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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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53 Cards
Well, there's one right here at the bottom, where it says "53."
Title text: Well, there's one right here at the bottom, where it says "53."

Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by a 53-CARD DECK. Please mention here why this explanation isn't complete. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.

In this comic Cueball claims that he has found a way to manipulate a 52-card deck into a 53-card deck with only shuffling and rearranging. This is absurd, since there is no way for new cards to be incorporated, thus violating the laws of conservation, as well as fundamental rules of logic that would be in place even in a universe that had different conservation rules. He backs up this claim with a diagram containing random mathematical jargon and challenges Ponytail to find an error. However, the given math is sufficiently esoteric that an error cannot easily be found. It's possible that the process involves the Banach-Tarski paradox at some step.

The caption below the comic states that this is how Randall feels when talking to someone who likes the theory of perpetual motion, motion of macroscopic bodies that, barring mechanical damage, continues indefinitely. This is impossible according to currently known laws of physics, since such motion would entail producing energy out of nothing in order to overcome friction, but adherents still believe it is possible. The comic draws comparison between conservation of energy and conservation of cards in a deck.

In the title text, Ponytail responds to Cueball's challenge with snark, claiming that the most obvious error is the fact that the formula's result is "53". This doesn't actually prove that there is an error in Cueball's math, but Ponytail refuses to entertain the possibility that 52 items can become 53 items without having any items added to the system in the process – similar to how energy can be transferred but never produced.

Transcript

Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
Cueball: I've found a way to turn a 52-card deck into 53 cards by shuffling and rearranging them.
Ponytail: No, you haven't.
Cueball: How do you know?! I challenge you to find an error in my math!
Caption: Every conversation between a physicist and a perpetual motion enthusiast.


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