Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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This is another comic based on pointing out just how much time has passed since the release of a particular film. The same basis is found in 1393: Timeghost and 891: Movie Ages, and a similar theme is used in 647: Scary and 973: MTV Generation. Many people remember going to see major films at the time of release, and in their mind it may seem like "just a few years ago". In reality however, many years have passed, and it comes as a shock to realise just how long ago it was.
In the first panel, Cueball states that we are approaching the Back to the Future date (October 21, 2015), which is the date that protagonist Marty McFly travels to in Back to the Future Part II, released in 1989. Megan adds that we're even closer to May 13, 2015, the "Star Wars tipping point".
The original first set of Star Wars films was released as a trilogy over the span of 6 years, with the third one, Return of the Jedi being released on May 25, 1983. After that, no films were released for 16 years until The Phantom Menace on May 19, 1999, the first in a trilogy of prequels. Thus up until now, the length of time between the two films, 5,839 days, has been greater than the time between the latter film and the present. Megan points out that May 13, 2015 will mark 5,839 days after the release of The Phantom Menace, meaning that for the first time the release date of the two films will be closer together than the latter film is to the present day. (Fun fact: 5839 is a prime number.)
In the final panel, Cueball points out how weird it is that he (along with most other people) are regularly surprised at the passage of time, given how predictable time is by its very nature. Megan's last line is a reference to the famous opening sequence used in the Star Wars films, which begins "A long time ago...".
The title text repeats the opening text from the films, inserting Megan's suggestion for changing the duration, and extending it to include the Hubble constant for adjusting the distance estimation. The Hubble constant is a value that describes an estimated rate of expansion of the universe. This expansion means that during the 40 years that have passed since the release of the first Star Wars movie, the "galaxy far, far away" has gotten even farther away.
- [Cueball and Megan are walking together.]
- Cueball: We're almost at the Back to the Future date.
- Megan: We're even closer to the Star Wars tipping point.
- Cueball: The what?
- [Diagram showing a timeline from before 1980 to about 2020. Markers on the line indicate the release date of Return of the Jedi, the release date of The Phantom Menace, and May 13th, with arrows showing the intervals in between these three points.]
- Megan: On May 13th, The Phantom Menace will have come out closer to Return of the Jedi than to the present
- Cueball: Wow.
- [Cueball and Megan stop walking. Megan is in a reflective pose with her hand on her chin.]
- Cueball: It's weird how I'm constantly surprised by the passage of time when it's literally the most predictable thing in the universe.
- Megan: You know, "A long time ago" should have "Plus four more decades" added in rereleases.
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