673: The Sun
Title text: Obligatory bad guy: This operation is sheer foolishness, and it's not happening on my watch! Mainly because I can't figure out how to adjust the time.
This comic makes fun of science fiction disaster movies, especially the 2003 film "The Core", where a group of scientists travel through the Earth's mantle to place a series of nuclear devices in order to speed up the slowing rotation of the Earth's core and prevent a complete collapse of Earth's magnetic field.
The movie described by the comic shows a scenario where the "sun's fusion is failing". In fact the 2007 British science fiction film "Sunshine" was about a group of astronauts sent on a mission to the reignite a dying Sun with a battery of nuclear bombs.
The sun's energy comes from nuclear fusion reactions among the extremely hot dense hydrogen plasma in its core. The idea of the sun's fusion failing is rather ridiculous from a scientific perspective, because the fusion reactions are well understood and the sun has enough hydrogen to fuel it for about 5 billion more years. Even if the sun's hydrogen was getting low it would start fusing helium and begin expanding into a red giant. This will in make the Earth uninhabitable. Even in the nearly impossible event of the sun's fusion is failing in the traditional sense, the sun would collapse causing a supernova. In other words, if the sun stopped fusing we wouldn't have to worry about less sunlight, we would have to worry about more.
In any case, it appears to be failing and the solution is to send a team of astronauts to the sun to restart the fusion (which is analogous to sending an ant to the US Senate to break a budget deadlock). The team leader is motivated by concern that if the sun's fusion stops, there will be no more light, and so the earth will be in perpetual darkness.
The final panel gives the movie's name and subtitle. "Daylight Saving Time" refers both to the policy of changing clocks, which is intended to "save" daylight for a more useful part of the day; and the scenario in this movie in which it is time for the team to literally save the sun's daylight from being extinguished. "Never fall back" is an additional word play on the mnemonic used (in the States at least) to remember the direction to change clocks. The mnemonic goes, "spring forward, fall back" to indicate that in the spring season, clocks get set ahead by an hour, while in the fall the clocks are set backwards an hour. The phrase "fall back", however, can also mean to retreat from a battle.
The comic makes fun of these disaster movies in a couple of ways. The characters in the first panel acknowledge that the scenario doesn't make sense scientifically, but are prepared to sacrifice scientific value for the plot. Also, in the second panel the team is to be composed of NASA's "hottest astronauts", which makes fun of the fact that the characters in movies are much more attractive than average, and the fact that they will be much hotter when they reach the sun. The team leader expresses his concern with a few buzz phrases often used in such films.
The title text continues the lunacy (solacy?) of the situation with the cliche of the "obligatory bad guy" — a person in the plot who acts antagonistic, often for the flimsiest of reasons. There is also the common complaint, especially among the technologically inept, that he can't figure out how to change the time, punning again on Daylight Saving(s) Time.
- Coming this March from the makers of The Core...
- [Ponytail is looking through a telescope in an observatory. Two men are nearby.]
- Ponytail: The sun's fusion is failing!
- Cueball: Does that make sense?
- Friend: Whatever.
- Ponytail: If we don't send a ship to restart it, it could go out completely!
- Cueball: Call NASA!
- Friend: (on the phone) Assemble our hottest astronauts.
- [Four astronauts stand at the other end of the phone. The one holding the handset has the helmet of a space suit under his arm.]
- Astronaut: The earth bathed in eternal darkness? A night without a dawn? Not on my watch!
- Astronaut: Saddle up.
- [The four astronauts are shown in silhouette on gray, casting huge shadows towards the bottom of the panel from the sun in the center.]
- It's DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME.
- Never fall back.
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