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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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<big>''Welcome to the '''explain [[xkcd]]''' wiki!''</big>
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<font size=5px>''Welcome to the '''explain [[xkcd]]''' wiki!''</font>
  
 
We have collaboratively explained [[:Category:Comics|'''{{#expr:{{PAGESINCAT:Comics}}-9}}''' xkcd comics]],
 
We have collaboratively explained [[:Category:Comics|'''{{#expr:{{PAGESINCAT:Comics}}-9}}''' xkcd comics]],
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     as well as [[List of all comics]], which is obviously not a comic page. -->
 
     as well as [[List of all comics]], which is obviously not a comic page. -->
 
and only {{#expr:{{LATESTCOMIC}}-({{PAGESINCAT:Comics}}-9)}}
 
and only {{#expr:{{LATESTCOMIC}}-({{PAGESINCAT:Comics}}-9)}}
({{#expr: ({{LATESTCOMIC}}-({{PAGESINCAT:Comics}}-9)) / ({{PAGESINCAT:Comics}}-9) * 100 round 0}}%)
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({{#expr: ({{LATESTCOMIC}}-({{PAGESINCAT:Comics}}-9)) / {{LATESTCOMIC}} * 100 round 0}}%)
 
remain. '''[[Help:How to add a new comic explanation|Add yours]]''' while there's a chance!
 
remain. '''[[Help:How to add a new comic explanation|Add yours]]''' while there's a chance!
 
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== Latest comic ==
 
== Latest comic ==
 
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== New here? ==
 
== New here? ==
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<div style="float:right; margin: 0 0 1em 1em">{{Special:ContributionScores/10/7/nosort,notools}}<div style="font-size:0.85em; width:25em; font-style:italic">[[Special:ContributionScores|Lots of people]] contribute to make this wiki a success. Many of the recent contributors, listed above, have just joined. You can do it too! Create your account [[Special:UserLogin/signup|here]].</div></div>
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You can read a brief introduction about this wiki at [[explain xkcd]]. Feel free to sign up for an account and contribute to the wiki!  We need explanations for comics, characters, themes, memes and everything in between.  If it is referenced in an [[xkcd]] web comic, it should be here.
 
You can read a brief introduction about this wiki at [[explain xkcd]]. Feel free to sign up for an account and contribute to the wiki!  We need explanations for comics, characters, themes, memes and everything in between.  If it is referenced in an [[xkcd]] web comic, it should be here.
  
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* Discussion about various parts of the wiki is going on at [[Explain XKCD:Community portal]]. Share your 2¢!
 
* Discussion about various parts of the wiki is going on at [[Explain XKCD:Community portal]]. Share your 2¢!
  
* [[List of all comics]] contains a complete table of all xkcd comics so far and the corresponding explanations. The red links ([[like this]]) are missing explanations. Feel free to help out by creating them! [[Help:How to add a new comic explanation|Here's how]].
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* [[List of all comics]] contains a complete table of all xkcd comics so far and the corresponding explanations. The red links ([[like this]]) are missing explanations. Feel free to help out by creating them! '''[[Help:How to add a new comic explanation|Here's how]]'''.
  
 
== Rules ==
 
== Rules ==

Revision as of 21:16, 24 March 2013

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!

We have collaboratively explained Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ",". xkcd comics, and only Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ",". (Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ",".%) remain. Add yours while there's a chance!

Latest comic

Go to this comic explanation

Turnabout
Whenever I miss a shot with a sci-fi weapon, I say 'Apollo retroreflector' really fast, just in case.
Title text: Whenever I miss a shot with a sci-fi weapon, I say 'Apollo retroreflector' really fast, just in case.

Explanation

In the comic, two people are engaging in a battle with laser guns. One appears to gain the upper hand as he jumps on an obstacle, as the other's shot goes wide. He delivers the classic line "Any last words?" and is answered with the confusing phrase "Apollo retroreflectors". The earlier wild shot, reflected off the moon, promptly lances down from space and hits him in the back.

A retroreflector is a device or surface that reflects light back at its source. The Apollo 11, 14 and 15 and the Soviet Luna 17 and 21 moon missions placed several such devices on the surface of the Moon to help scientists on Earth measure the distance between the two bodies using laser ranging. The likelihood of the wild shot being aimed at the moon is fairly low in itself, and the probability of accidentally hitting a retroreflector on the moon is lower still. Even if it did, it is highly unlikely that a pistol-sized generator could produce a beam coherent enough to inflict damage after traveling to the moon and back, as lasers built for the purpose of hitting retroreflectors on the moon typically get a return around one quadrillionth of the original beam.

The title text mentions that you would need to say "Apollo retroreflector" really fast, because from Earth you would only have about 2.5 seconds before the light is reflected back to its source.

Randall discussed the effect of hitting the moon with lasers in What If: Laser Pointer and the likelihood of hitting a celestial object with a laser in What If: Into the Blue.

Transcript

[Two people engage in battle using handheld laser guns.]

[Person 2's shot misses, Person 1 jumps on a desk.]

Person 1: Any last words?

Person 2: "Apollo retroreflectors"

Person 1: What?

[Person 1 is hit in the back by the reflected shot.]

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Lots of people contribute to make this wiki a success. Many of the recent contributors, listed above, have just joined. You can do it too! Create your account here.

You can read a brief introduction about this wiki at explain xkcd. Feel free to sign up for an account and contribute to the wiki! We need explanations for comics, characters, themes, memes and everything in between. If it is referenced in an xkcd web comic, it should be here.

  • List of all comics contains a complete table of all xkcd comics so far and the corresponding explanations. The red links (like this) are missing explanations. Feel free to help out by creating them! Here's how.

Rules

Don't be a jerk. There are a lot of comics that don't have set in stone explanations; feel free to put multiple interpretations in the wiki page for each comic.

If you want to talk about a specific comic, use its discussion page.

Please only submit material directly related to —and helping everyone better understand— xkcd... and of course only submit material that can legally be posted (and freely edited.) Off-topic or other inappropriate content is subject to removal or modification at admin discretion, and users who repeatedly post such content will be blocked.

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