1355: Airplane Message

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
(Difference between revisions)
Jump to: navigation, search
m (Transcript)
(removing trivia section. See my discussion on the talk page for more.)
Line 19: Line 19:
:My hobby: Breaking into airplane hangars and replacing the ads on their giant banners with cool facts.
:My hobby: Breaking into airplane hangars and replacing the ads on their giant banners with cool facts.
*This is one of several comics dealing with cancer and its treatment. [[Randall]]'s fiancée (now his wife) [http://blog.xkcd.com/2011/06/30/family-illness/ was diagnosed] with Stage III breast cancer in October of 2010, and it has been a [[:Category:Cancer|recurring topic]] ever since.
*This comic is part of the My Hobby [[:Category:My Hobby|recurring topic]]
{{comic discussion}}
{{comic discussion}}
[[Category:My Hobby]]
[[Category:My Hobby]]

Revision as of 05:55, 16 April 2014

Airplane Message


Large banners are sometimes flown behind airplanes to advertise a product or event to a large number of people. Here, Randall suggests replacing the ad with some interesting facts. This one would let people, who see the banner, learn something new and interesting about the world, rather than trying to sell them something. He presents two possible facts: Adriamycin, a cancer therapy, and Iry-Hor, the earliest human we know by name.

The chemotherapy drug doxorubicin, trade name Adriamycin, is based on a strain of the bacterium Streptomyces peucetius, first isolated from a soil sample taken at Castel del Monte in Andria, Italy.

As mentioned at the title text Iry-Hor was an ancient, predynastic pharaoh of ancient Egypt — no earlier documents exist today.


[There is a plane with a banner behind]
Banner: Adriamycin, one of our most potent chemotherapy drugs, comes from the dirt from an Italian castle.
My hobby: Breaking into airplane hangars and replacing the ads on their giant banners with cool facts.
comment.png add a comment! ⋅ comment.png add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


How can Iry-Hor, who's name comes from a written record, be considered "prehistoric"? History begins with the written record. By definition, Iry-Hor would be the earliest historical name we know. 13:51, 14 April 2014 (UTC)

It doesn't say "prehistoric." It says "predynastic." Predynastic means that Iry-Hor was pharaoh before the establishment of any known Egyptian dynasty. You are correct that he is by definition not prehistoric. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
I believe written records are "historic" only if they can be cross-referenced with other records (or other physical records, such as archeology). That goes for religious texts, as well. That's why Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" is a historical play, but isn't actually history. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
I agree. In fact, the Hebrew Bible goes even farther back, making the beginning of recorded history a much earlier date. I've always thought that the term "prehistoric" was farcical.
The Hebrew Bible contains the names of many individuals alive before Iry-Hor was born. The man Adam would then qualify as the oldest named individual in history. Even if Adam isn't accepted (and I can't see why not; the Hebrew Scriptures being as much a historical document as any Egyptian papyrii) then take your pick of the many others named well before the Eqyptians came on the scene. Fiddlinmacx (talk) 14:18, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
"...the Hebrew Scriptures being as much a historical document as any Egyptian papyrii..." No. They are not remotely the same (for the same reason that, hundreds or thousands of years from now, we wouldn't want people to consider "Cool Runnings" to be a "historical document" about the *actual* Jamaican olympic bobsled team). While it's certainly possible -- probable, even -- that much of the Torah is based on events that actually occurred, there is also plenty of physical evidence suggesting that large portions of it were fabricated wholesale. For example, no archeological evidence of any kind supports the claim that the Hebrews were ever enslaved in Egypt. It sounds like your criteria for something being a "historical document" is that it *purports* to document that period in history and *appears* to be old enough to do so, but those aren't sufficient conditions. 23:16, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
The text (glyphs, really) about Iry-Hor were written during his lifetime. The Hebrew Scriptures were not written until around 2,500 years later, literally eons after the Egyptians had been 'on the scene.' Claiming that characters in Genesis are historical figures from 4000 BC is approximately as scientific as claiming that Tumok (from the 1940 film 'One Million B.C.') is actually the oldest human whose name we know. 14:47, 14 April 2014 (UTC)Oz
+1 -- Religious scripts are not reliable as historical records. Spongebog (talk) 16:23, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
Not the ones in the Pentateuch, anyway. Once they get to the book of Joshua they start getting their facts straight. 18:16, 14 April 2014 (UTC)

The explanation seems complete. Can the incomplete tag be removed? Cheeselord99 (talk) 17:32, 14 April 2014 (UTC)

DONE, but please check the language and the layout first before calling on this. I'm not native English, so I can't be better than native speakers. Couldn't believe...--Dgbrt (talk) 22:48, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
Done. Editing on a mobile, though, so anyone else want to double-proof? 02:19, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
Looks okay to me - I'm on a desktop Computer 06:54, 15 April 2014 (UTC)

The title text is a reference to a recent askhistorians question at reddit 13:22, 15 April 2014 (UTC)

I'm not sure about the trivia. I don't think it's appropriate to add a chunk of text every time cancer comes up. The category can be added, and those wanting more information can click through to that page. Second note, nowhere else on the wiki is a recurring theme noteworthy enough for the inclusion of a trivia section. I'm going to wholesale remove the section, but I wanted to be verbose enough to be clear about my reasoning for it. Anyone who thinks otherwise is welcome to either leave a compelling summary for its re-inclusion, or to comment on this thread. lcarsos_a (talk) 05:55, 16 April 2014 (UTC)

Iry-Hor is the pharoh's regnal name and not the name he was born with. Companion of Horus obviously is not a real name. Iry-Hor is the name he made up for himself when he took the throne. 15:40, 18 April 2014 (UTC)

Just a side note, but banners are not usually assembled in hangers. The banner plane takes off without the banner, and circles back to hook the banner from a stand in some suitably open area of the airport. The banners are usually assembled (i.e. the letters spelling the message are attached to the banner frame) right before being put on the stand to be hooked. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

You should put that on a banner. -- 19:00, 1 January 2015 (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?