Talk:1501: Mysteries

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Here's a list of wikipedia links I compiled that will be useful for anyone wanting to update this page. http://www.reddit.com/r/xkcd/comments/2zog5d/xkcd_1501_mysteries/cpktray ‎141.101.106.155 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

And I've got a solar eclipse to see (explainable, but weird!) but I started to compile things. Haven't got any links sorted yet, and percentages are (badly) done by eye. If someone does it better, ignore it.

141.101.98.63 09:33, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

(Whoops, pasted the flatfile format version by accident, in my rush, rather than the more Wikifriendly one that I discarded. Commenting it out until/unless I redo it. But you should still be able to see the details via the Talk Edit pages if you're bothered. Oh, and there was really too much cloud to see the eclipse for what it was. 141.101.98.63 10:29, 20 March 2015 (UTC))
I dropped the image into our CAD system and plotted the point co-ordinates. I've filled in the resulting percentages, which should be somewhere about right with a little rounding. --Pudder (talk) 10:35, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
Exactly right. (Although I didn't read the zero/zero crossing point is supposed to be maybe 50% on both scales, but instead ±zero. Still, doesn't matter. And perhaps displays/sorts better.) And looks like I don't need to recover my formatted notes after all. 141.101.98.63 11:19, 20 March 2015 (UTC)


199.27.128.176 09:49, 20 March 2015 (UTC) XKCD has explained the Voynich Manuscript before: http://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/593:_Voynich_Manuscript

XKCD has also 'explained' DB Cooper before (1400: D.B. Cooper) if that is worth mentioning. 108.162.250.167 12:06, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

I have to wonder if Randall has ever seen http://keithledgerwood.com/post/79838944823/did-malaysian-airlines-370-disappear-using and if so, whether he simply doesn't believe it. Not to sabotage his 100%-100% example if he wants to keep it there, but I'd put it at only 50% weird and 10% unexplainable. 199.27.133.27 14:02, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

Oh lawdy, the tinfoil hat brigade has arrived. 173.245.56.202

Anyone else reminded of Fuck Grapefruit? 199.27.128.203 00:19, 24 March 2015 (UTC)

Carly Simon

The Carly Simon explanation includes the text "This sets up a paradox in which the song is and isn't about the vain person." This isn't correct. The song is definitely about the person. Carly is thus asserting that the subject's vanity will lead him to a correct interpretation of the song. Going to change the explanation. EverVigilant (talk) 14:51, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

I don't see why this is on Randall's chart. The Wikipedia article is all the explanation the world needs. And Warren Beatty's reaction to the song simply seals it for me. No Big Deal. Move On. tbc (talk) 18:41, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

The Carly Simon song is about Carly Simon, and how she was mistreated by the vain person. It's only vanity makes the person think it's about them. 162.158.38.210 14:08, 24 March 2016 (UTC)

In November 2015, Carly Simon confirmed (as part of the publicity for an upcoming memoir) that the second verse is about Warren Beatty, and that the other verses refer to two other men whom she has yet to name. --162.158.56.41 14:27, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

WOW signal

It now says "This is the strongest evidence to date of extraterrestrial radio signals.", which is technically incorrect. We observe radio signals from outer space all the time, they originate from young stars, Big Bang, active galaxies, and so on. This should probably be rephrased to something about extraterrestrial intelligence, but I'm not sure if it deserves to be called "evidence". Jolindbe (talk) 16:18, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

Regarding the "evidence" bit, I'd go so far as to say that it's a single signal that can't actually be tied down (even in the light of further study) to: a) receiver error/interference; b) terrestrial(/orbital) origin; c) natural universal processes. (In the latter case, especially, c.f. Pulsars, which were tentatively blamed on "Little Green Men" at first, but are now understood for what they are.) Maybe if we'd have had some more WOWs (or longer to listen to the one that we had) we could have analysed it, but it remains a mystery because neither is true. Pretty much everything else has been explained as "not evidence for aliens" (definitively, or on the balance of probability there's a better working theory that it's not) leaving this as... an anomoly. Not 'evidence', but not explained, either. For now! 141.101.98.192 20:45, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
I agree with Jolindbe. Extraterrestrial only means "not of terrestrial origin," which applies to all natural radio sources, as well as extraterrestrial intelligence. It's too broad a phrase to be used in this way. A better description might be "This radio signal is the strongest candidate to date as evidence for extraterrestrial intelligence."108.162.216.192 14:25, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
Dyatlov Pass Incident

Um, Wikipedia regards avalanche as most plausible explanation of the Dyatlov Pass incident, and it appears to be most widespread and down-to-earth explanation that doesn't involve the supernatural or secret soviet weapons test, things like that. Shouldn't we include mention of the avalance then, perhaps? I mean, with such high "explainability" rating it's pretty clear that Randall probably assumes avalanche, since if he assumed other, less widespread theory he probably would downgrade the "explainability" to account for the fact that it's more disputed version. 141.101.89.222 18:13, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

The Key points of the accident were: hypothermia, fatal injuries from strong force, tent that ripped from within, traces of wandering, weird tan, lost tongue, lack of clothing. The most scientific and easiest explanation I know was: Avalanche that accounts for fatal injuries; Snow glare that accounts for weird tan; paradoxical undressing and hypothermia that accounts for lack of clothing and signs of wandering; and Scavenging animals that accounts for the lost tongue and ripped tent. Kagakujinjya (talk) 02:54, 22 March 2015 (UTC)

Actually Wikipedia really seems to suggest secret USSR military tests both parachute mines and nuclear missile related. Beyond being between two test facilities, the soviet conspiracy would imply secret operations, if it were just an avalanche, the USSR wouldn't have covered details up. It's not that extreme to believe the USSR did some secret testing, because it's more or less fact. Therefore, the idea secret testing was involved isn't *that* strange or unreasonable. Occam's Razor, given the difficulty for some of those things, like the tent being torn from the inside out, or the tan. Also ball lightning is worth mentioning in your quest for not Secret Soviet test or supernatural in nature. 173.245.55.26 04:53, 22 March 2015 (UTC)

Though I can't say anything about supernatural nature of the incident because I don't have proof,(well, I don't have any proof at all because the incident was happened in 1959) I think I can give you an argument about the weapon test and the cover up. Occam's Razor. I mean, weapon test normally done in secured military area, not out in public area. All the more reason if you want to test a secret weapon. Basically, there's no point of doing weapon test there. Furthermore, 1959 was a time when government very sensitive about data, I'd say that they would even declare the recipe of a pie as a national secret. And since we probably read the same source that is Wikipedia, I don't know where they suggest the weapon test theory since the first sentence under the subtitle 'theories' unambiguously say that "avalanche damage is considered one of the more plausible explanation for this incident". Then, about the ball of lightning and (if I may) radioactivity, since I'm pretty sure that none of that stuff turns up in the original documents from the incident, I'll argue that those were added later by people who just can't resist making things spookier than the incident actually are. Kagakujinjya (talk) 06:53, 22 March 2015 (UTC)

As a semi-professional mountaineer and a last-year medical student, I'd like to point out some commonly and erroneusly believed data. Surely I'm not a professional and I underline that I still can't explain what really happened there. But some facts should be understood. Firstly, I don't think the Avalanche explanation is reasonable. It's very clear that 4 of dead bodies found in a place which about 1.5 kilometers away from the tent. If it's really an avalanche, I assure you, you cannot be able to run away (like 1.5 kilometers!) before it catches and bury you under the snow. Plus, such an avalanche should bury all the tent under the snow level, not particially. Yet, sometimes it isn't an avalanche, I mean, an amount of snow comes down from the peak, makes a loud noise and terrifies you to the bones as you worngly fear that "Avalanche is coming and will bury me alive".. and may partly covers the tent. Yes, this is more reasonable. The tent might have been covered up with the snow and made it all fallen-down, frightening the Dyatlov squad so bad that they tore the tent to get out immediately. But, there I need to object. These nine peole are a group of experienced mountaineers. When got out from the hole of the tent, experienced mountaineers should have easily seen that it wasn't an avalanche. They should have relax and, after enough time, start mocking each other for how he/she pissed off like a kitty. But they ran down the hill for 1.5 kilometers without their suitable clothes and equipment! No sir, I don't think such replacement of snow levels in this amount, would make the Dyatlov squad to act this way. In the diary of the squad, a member of group wrote they had settled the tent on a low degree of slope on the eastern façade of the mountain, which makes the avalanche and snow replacement less possible. By the way, I have seen four different avalanches so far. I have seen a couple mountaineers died of it. Yet, I don't see any possibility of such avalanche may cause a spot and penetrative head injury as it happened in the incident. An avalanche smashes you. The snow gets in your nostrils and ears, makes you paralyzed with permanant necrosis in your extremites, usually damages your urinary tracts, causes mesenteric ischemia due to the shock, applies pressure on your ribs (rarely can make fractures, either) But it doesn't make your skull crashed. It'll be more realistic to say spot injuries on skull needs spot or high-pressured impacts, not blunt ones. (A better and more detailed account for this point is also can be read on the official document)

And secondly, scavenging animal idea can be an explanation for the lost tongue, true. However, in autopsy report (I didn't save the link for the original report, I wish I did), it said that the loss of tongue starts from glottal root, which makes whole thing another debate. During the process of decay, soft tissues like tongue degenerate and regress. It would be normal if a smaller tongue was found. And a missing part in the tongue could mean wolves, rats or pigeons had had a feast of fresh human meat. But even after many years of decay, corpse should still obtain some amount of tongue tissue. And unless you're an animal obsessive with the little red worm in the hunt's mouth, you don't spend extra effort to eat it all starting from the root. You prefer more muscled and delicious parts like femoral area or abdominal organs. In the conclusion, after 56 years, nothing really explains a lack of tongue in the mountaineer's dead mouth.

Yet, the general scientific idea for the weird shade of skin is right, I think. All the decay processes includes this so-called "tanning". Furthermore, the radiation issue is explained with Kyshtym disaster happened 18 months before the incident and not very distant to the mountain pass. I don't know how radiation effects on the material like in these occasions, even months later. But it seems satisfying to me. It's not mentioned here but another theory is based on the foamy saliva seen on the perioral region of Igor Dyatlov's dead body. I don't know if we can use Occam's Razor on this finding but when I was a student in Forensic Medicine Rotation, we were tought that most basic explanation for foamy saliva is toxication. So if we'll talk about Occam's Razor, signs of dread and delirium in the squad, panic-caused runaway from the tent, injuries could be caused of it and the foamy saliva may lead us to the toxication of gas, which is compatible with "Soviet weapon" claims.

I don't want to support any of the theories without many other possible evidences to be declared. But I really can't accept the claim that an avalanche was the reason. You can't escape out of an avalanche and a non-avalanche snow replacement doesn't make you so frightened. Moreover, this explanation is not a real explanation for heavy injuries. Actually, many specialists of the first expedition equip in 1959 thought it had not be able to be an avalanche happened there when they considered the geography of the mountain they discovered the tent (You can have a little trip on Google to find the thoughts of the specialists) While this remains a mystery, how do we think the incident so explainable ?

I know some people wants such incidents to remain mysterious. Nevertheless, I see sometimes we skeptical people are over-simplistic to have an explanation. So, unlike Randall do, I see no point of marking the Dyatlov Pass Incident as "Very Explainable". However, I guess this all has an explanation in the Russian goverment secret archieves. In 2008, the official TV channel of Russian federation opened up the case again. In many interviews it was told, some curious people during 1980s digged deeper to reach further investigations but all of them was confronted a goverment block and strictly advised to stay out of this case. I don't know, it seems more scientific to say there is some more hidden behind locked doors and document boxes for some reason in this incident than carelessly insisting on avalanche, wolves and paradoxical undressing. I apologize for my bad English grammar. --141.101.99.74 18:14, 2 April 2015 (UTC)

Off the chart up and to the right

How the Universe came into existence (the physics and math behind "Why is there something rather than nothing?") is far weirder with less of an explanation than anything on Randall's chart – scientists' claims, which redefine "nothing," notwithstanding. And then how life started and evolved (the chemistry and biology – and quantum physics? – at the transition point between inanimate amino acids and cells and the subsequent arrival of homo sapiens) is almost as strange as the Big Bang. tbc (talk) 18:34, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

Yep. And how to make a star. And how to make a planet. 108.162.249.158 11:19, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
Hydrogen + Time 108.162.216.192 14:28, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
Plus... magic? 108.162.249.158 05:22, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
Inaccurate explainability rating

I've read the Russian wikipedia article on Dyatlov Pass Incident and not only it's incredibly weird (much more details than condensed English article), but also no plausible explanation is provided that would account for all the incredibly weird stuff going on. I have no idea how that could be awarded 96% explainability.

UVB-76, on the other hand, is a pretty easy to explain as one-time-pad encrypted military broadcast, with buzzing to occupy the frequency and discourage others from using it. How is that just 23% explainable, I have no idea. That's what I've found in Russian sources, anyway.

Also, the Toynbee Tiles mystery is pretty much solved if you trust "Duerr, Justin. Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles" as a source.

There are even more inconsistencies pointed out above. At first I've suspected that the scale is accidentally inverted, but D.B. Cooper story is pretty poorly explained, so it's more like the whole thing is just randomly messed up. --Shnatsel (talk) 19:54, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

UVB-76

Is it seriously that hard to explain the "UVB-76" thing? I've been listening to this thing for a year now and even have explained how it works from the innards a few months back. Besides, it's not even called UVB-76, it was a mishear of UZB-76, and it's not even that callsign anymore. The callsign has changed to MDZhB and it is a marker to occupy the frequency of the "Codename Vulkan" communications channel. The way this thing works is that it is a bunch of gears that control a buzzer, when the Buzzer goes down you can hear it winding down and the repairmen screwing in some things when they come in. 108.162.219.9 20:49, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

The Obvious: one of at least three such stations used by the Russian military(see also the pip and the squeaky wheel) The less obvious: the purpose being either secret communication, time synchronization, measuring ionosphere changes, emergency Russian military mobilization with a dead man's switch style of constant commmunication to keep the frequency clear of other users as well as in case Moscow (or in this case Pskov [crazy side note: sister city of Roanoke, Virginia]), or something else Unclear: other things about it 173.245.55.26 05:16, 22 March 2015 (UTC)

Lost Colony

Before the Roanoke colonists left, they carved "Croatan" into a post. The Croatan were a small native tribe living on the coast, who'd had friendly relations with the colonists. They disappeared along with them. A generation or two later, a completely new tribe called the Lumbee were found living further inland, with some caucasian features and using European farming techniques. It's pretty obvious what happened. Shanek (talk) 19:20, 21 March 2015 (UTC)

MH370

I had no idea that *nothing* of MH370 was ever found (or at least so far). Reading up on the wikipedia article makes me even more confused: this map shows the plane going westward basically towards india but then this map shows the searches *west of Australia* and going *down to Antartica*! WTF?? What the hell happened to that plane?! It's now been a *year* and *nothing* was found at all. Totally weird and unexplained. --Anarcat (talk) 23:50, 21 March 2015 (UTC)

... and here's the explanation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Map_of_search_for_MH370.png. Still freaking mind-boggling if you ask me. That thing could as well be in Khazakstan for all we know. Terrifying. --Anarcat (talk) 00:02, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
sort order

The arrangement of entries in the table seemed random to me. I moved them around so the weirdest entries are at the beginning and the most easily explained are at the end. Thus the joke entry is last, as a punch line. Pesthouse (talk) 01:18, 23 March 2015 (UTC)

The Taman Shud Case

This is one of the weirdest mysteries I've come across. I'd be surprised if Randall hasn't heard of it, though. See Wikipedia. Mark314159 (talk) 01:22, 23 March 2015 (UTC)

z axis

Too bad that comics can't be 3D (or at least not convincingly) since an axis "Time you wasted on googling around on topic X after reading the comic" would be very interesting...I browsed on Songfacts more than all else combined - talk about priorities :-) 198.41.243.240 16:13, 26 March 2015 (UTC)

Is it worth mentioning that all the articles mentioned are creepy or otherwise likely to keep one up at night? --172.69.33.71 18:37, 27 August 2018 (UTC)

Salish Sea Feet[edit]

This has actually been explained quite thoroughly - see [1]. It's my least favourite thing about the comic, though I understand that Randall wouldn't want to edit past work.