2047: Beverages

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If I wait a while, it's not so bad, because then it's just shaped like me, plus some pipes and tanks and probably eventually all of Earth's oceans.
Title text: If I wait a while, it's not so bad, because then it's just shaped like me, plus some pipes and tanks and probably eventually all of Earth's oceans.


It is frequently stated that liquids take the shape of their container. While being poured, though, what that "shape" is is open to interpretation. The comic shows the "shape" of a liquid being "poured" down someone's throat (in the process of drinking) and highlights how unsettling this may look without any visible guidance for its flow. While the flow of the beverage wets every parts downwards, it looks as if the stomach is only partially filled, because the process of drinking is still underway and the glass is still half full, and because the contents of the glass would not be enough to fill the stomach in any case. Therefore the shape of the liquid in the stomach area would not correspond to the full shape of the stomach, and there could be additional blobs of liquid where it might have splashed and detached from the main liquid mass, such as depicted by the two little disconnected pieces to the right of the stomach area.

The title text expands on this, encouraging the reader to think of the liquid travelling through the entire human digestive tract and to consider that it will eventually dilute through the entire human body ("shaped like me"), with what doesn't leaving the body to pass through the water treatment process ("some pipes and tanks"), and that finally most particles from any ingested liquid will mix with all water on Earth ("all of Earth's oceans"). But by the time a beverage is diluted enough to take the shape of Earth's oceans, the molecules will be so dispersed that the beverage effectively becomes invisible.

Note: A barium swallow is a medical procedure that actually studies the shape of a liquid when it is being swallowed, to diagnose problems in the esophagus and other structures.


[Inside a single frame, liquid pouring out of a glass through mouth, the esophagus, and to the stomach is shown. However the surrounding bodies like the organs or the glass are not pictured, are only defined by the shape of the liquid, and must be imagined. Further two small parts within or near the invisible stomach with no visible connection to the rest are also wetted.]
[Caption below the frame:]
It freaks me out to imagine what a beverage is shaped like when I’m in the middle of drinking it.


  • Similar imagery was used in the films Memoirs of an Invisible Man and Hollow Man.
  • Radiotopia's recently released Everything is alive podcast's premiere episode, "Louis Can of Cola", features a discussion between the beverage and the host who {spoiler alert} drinks the beverage during their discussion.
  • How much of Earth's water has been turned into soda was the subject of the what if? article Soda Planet". In this article it turns out that all of Earth's water has at least once (and probably at least ten times) been turned into dinosaur pee.

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Randall Munroe needs to be less existential ... oh wait. (talk) 05:22, 17 September 2018‎ (UTC) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Hey, it's not as crazy as SMBC tho ;) SilverMagpie (talk) 21:47, 8 July 2019 (UTC)

Wouldn’t it warrant being freaked out *more* if it were shaped like lungs? Now that would freak me out. (Choking on food is but one example that even nature can not get a dual function, single endpoint API perfectly right. Luckily nature was unaware of GraphQL - or we’d have one orifice, 1 endpoint for all bodily functions. (talk) 05:36, 17 September 2018‎ (UTC) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

(Responding to the above unsigned) Aren’t there some animals where that is the case? Jellyfish and starfish (I think) are the examples that comes to mind, but I’m sure there are others (especially among sea life). Also wow, humanity (at least the English speaking portion) really likes naming things that aren’t fish “fish” 😂 PotatoGod (talk) 07:19, 17 September 2018 (UTC)
But there's 'No Such Thing as a Fish' :-) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Such_Thing_as_a_Fish --OliReading (talk) 12:31, 17 September 2018 (UTC)
Well you can think yourself lucky that you are not designed like a flatworm which only has one opening to its digestive cavity... 11:17, 17 September 2018 (UTC)
Isn't that a cloaca?
ProphetZarquon (talk) 13:25, 17 September 2018 (UTC)
Yes, coming in really late, but no. A cloaca is a combined anus and urinary outlet, as in birds. Generally it's also a reproductive opening (as in birds). A single opening that is used for eating and defecating is known as the "mouth", as in the Cnidaria (formerly coelenterates, the jellyfishes and medusae). Nitpicking (talk) 00:26, 2 May 2023 (UTC)

Isn't the stream of beverages interrupted in intervals by swallowing? Sebastian -- 06:16, 17 September 2018 (UTC)

The bulge in the middle of the vertical portion of the flow (oesophagus) is from the effects of peristalsis, which does not cut off the flow entirely in order to push stuff down, but leaves a little gap. That is part of the reason you can belch and barf. Nutster (talk) 12:37, 17 September 2018 (UTC)

I think what he means with "if I wait a while" the beverage at the end of digestion is then connected to the toilet, sewers and oceans... -- Benjamin3005 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Similar Imagery

Radiotopia's recently released "Everything is alive" podcast's premiere episode, Louis Can of Cola, is about this experience from the perspective of the beverage. The episode features a discussion of between the beverage and a the host who {spoiler alert} offers to drink it. The episode was featured by podcasting legend Roman Mars on his own Radiotopia show "99 Percent Invisible, podcast" earlier this summer in July 2018. Iggynelix (talk) 12:24, 17 September 2018 (UTC)
I've moved both to a trivia section. Doesn't explain anything. --Dgbrt (talk) 14:18, 17 September 2018 (UTC)
Is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy acknowledged? Ford Prefect warns Arthur Dent that his first space trip by hyperspace transit will be unpleasantly like being drunk, and it is. [email protected] 01:30, 18 September 2018 (UTC)

What are the two organs beneath the stomach?

Liver makes sense because they are involved in the digesting process; but kidneys are ruled out because they filter blood where the liquid hasn't arrived yet. Any ideas? --Dgbrt (talk) 13:31, 17 September 2018 (UTC)

Looks to me like that is the stomach. The "bulge" above looks like peristalsis. Baldrickk (talk) 13:44, 17 September 2018 (UTC)

"Further two small organs with no connection to the rest are also wetted." I'm pretty sure those, "...two small organs..." are actually part of the stomach from (possibly) a previous drink of the beverage. 15:24, 17 September 2018 (UTC)

I am thinking that is just the fluid splashing around inside the one stomach, as opposed to anything making it to other organs yet. While still drinking, the fluid will be collecting in the stomach as it prepares to hit the contents with enzymes and acid to break it down prior to going to the intestines, a process that can take over an hour, depending on how complex the contents are. Nutster (talk) 10:09, 18 September 2018 (UTC)
I agree. While being poured, the liquid isn't filling all available space within the container, it will mainly coat the bottom (i.e. of the stomach) due to gravity or sides (i.e. esophagus) due to adhesion, and there will be splashing as well. I think those two disconnected blobs of liquid are just splashes that have become disconnected from the rest of the flowing liquid. -boB (talk) 18:45, 18 September 2018 (UTC)
I've moved this matter from the transcript to the explanation. Thanks for your suggestions. --Dgbrt (talk) 19:51, 18 September 2018 (UTC)

Liver isn't directly involved in digestion, which means no food passes through it, although it does absorb nutrients and is involved in bile production, which is secreted by the gallbladder in response to fats. If I had to guess, it would probably be the duodenum (first part of the small intestine). Four (talk) 23:45, 17 September 2018 (UTC)

You're right. See my comment above. --Dgbrt (talk) 19:51, 18 September 2018 (UTC)

Invisible Man

The picture looks like "The Invisible Man" drinking. (Actually "Keybounce", but login is neither working nor complaining for some reason.) -- 20:05, 17 September 2018 (UTC)


Hmm... Thinking about it logically, the glass isn't half full. Considering it's being emptied, it should be considered half empty. It's probably not an overly important distinction, but I'm pedantic, and I feel Randall would probably approve... 16:31, 19 September 2018 (UTC)


Sargent Schlock (Schlock Mercenary webcomic) is a fictional character who has only one orifice, "with which he eats, breathes, smells, excretes, and conceals weaponry" (Technically, he can smell with his entire body mass.) These Are Not The Comments You Are Looking For (talk) 22:26, 22 October 2018 (UTC)