673: The Sun

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 11:13, 20 May 2014 by Markhurd (Talk | contribs)

Jump to: navigation, search
The Sun
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.
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 film "Sunshine",a 2007 British science fiction disaster film about a group of astronauts sent to reignite a dying Sun with a nuclear bomb and full of questionable science, and includes puns about daylight saving time, the practice of advancing clocks during the summer so that evenings have more daylight, and mornings less. It reads like a movie trailer.

The movie described by the comic shows a scenario where the "sun's fusion is failing". 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. 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". 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.]
Never fall back.

comment.png add a comment! ⋅ comment.png add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


Interesting (or deliberate?) that there's no reference at all in the explanation to Sunshine, released two years previously. 21:07, 20 May 2013 (UTC)

Can't "to spring" be thought of as a physical movement? 00:49, 7 January 2014 (UTC)

Yes; that's why the mnemonic works. Zowayix (talk) 16:08, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
Also, the mnemonic works because physically it is relatively easier to spring (i.e., jump) forward and to fall (through the simple action of gravity, without being able to catch yourself with your arms) back(ward) than it is to do the reverse. --BD (talk) 01:09, 20 November 2014 (UTC)
the fusion reactions are well understood

By whom?

I used Google News BEFORE it was clickbait (talk) 22:12, 27 January 2015 (UTC)

Okay, I'm too lazy to figure out a rewrite, but honestly...it seems pretty durned obvious that it's making fun of "The Core" which is actually mentioned in the comic, not making fun of some random British film not mentioned. Also look at the movie poster for "The Core" on Wikipedia; the similarities to the last panel with the group of people and the silhouettes is pretty obvious. 23:11, 12 April 2015 (UTC)MW

I think "not on my watch" is being used as another pun, as daylight savings would not happen on your watch if you couldn't adjust it. 12:19, 28 April 2015 (UTC)

It's not incorrect to say that this comic makes fun of science fiction disaster movies, but that's not right place to start. The comic is really about the fact that there are two ways to interpret the term "daylight saving time", and one of those ways sounds like the over-adrenalized style that one sees in action movie posters. That's the central joke, and the mockery of science fiction disaster movies is there in order to make that joke funny

Personal tools


It seems you are using noscript, which is stopping our project wonderful ads from working. Explain xkcd uses ads to pay for bandwidth, and we manually approve all our advertisers, and our ads are restricted to unobtrusive images and slow animated GIFs. If you found this site helpful, please consider whitelisting us.

Want to advertise with us, or donate to us with Paypal?