560: Lithium Batteries

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Jump to: navigation, search
Lithium Batteries
I'm normally a pretty frugal person, but I still compulsively buy any R/C aircraft that's less than $30. In the last few years, this has become a problem.
Title text: I'm normally a pretty frugal person, but I still compulsively buy any R/C aircraft that's less than $30. In the last few years, this has become a problem.

[edit] Explanation

Randall muses that his life would have been better if he aged in reverse; this idea is based on a timeline of the usage of lithium-ion batteries. The reasoning is that each of these uses would come to realization when he most needed it (i.e. cheap RC aircraft as a child, a phone when he is a successful businessman, a pacemaker when he is old, etc.). The time-reversed aging is probably a direct reference to "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", by F. Scott Fitzgerald, a "major motion picture" of which was released in December 2008, a few months before this comic appeared. Randall has used this theme before in 270: Merlin, referencing another backward-time-travelling character (in that case, from "The Once and Future King" by T. H. White).

Lithium-ion batteries have the highest energy density of any widely available battery, and for this reason are commonly used in portable electronic devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones, and also the newest airliners such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The high energy density and toxic internals mean that the risk of fire cannot be ignored, and in January 2013, the world wide Boeing 787 fleet was grounded for more than three months after such an incident. Note that lithium-ion battery fires have nothing to do with the comic.

In the title text, Randall states that he is a big fan of cheap radio-controlled aircraft (now powered by cheap lithium-ion batteries), which he desperately wishes were available when he was a child and which undoubtedly were the inspiration for this comic. As such, he has an uncontrollable, instinctive urge to make up for his childhood lack of RC aircraft by buying every one he sees, which is becoming a huge financial problem as cheap RC aircraft become more and more plentiful.

[edit] Transcript

Timeline of Commercial Uses of Lithium Batteries:
[The panel has a timeline that goes from Past to Present. The timeline has 4 notches on it.]
[the first notch, closest to the past side, has a picture of an old man with a walking stick.]
[The second notch has an image of a man in a car, who is talking on his cell phone.]
Phones for Rich Business People
[The third notch, has a teen taking on his cellphone.]
Phones for Teenagers
[The forth notch, closest to the present on the timeline, and an image of a toy plane box with $10 written on it.]
Really cheap r/c planes and helicopters
[Below the main panel.]
Life would be so much better if I was one of those people who aged backward.

comment.png add a comment! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


Old pacemakers and phones kinda sucked. Might not be worth. Davidy²²[talk] 20:51, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
Personal tools


It seems you are using noscript, which is stopping our project wonderful ads from working. Explain xkcd uses ads to pay for bandwidth, and we manually approve all our advertisers, and our ads are restricted to unobtrusive images and slow animated GIFs. If you found this site helpful, please consider whitelisting us.

Want to advertise with us, or donate to us with Paypal or Bitcoin?