482: Height

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Interestingly, on a true vertical log plot, I think the Eiffel Tower's sides would really be straight lines.
Title text: Interestingly, on a true vertical log plot, I think the Eiffel Tower's sides would really be straight lines.

[edit] Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: A number of the items are lacking descriptions, and distances. As this comic is about distance this is more critical than descriptions. If the object is not real, an estimate based on the comic and scale is good
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

The comic is a companion piece to 485: Depth, which explores a logarithmic scale from Earth's atmosphere down to the interior of a single proton. Height begins this process by viewing logarithmically smaller scales showing several objects in the universe, both real and fictional, from farthest (top) to closest (bottom). The comic starts with Black Hat throwing a cat off the edge of the universe, probably a reference to Schrodinger's cat (as since it is outside the observable universe (for us), it exists in a super-position of both living and dead until we actually 'observe' it and force it to be in one of the states). It may also refer to the common myth that a cat will always land on its feet, a myth Black Hat appears to be testing to the extreme. The top of the universe is shown as the distance from which the oldest rays of light reach Earth.

Displaying height logarithmically while displaying width linearly noticeably distorts the shapes of the terrestrial objects. The title text notes that this distortion would approximately cancel out the curve of the Eiffel Tower's profile, and speculates that the cancellation might in fact be exact enough to convert its silhouette to a straight-edged triangle.

The age of the universe is currently stated as 13.8 billion years. But the Observable universe is about 14.0 billion parsecs or 46 billion light years, as shown on the top of the image.

[edit] Objects

All objects are sorted from bottom to top by their average distance from earth for objects in a solar orbit, and their current distance for others.

Distance Object Fictional Description
435 ×1024m Black Hat and cat YES Black Hat kicking a cat off the top of the comic, presumably to determine whether it will land on its feet.
435 ×1024m Top of observable universe
11.3 ×1024m Hubble Deep Field objects NO Objects of extremely distant galaxies found in a long-exposure photograph by of the Hubble telescope, 12 billion light-years away.
9.46 ×1024m One billion light years
2.36 ×1024m Great Attractor NO An unusual concentration of intergalactic mass.
425 ×1021m Antennae Galaxies (colliding) NO A pair of colliding galaxies.
23.6 ×1021m Andromeda Galaxy NO A sibling to our Milky Way.
9.46 ×1021m One million light years
2.38 ×1021m Cat on a keyboard in space YES
1.56 ×1021m Magellanic Clouds NO These clouds are a pair of nearby dwarf galaxies.
263 ×1018m Edge of Galaxy NO The edge of the Milky Way galaxy, the galaxy in which we reside.
245 ×1018m Galactic Center NO The center of the Milky Way galaxy.
61.5 ×1018m Crab Nebula NO Nebula are supernova remnants
14.2 ×1018m Horsehead Nebula NO
12.7 ×1018m Orion Nebula NO
8.14 ×1018m Rigel NO
6.08 ×1018m Betelgeuse NO
3.468 ×1018m Ford Prefect YES A character from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, shown near his home star; Betelgeuse.
4.20 ×1018m Pleiades NO The Pleiades also have a derogatory remark, as per 66: Abusive Astronomy
2.90 ×1018m The Romulan Neutral Zone YES This marks the edge of the Star Trek Federation.
931 ×1015m The first radio broadcast was in January 1910. Since radio waves travel at the speed of light, and this was published in September of 2008 this the radio waves traveled about 98.5 light years. See Contact (1997 film) for a depiction of this. This is also referenced in 1212: Interstellar Memes.
350 ×1015m Arcturus NO
320 ×1015m Pollux NO
242 ×1015m The edge of Federation Sector 0-0-1 YES The sector of space assigned to Earth in Star Trek.
224 ×1015m "missing WMDs" YES A reference to the controversy about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction.
81.3 ×1015m Sirius NO
56.6 ×1015m Barnard's Star NO
41.3 ×1015m Alpha Centauri NO
30.9 ×1015m One parsec.
9.46 ×1015m One light-year.
15.0 ×1015m Oort cloud NO A halo of ice balls surrounding our solar system, but missing the Kupier belt between Neptune and the Oort cloud.
350 ×1012m Bupkis NO Yiddish for "nothing". Only a handful of objects are known to orbit between the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud.
55.0 ×1012m A comet which will destroy earth in late 2063 YES To coincide with the latest biblicaly based prophesy for the end of the world.
19.3 ×1012m Voyager 1 NO An early space probe. Distance correct as of 11th Sept 2014, click here to see NASA's live distance counter.
16.7 ×1012m Pioneer 10 NO *Estimated distance based on this information*
13.6 ×109m Pioneer 11 NO By the similarity in appearance to Pioneer 10 this unlabeled probe must be Pioneer 11 *Estimated distance based on this information*
Eris NO The "All hail Discordia!" after Eris is a reference to Discordianism, a somewhat tongue-in-cheek religion based around the goddess Eris. One of a pair of TNOs now classified as dwarf planets.
Pluto NO One of a pair of TNOs now classified as dwarf planets.
Neptune NO
Uranus NO
Saturn NO
Titan NO Saturn's moon Titan is the only known moon to have an atmosphere - although nothing like the one on earth. There may be oceans on the moon, but not filled with water but with liquid methane and ethane. It is way too cold for liquid water. Still in such oceans life could also have formed.
Jupiter NO
Europa NO Jupiter's moon Europa which may be covered by a deep ocean of water - which is again covered by layer of ice many kilometers thick. In such an ocean life could have formed.
Asteroids NO The Asteroid belt contains a spaceship from Asteroids (video game)
Mars NO Note the path, reflecting the fact that their distances from Earth vary as the planets move in their orbits.
Venus NO Note the path, reflecting the fact that their distances from Earth vary as the planets move in their orbits.
Mercury NO
149 ×109m Sun NO The Sun is the star at the center of our solar system, around which the Earth orbits.
Discovery One YES The Discovery One from 2001: A Space Odyssey, referring to the quote "open the pod bay door, HAL."
Planet Express YES The spaceplane is most likely the Planet Express from Futurama, where Fry once discussed "a big heaping bowl of salt."
400 ×106m Human Altitude Record NO Achieved by the team of Apollo 13 approximately 100km higher than the remaining Apollo missions.
384 ×106m Moon NO The Moon is the Earth's only natural satellite.
90.4 ×106m Snoop Dogg YES A rapper notorious for smoking marijuana, is shown as having the second-highest altitude record. Someone who is taking drugs is said to be getting high.
60.5 ×106m Space elevator YES A proposed method of transporting cargo or people into orbit, consisting of a large mass beyond geosynchronous orbit, a station at the geosynchronous point, a cable connecting it to the Earth, and a climber that can scale the cable. Space elevators are also seen in 697: Tensile vs. Shear Strength and 536: Space Elevators.
42.1 ×106m Geosynchronous Orbit
20.2 ×106m GPS Satellites NO GPS satellites are used for global positioning.
Lunar Lander (arcade game) YES The quote is a reference to Contact (1997 film) where the main character Ellie Arroway after witnessing a celestial light show up close says "Poetry! They should've sent a poet.".
800 ×103m Space Junk NO There is a large quantity of defunct objects in orbit around the earth. Amongst other things, this includes old satellites, rocket stages and fragments from collisions or disintegration. Space junk is also referenced in 1242: Scary Names under the title Kessler syndrome
422.5 ×103m International Space Station NO
100 ×103m The official edge of space as defined by the Kármán line
Meteors NO
25.0 ×103m High-altitude balloons NO Unmanned balloons, typically filled with helium or hydrogen. The current altitude record was set in 2002 by a balloon named BU60-1 which reached 53,000m.
16.1 ×103m 1/10 ATM
12.0 ×103m airliners NO
8.84 ×103m Mount Everest NO The worlds highest mountain.
6.34 ×103m Space Shuttle Columbia disaster NO *The Space Shuttle Columbia and its seven crew were lost when it disintegrated at approximately 63,400m in 2003. This number is inconsistent with the height of the graph by a factor of 10 probably a mistype by Randall.
5.49 ×103m 1/2 ATM
Cory Doctorow YES Cory Doctorow in his balloon. (first referenced in 239: Blagofaire.)
6.00 ×103m Helicopter NO Though the record for helicopter altitude (without payload) is 12,442m, normal flying is usually performed much lower. In the US, 6000m is into Class A airspace, which is restricted and requires flight under Instrument Flight Rules.
6.00 ×103m Cloud NO Though not actually labelled there are a couple of clouds shown. While different cloud types vary in height, 6000m is roughly in the middle of the height range for clouds in temperate regions [1]
1.78 ×103m Cueball YES Apparently still using Python as shown in comic 353: Python.
800 ×100m 800 meters
800 ×100m Burj Dubai NO Now known as the Burj Khalifa, is the tallest building in the world.
500 ×100m 500 meters
400 ×100m 400 meters
325 ×100m Eiffel Tower NO A famous landmark in Paris, France.
300 ×100m 300 meters
200 ×100m 200 meters
150 ×100m Kite NO Kite string is commonly sold in large spools; a nice thick spool will probably hold 150 meters.
140 ×100m Great Pyramid of Giza NO One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It is located in Egypt.
120 ×100m Pop Fly NO In Baseball a 'Pop Fly' is when the batter mis-hits the baseball, which then follows a tall arc deep into the infield where it's easy picking for the other team to catch on its way down. The highest recorded pop fly, not including those that landed in foul territory, was 172 meters.
115 ×100m Redwood trees NO The tallest trees in the world. At 115.61m (379.3ft) Hyperion, a Coast Redwood, holds the record for the tallest tree in the world.
100 ×100m 100 meters
20.0 ×100m Oak NO While oaks may grow to be in excess of 40m in height, heights of around 20m are more typical. The person in the tree saying, "Hey, squirrels!" is a reference to 167: Nihilism.
16.4 ×100m Tallest stilts NO The tallest stilts recorded by the Guinness Book of World Records (as of November 2006) were 16.4 meters, or nearly 54 feet.
13.0 ×100m Brachiosaur NO A large genus of dinosaur.
8.00 ×100m Giraffe NO The the tallest living terrestrial animal, with fully grown adults reaching in excess of 5m. While labelled 8m in the comic, the record for height is reported at 5.8m.
1.70 ×100m Folks NO

[edit] Transcript

[Map of the universe from observable universe to Earth. Each area of item is labelled.]
[Labels left to right, up to down:]
[Black Hat is standing on top, throwing a black kitty down.]
Black Cat: mrowl!
Top of Observable Universe
46 Billion Light Years Up
Hubble Deep Field Objects
-One Billion Light Years-
Great Attractor
Antennae Galaxies (Colliding)
Holy Crap Lots of Space
-One Million Light Years-
Magellanic Clouds
Edge of Galaxy
Galactic Center
Crab Nebula
Orion Nebula
Horsehead Nebula
Romulan Neutral Zone
Ford Prefect
-Expanding Shell of Radio Transmissions [Arrows are pointing up.]-
Edge of Federation Sector 0-0-1
Missing WMDs
Alpha Centauri
Barnard's Star
-One Parsec-
-One Light Year-
Oort Cloud (?)
Comet which will destroy Earth in late 2063
Pioneer 10
Eris (All hail Discordia!)
Voyager I
Pluto (Not a planet. Neener neener.)
Aircraft: Hey a heaping bowl of salt!
"Open the fridge door, Hal."
Human Altitude Record (Apollo 13)
2nd Place: Snoop Dogg
Space Elevator - One of these days, promise!
-Geosynchronous Orbit-
GPS Satellites
Lunar lander: In retrospect, they shouldn't have sent a poet. I have no idea how to land
International Space Station
Space Junk
-Official Edge of Space (100 km)-
-1/10 ATM-
High Altitude Balloons
-1/2 ATM-
Cory Doctrow
Shuttle Columbia Lost
Cueball: Woo Python!
[vertical scale along right side of image, starting at 1 km and getting progressivly smaller and smaller.]
-800 m-
Burj Dubai (~800 m)
Eiffel Tower (325 m)
Great Pyramid (140 m)
Redwood (115 m)
Pop Fly
Oak (20 m)
"Hey Squirrels!"
Tallest Stilts
Brachiosaur (13 m)
Giraffe (8 m)
[Megan and Cueball.] Folks
The Observable Universe, from Top to Bottom ~On a log scale~
Sizes are not to scale, but heights above the Earth's surface are accurate on a log scale (that is, each step up is double the height.)
comment.png add a comment!


Are you sure it reads "missing winds"? It looks like "missing WMDs" to me, which would suggest a political reference to the US engagement of 2003 in Iraq. 02:48, 22 May 2013 (UTC)

Yeah. Agreed. Changed. PinkAmpersand (talk) 11:23, 23 May 2013 (UTC)
"The comic starts with Black Hat throwing a cat off the edge of the universe, probably a reference to Schrodinger's cat" 
Has the editor here never heard of the "cats always land on their feet" myth? Black Hat would appear to be testing this from the extreme. Anonymous 01:43, 4 December 2013 (UTC) (and yes, that would be WMDs)
If I am not mistaken, this is a wiki; there is no set editor. If you have a suggestion for how to improve a page, it would be apt to edit it yourself. The discussion tends to be a forum for matters that may be tangentially related to the comic, or uncertain suggestions for improving the article. Davidy²²[talk] 03:18, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, I wasn't aware of the proper terminology. I'll add my line shortly. Anonymous 05:13, 13 December 2013 (UTC)

Why is there a "(?)" in "Oort Cloud"? 02:10, 15 December 2013 (UTC)

Because it's not known if this cloud really does exist. Many objects are assumed to be there at that vast distance to the sun, but that distance is also the reason they could not be detected from earth. Voyager 1, the farthest humanmade object from Earth, will reach that region in many thousand years. --Dgbrt (talk) 21:37, 15 December 2013 (UTC)

Why is Snoop Dogg in space? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Because he's high as shit, man--he's so high, he's the second-furthest any person's ever been from the earth. 10:12, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
Diameter of milky way: 100 - 120 kly (Lets call it 110 kly)
Suns distance to galactic centre: 27.2 kly
Distance to edge of galaxy: (0.5*110)-27.2 = 27.8 kly = 263E18

Is my understanding and maths right? --Pudder (talk) 08:08, 11 September 2014 (UTC)
Conversion of pixels to height

Because it is a log graph for the y axis

heightfinal = heightinitial * factor
pixels = Logbase(height)

Using identities to show that a vertical distance on this graph represents a multiplicative change in true distance from the starting point of measure, and that a vertical change (delta) in the same number of pixels represents a corresponding multiplicative factor on total height.

pixelsfinal = Logbase(heightinitial * factor) = Logbase(initial) + Logbase(factor)
pixelsfinal - pixelsinitial = Logbase(factor) = pixelsdelta

Solving for the factor and the base of the log function

factor = basepixelsdelta
base = factor1/pixelsdelta

From the diagram it appears that a change (delta) of 550 pixels represents a change of x*1000000 therefore we can determine the base and determine the multiplicative factor for any change in pixels in the original drawing.

base = 10000001/550 
factor = (10000001/550)pixelsdelta = 1000000pixelsdelta/550


heightfinal = heightinitial * 1000000pixelsdelta/550
The above can be used as an equation to estimate and validate the heights on the diagram, where heightinitial is the height of the reference point in meters, pixelsdelta is the vertical change in pixels on the diagram, and is positive if height increases and negative if height decreases. 12:40, 30 September 2014 (UTC)

We just need to be careful that the existing heights (which in most cases have been fairly thoroughly researched) are not replaced by heights determined by their 'pixel position'. --Pudder (talk) 11:16, 1 October 2014 (UTC)
Wrong, the explanation is intended to explain the comic not the real world. Before you get excited though let me explain, we may be on the same page.
Many height values can be determined from external research, and can be shown to be consistent with the graph (e.g. center of the galaxy). In these cases the researched number should be used in the height column, as clearly these numbers represent the authors intent.
There or other cases where the height is labeled. These should always be used as height, as these numbers represent the authors intent. If they are inconsistent with the scale of the graph this should be noted in the description.
There are other cases, such as where the space shuttle disintegrated, where we can research the numbers, but they are inconstant with the graph by more than an order of magnitude. Any large inconsistencies should be noted in the description, but in these cases the graph position, not the actual position should be in the height column, because this is the closest representation we can have to authors intent. 11:50, 1 October 2014 (UTC)

Completely agree with the basis that authors intent is priority, and with pretty much everything written above. What I was concerned about was the possibility of someone indiscriminately changing existing height values based solely on its pixel position, with no cross-checking against the real world height. I would venture that the heights of the real items on the graph are intended by Randall to be at their correct positions, but there may be exceptions. I have a personal bias here, in that I spent quite considerable time doing research on many of the heights. That said, I don't in any way expect the height entries I worked on to be taken as correct, simply that there is some degree of reasoning behind the existing heights, and to change them without checking any discrepancies would be reckless. --Pudder (talk) 12:48, 1 October 2014 (UTC)
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