Title text: Star Trek V is a small part of the space frontier, but it’s been a while since that movie came out so I assume we’ve finished exploring it by now.
This comic refers to four remaining “final frontiers” of human discovery, according to popular usage—perhaps analyzed using an Internet search engine. It seems to imply that other fields of research aren’t a challenge anymore.
Outer space is so vast in size that it’s impossible for humans to discover even just the stars in our galaxy within a lifetime, as astronomers estimate that there are 100 to 400 billion stars in the Milky Way. Space travel is also very difficult and expensive.
The oceans are very deep. The vast majority of the deeper oceans hasn’t been visited by humans, and there is still much we don’t know about the living beings in the deep sea. Around 95% of the oceans haven't been explored and mapped by humans.
The human mind is not only very complex, but also often seems irrational, which makes it harder to investigate. Its relation to the brain is also somewhat mysterious: philosophy of mind is split on whether the mind is ultimately material (materialism) or immaterial (dualism/idealism). Further, certain philosophical systems have trouble explaining its relation to the body, in what is termed the mind–body problem.
Alaska is the state of largest area in the U.S., and also the most sparsely populated. Many places in Alaska have only been partially explored to this day. Randall was probably inspired by the TV series Alaska: The Last Frontier, which plays off of the state’s official nickname of “The Last Frontier”.
The humor from this comic comes from the fact that Alaska seems comparably of less important than the other “Final Frontiers”. It is not as hard or expensive to explore as the ocean bottom and outer space, and it is much smaller. While one's own human mind is much more easily accessible than the other three locations, its nature is a substantial frontier in human knowledge. Furthermore, minds other than one’s own are very hard to access.
The title text refers to the movie Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, released in 1989. “Final frontier” is a recurring motif in the Star Trek franchise (coming from the opening narration for Star Trek: The Original Series), and is used to describe the exploration of outer space, which remains a notable frontier to humans, both in real life and within Star Trek. Randall, however, jokingly posits that the frontier to be explored is the film itself, and assumes that, because this movie has been out for a while—nearly thirty years—it ought to be fully and comprehensively explored by now.
- [In a single framed picture a hand drawn rhomboid is shown. At the inside a few small arrows pointing to the four sides. The text in the middle reads:]
- Human achievement so far
- [Text above the top left side:]
- [Text above the top right side:]
- The oceans
- [Text below the bottom left side:]
- The human mind
- [Text below the bottom right side:]
- [Caption below the frame:]
- Final remaining “frontiers,” according to popular usage
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