Title text: It was finally destroyed with a nuclear weapon carrying the destructive energy of the Hiroshima bomb.
In this comic, officials and police are evidently trying to describe the extraordinary qualities of a huge monster by comparing it with everyday objects instead of numbers, which seems to be a recurring theme on xkcd (see 526: Converting to Metric, 1047: Approximations) and also in the Blag article Dictionary of Numbers where Randall says that he doesn't "like large numbers without context."
This comic pokes fun at how common it is in the media to compare things of extraordinary qualities to a certain narrow set of well-known objects. The comic features people discussing a fictional monster which - apparently - can be only described by these overused comparisons. The three used by Megan, Cueball and Ponytail are:
- The monster is as long as a football field. This is most likely an American football field (given the author is American). So the monster is about 120 yards/110 m long.
- Here is an example from Wikipedia where a building is compared to the length of a football field.
- The monster runs as fast as a cheetah, at least 60 mph or 96 kmh.
- The Cheetah is famous for being the fastest land animal at full sprint. Like the monster, the cheetah is prone to comparisons: to cars, since 60 mph is a common highway speed limit. Unlike a cheetah, however, the monster's speed is almost certainly thanks to its large stride.
- The monster is as heavy as a blue whale (about 180 tonnes).
- Here is an example where the weight of a blue whale is used in two different comparison (something heavier and something lighter).
- Finally it is stated that it has the intelligence of a two-year-old child. Comparing someones intelligence to a child of a given age is very common.
The caption below the panel names the monster the Frequently-Made Comparisons Monster, joking that the monster was created by comparing it to things, and continues the joke by comparing the number of killed people to those that could fill a (sports) stadium (of the order tens of thousands), and the area of devastation to the smallest state in the US Rhode Island (1,214 sq mi/3,140 km2) (a state Randall also used for comparison in the What if? Everybody Jump. In another What if? he uses a football stadium filled with ants as a comparison: Lethal Neutrinos.)
The title text takes the joke one step further by comparing the nuclear bomb used to destroy the monster to the bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of the Second World War, i.e. they dropped a relatively small nuclear bomb on it (nuclear weapons have advanced significantly since WWII). Here is an example from Wikipedia of such a comparison with the strength of a meteor strike.
- [Four people are standing around a table-top crisis planning model. Cueball and Ponytail are wearing police-style hats; Megan holds a clipboard and Blondie has her hands on the table.]
- Megan: It's as long as a football field. Runs as fast as a cheetah.
- Cueball: Weighs as much as a blue whale.
- Blondie: Can we negotiate with it?
- Ponytail: No. It has the intelligence of a two-year-old child.
- [Caption below the panel:]
- By the time the Frequently-Made Comparisons Monster was finally defeated, it had eaten enough people to fill a stadium and devastated an area the size of Rhode Island.
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