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Revision as of 23:11, 7 August 2012

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki! We already have Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ",". comic explanations!

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The sudden introduction of Venusian flowers led to an explosive growth of unusual Earth pollinators, which became known as the "butterfly effect."
Title text: The sudden introduction of Venusian flowers led to an explosive growth of unusual Earth pollinators, which became known as the "butterfly effect."


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: This explanation requires some touching up.

Miss Lenhart is teaching a class scientifically incorrect information that oppose the majority of currently scientifically acknowledged facts concerning the planet Venus, while using actual scientific terminology incorrectly to support her claims.

In the first panel we see Miss Lenhart teaching the history of Venus. Planetary scientists think that Venus may have had surface water billions of years ago, but it all evaporated due to stronger sunlight, and was eventually lost due to ultraviolet dissociation. However, there is no evidence that Venus ever had fields of flowers, or Venusians, or any other form of life.

In the second panel, runaway greenhouse effect is a play on words. Miss Lenhart uses the term literally and claims the existence of sentient greenhouses actually running away. In reality, the effect caused Venus to develop a thick atmosphere of carbon dioxide, which raised its temperature to 460 C (860 F), hotter than daytime on Mercury.

The third panel ties the previous distortion into the very real (but unconnected) historic reputation of the Netherlands as flower growers, as a further fabrication by Miss Lenhart. In the final panel we see that she is a month away from retirement and doesn't care about relaying accurate information anymore.

The title text is an incorrect reference to the butterfly effect (a term used in chaos theory), which of course has nothing to do with the fact that butterflies (referred to as "unusual Earth pollinators") help to pollinate flowers on Earth. This is a continuation of Miss Lenhart's false explanations of science and history. It also references the supposed "venus butterfly" sexual position mentioned in the well-known namesake episode of LA Law.


[Miss Lenhart is standing in front of an image, presumably a temperate Venus, with greenhouses, grass, flowers and a river flowing into a sea.]
Miss Lenhart: Venus once was temperate. It had seas and rivers, and Venusians cultivated vast fields of beautiful flowers.
[The image is now zoomed out to see the entirety of Venus, with continents and oceans. The greenhouses are shown fleeing ("running") away from Venus.]
Miss Lenhart: Until their greenhouses fled the planet due to the runaway greenhouse effect.
[Miss Lenhart is now standing in front of a classroom and addressing the students, we see one of these, Hair Bun Girl, sitting at a desk.]
Miss Lenhart: The Venusians pursued their greenhouses to Earth, settling in the Netherlands and kickstarting the Dutch floral industry. Any questions?
Offscreen (Presumably Hair Bun Girl): Because you're retiring in a month, do you just not care what you say anymore?
Miss Lenhart: What?! I ride the skies atop a screaming bird of truth! Also, yes, I do not.


  • It is not directly mentioned that it is Miss Lenhart teaching, but her looks and profession fits this character well enough to make this deduction.

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