2281: Coronavirus Research

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Coronavirus Research
"Also, reading 500 coronavirus papers in a row and not sleeping? Probably not great for you either, but I haven't found any studies confirming that yet. I'll keep looking."
Title text: "Also, reading 500 coronavirus papers in a row and not sleeping? Probably not great for you either, but I haven't found any studies confirming that yet. I'll keep looking."


This comic is the seventh comic in a row in a series of comics about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Megan, disheveled and exhausted, has been researching COVID-19 nonstop and is now reporting her findings to Cueball. She claims to have read all available literature on the subject, but the best she can come up with is an extremely basic fact about viruses—namely that they infect cells and this is bad and should be prevented, which Cueball and just about everybody else already knew. She enthusiastically replies that she now knows this with error bars, which are graphical representations of the variability of data and are used on graphs to indicate the error or uncertainty in a reported measurement. Perhaps because of her sleep deprivation, she is unable to process the information that she has read, or is unable to properly phrase it in words. This is not the first time that Megan has exhaustively researched a topic to the detriment of her own health, see 1708: Dehydration.

In the title text, she has a hunch that staying awake long enough to read 500 scientific papers is probably not a good idea, but she hasn't found a study that specifically confirms that. She intends to further compound her exhaustion by continuing to do research rather than just getting some much-needed sleep. Assuming that Megan averages half an hour to find and read each paper, she has been continuously reading for 10.4 days, which is approaching the world record for not sleeping. In 1964, Randy Gardner, a student in San Diego, California set the then-world record of 11 days and 25 minutes (264.4 hours) without sleeping.


[A very disheveled Megan, hair in disorder, walks up to Cueball.]
Megan: Hi.
Cueball: Hello. You look...fine.
[In a frame-less panel Megan has stopped next to Cueball.]
Megan: I have now read virtually every available scientific paper on COVID-19.
Cueball: Cool, what'd you learn?
[Megan has raised her palms towards Cueball.]
Megan: Well it seems this virus wants to get inside your cells.
Cueball: Mhmm...
[Megan raises her left arm, with her index finger in the air in front of Cueball's face.]
Megan: But it's a trap! You shouldn't let it.
Cueball: I think we knew that.
Megan: But now I know it with error bars!

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I don't think constantly refreshing the main page for 10 consecutive hours to get the first comment is healthy either, but I haven't found any studies confirming this. I think I'll refresh the CDC's website for a couple days to see if they add any articles on this. Goodbye, world! (talk) 18:33, 16 March 2020 (UTC)

The more I read about the issue, the worse my headache gets. I don't think I have Corona, but I'm starting to think there's also a memetic virus around with physical symptoms. I don't want anyone else to catch it from me, though; I'm just warning you all so you can make sure you don't get exposed to it. Tell everyone you know! 19:16, 16 March 2020 (UTC)

I too have read virtually every xkcd comic about the coronavirus. 19:46, 16 March 2020 (UTC)

Maybe the reason why she wasn't able to find anything better was that some of those researches contradicted others? Although sleep deprivation sounds like quite likely explanation ... -- Hkmaly (talk) 23:19, 16 March 2020 (UTC)

This is what the people trying to design citizen-built medical and test equipment are experiencing. https://projectopenair.org/ https://app.jogl.io/project/118 00:09, 17 March 2020 (UTC)

Project Open Air is now a gambling site. The Project 118 site hasn't been updated in over 3 years as I write. Nitpicking (talk) 03:02, 5 October 2023 (UTC)

I'm impressed that all the other 6 comics and the category has been updated to say 7 in a row. Hope this wont last 12 weeks with 36 in a row, cause then someone will get tired of updating every 2 days ;-) --Kynde (talk) 13:40, 17 March 2020 (UTC)

Thank God for people with OCD! -boB (talk) 15:45, 17 March 2020 (UTC)

Is this possibly a stab at the fact that while many scientists are studying COVID-19 and publishing papers on it, because it currently gets a lot of attention, it will take time to make truly meaningful discoveries? I haven't read any scientific papers on it yet, so I'm not sure about the actual state of research. However, it seems to me COVID-19 is still too new to reasonably expect a ton of new and accurate information on it. Bischoff (talk) 19:55, 17 March 2020 (UTC)