Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Cueball is in an elevator, and notices that, beneath the certificate of Elevator Inspection, mandatory in all U.S. elevators at least, there are buttons for Floor 1, 2, 3, and 4, and then a mysterious unlabeled button. Possible logical conclusions he might have made include (1) there is a fifth floor (reachable by pushing the bottom button) which for some reason is not labeled; (2) the button has some other function (a common one is to stop the elevator wherever it may be, whether exactly aligned with a floor or not) but again, is mistakenly not labeled; or (3) the panel with the buttons is from a template used for various elevators with up to five floors, and as this particular elevator only goes to four floors the bottom button is unlabeled and nothing will happen if he pushes it.
He has, however, chosen to accept a different explanation: the fifth button is not currently assigned, but giving it a label will assign it to whatever floor (or other function) he can give it. The possibilities are truly endless. And so, the intrepid Cueball writes “Zeppelin” on a slip of paper, tapes it next to the unassigned button, thereby assigning it to move the elevator not to Floor 3 or Floor 5 but to Zeppelin. And it works – the elevator opens aboard a zeppelin (or dirigible or airship or blimp) floating in the air, high above a land with many lakes.
The title text is most likely a reference to the Aerosmith song “Love in an Elevator,” which really is about sex in an elevator. However, it would also be great if one could reach the elevation of love by getting there in a magic elevator.
- [Elevator panel, with a Certificate of Inspection and five floor buttons, numbered 1–4. The fifth button is unlabeled.]
- [Cueball thinks.]
- [Cueball writes something on a small piece of paper.]
- [Cueball tapes it onto the panel.]
- [Elevator panel, with the same Certificate and buttons, and with the piece of paper labeling the fifth button “Zeppelin”.]
- [Cueball presses the new “Zeppelin” button.]
- [Elevator moves.]
- Elevator: Ding
- [Cueball is looking out the door of a Zeppelin. The Zeppelin is flying over a green landscape with many lakes.]
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That certainly is a distinctive landscape. Does anybody know of any literary (or otherwise) allusion? 126.96.36.199 02:24, 8 January 2014 (UTC)
- I can't help but think of the Wood Between the Worlds from The Chronicles of Narnia. It's probably not it, though. Those look more like lakes than pools of water. Also, there's that larger body of water. 188.8.131.52 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
- Looks a bit like the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota. Not sure why it would be that, however. 184.108.40.206 14:44, 7 November 2014 (UTC)
- The location might be the Lena Delta in northern Russia. This is also referenced in xkcd 1169 "Expedition" by clicking on the comic. 220.127.116.11 04:59, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
Why are the floors labeled backwards from the reality, with the lowest floor at the top? Is this common in the U.S.?18.104.22.168 13:21, 19 May 2014 (UTC)
- No, most, if not all, buildings in the US have the highest floor on top and the lowest floor on bottom, with everything else in descending order as you look from top to bottom. Mulan15262 (talk) 03:33, 10 June 2014 (UTC)Mulan15262
- Floors appear with the highest on top and the lowest on the bottom. However, the number one is assigned to the ground floor or the floor above it. Normally, basements are not assigned a number, and are simply marked with the letter "B". However, in buildings with more than one floor below ground, they may be numbered. In other words, the numbering might not be backwards, if 1 is 1 floor below ground, 2 is 2 floors below ground, etc. In the television show Stargate SG-1, there are elevators that stop at "sub-levels" (floors below ground) inside Cheyenne Mountain. In real life, elevators that go multiple floors below ground are found in underground parking garages, subway stations, etc.
22.214.171.124 02:49, 8 December 2014 (UTC)
With the landscape, i cant help but think of the dead marshes from LOTR 126.96.36.199 02:33, 21 November 2014 (UTC)
I've just noticed that the image, with the heavy blues and greens, seems to move when you read the explanation below. It seems to be some sort of motion illusion, though I don't know the exact name of it. Kirdneh (talk) 02:25, 15 December 2014 (UTC)
Adding your own labels is also seen in What-if xkcd 35. --188.8.131.52 10:45, 28 June 2015 (UTC)