and the miners did believe they'd drilled into Hell, a better alternative to sealing the hole would have been to dig a canal to the ocean, thereby allowing water to flow into the hole and into Hell. Given the common depiction of a subterranean Hell is characterized by fire and brimstone and extreme heat, filling Hell with water would both drastically alter the landscape and entirely flood Hell.
Megan never thought of that possibility and compliments Black Hat's ingenuity by suggesting that if there were ever a real conflict with Hell, she would want to be "on his side", given his clever suggestion on how to destroy Hell. He responds by suggesting that Megan is "nice" and therefore probably won't be on his side. This suggests Black Hat considers himself evil and thinks he would be fighting for Hell or maybe on behalf of those consigned there, rather than against it.
The title text parodies a nondescript news report of a person's death. In this case it is about Lucifer being killed by Black Hat carrying out his plan to flood Hell. However, the report is written in a non-descript way that ignores the presumed sensationalism of the story (i.e., that Hell exists and has been flooded). It is notable that "Lucifer" is often used in modern times to refer to Satan and both are used to refer to the "leader" or "keeper" of Hell, although the Bible never directly identifies them as the same entity, and he/they are never tied directly to Hell anywhere in the Bible. Much of the modern image of Hell is derived from Dante's "Inferno" along with a variety of additional details which have been added and changed throughout the years. The reference to sharks is a reference to 1326: Sharks that was released a week before.
 See also
- [Megan and Black Hat are sitting in front of their laptops.]
- Megan: Ever hear of the Kola Borehole?
- Black Hat: No—what's that?
- Megan: A Soviet project to drill deep into the Earth's crust.
- Megan: There's a hoax report claiming that their drill broke through into a superhot cavern, and when they lowered a microphone into the hole, they heard tormented screaming. People say that's why the miners sealed the well and abandoned the project.
- Black Hat: Why would anyone believe that story?
- Megan: I guess some people think Hell is literally an underground place.
- Black Hat: No - I mean, why would the miners seal the opening? Why not just dig a canal connecting it to the ocean? Unless they like Hell.
- Megan: ...If there's ever a war between Earth and Hell, I hope I'm on your side.
- Black Hat: You seem nice; you probably won't be.
add a comment! ⋅ add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ refresh comments!
Reminds me of the title text in #1218: Doors of Durin. Whimsye (talk) 06:21, 14 February 2014 (UTC)
Surely this is a Dwarf Fortress reference. The Soviets breached the Happy Fun Stuff! 126.96.36.199 06:42, 14 February 2014 (UTC)
- Well, DF has that connotation, but both the real thing and the hoax are older than Toady's game, so perhaps not so much a reference to DF (although Black Hat does propose a typically DF-player solution... I hope he's prepared for FPS Hell from the flowing liquids). Randall knows about DF, of course.
- (BTW, from that (first, factual event) page: "In 1983, the drill passed 12,000 m (39,000 ft), and drilling was stopped for about a year to celebrate the event." ...Russians!) 188.8.131.52 08:18, 14 February 2014 (UTC)
Lakes and Oceans #1040 also mentions the Kola Borehole.184.108.40.206 09:03, 14 February 2014 (UTC)Nix
If Hell would be a physical place, I don't think Lucifer would still be ruling there. In next war between Heaven and Hell, the winners will be anime and/or computer games nerds. Both Heaven and Hell will lose. :-) -- Hkmaly (talk) 11:06, 14 February 2014 (UTC)
One may recall from the Divine Comedy that Dante's imagery of Hell is a negative-mountain-shaped abyss that starts widest at the surface of our allegorical planet and ends at a point far below the surface where Satan resides. The deeper you go, the narrower the abyss gets, like a cone, and the more heinous the sinners. On the other side of the planet there is a mountain made from all that earth God removed to dig the Inferno. The Saints (all those who are saved by faith from the other fate) progress up the mountain through Purgatory to reach Paradise. — tbc (talk) 14:01, 14 February 2014 (UTC)
I remember reading about this in Dial the Truth ministries: http://www.av1611.org/hell.html
Either way, in the war between Earth and Hell, I shall be in Heaven. Greyson (talk) 14:51, 14 February 2014 (UTC)
In the game terraria it is actually possible to dig a tunnel from the ocean to hell. I tried this but not enough water came through the tunnel to flood it.220.127.116.11 21:52, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
In Dante's Inferno, Hell is depicted as being a cold place since it is far from the warmth of the Creator. The modern hot version of hell is a byproduct of the fire and brimstone of the reformation period. 18.104.22.168 16:47, 14 February 2014 (UTC)
About the kola superdeep borehole being welded-shut - that seems to be actualy true. The wikipedia page on the borehole has a picture of it being welded shut, and the reference about the bore hole project being abandonded, an article in russian, says that it was welded shut in 1995. Could someone update that? --22.214.171.124 21:07, 14 February 2014 (UTC)
- Not only that, it was apparently capped with concrete as well  126.96.36.199 12:54, 10 May 2014 (UTC)
When he says that she probably won't be on his side, I took it to mean that he'll be on his own side during the war, fighting against both Hell and Earth. Since she's nice, she probably wouldn't join him. 188.8.131.52 19:37, 15 February 2014 (UTC)
I took his comment in the final panel to mean that he is actually affiliated with hell and that somehow flooding Hell would release its contents rather than extinguish them. It was a very eerie thought that I'm sticking to. 184.108.40.206 12:48, 18 March 2015 (UTC) 21:37, 18 March 2015 (KST)
If there's ever a war between heaven and hell, my soul will be too busy exploring space to give a shit about it.
On a side note, I'd expect such sounds might actually have been "heard" in the chamber. Or it is theoretically possible. The sound of escaping hot gases, especially in chorus, would sound awfully similar to tormented screaming. So in a way, the sounds would sound similar.
Although in thinking about this one more deeply, another comic comes to mind as I freak out about the fact the scary magma chambers are RIGHT BELOW ME. I could easily walk the lateral distance separating me and them in a few hours. Or could scale a mountain with that distance in a day or so. Or in a few seconds using a lot of rocket fuel. But to go down that distance takes a lot more effort... hm. Of course there are always volcanoes.
Too busy thinking about space to worry about a war between hell and heaven. International Space Station (talk) 05:13, 22 April 2016 (UTC)