1413: Suddenly Popular

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
(Redirected from 1413)
Jump to: navigation, search
Suddenly Popular
Are Your Teens Practicing Amplexus? Learn These Six Telltale Signs!
Title text: Are Your Teens Practicing Amplexus? Learn These Six Telltale Signs!


Many phrases that used to be of mainly academic interest become popular when an important event or global trend is described with such phrases in the media. Randall presents a timeline of past examples, and predicts phrases that may be popularised in the near future. The past events are a mix of buzz words and words that became popularized as a result of technology trends, natural disasters, or terrorism. The future events seem to be all related to natural disasters or other kinds of serious issues, except Amplexus — which is the joke of the title text — showing that no matter how many disasters there are, people are generally more concerned about their teenagers' sex lives.

The title text is also an example of a clickbait headline. Many organizations will post a link on social media to their content with a sensationalized headline in order to draw readers in. In this case, the headline is geared towards parents who are worried about their children being sexually active in this new Amplexus way. Such headlines are the internet's analog to television news' promos ("A new trend among teens is sweeping the nation, but is it dangerous? Details at 11:00.").

Global catastrophic risk is a theme throughout this comic. Randall predicts a large asteroid impact/near miss and a volcanic eruption, followed by an impact winter or volcanic winter. An insect borne, global pandemic without a cure also strikes, and then the technological singularity occurs.

This comic has similar features to 887: Future Timeline.

List of the phrases[edit]

Below the phrases are listed with the closest year from the time-line noted behind the phrase. Note that this year does not necessarily match with the in-real-life relevant year. This may be found in the explanation of the phrase below. Google Books Ngram Viewer can show the relative frequency of those words in function of the year.

World Wide Web – 1994
Though first proposed in 1989, and the first test being completed in 1990, it took until around 1994 for the world wide web to start becoming well known.
DNA Evidence – 1995
Prominent coverage of the O. J. Simpson murder trial in 1994 brought widespread discussion of DNA Evidence, making it famous and showing its limitations.
Militia Movement – 1996
After the standoffs at Ruby Ridge, Idaho in 1992 and the Branch Davidians compound in Waco, Texas between U.S. Government Agencies and militias in 1993, people started becoming more aware of their presence, culminating with the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing on the second anniversary of the fire at the Branch Davidians compound.
Supermax – 1997
Super-Maximum security prisons. Possibly referring to the 1997 film Con Air, starring Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, and John Malkovich, in which prisoners being transferred to a new Supermax prison seize control of their transport plane. Also possibly referring to Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, perpetrators of the aforementioned Oklahoma City bombing, who were incarcerated at ADX Florence, the former from the time of his arrest to 1999, and the latter from the time of his conviction to the present day.
Error creating thumbnail:
A butterfly ballot
Butterfly Ballot – 2000
In the United States presidential election in 2000, Florida had a major recount dispute that took center stage in the election. Thus, the outcome of the 2000 United States presidential election was not known for more than a month after balloting, because of the extended process of counting and then recounting of Florida presidential ballots. The butterfly ballot was the type of ballot design used in Palm Beach County, Florida, and was a central issue in the election controversy. Evidence suggests that many voters who intended to vote for Gore or Bush actually marked their ballots for Pat Buchanan or spoiled their ballots, because of a confusing layout of the ballot.
Al-Qaeda – 2002
The September 11th terrorist attacks brought the al-Qaeda terrorist organisation into the spotlight almost overnight.
Wi-Fi – 2003
Wi-Fi, though developed in the 1990s, first became popular in the early 2000s.
Tsunami – 2006
There were a number of tsunamis around this time period, in particular the Boxing Day Tsunami which caused 230,000 deaths, and the 2006 Pangandaran earthquake and tsunami. These were some of the first tsunamis to be widely captured on camera, bringing these previously obscure seismic events into the public eye.
Viral – 2009
In this context, the word viral is used to describe anything which spreads rapidly and widely on the internet. In particular an online video clip is said to have 'Gone Viral' or become a Viral video if it racks up a high number of views over a short time. This phenomenon has become especially prevalent due to users sharing content on Social media.
Radicalize – 2011
Due to the ongoing Syrian Civil War, and the relative ease with which one can travel from Europe to Syria by way of Turkey, there is growing concern about the risk of young Muslims in Europe (and, to a lesser extent, the United States) becoming radicalized by indoctrination from fundamentalists either in their communities or on the Internet.
Metadata – 2013
Following the highly publicised 2013 leaks by Edward Snowden of information regarding the NSA's indiscriminate surveillance of global communication metadata, awareness of the privacy value of such data became widespread, where once it was mostly familiar to IT professionals.

From this point on, phrases were in the future at the time of publication.

Lahar – 2016
A lahar is a mudslide caused by the eruption of a volcano that was covered with snow or ice. Randall is speculating on a future natural disaster being caused by such an incident. Bárðarbunga volcano covered with the Vatnajökull glacier on Iceland increased activity just a few days before publishing of this comic, but its eventual eruption caused little harm.
Insect-Borne – 2019
Some diseases are insect-borne, meaning specific species of insects are the main vector in spreading to humans. Malaria is an example of an insect-borne disease. Randall predicts some severe (possibly deadly) insect-borne disease will emerge around this time. As of 2016, the Zika virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, has reached epidemic status in South America, and has spread to southern North America, Africa and Australia. 2019 was the year of the first COVID-19 outbreak, leading to a pandemic in 2020, so Randall's prediction of a major disease could be accurate; however, COVID-19 is not an insect-borne disease. "Coronavirus" would be the formerly obscure term instead.
Earth-Crossing – 2021
Earth-crossers are asteroids that cross the orbit of Earth. Most of them remain harmless because their orbit doesn't actually intersect the earth's orbit in 3 dimensions, or for the foreseeable future, they will cross when Earth is not there. For this phrase to become popular, an Earth-crosser might have to reach the heretofore-unreached "threatening" level, rating a 5 or more on the Torino Scale, due to a significant chance of a large impact. In 2014, there were no threats of that level known in the early 2020s. If the next two phrases are connected to this one, Randall predicted a significant asteroid impact.
Thermohaline – 2022
Thermohaline circulation is the largest group of interconnected ocean currents, which stabilize global climate by equalizing the temperature and salinity of oceans around the world. If this phrase becomes popular, it implies the thermohaline circulation would have slowed or changed significantly. This might be caused by asteroid impact or by polar ice melting. The latter scenario was apocalyptically dramatized in the movie The Day After Tomorrow.
Snow-Blindness – 2024
Snow blindness is an eye condition caused by excessive UV light reflected from snow and ice. This can lead to corneal damage and blindness (temporary, if treated properly). This phrase becoming popular might suggest a long impact winter (from the asteroid) or severe ozone depletion in cold regions of the world.
Amplexus – 2025
A form of non-penetrative reproduction carried out by some animals, for example frogs, involving grasping the partner with front legs. This may be connected to the other posts (some change in human society) or it may simply be a joke at how new sexual language/fads appear and hit mainstream media from time to time (for example a number of acts gained fame from Sex and the City). This also ties in with the title text, which imagines a sensationalist headline suggesting teenagers may be doing this.
Controlled Hydroplaning – 2028
Hydroplaning occurs when a vehicle tire comes in contact with a puddle in such a way that the water builds up between the tire and the road surface. The film of water, having a much lower coefficient of friction than the road surface, causes the tire to lose traction. Typically, in this scenario, the driver isn't planning to hydroplane and loses control of the vehicle. In theory, controlled hydroplaning would be achieved when the driver plans for it ahead of time. This could be necessary if, in this hypothetical future, most of the roads are flooded since the impact winter (after only four years) ends and thus a great thaw causes all roads to become wet all the time.
Paradoxical Reaction – 2031
"Paradoxical reaction" is a medical term for when the outcome of a medical treatment, typically the taking of a drug, is the opposite of that expected. For example if taking a pain relieving medication made the pain worse. For this term to suddenly become well known, a large scale or particularly notable case must have taken place (such as the insect-borne disease of 2019).
Alternatively, this and the following (and maybe the last as well) phrases may refer to the events from The Evitable Conflict by Isaac Asimov (and its very loose but much more popular film adaptation I, Robot) where robots, instructed with the Three Laws of Robotics, take over the world to prevent humans hurting each other. The paradoxical reaction is that these laws were specifically designed to, among other things, prevent robots from taking over the world in the first place. See also: 1613: The Three Laws of Robotics.
Drone Desertion – 2033
Desertion is the abandonment of a post or duty, usually military in nature. With the increasing use of autonomous drones by the military this hints at an event where drones 'decide' to desert, possibly due to unspecified advances in Artificial Intelligence and Robot Rights. Or maybe they just start following the Three Laws of Robotics. See also: 2499: Abandonment Function, and 1626: Judgment Day.
Rapid Hair Growth – 2034
Maybe some humans have developed a very rapid hair growth (presumably on the entire body) through evolution and natural selection caused by the cold years of the impact winter.
I Swear Allegiance To The God-Empress In Life And In Death – 2038
This is a divine oath. A possible explanation is that after the impact and the desertion of the drones predicted for 2033, a strong fraction has made their leader divine, and everyone now has to swear allegiance to this new God-Empress using this phrase - which would certainly make it a very "popular" phrase. The phrase God-Emperor was popularized in the science-fiction work Dune in 1965 and has been repeatedly referenced since, notably in the tabletop game Warhammer 40,000 (and related media).


Obscure words and phrases everyone suddenly becomes very familiar with.
[A time line to the left is marked of by several phrases to the right around the time they became familiar to the public:]
← World Wide Web
← DNA Evidence
← Militia Movement
← Supermax
← Butterfly Ballot
← Al-Qaeda
← Wi-Fi
← Tsunami
← Viral
← Radicalize
← Metadata
← Lahar
← Insect-Borne
← Earth-Crossing
← Thermohaline
← Snow-Blindness
← Amplexus
← Controlled Hydroplaning
← Paradoxical Reaction
← Drone Desertion
← Rapid Hair Growth
← I Swear Allegiance To The God-Empress In Life And In Death

comment.png add a comment! ⋅ comment.png add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


N.b. The phrase "Tsunami" is clearly located after 2005 so cannot be referring to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. 10:53, 27 August 2014 (UTC)

While the actual tsunami did occur in 2004, it was late December, and I would argue that it was by far the most prominent tsunami at that time. Widespread use of the word would have spanned into 2005. See List of Historical Tsunamis -- 10:58, 27 August 2014 (UTC)

You know, you shouldn't argue: BOTH tsunamis obviously took part in the word becoming popular. -- Hkmaly (talk) 11:03, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
I agree, but I also believe that the 2004 tsunami has to be listed in the explanation.-- 11:07, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
And more important here - the scale is not very clear and he may have meant 2004, but could not fit it in, with the other sentences. Kynde (talk) 09:02, 29 August 2014 (UTC)

Unless someone disagrees and convinces me, I think that something like "Social Engineers" (or perhaps hackers) should be added to the list of people who were aware of and who used metadata prior to the popularization of the term, so I'll add it if I remember next time I come here, or someone else can feel free to do so in my stead -- Brettpeirce (talk) 12:19, 27 August 2014 (UTC)

Drone Desertion... Skynet? Smperron (talk) 13:15, 27 August 2014 (UTC)

Given that Paradoxical Reaction comes before Drone Desertion, could we assume that because of something done to the AI of drones, presumably to make them "smarter", it has actually led to them deserting on their own? ;) -- I could see how Randall could string a few of the future phrases together to form some logical sequence of events. Jarod997 (talk) 13:51, 27 August 2014 (UTC)

Amplexus refers to a copulation behavior in frogs. I can only assume Randall chose this word without a hypothetical event in mind. 13:32, 27 August 2014 (UTC)

Given the theme, I feel there has to be some event that Randall had in mind that would cause humans to adopt this copulation method. Smperron (talk) 13:36, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
Agreed, consider the title text: "Are Your Teens Practicing Amplexus? Learn These Six Telltale Signs!" -- 18:45, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
For example, the earth-crossing body was a vehicle for a reptilian race which starts by controlling the drones and then takes over the world. The sexual practices of the ruling elite become popular among the youth of the sunjugated population. The god-empress is of the reptilian overlord race. 20:41, 25 January 2019 (UTC)

Rapid hair growth: Global temps drop, prompting the human body to grow thicker body hair? Smperron (talk) 13:36, 27 August 2014 (UTC)

Does anyonr else feel "May be a reference to The God-Empress of Ponykind - a My Little Pony / Warhammer 40,000 fanfic." is a bit of a stretch? Spaceside (talk) 13:50, 27 August 2014 (UTC)

I personally think it's a reference to Homestuck, especially since this page's number is "1413", while "413" is an important number in that webcomic. 19:25, 28 August 2014 (UTC)

Thermohaline circulation-changes predicted due to increased freshwater runoff in the arctic with climate change (melting glaciers and permafrost) and decreased sea ice cover. Whatever the cause, some evidence and speculation that this could lead to the onset of an ice age, possibly explaining "snow blindness". (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I think hydroplaning is not the same as aquaplaning... (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

If we are going so far as to say that 2038 has to do with the 2038 problem, you may notice that each year uses 12 pixels, and therefore the sentence "I Swear Allegiance To The God-Empress In Life And In Death" can be shown to be on April 2038, not on January 19, 2038. 14:59, 28 August 2014 (UTC)

That even adds more credence to the scenario, since it would probably take a few months before the radical change to society was complete, and the phrase "I Swear Allegiance To The God-Empress In Life And In Death" would become well known. (talk) 02:32, 29 August 2014 (UTC)

I thought you were joking, but then I saw this [1]. You are a living example of the reason of the existence of religions. 13:30, 29 August 2014 (UTC)

Assuming no major mutations, wouldn't human amplexus be "spooning"? 18:59, 28 August 2014 (UTC)

No - it would be doggy style - but without penetration Kynde (talk) 08:58, 29 August 2014 (UTC)
There's actually a term for that too, but I don't want to make this discussion into a sex position glossary (it starts with an "h" and ends in "ing"). 08:21, 31 August 2014 (UTC)

It could be the propensity to snuggle for a long time between intermittent sex acts due to it being effing cold all the time.(pun intended) 12:12, 30 August 2014 (UTC)

As there are no known earth crossers, I have an alternate scenario for "earth crosser" - "thermohaline" - "snow blindness": Global warming, creating Hypercanes, these would disrupt oceanic layering (thermohaline) and may go hand in hand with desertification (deserts can also lead to something akin to snow blindness). So, alternatively, Randall may predict that global warming may come much faster and harder than predicted... Just my two cents (and maybe we should think "Dune" with the last entry? not the story - the background... Bene Geserit anyone?) ... wont do any changes before discussed (or people shout "oh no - surely not"!)... Tier666 (talk) 17:28, 30 August 2014 (UTC)

2011 SM68 is coming close in 2016 and 2019. (292220) 2006 SU49 is coming close in 2029. (99942) Apophis is close in 2029. 2012 MU2 is close in 2015. 2014 DA is close in 2027. -- See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torino_Scale for list of object which have ever been considered at risk of hitting earth. Giving the timing, I would think that "2011 SM68" is the closest match for Randall's timeline, as the 2016 passage would give additional data for a probability of hitting earth in 2019 -- and two years after that everybody would know what hit them :-( 06:17, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
As far as I know, it is called snow blindness only when it is caused by snow or ice and the same condition is called by the medical term photokeratitis in desert. There are no known Earth-crossers around 2020 that would be really worth mentioning (2009 JF1 has the highest probability) but the problem is that we might not know the object yet (especially if it would be a comet) STEN (talk) 22:23, 1 September 2014 (UTC)

under controlled hydroplaning i understand 3 things 1. a joke about the word plan in hydroplaning 2. some kind of advanced engine enabling boats to use hydroplaning to move 3. a car computer to stear while the car is hydroplaning

Originally, I thought it has something to do with seaplanes because they are also called hydroplanes. Regarding the boats, there are already boats using (hydro)planing. STEN (talk) 22:29, 1 September 2014 (UTC)

the title: "i swear allegiance to the god-empress in live and death" makes me imagine that he could mean his own

death maybe due to: 1. reduced dyieng age because of the ice age 2. that he doesnt want to grow older than that 00:44, 1 September 2014

How is "Tsunami" ever an obscure phrase before 2005!? I've known that word as a normal part of speech all my life (which started in the eighties). Note that this is also unlike, for example, "metadata", which I've also known all my life but that word simply went viral around 2013. --Zom-B (talk) 20:51, 3 September 2014 (UTC)

RE: The phrase "God-Emperor" being popularized by Dune in 1965 is a little misleading. The phrase was never used until the book God Emperor of Dune which was published in 1981. Love the series... perhaps a little too much.-- 21:44, 22 September 2014 (UTC)

The oath also reminds me of the oaths to the Seanchan Empress in Wheel of Time, may she live forever. --ShadowDx (talk) 04:39, 26 October 2014 (UTC)

Removed reference to StarCraft because it made no sense. Neither Arcturus nor Valerian Megnsk (the only characters to have the title Emperor in the franchise) ever claim godhood at any point. I mean, Arcturus was a head-case and a manipulative bastard, but he never claimed divinity, especially not publicly. -Pennpenn 05:49, 7 December 2015 (UTC)

The explanation section mentions the Singularity occurring at some point in this timeline, but I see nothing in the comic or more detailed explanation that supports this. 18:30, 10 April 2021 (UTC)