Difference between revisions of "1249: Meteor Showers"

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Meteor showers, for example, typically occur regularly each year. Sometimes meteor showers are in fact likely to be relatively spectacular - for example when the peak of the shower occurs when your part of the world is in darkness and there is little moonlight. However, even in these cases it must be understood that there is nothing unusual about the meteor shower itself.
 
Meteor showers, for example, typically occur regularly each year. Sometimes meteor showers are in fact likely to be relatively spectacular - for example when the peak of the shower occurs when your part of the world is in darkness and there is little moonlight. However, even in these cases it must be understood that there is nothing unusual about the meteor shower itself.
  
Most of the meteor showers listed in the comic are real. These are the {{w|Quadrantids}}, [http://meteorshowersonline.com/showers/alpha-beta_centaurids.html Centaurids], {{w|Lyrids}}, Daytime Zeta Perseids, {{w|June Bootids|June Boötids}}, {{w|Southern Delta Aquariids}}, {{w|Perseids}}, {{w|Draconids}}, {{w|Orionids}}, {{w|Leonids}}, and {{w|Geminids}}. Some of the showers are made up, for example Tricuspids (apparently a play on the {{w|tricuspid valve}} in mammalian hearts) and Dromaeosaurids (inspired, apparently, by the {{w|velociraptor|velociraptors}} in the movie Jurassic Park; real-life velociraptors were members of the genus {{w|dromaeosaurus}}). The "Chelyabids" are a reference to the February 15, 2013, {{w|Chelyabinsk meteor}} whose explosion shattered windows within a large radius. The "Tau Pyramids" are probably a reference to pyramidal cells, a type of neuron in the brain that is linked to cognition. The "Geminids" may be a reference to the tennis players Serena and Venus Williams, who are sisters, though not, as the word implies, twins.
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Most of the meteor showers listed in the comic are real. These are the {{w|Quadrantids}}, [http://meteorshowersonline.com/showers/alpha-beta_centaurids.html Centaurids], {{w|Lyrids}}, Daytime Zeta Perseids, {{w|June Bootids|June Boötids}}, {{w|Southern Delta Aquariids}}, {{w|Perseids}}, {{w|Draconids}}, {{w|Orionids}}, {{w|Leonids}}, and {{w|Geminids}}. Some of the showers are made up, for example Tricuspids (apparently a play on the {{w|tricuspid valve}} in mammalian hearts) and Dromaeosaurids (inspired, apparently, by the {{w|velociraptor|velociraptors}} in the movie Jurassic Park; real-life velociraptors were members of the genus {{w|dromaeosaurus}}). The "Chelyabids" are a reference to the February 15, 2013, {{w|Chelyabinsk meteor}} whose explosion shattered windows within a large radius. The "Tau Pyramids" are probably a reference to pyramidal cells, a type of neuron in the brain that is linked to cognition.
  
 
The "50/50 mix of meteors and shooting stars" listed for the "June Boötids" is a joke, as "meteor" and "shooting star" are synonymous.
 
The "50/50 mix of meteors and shooting stars" listed for the "June Boötids" is a joke, as "meteor" and "shooting star" are synonymous.
  
The tag-line refers to the folk wisdom that lightning only strikes the tallest object in a given area. While this is often true, lightning will always follow the path of least resistance, and so might be drawn to a shorter metallic column rather than a taller rubber column.
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The title text refers to the folk wisdom that ''lightning'' strikes the tallest thing around. [[Randall]] expressed frustration over how "maddeningly inexact" that statement is, and elaborated on the problem mathematically, on his [[what if?]]-blog, in the [http://what-if.xkcd.com/16/ post on lightning].
  
 
The mention of "Region 2" is a reference to {{w|region locking}}, a DRM scheme intended to limit media to certain areas.  DRM of course does not apply to natural events.  But ironically, meteor showers are also geographically restricted, and the visible area might roughly coincide with a DRM region. Further irony is that "Region 2" is actually Europe, Middle East, Egypt, Japan, South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Greenland, French Overseas departments and territories, meaning that it's not strictly geographical, much is the mess that is DRM.
 
The mention of "Region 2" is a reference to {{w|region locking}}, a DRM scheme intended to limit media to certain areas.  DRM of course does not apply to natural events.  But ironically, meteor showers are also geographically restricted, and the visible area might roughly coincide with a DRM region. Further irony is that "Region 2" is actually Europe, Middle East, Egypt, Japan, South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Greenland, French Overseas departments and territories, meaning that it's not strictly geographical, much is the mess that is DRM.

Revision as of 11:39, 9 August 2013

Meteor Showers
Remember, meteors always hit the tallest object around.
Title text: Remember, meteors always hit the tallest object around.

This comic spoofs the way that astronomical events are often reported in the mass media -- events are often tagged with undeserved superlatives or described as being more dramatic than they actually are. In some cases, outright misinformation is spread. This phenomenon occurs in part the result of over-eager scientists, and in part because of journalists misunderstanding the subject.

Meteor showers, for example, typically occur regularly each year. Sometimes meteor showers are in fact likely to be relatively spectacular - for example when the peak of the shower occurs when your part of the world is in darkness and there is little moonlight. However, even in these cases it must be understood that there is nothing unusual about the meteor shower itself.

Most of the meteor showers listed in the comic are real. These are the Quadrantids, Centaurids, Lyrids, Daytime Zeta Perseids, June Boötids, Southern Delta Aquariids, Perseids, Draconids, Orionids, Leonids, and Geminids. Some of the showers are made up, for example Tricuspids (apparently a play on the tricuspid valve in mammalian hearts) and Dromaeosaurids (inspired, apparently, by the velociraptors in the movie Jurassic Park; real-life velociraptors were members of the genus dromaeosaurus). The "Chelyabids" are a reference to the February 15, 2013, Chelyabinsk meteor whose explosion shattered windows within a large radius. The "Tau Pyramids" are probably a reference to pyramidal cells, a type of neuron in the brain that is linked to cognition.

The "50/50 mix of meteors and shooting stars" listed for the "June Boötids" is a joke, as "meteor" and "shooting star" are synonymous.

The title text refers to the folk wisdom that lightning strikes the tallest thing around. Randall expressed frustration over how "maddeningly inexact" that statement is, and elaborated on the problem mathematically, on his what if?-blog, in the post on lightning.

The mention of "Region 2" is a reference to region locking, a DRM scheme intended to limit media to certain areas. DRM of course does not apply to natural events. But ironically, meteor showers are also geographically restricted, and the visible area might roughly coincide with a DRM region. Further irony is that "Region 2" is actually Europe, Middle East, Egypt, Japan, South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Greenland, French Overseas departments and territories, meaning that it's not strictly geographical, much is the mess that is DRM.

Transcript


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Discussion

The dates are not in order ‎99.108.140.97 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Maybe the tennis reference is to Bob and Mike Bryan, they are twins. 83.227.33.35 09:36, 9 August 2013 (UTC)

The date for Dromaeosaurids was originally June 12, but on the page displayed at 9:44 ET, is now July 22.

Lyrids: Scream because of the similarity to "Lyrics"? 74.125.57.36 15:08, 9 August 2013 (UTC)

I don't know if it's relevant, but pyramidal cells are needed in complex object recognition and in vision-guided motor function. By closing your eyes, you're basically not using much of your pyramidal cells' capabilities. They're also one of the largest neurones, but I doubt that's relevant. 83.173.97.36 15:28, 9 August 2013 (UTC)

When it comes to the Leonids, John Lennon (I know it's a stretch), made his "bigger than Jesus" comment in '66 12.1.208.178 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Or perhaps it's related to the film 300 where Leonidas says: "Even a god can bleed?"--129.215.124.225 21:50, 15 August 2013 (UTC)

For Draconids, are there any movies with dragons that would fit the given description? --Irino. (talk) 18:56, 9 August 2013 (UTC)

Reign Of Fire first came to mind as far as dragons are concerned, but unlike the Jurassic Park T-Rex (which might be an influence, given their co-billing alongside the 'Raptor threat) I don't think they were blind to the motionless (just had bad vision at sunset?) and neither were they were notably slow (far from it!). Various zombies (non-Rage ones) are slow but surprisingly good at catching people who trip, but I don't see any obvious connection there either. Maybe there's another Monster Movie which has the same sort of thing with dragons? I had also considered Komodo Dragons, which are often filmed lumbering about, although they've got a turn of speed on them when attacking so... Anyway, my thoughts, FWIW. 178.104.103.140 23:00, 9 August 2013 (UTC)

With regard to "daytime" meteor showers being a NASA hoax, would anyone be able to see a meteor shower during the daytime? Odysseus654 (talk) 00:12, 10 August 2013 (UTC)

Regarding Centaurids: You could look at a meteor shower from inside through a window. Glare or perhaps light absorbed by the glass could make it difficult or impossible to see a meteor shower unless it is bright enough. (I nearly lost my edit to Odysseus654 who posted just before me.) 76.106.251.87 00:15, 10 August 2013 (UTC)

Perseids (“Instead of falling from sky, meteors erupt from ground”) are named after Perseus, a well-known hero of Ancient Greek mythology. The Perseids line apparently refers to another Ancient Greek myth, about founding the Thebes city by another Ancient Greek hero, Cadmus, who, according to the story, sowed the dragon teeth into the ground, from where the fierce warriors have grown ("erupted"); these warriors then, after a couple of story twists, assisted Cadmus in building the city. Honeyman (talk) 01:03, 10 August 2013 (UTC

Geminids: how about Prince of Tennis? [1] 84.193.43.190 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Lyrids: The first thing I thought of was those "screamer" rockets on July 4th, possibly due to the fireworks reference in the first row of the table. 173.245.52.119 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)