Talk:2289: Scenario 4

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Should definitely make a note re: this officially-Friday comic releasing late Saturday afternoon (EDT). TPS (talk) 22:06, 4 April 2020 (UTC)

   Or is this actually the april fool comic, except it fooled us by being on a Saturday? 22:12, 4 April 2020 (UTC) Sam
   Perhaps more likely because the actual April Fool's comic (due Wednesday) delayed 'til Friday. TPS (talk) 22:19, 4 April 2020 (UTC)

The title should probably be changed, the xkcd site uses the numeral "4" whereas we're using the word "four."--GoldNinja (talk) 22:50, 4 April 2020 (UTC)

   I accidentaly originally put it under Sequence Four. It shows in the image name.
       I hope I fixed it correctly Bugstomper (talk) 02:17, 5 April 2020 (UTC)

Another instance of a graph with poor labels ("bad stuff"), even without the time travel. 23:54, 4 April 2020 (UTC)

Scenario 1 is almost certainly intended to be a logistic curve. Scenario 2 starts off a bit slower, and it looks like one of the cases where you don't have enough data yet, but _hope_ it'll settle into a logistic. Scenario 3 is probably an exponential. These are the standard three scenarios: good, hopeful, and catastrophic. Then in his usual, now lets just get weird twist, comes the impossible one. I think that's all relevant, but I've been up too long to merge it into the text. MAP (talk) 23:30, 6 April 2020 (UTC)

The issue of time-traveling COVID-19 problems has already be considered in Onion Public Radio's The Topical. Apologies for any poor rule-following as this is my first edit. RandomEdditMemory (talk) 00:00, 5 April 2020 (UTC)RandomEditMemory

The time travel in this comic is probably a reference to the time offset resulting from the April Fool's comic, but possibly coincidentally the comic showed up here in New Zealand in the morning of the April 5 change to Standard Time when the clocks did turn back an hour. Bugstomper (talk) 01:55, 5 April 2020 (UTC)

The time travel is almost certainly not a deliberate reference to the April Fool's comic being late (or to any implementation of DST). Rather, there's 4 graphs, each with an increasingly higher curve. the first tapers off, appearing to be approaching an asymptote, with an ever-decreasing rate of increase -- or even heading to a decrease. The second has a steeper slope for a while, but then does start to taper off. whether it becomes linear, approaches an asymptote, or starts declining off the edge of the graph is not known. The third scenario appears to be an exponential curve. The 3.5 scenario (not shown) would be to have a vertical asymptote, where "bad stuff" shoots off toward infinity as time approaches T. Then the only other thing left to do with a curve is to have it continue back the way it came. Been too long since I was in that level of math, but I'm pretty sure it's problematic if you Y-axis has two values at a point on the X-axis. This isn't showing two different functions converging as time progresses, but rather that a high values of "bad stuff," time goes backward.

From the explanation: "This is another comic in the coronavirus series." But ... is it? It certainly isn't explicitly so. The implicit argument is easy to make, but the fact that it is just "bad stuff" as a function of "time," it could easily be relevant to any number of bad scenarios: velociraptor attacks, Macarena flash mobs, mobile game IAP monetization, nationalistic views in politics, cat-based cheeseburger memes, or so on. It's not much of a stretch to say that the comic is topical to current events (especially given that there are many others in a sequence of implicitly or explicitly CoViD-related comics), but it still is a stretch to _definitely_ say so absent Mr. Munroe actually acknowledging so elsewhere, and then a citation would be needed, right?

It definitely is. All those graphs (except the fourth, obviously) can be found in real countries' data. South Korea would be an example of scenario 1. The United States would be an example of scenario 3. The virus is on everybody's mind, so there's no way it's a coincidence. (I think labeling 2283: Exa-Exabyte as a coronavirus comic is way more of a stretch.)

I suggest the mathematical background of the graph 'bending over backwards' should be explained in more detail because the contradiction between what is 'natural' tendency of the graph and what is possible mathematically is what makes for the core of the joke. I mean, let's imagine that the graph is a picture of some tangible object, as a non-mathematically inclined person might do. Let's say, it's a rope. Then after observing it 'bend upwards' more and more with each scenario that gets progressively 'worse', it would be reasonable to conclude that continuing to bend this object even more and 'overbending it' would naturally mean some kind of a catastrophe. In reality, of course, it is impossible just because of the way the graph is being plotted. Each next segment is added as time goes by and placed more to the right because the time is shown to flow right on the horizontal axis. Thus the only way this graph could bend like this is for the next added segment to be in time 'before' the last one. And since it is impossible to travel back in time (citation needed), such a graph is unlikely to be predicting a real scenario. --SomethingLike (talk) 06:30, 5 April 2020 (UTC)

There are graphs, however, that have multiple Y-values for single X-values (graph of a square root function, at least for positive values of X, graphs of circles, or the batman equation. Might need an ELI5 why those are okay but the line curving back in time isn't.

You laugh here, but I have in fact seen graphs in corporate presentations which folded back. The presenter (a) didn't understand data analysis, (b) thought Excel was the right tool, and finally (c) decided the graph looked "better" by using the (incompetent) Excel pseudo-curve-smoothing graphics tool.Cellocgw (talk) 18:33, 6 April 2020 (UTC)

To me this comic seems a commentary on alocalypse. Some see COVID-19 as the start of a coming apocalypse, and some worst apocalypse scenarios involve either an explosive AI researching things like time travel or ending our timeline as physics knows it, or all of us going back to survival mode on a landscape without any modern infrastructure. 22:03, 5 April 2020 (UTC)

I think that "The only way to make sense of it would be by using the common trope in science fiction of time traveling creating an alternate timeline in which events are different, thus the cases could be 100 in one timeline and 1000 in a different timeline."..etc is utterly wrong creating a new timeline would have two 'forward' lines over a stretch of chart but would not have a single inflection joining a forward over ibto a backwards one. Maybe a (reverse) Z-bend if you include the retrograde (tachyonic?) leg, but then the true alternate timeline (also as per a single line splitting into two forward-going streams at a given t, whether or not that was invoked by time-travellers arriving at that point or 'mundane' quantum superpositioning if alternate outcomes) would not be backwards. (Alternative time-arrow, maybe, but that's more like a continuation of the existence of the usual one, which has no existence beyond the rotation of time into a backwards framing... However that happens - and this graph seems to indicate gradually, like the rate of time goes for +ve to -ve by having less seconds/'second' and passing zero, perhaps by somehow rotating in the imaginary time plane (similar, then, to a spacial one?) in which case there's probably more to worry about than the (presumably unrelated) Bad Stuff. (Darnit, forgot to sign...). 15:49, 6 April 2020 (UTC)

Consider for a moment that each graph is not one line segment, but two. That makes scenario 4 the best possible scenario. 10:51, 7 April 2020 (UTC)

Wouldn't an asymptote best represent a 'non time related' apocalypse? Vee00101010 (talk) 20:47, 8 April 2020 (UTC)

I have trouble seeing how it's useful to include the explanation of antiparticles as backward-in-time-traveling particles. It strikes me as only remotely related, and does not really explain anything about the comic. I think a simple explanation in terms of graphs and functions is appropriate here. -- Redbelly98 (talk) 02:07, 14 April 2020 (UTC)