474: Turn-On

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Supercollider? I 'ardly know 'er!
Title text: Supercollider? I 'ardly know 'er!


This comic refers to the first start up of CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC). There was a theoretical concern that that the LHC experiments could create a black hole which would suck in our planet.

Cueball uses this concern when telling Megan this could be their last night on Earth, but since the scene is in a bar it is more likely that he just wants to stay the next night together with her. Megan answers as a physicist and expresses scientists have determined that the fears are unfounded.

Cueball feels rejected by her answer and leaves her, but she calls him back and he continues the conversation by using three of the six Quark flavors in his first sentence (Up quark, Charm quark, and Strange quark). Megan is impressed and asks if she has to be on top or bottom (Top quark and Bottom quark). Then, while Cueball explains that he hasn't even bought her a drink, Megan does the order, just straight down (Down quark).

The quarks are some fundamental particles the LHC is generating. All six flavors of quarks are in the last panel: Up, Charm, Strange, Top, Bottom, and Down.

Yet another joke is hidden in the identity of the barkeeper. Given Beret Guy’s strange behavior, “two whiskey sours, straight down” could be interpreted in a range of ways. This, however, is left to the reader’s overactive imagination.

The title text is of course a very old joke "I 'ardly know 'er!", using this at the wrong moment it could be bad for a nice romance.


[A bar.]
Cueball: So, the LHC's turning on. This could be our last night on earth.
Megan: Gimme a break. They're not even colliding yet, and it won't do anything cosmic rays haven't.
[Cueball starts to turn away.]
Megan: Hey, I didn't say no.
Megan: I'm a physics grad student. I need the excuse to party.
Cueball: So, you're up for a night with a charming stranger?
Megan: Depends. Top or bottom?
Cueball: Hey, I haven't even bought you a drink.
Megan: Barkeep, two whiskey sours, straight down.

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All six flavors of quark are mentioned in the last panel 22:30, 16 December 2012 (UTC)AMP

I thought that I got this one, turns out I didn't have a clue. 00:27, 19 September 2013 (UTC)

I suspect the title text is a reference to the Futurama episode That's Lobstertainment!, in which Humorbot 5.0 tells a similar supercollider joke. Pelosujamo (talk) 17:45, 18 March 2014 (UTC)

This doesn't explain the comic itself, but this could belong to a trivia section. Let me know if you do need help on this. --Dgbrt (talk) 00:35, 19 March 2014 (UTC)

The title "Turn-On" also seems to be a pun. Turning on the LHC (as mentioned in the first panel) and Megan getting turned on by the mentioning of the quark flavors -- 14:05, 20 July 2014 (UTC)

Would havenneen even funnier had he mentioned some squarks. He first says sup, heh. "I didn't tell you to stop" and things like that. I guess you can also say they lepton the bed, and Cueball had a huge hadron. Also particle physicists don't use strap ons. They use gluons! Oh and I'm sure Cueball will send a shower of particles in a burst of energy. But lol I'm pretty sure the joke here is unambiguously that she's "turned on" by the LHC turn on. Heck had I been my current age at that time, I certainly would be. Science is fucking sexy. Oh come on, I can't be the only one that gets off to pure science? XD International Space Station (talk) 01:25, 4 November 2015 (UTC)

And I guess Beret Guy is just... there. Never knew he got a job as a bartender. Good for him. I mean, he could've used his "magical powers" to cure cancer or help people, but sure. Bartender's fine. -- JayRulesXKCD (talk)

I removed a paragraph about their being "another joke hidden in the identity of the bartender" and some sexual innuendo left to "the reader's imagination". That's not how Explain XKCD works, in my experience. Either come up with a justification/explanation for it or don't post it! AmbroseChapel (talk) 04:55, 25 September 2017 (UTC)