Title text: 'Sailor Moon's head exploded once' and 'Some men have explosive orgasms' both work for the Great Lakes from west to east (Paddle-to-the-Sea order).
A mnemonic is a trick that makes memorization easier. To memorize a sequence of names, a common type of mnemonic uses the beginning letters of the names in the sequence and invents another phrase using different words that start with the same letters. For example, the order of operations goes Parentheses, Exponentiation, Multiplication and Division, Addition and Subtraction, and the traditional mnemonic goes Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally, or in Britain: Brackets, Indices, Multiplication, Division, Addition and Subtraction: there is no mnemonic, just the word "BIMDAS" to remember. To make them more memorable, mnemonics are usually quite silly and often vulgar. In this comic, Randall invents various scientific mnemonics, some of them as suggested replacements for traditional ones.
The category is listed at the top of the box, the members are listed below that. Then there is the traditional mnemonic that children are usually taught in school to help them remember. Below the comic is one or two options for new mnemonics suggested by Randall. The top one is illustrated in the frame.
- SI Prefixes are the prefixes for the systems of units from large to small and since there are so many, the mnemonic needs two lines.
- Karl Marx, as visible in the comic, was a German philosopher and economist who, among other things, popularized the ideas of socialism and communism. Central to his ideas was the dictatorship of the proletariat, or the working class achieved by an uprising of the lower class, which taken literally could be done using zeppelins.
- Microsoft's Zune was a failed mp3 player that Microsoft brought to market. It never caught on.
- Taxonomy is the science of identifying and naming species. Katy Perry, portrayed in the panel, is an American pop music singer, whose popular songs are ones like "Firework" or "I Kissed A Girl".
- In the geologic periods frame, the illustration is of a month's worth of "the pill", a common contraceptive. The affliction Polycystic Ovarian Cyndrome, causes women to have an irregular menstrual period. This can be treated with a low powered version of the contraceptive pill.
- Resistor Color Codes represent the values 0 through 9 and are used to indicate the resistance value of discrete cylindrical resistors, with 2 or 3 color bands around the resistor body for the significant digits of the value and another color band for a power of ten multiplier. A resistor with Yellow-Violet-Red bands would be 47 x 10^2 or 4700 ohms. Glenn Beck is shown in this panel, a far-right conservative commentator in the US who used to have a show on the Fox News Network.
- The prevailing mnemonic for resistor color codes is rather vulgar (and memorable), hence Randall's comment "none I care for". It involved Bad Boys and Young Girls, as well as a specific girl named Violet. However, there are many other mnemonics, to the point that Wikipedia has a whole page dedicated to them.
- Be Bold is a Wikipedia credo. Respect Others may be a reference to Assume Good Faith, another Wikipedia philosophy.
- In the Planets frame, the illustration is of Mary and Joseph, who in the story of the Birth of Jesus in the Bible, were mother and father to Jesus. However, Mary's conception of Jesus was from God and Mary was still considered a virgin. This mnemonic shows Joseph not really believing that story. Ironically the upstairs neighbour could have multiple meanings as you can't get more upstairs than heaven and thus God. Given the snarky tone of most xkcd comics take, it is likely a corporeal neighbor that is being suspected, but it is curious that a neighbor of the upstairs variety is specifically referenced especially given the lack of urban density in the time of Christ.
- Earlier traditional Planets mnemonics included Pluto, which was "officially" considered a planet before 2006. The traditional mnemonic at that time was My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas, instead of just nachos.
- The Great Lakes mentioned by the title text are Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario
- XKCD Presents:
- Some New Science Mnemonics
- (Pattern goes:
- Traditional mnemonic
- Contents of frame
- New mnemonics)
- Order of Operations
- Parentheses, Exponents, Division & Multiplication, Addition & Subtraction
- Traditional: Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally
- [Person having a shark delivered to his laptop.]
- Please Email My Dad A Shark
- People Expect More Drugs And Sex
- SI Prefixes
- Big: Kilo, Mega, Giga, Tera, Peta, Exa, Zetta, (Yotta)
- Milli, Micro, Nano, Pico, Femto, Atto, Zepto, (Yocto)
- Traditional: [I never learned one.]
- [Graph of the declining profits of the Zune.]
- [Karl Marx delivering a number of zeppelins to a bunch of confused proletarians.]
- Proletarians (off-screen): Er. What do we do with them?
- Karl Marx: Rise!
- Big: Karl Marx Gave The Proletariat Eleven Zeppelins(, Yo)
- Small: Microsoft Made No Profit From Anyone's Zunes(, Yo)
- Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species
- Traditional: King Philip Came Over For Good Sex
- Katy Perry: I'm not sure who doubts this, really.
- Katy Perry Claims Orgasms Feel Good Sometimes
- Kernel Panics Crash Our Family Game System.
- Geologic Periods
- (Precambrian), Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous, Permian, Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous, Paleogene, Neogene
- Traditional: [I never learned one.]
- [A month's set of birth control pills.]
- PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome Does Cause Problems That Judicious Contraceptves [sic] Partially Negate
- Resistor Color Codes
- Black Brown, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Violet, Gray, White
- Traditional: [none I care for]
- [Glenn Beck holding the traditional "Nanobot Vaccine Chemtrail 9/11" sign.]
- "Big Brother Reptilian Overlords", yelled Glenn, "Brainwashing Via Ground water!!";
- Be Bold, Respect Others; You'll Gradually Become Versatile, Great Wikipedians!
- Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune
- Traditional: My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nachos
- [A pregnant Mary attempting to explain things to an incredulous Joseph with black hair and full beard]
- Mary's "Virgin" Explanation Made Joseph Suspect Upstairs Neighbor.
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