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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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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!

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Orb Hammer
Ok, but make sure to get lots of pieces of rock, because later we'll decide to stay in a room on our regular orb and watch hammers hold themselves and hit rocks for us, and they won't bring us very many rocks.
Title text: Ok, but make sure to get lots of pieces of rock, because later we'll decide to stay in a room on our regular orb and watch hammers hold themselves and hit rocks for us, and they won't bring us very many rocks.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Added title text explain first draft.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

This conversation suggests doing something that sounds absurd and not useful at all for the daily activities of a regular human. Yet it refers in simple English words to the Apollo human spaceflight program which sent people to the Moon to bring geological samples back to Earth to study them. The use of such simple language contributes to the effect of the suggestion sounding absurd, even though the numerous side-products of the effort to realize the project have in fact had many benefits for regular people.

No person has been on the Moon since the final Apollo mission, Apollo 17, in 1972. Occasional lunar rocks can still be collected on Earth. They are formed when a celestial body impacts the Moon's surface, forming a crater and launching small rocks into the space. Some of them will eventually reach Earth, see lunar meteorites.

The title text refers to the current Mars missions (Pathfinder, Spirit, Opportunity, Curiosity) where, instead of traveling to Mars ourselves, we stay on Earth ("our regular orb") and control rovers by remote. The rovers collect geological samples and test them for life, but have no way to send the samples back to Earth.

The idea of using simple language in highly technical fields began with 547: Simple and was revisited in 722: Computer Problems and 1133: Up Goer Five. It should be noted however, that in this case Randall didn't use the 1000 most basic words in the English language, because that list does not contain the words "glowing" or "orb," but does contain "moon," "earth," "bright," and "ball."

The idea of using simple language to create humour highlighting the absurdity of normal activities has previously been explored with 203: Hallucinations.


Person 1: You know that glowing orb in the night sky?

Person 2: Yeah?

Person 1: Let's go hit it with a hammer until little pieces break off, then bring the pieces back and lock them in a closet.

Person 2: Sounds good!

Text under panel: The Apollo program was weird.

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