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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Research Risks
The 1919 Great Boston Molasses Flood remained the deadliest confectionery containment accident until the Canadian Space Agency's 2031 orbital maple syrup delivery disaster.
Title text: The 1919 Great Boston Molasses Flood remained the deadliest confectionery containment accident until the Canadian Space Agency's 2031 orbital maple syrup delivery disaster.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by a BOT - Please change this comment when editing this page. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.

This is a comparison of the possibility of the subjects of various sciences being a threat to humanity. It can either be an autonomous threat to the local population (i.e. by escape from a lab), or as part of a supervillain's scheme to rule the world. [1]


Risk of Breaking Free Risk of Supervillain Research field Research Risks Comments
very low very high Prosthetics Cyborgs This is probably a joke related to the fact that many movie supervillains have some handicap, and it is thus likely that such a villain would use some kind of prosthetics, although this might not directly help his evil plan...
low high Neuroscience Mind Control
very low high Laser Optics Something like Laser Weapon System See Directed-energy weapon
medium low high Pharmacology Poisons
low high Materials Science
low medium high Sociology
very low medium high History
medium low medium high Psychology
high very high Robotics Villains: Robot minions. Escape: robots gaining sentience and killing everything.
high very high Genetic Engineering Villains: Modify troops to make super powered minions. Escape: Modified life could cause havok
medium high high Chemistry
very high high Microbiology See Grey goo
very low medium low Geology Study of rocks
very low medium low Linguistics
low low Paleontology Study of pre-history, aka archeology
very low very low Astronomy
medium low very low Molasses Storage See Great Molasses Flood, as referenced in the title text
very low very low Dentistry
medium high medium low Botany Study of plants
high medium low Entomology Study of insects
medium high low Mycology Fungi cannot move, but their spores could easily spread, therefore, escape probability has been deemed medium high. Mycology is the study of fungi,.
very high low Marine Biology Sharknado
medium high very low Ornithology Study of birds, flying is a useful escape mechanism


  • The comic initially had the erroneous spelling "Entymology" (possibly a mistaken mix-up between etymology and entomology, similar to 1012: Wrong Superhero). This was later changed to the correct "Entomology".


Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
[A chart with two crossing lines with double arrows. Each arrow is labeled:]
X axis left: Low
X axis right: High
Y axis top: High
Y axis bottom: Low
[To the side of each of the axes, they are labeled:}
X axis: Risk of the thing you're studying breaking free from your facility and threatening the local population
Y axis: Risk of your research being used by a supervillian for world domination

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