Talk:1904: Research Risks

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Entymology? Misspelled "entomology" or (more confusingly) "etymology"? Psychology lower risk than micology? Absolutely hogwash!

The comic has been updated, so it was just a typo. 141.101.99.35 16:05, 18 October 2017 (UTC)
How do I update picture. Last update always matches first upload for whatever reason --Trimutius (talk) 17:24, 18 October 2017 (UTC)

Molasses storage is misplaced -- should be in the quadrant to its right. See [1]. 21 dead and 150 injured. 108.162.219.52 14:12, 18 October 2017 (UTC)

Agreed that it did get out and kill people. But only once in something like 200 years and only a few. (Is this where the phrase slower than molasses in January comes from?) I would not expect that this would be a common danger. (unsigned)


Ah, but there was another in 2013 in Honolulu. (I just learned of it from the "See Also" section of the Wikipedia page on the Great Molasses Flood.) That one didn't kill any people (though it was an ecological disaster) but it speaks to risk. Anyway, the item is in the right quadrant. Arguably is should be further to the right, but also arguably not, since conducting experiments in the area could lead to more accidents.Jqavins (talk) 16:08, 18 October 2017 (UTC)

Only, even assuming there's such a thing as molasses storage research, it's unlikely that your lab is going to contain life-threatening quantities of molasses. It's not as if a few liters escaping could reproduce and turn into thousands of tons. 141.101.99.35 16:27, 18 October 2017 (UTC)
Personally, I'd be very surprised if there wasn't research into the optimum large-scale storage of foodstuffs, given the potential high-value losses that could occur. Perhaps there might be something here on it?162.158.155.32 16:30, 19 October 2017 (UTC)

Plus how many times have robots escaped from a lab in real life? 172.68.78.70 12:11, 19 October 2017 (UTC)

I think entymology is a reference to 1012 162.158.91.95 14:50, 18 October 2017 (UTC)

I think the title text may have a somewhat humorous naming scheme derived from the Great Molasses Flood Wikipedia discussion page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Great_Molasses_Flood There's a lengthy discussion about changing the name from "Boston Molasses Disaster" to "Great Molasses Flood". I noticed that Randall used both approaches to describing the events in the title text, but maybe that was a coincidence.

I am not impressed. Movie supervillains often use paleontology (dinosaurs), geology (volcano/earthquake) and astronomy (comets). Also, there is a tendency to pair marine biology with laser-optics. And, to actually dominate the world, a real-life villain will probably need to use cunning linguistics at some level or the other. --Nialpxe, 2017. (Arguments welcome)

I had the same initial reaction, but note how Randall didn't write "movie supervillain", but just "supervillain", so you should only take into account what is currently feasible in technology state-of-the-art, or what we can reasonably foresee for the next decade or so. I don't see any madman being able to revive (and control!) dinosaurs, capture a comet or trigger an earthquake in the next 10-20 years. As for shark-mounted lasers, they are cool to show off and inspire fear, but hardly useful to achieve world domination by themselves. 141.101.99.35 16:18, 18 October 2017 (UTC)
When we get into the realm of supervillainy - especially given XKCD's history - we're almost certainly talking fiction. And if we're talking fiction, Randall's forgotten about Moonraker, where astronomy and dentistry both play a significant role in the supervillain's plot, and should thus rate higher on the vertical scale. 172.68.78.16 02:42, 19 October 2017 (UTC)
Comets? What about black holes at relativistic speeds? Although those tend to be hard to see ... -- Hkmaly (talk) 23:39, 19 October 2017 (UTC)
I think it's safe to assume that most supervillains have read 1883 are not going to use geology in that way. --172.68.54.10 07:30, 21 October 2017 (UTC)

Looks like the "Research Risk" column is just a comment field open for speculation -- can we merge Comments and Research Risk into one column? Spongebob (talk) 03:34, 19 October 2017 (UTC)

I'd suggest it'd be better to have one column for the supervillain risk factors, and one for the escaped research risk factors.162.158.155.32 08:47, 19 October 2017 (UTC)
I'd suggest that it would be interesting to have a few examples (movies/TV/real) listed beneath a sentence or two in each of those columns. --Angel (talk) 13:38, 19 October 2017 (UTC)

Interestingly, I referenced the Great Molasses Flood in a tangential comment to comic 1900 - is Randall now browsing this site to find inspiration for new comics? ;o) 162.158.155.32 08:53, 19 October 2017 (UTC)

I feel like the linguistics section is missing an opportunity for a Snow Crash joke...141.101.99.29 10:38, 19 October 2017 (UTC)

Surely the risk of escape from Linguistics should be high - language is inherently hard to contain and control, and often ends up infecting the world with dangerous rubbish like 'solutioning synergistic opportunities going forward'.162.158.155.32 11:34, 19 October 2017 (UTC)

"Fungi cannot move..." - tell that to this guy.162.158.155.32 11:43, 19 October 2017 (UTC)

If Marathon Man is anything to judge by, dentistry can be used by a superillain in his bid to take over the world... just not to actually conquer the world. 162.158.155.56 14:57, 19 October 2017 (UTC)

What about prosthetic robotic dentistry? I refer you to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chattery_Teeth_(short_story) 162.158.69.87 15:05, 19 October 2017 (UTC)

What about prosthetic robotic dentistry on insects? That would be truly terrifying.162.158.155.32 16:26, 19 October 2017 (UTC)

I found my Ph.D. work about lanthanide organometallics to be rather unyieldy for supervillainry...and that's why I'm studying computer science now :-) 141.101.76.178 16:19, 21 October 2017 (UTC)

Geology rates low for risk of studied object to break free and threaten local population!? Did Randall miss the high tension around Norways 'the man'? --162.158.182.154 17:50, 21 October 2017 (UTC)

Paleontology? Are velociraptors breaking free not a big deal?