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(404 can arguably be considered a comic (if unorthodox) plus it does have an explanation here. OTOH, another subcategory was added to Category:Comics, so the total is still 10.)
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<big>''Welcome to the '''explain xkcd''' wiki!''
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<font size=5px>''Welcome to the '''explain [[xkcd]]''' wiki!''</font>
We already have [[:Category:Comics|'''{{#expr:{{PAGESINCAT:Comics}}-10}}''' comic explanations]]!</big>
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(But there are still {{#expr:{{LATESTCOMIC}}-({{PAGESINCAT:Comics}}-10)}} to go. Come and [[List of all comics|add yours]]!)
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We have an explanation for all [[:Category:Comics|'''{{#expr:{{PAGESINCAT:Comics|R}}-13}}''' xkcd comics]],
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    as well as [[List of all comics]] and the pages it has been split across, which are obviously not comic pages.
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    The extra one difference corresponds to 404, which is not really a comic, even though we've categorised it so.
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and only {{PAGESINCAT:Incomplete articles|R}}
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({{#expr: {{PAGESINCAT:Incomplete articles|R}} / {{LATESTCOMIC}} * 100 round 0}}%) [[:Category:Incomplete articles|are incomplete]]. Help us finish them!
 
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== Latest comic ==
 
== Latest comic ==
 
 
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<span style="float:right;">[[{{LATESTCOMIC}}|'''Go to this comic''']]</span>
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<small>''Is this out of date? {{Purge|Clicking here will fix that}}.''</small>
  
 
== 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.
  
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*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.
  
* [[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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*Discussion about various parts of the wiki is going on at [[Explain XKCD:Community portal]]. Share your 2¢!
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*[[List of all comics]] contains a table of most recent xkcd comics and links to the rest, and the corresponding explanations. There are incomplete explanations listed [[:Category:Incomplete articles|here]]. Feel free to help out by expanding them!
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*If you see that a new comic hasn't been explained yet, you can create it: '''[[Help:How to add a new comic explanation|Here's how]]'''.
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Revision as of 03:05, 4 September 2013

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!

We have an explanation for all 1 xkcd comics, and only 0 (0%) are incomplete. Help us finish them!

Latest comic

Go to this comic explanation

Number of Computers
They try to pad their numbers in the annual reports by counting Galileo's redundant systems as multiple computers, but they're falling behind badly either way.
Title text: They try to pad their numbers in the annual reports by counting Galileo's redundant systems as multiple computers, but they're falling behind badly either way.

Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: More or less finished. Maybe something has been overlooked...?

This comic shows a semi-log plot with two red lines. The first line shows the increasing rate that computers have been created since the first came around in the 1940s. The graph shows this to occur around 1946. (The precise date can be discussed, because when is a machine actually a computer? But it was around that time that the concept began to be used on real working machines). After the first computer the number of computers created is shown to increase in a straight line, thus indicating exponential growth. At the time of the comics release (in 2016) the curve has passed above the 10 billion computers mark, and its projection into the 2020s predicts the numbers of computers to keep rising exponentially for at least 10 years to come.

The other graph represents all the computers destroyed by throwing them into Jupiter. So far this has only worked for the computers on two space probes, those on the Galileo orbiter and its probe, the latter's mission was to fly into Jupiter so it went first in 1995, the orbiter went only after it had completed its mission in 2003. That constitutes the first two steps on the graph.

Recently the Juno space probe entered into orbit (as only the second after Galileo) and that was celebrated with 1703: Juno on xkcd. Juno's main mission has hardly begun yet, as, at the time of this comics release, it is not even in its final orbit. But once its mission is completed it will also crash into Jupiter thus destroying a third computer. This is shown as the third step, but this section is shown with a dotted line, as the destruction may still fail, if NASA loose contact with the probe before giving it the order to deorbit into Jupiter. This is scheduled to occur in 2018. All three steps on the graph fits with these years. (Note the number of computer created is not drawn with a dotted line into the future, probably because Randall believes this continued increase in numbers of computers to be quite certain over the next 10-20 years, whereas the outcome of a space probe mission is never certain, even when the probe is already in orbit and only 1½ year before scheduled deorbit!)

Space probes sent to Jupiter are typically scheduled to deorbit and fall into Jupiter's atmosphere. There can be several reasons for this, but one very important it to avoid contaminating Jupiter's moons with Earth pathogens, especially the four Galilean moons including Europa which may harbor life. Also the huge gravity well of Jupiter that would have to be overcome for such a probe to leave the planet again, makes it impossible to have an orbiting probe return to Earth with samples.

The caption below the comic humorously implies that NASA's reasons for causing the probes to deorbit into Jupiter is merely as a mean for destroying all the computers of the world. The caption notes that they are failing horribly, given they have destroyed three computers out of more than 10 billions. However, due to the semi-log scale, those three computers seem as much more than they actually represents. The caption states that NASA really needs to pick up the pace (having only destroyed two since 1945 when computers were created), if they wish to actually finish the job of destroying all computers by hurling them in to Jupiter.

The title text continues the caption, by telling that in NASA's annual reports they try to make their numbers look better by counting the redundant computer system on Galileo and its probe, thus doubling the numbers of destroyed computers to four. This of course makes no difference out of 10 billions, which is also noted. This indicate that this is a top priority for NASA. That NASA might try to make themselves look better in a report, by doubling a number, could be realistic, to get better funding...

Transcript

[A graph with two red lines. The X-axis is a time-line with eight ticks with every second tick labeled below the axis, ranging from around 1940 to 2030. The Y-axis is a logarithmic count ranging from one to 100 billion. There are 12 ticks with the first and then every third tick after that larger than the two ticks in between. All the large ticks are labeled, but only the first two of the small ticks are similarly labeled. Labels are written to the left of the axis. All labels on both axes are written in gray. The first red line is a straight line (thus exponentially growing), starting close to the bottom left corner eventually reaching the upper right edge of the graph. The other red line begins around 1990 and has three straight steps. Each step is labeled with gray text, the last part of the line (after the present 2016), is dotted. Both of the red lines have an arrow pointing to them with a label above the arrow.]
Left red line: Number of computers created
Right red line: Number of computers destroyed by hurling them into Jupiter
Labels on right red line:
Galileo probe
Galileo orbiter
Juno (scheduled)
Y-axis:
1 billion
1 million
1,000
100
10
1
X-axis: 1960 1980 2000 2020
[Caption below the panel:]
NASA needs to pick up the pace if they ever want to finish the job.


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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 table of most recent xkcd comics and links to the rest, and the corresponding explanations. There are incomplete explanations listed here. Feel free to help out by expanding them!
  • If you see that a new comic hasn't been explained yet, you can create it: Here's how.
  • We sell advertising space to pay for our server costs. To learn more, go here.

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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