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<font size=5px>''Welcome to the '''explain [[xkcd]]''' wiki!''</font>
  
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We have collaboratively explained [[:Category:Comics|'''{{#expr:{{PAGESINCAT:Comics}}-9}}''' xkcd comics]],
''Welcome to the '''Explain xkcd''' wiki!''
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We currently have [[:Category:Comics|'''{{#expr:{{PAGESINCAT:Comics}}-3}}''' comic explanations]]. Come and [[List of all comics|add yours]]!
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and only {{#expr:{{LATESTCOMIC}}-({{PAGESINCAT:Comics}}-9)}}
 
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==Latest comic==
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== Latest comic ==
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<span style="float:right;">[[{{LATESTCOMIC}}|'''Go to this comic explanation''']]</span>
 
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== New here? ==
 
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Feel free to sign up for an account and contribute to the Explain XKCD wiki!  We need explanations for comics, characters, themes, memes and everything in between.  If it is referenced in an [http://www.xkcd.com XKCD] web comic, it should be 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.
  
 
* If you're new to wikis like this, take a look at these help pages describing [[mw:Help:Navigation|how to navigate]] the wiki, and [[mw:Help:Editing pages|how to edit]] pages.
 
* If you're new to wikis like this, take a look at these help pages describing [[mw:Help:Navigation|how to navigate]] the wiki, and [[mw:Help:Editing pages|how to edit]] pages.
  
* Discussion about various parts of the wiki is going on at [[Explain XKCD:Community portal]]. Share your 2¢!
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* 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!
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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 ==
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.
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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.
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If you want to talk about a specific comic, use its discussion page.
  
Please only submit material directly related to&mdash;and helping everyone better understand&mdash;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 posting such are at risk of being blocked.
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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.
  
 
If you need assistance from an admin, feel free to leave a message on their personal discussion page. The list of admins is [[Special:ListUsers/sysop|here]].
 
If you need assistance from an admin, feel free to leave a message on their personal discussion page. The list of admins is [[Special:ListUsers/sysop|here]].
  
 
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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

Orbital Mechanics
To be fair, my job at NASA was working on robots and didn't actually involve any orbital mechanics. The small positive slope over that period is because it turns out that if you hang around at NASA, you get in a lot of conversations about space.
Title text: To be fair, my job at NASA was working on robots and didn't actually involve any orbital mechanics. The small positive slope over that period is because it turns out that if you hang around at NASA, you get in a lot of conversations about space.

Explanation

Randall roughly plots how high school physics, undergraduate-level physics and a job at NASA somewhat increased his knowledge of orbital mechanics. But this learning was apparently nothing compared to the "direct" experience of playing with the Kerbal Space Program, a rocket building and piloting sandbox game.

Orbital mechanics can be somewhat counterintuitive. The art of changing orbits involves relative velocities, positions, and times in complex interactions. As soon as you try deviating from a perfectly regular orbit, or start having to deal with N-body problems and orbital resonances, you have to coordinate your movements in possibly in counterintuitive ways. One example is just, if you want to reach an object ahead of you at the same orbit you have to brake to reach a lower orbit. At that lower orbit your velocity is faster and you can overtake that object in front. After that maneuver you have to accelerate for increasing your orbit high and reducing your speed matching your target.

At the title text Randall admits that at the time when he did work at NASA he was not involved in orbital mechanics — which is also true for the most other NASA employees — but everybody was talking about this without a significant increase of knowledge.

The Kerbal Space Program was featured as one of the frames in the 1350: Lorenz April Fools project and in 1244: Six Words.

Transcript

How Well I Understand Orbital Mechanics:
[There is a graph with the x-axis labeled as 'time' increasing to the right. The y-axis is unlabeled but it can be assumed that it could be labeled 'understanding'.]
The line stays flat until the first bump, which is annotated "Took High School Physics".
The line decreases, then grows to a higher maximum with the annotation "Got Physics Degree".
There is a small amount of decrease until a gradual bump in the graph labeled "Actual Job At NASA".
It gradually decreases to pre-NASA levels, but then begins to increase exponentially. The annotation reads "Started Playing Kerbal Space Program".

Is this out of date? Clicking here will fix that.

New here?

Last 7 days (Top 10)

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.

If you need assistance from an admin, feel free to leave a message on their personal discussion page. The list of admins is here.

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