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Title text: The Planck length is another thousand or two pixels below the comic.
The comic is a companion piece to 482: Height, which explored a logarithmic scale from the edge of the observable universe down to the Earth's surface. Depth continues the process, viewing logarithmically smaller scales from Earth's atmosphere down to the interior of a single proton. This combination is reminiscent of Charles and Ray Eames' 1977 short film Powers of Ten.
Here's a walk through the entire comic:
- At the top we see a cutaway view of a story apartment complex. From left to right are a reference to 150: Grownups, Megan exorcising Windows Vista, Ponytail and Megan playing Guitar Hero or a similar game, Cueball at a desk, and what appear to be some sexytimes.
- The view descends into Cueball's tower PC.
- Entering the computer's internals, we see a mouse plugged into the PS/2 (6-pin mini-DIN) connector. This is a visual pun, since the mouse is an actual rodent and not a handheld device.
- Next we dive into the CPU. We see a multi-layered pun on the question "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" There may be a pun with a chip's connector pin, but the more obvious reference is Randall's answer of 32,767 = 215 - 1, the largest possible value of a signed 16-bit integer. Adding one rolls back over to -32,768, which is 32,768 devils or "negative angels." (See 571: Can't Sleep for a similar joke and a more elaborate explanation.)
- A blood-sucking mosquito appears to be "leeching" a torrent.
- A segfault is a problem with memory access.
- We zoom into a memory unit on the CPU. Cueball is being rickrolled, as indicated by the label "pixel on Rick Astley's shoulder."
- A "fork();" command points at one of several unlabeled spermatazoa. Forking and sperm are capable of spawning "child processes."
- Peter Norton is the founder of Norton Antivirus. He is shown fighting a biological virus, rather than informatic malware.
- Showing the relative scale of carbon nanotubes, the suggestion is that these then lead on to a more megastructural Space Elevator, for which carbon nanotubes are often cited as a suitably strong component needed for the cable.
- We soon zoom into a silicon atom in the CPU. In the electron cloud, the squiggles made out of arrows are Feynman diagrams. A Feynman diagram in the shape of a stick figure is saying "Sup?", a pun on the "Sup" particle (supersymmetric partner 'squark' to the Up quark) and an abbreviation of the greeting "What's up?."
- An 'iPod Femto' is shown, as a pun on the 'iPod Nano' (both are SI prefixes), both of which refer to units far smaller than any ipod that has ever, or likely will ever, be created.
- Brian Greene is a theoretical physicist and pop scientist who discusses the nature of the universe. The picture of him knitting is a pun on string theory and PBS miniseries, The Fabric of the Cosmos.
- The Planck length (ℓP) is the smallest theoretically measurable distance, defined by three fundamental constants in physics: the speed of light in a vacuum (c), Planck's constant (h), and the gravitational constant (G). The Planck length is vastly smaller than any known particle, and modern physics is a long way from being able investigate such a scale.
- Sizes Accurate on a vertical log scale
- [Series of images of characters doing various things. The things they are doing are listed in left to right order.]
- Cueball and Megan playing in a ball pen
- Megan using witchcraft to ban vista "Out, Vista!"
- Ponytail and Megan play Rock Band
- Man and woman are having "fun" on a shaking bed.
- [Below this series of images, an image of a man on the computer.]
- Cueball is on a computer and the image expands as it goes down. Here are the labels from left to right, up to down:
- North Bridge
- Mouse (rodent)
- CPU Socket Pin
- 32,767 Angels Dancing (one more and they'd roll over and become 32,768 Devils), Rice, Torrent (a bug), CPU, upcoming segfault
- dust mite
- Data (a pixel on Rick Astley's shoulder), rust mite, fork();
- Peter Norton fighting a baxteriophage
- carbon nanotubes
- space elevator
- a line of silicon (Si), Electron Cloud, a man made out of arrows saying "sup?"
- silicon nucleus
- IPod femto
- Brian Greene knitting furiously clink, clink
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