2345: Wish on a Shooting Star
This comic was published at the annual peak of the Perseids meteor shower. It is a common practice to make a wish when one sees a shooting star, in hopes that the wish comes true. This comic consists of a Venn diagram showing what things are commonly wished for upon seeing a shooting star, and what things the shooting star may cause. Shooting stars, as they are actually meteors, can only cause changes to physical phenomena, such as radio noise or the appearance of the sky as they burn up in the upper atmosphere. The only thing that is shared between the potential wish side of the diagram and the shooting star caused side is revenge. This would occur when a shooting star actually hits the planet, becoming a meteorite. This is frequently highly destructive, given the high speed of falling meteors. As such, it would be possible for the meteorite to hit something that someone for some reason or another wished revenge upon. However, given the massive surface area of the planet, the likelihood that someone's revenge would be "granted" by a meteorite would be very low (although not quite as low as dunking a meteorite through a basket). The title text makes fun of this by detailing several incidents where a meteorite landed and caused damage.
List of things that were damaged by meteorites (from title text):
- On June 30, 1908 (Gregorian Calendar, Russia still used the Julian Calendar and was recorded there as June 17), an airburst caused by the breakup of a 100-meter falling meteorite or comet with the energy of some 30 megatons of TNT flattened some 80 million trees over 830 square miles (2,150 km2) of land in central Siberia near the Tunguska River. Due to the remoteness of the area, no people were confirmed dead in the incident.
- On October 9, 1992, a meteorite totaled a 1980 Chevrolet Malibu in Peekskill, New York.
- On November 30, 1954, a fragment of a meteorite passed through the roof of a house and struck a woman named Ann Hodges. She survived. Only two other people are known to have been hit by meteorites.
- On February 15, 2013, a meteorite exploded in an airburst over Chelyabinsk, Russia, creating a shockwave that shattered windows in the area.
- The extinction of the dinosaurs around 66 million years ago is believed to be caused by an impact of a comet or asteroid. Randall mentions "non-avian" dinosaurs, as birds are dinosaurs, though the general public not trained in science often doesn't realize this. No humans were alive to wish for the extinction of the dinosaurs, but perhaps the wish was made by some ancestral mouse-like mammal (or else wishes may violate causality).
If there is a "message" to this comic strip, it could be similar to those of 1024: Error Code and 2247: Weird Hill: that we shouldn't bother wishing for things that shooting stars can't give us, but should instead take time away from our temporal concerns and just relax and appreciate their beauty. Or maybe the message is that, if you must wish on a shooting star, you should wish for revenge, because that's something that might come true. Of course, as the title text makes clear, meteorites don't really land according to our designs and schedules, and if you're close enough to a shooting star to see it, and you wish for it to avenge you, and it is big enough to hurt someone, you're probably at risk yourself.
- [A Venn diagram is shown:]
- [The left circle is labeled "Things people wish for" and contains:]
- [The right circle is labeled "Things shooting stars can cause" and contains:]
- Radio noise
- Dust and ionized gas in the upper atmosphere
- Cool lights in the sky
- [The only item in the overlapping section is:]
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