1405: Meteor

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Meteor
No, only LAVA is called 'magma' while underground. Any other object underground is called 'lava'.
Title text: No, only LAVA is called 'magma' while underground. Any other object underground is called 'lava'.

Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Due to its earliness, it probably has a lot of errors.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

The word pedantic means gratuitously exacting in ones speech. It is usually a pejorative term used to refer to someone who is overly fussy. For example, if one were to say "The sky is blue" and someone were to correct you telling you it is actually every color but blue because of light scattering and its apparent blueness is a mere illusion, while true, that would be pedantic. However, in science, pedantry is important so things may be classified and we have a unified definition of when things are very similar.

In cosmology, there are different classifications of bodies: asteroids, comets, meteors, meteorites, meteoroids, and so forth. Each of these has a very specific definition to distinguish between them. However, the distinction is also a common source of pedantry. A meteor is a body that enters Earth's orbit. Many which enter the earths atmosphere do not survive entry. It is only a meteorite if it is found intact on the ground.

Cueball attempts to correct (another Cueball?) by telling him it is not a meteor he found. We expect him to say it is a meteorite, but the joke comes when he calls it magma, which is completely different. Lava is liquid rock which has been ejected from a volcano. Magma on the other hand is still under earth's crust and has yet to be ejected. This distinction is yet another common source of pedantry. Cueball not only misappropriates the cosmological terms, but assigns the wrong pedantic term to the geological correction he attempts to give.

The title text is a very muddled pedantic statement. Lava is magma while underground, but it's ridiculous to suggest that other things could be lava when underground. That would be like saying chickens are technically chicks when they're young, but all other young animals are technically known as chickens.

Another aspect of the joke is that the first Cueball is actually correct - what he has (meteorite) is a part of a meteor.

Transcript

Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.

First Cueball: Check it out -- I got a piece of a meteor!

Second Cueball: Actually, it's only called that while falling. Once it lands, it's called Magma

My hobby: Mixing Pedantic Terms


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Discussion

If meteors fall, then what is a meteoric rise? Rfvtg (talk) 04:54, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

Fast. 103.22.201.120 08:12, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
See 1115 for explanation Spongebog (talk) 11:19, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

The legend of this comic might refer to pedology, the study of soil. 173.245.53.87 06:56, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

But the sky is blue. It is a desaturated blue with a center wavelength of 474 to 476 nm. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diffuse_sky_radiation The statement that the sky is "anything but blue" is wrong.ExternalMonolog (talk) 08:34, 8 August 2014 (UTC)ExternalMonolog

does anyone else find the capitalization variation of LAVA vs lava funny? In all seriousness that would make them two different programming variables... However it is hard to notice and isn't clear on what the difference in meaning should be. This is one of the reason for using Object mObject instead of Object object in java. Mr.Smiley (talk) 10:28, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

I think it might just be for emphasis. The pedantic Cueball is becoming exasperated with the person who's getting it 'wrong'. 173.245.54.205 11:30, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

And to everybody who is't a pedantic nerd, it's a rock.Seebert (talk) 13:37, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

Is my transcription incomplete? I feel like it is because I published it really early and I have not done many transcriptions here. InAndOutLand (talk) 15:02, 8 August 2014 (UTC)


JOKE
What has more nutritional value, a small rock in space or a small rock falling from space onto the Earth?
A small rock falling from space onto the Earth because it is a little meatier(meteor) 108.162.246.220 06:24, 9 August 2014 (UTC)

A meteor (follow the link!) is not an intermediate stage in the lifespan of a chunk of rock between a meteoroid and a meteorite; it is the streak of light produced by a meteoroid during its descent through the atmosphere. It spoils the joke if we're not pedantic about the pedantry! —TobyBartels (talk) 08:35, 9 August 2014 (UTC)

Nice. A lot of meteorites on the earths surface today come from broken apart, differentiated asteroidal parent bodies so they were magma once. The rocky planets have grown through accretion of meteorites so all of the earths magma used to be elsewhere in the solarsystem at the very start. Plus, with temps so high under the crust, anything found down there would be molten and dissolved in the magma anyway and called such. Mark.Squirreltape (talk) 15:49, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Mnemonic: In the void, meteoroid. On the site, meteorite. Neither/Nor: meteor. -- CoderLass (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Great. I didn't know this maybe because I'm German. But this is worth for the explain section so I will add this. --Dgbrt (talk) 22:04, 5 November 2014 (UTC)


There is a community portal discussion of what to call Cueball and what to do in case with more than one Cueball. I have added this comic to the new Category:Multiple Cueballs. Since Randall is the one with the hobby and also the one that Cueball represents I have changed the reference to Cueball in this explanation and transcript to represent this fact. I have also made a note of this fact and the fact that the friend looks like Cueball.--Kynde (talk) 14:55, 15 March 2015 (UTC)

It's not rocket surgery. 172.69.62.82 17:34, 11 July 2018 (UTC)