Difference between revisions of "2725: Sunspot Cycle"

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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(Explanation: Add another citation needed tag.)
(Explanation: Removed section hypothesizing that there is a correlation between real events. The reference of 2020 being a low point specifically doesn't match because that is a point of peak sun brightness. Doubtful it's the intention of the comic.)
Line 17: Line 17:
The title text indicates the effect on internet memes that this process has. During the 2010's, when '90's kid' memes were still funny, many have changed to reflect that the Earth has been dark since the 2000's, and thus only those born in the 90's and before would remember dawn.
The title text indicates the effect on internet memes that this process has. During the 2010's, when '90's kid' memes were still funny, many have changed to reflect that the Earth has been dark since the 2000's, and thus only those born in the 90's and before would remember dawn.
This comic seems to be an allegory correlating the solar cycle to events and periods in the cycle of human history. In the 1970s the sun was light, humans society was doing well, with progress made in social issues and lifestyle. The dark periods seem to coincide with dark events in history, i.e. 2001 and on, then things started to look up after the financial crash of 2014. A low point at 2020 could indicate the COVID-19 epidemic. The history shown does not correspond to the observed sunspot cycle in reality.{{citation needed}}

Revision as of 03:48, 17 January 2023

Sunspot Cycle
Who can forget the early 2010s memes? 'You know you're a 90s kid if you remember the feeling of warm sunlight on your face.' 'Only 90s kids remember the dawn.'
Title text: Who can forget the early 2010s memes? 'You know you're a 90s kid if you remember the feeling of warm sunlight on your face.' 'Only 90s kids remember the dawn.'


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by a NINETIES KID WHO FELT SUN - Please change this comment when editing this page. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

This comic seems to be set in an alternative reality where the sun's brightness rises and falls within an 11 year cycle, causing there to be complete darkness for around 10 years. The change in brightness over the cycle is due to sunspots accumulating over half of the cycle. When the sun darkens, standard sunspots appear. When it brightens, fictitious 'bright' sunspots appear in place of the old, dark sunspots.

This would obviously be impossible[citation needed] as not only do sunspots cool the area of the sun where they appear, but during a dark phase, no light is coming from the sun, so the Earth would freeze.

The title text indicates the effect on internet memes that this process has. During the 2010's, when '90's kid' memes were still funny, many have changed to reflect that the Earth has been dark since the 2000's, and thus only those born in the 90's and before would remember dawn.


Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.

(Caption above the comic):Ever wonder why the sun disappears for about 10 years every other decade? This terrifying period of worldwide darkness is a consequence of the 11-year sunspot cycle.

There is a graph with "Sunspot number" and "Time". Left to right: Dark sunspots appear. Sunspot number rises. Numbers fall as sunspots merge. Sunspots envelop sun, earth enters years of darkness. Bright sunspots appear, cycle reverses.

History: (A graph goes back and forth from "Sun is light" and "Sun is dark".

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Holy cow, just made my first edit! It was SUPER stressful, and I didn't even know how to make a 'citation needed' thing. Hopefully it was ok, I tried to match the style of the wiki. GordonFreeman (talk) 03:06, 17 January 2023 (UTC)

Welcome to explain xkcd then. Any edit that is not vandalism is a good edit, because it makes other think about what should be here. So even if it is later completely changed it got things going. --Kynde (talk) 08:05, 17 January 2023 (UTC)
I know that editing may be hard. FYI: create [citation needed]s like this: {{Citation needed}} PoolloverNathan[talk]UTSc 17:08, 17 January 2023 (UTC)
Though over-use should be discouraged. Except in exceptional circumstances (many different things separately explained, giving a number of prime opportunities) I'd avoid more than one Citation Needed per comic. And I personally think (and it is the official intention) that trying to find even one 'suitable' item per comic devalues the joke, perhaps should be (on average, but not punctually so just for the sake of it) maybe one for every three or four such pages; but I know there are those who would want to stamp (at least!) one into every comic, just because they can. And I would not normally remove an instance just because its usage is comparatively weaker than those in the two adjacent articles.
And note that there are redirecting versions of {{citation needed}}, {{cn}} and {{fact}} (amongst others) in case you can't recall that it is "Capital C, small n" or are forgetful/lazy as you try to type it, though I think using the non-redirecting original should be done if you know how to fully write and capitalise it (feels neater). There is also {{Actual citation needed}} when the 'real thing' is needed; though in a manner where you expect that issue to be resolved and removed by the next person who can either actually 'cite' what is true or else remove the properly doubtful information.
Anyway, I shall add my thanks to the original Explainer, it was a good first job, IMO. 13:50, 18 January 2023 (UTC)

Is it perhaps worth mentioning that sunspots, while they're darker than the rest of the sun's surface, are not actually black. They are cooler than surrounding regions and appear dark by contrast, but they're emitting lots of IR and some visible light. A sunspots-only (ignore the oxymoron) sun would still emit light and heat, just less. Nitpicking (talk) 03:18, 17 January 2023 (UTC)

Wouldn't the cycle be 20 ("every other decade") or 22 years (11 in each half of the cycle)? 03:51, 17 January 2023 (UTC)

The cycle of darkness of the sun would be 22 years, but the 11-year cycle referred to in the comic, and described by both diagrams within the comic, is the cycle of "number of sunspots" which peaks when the sun is half light, half dark, and decreases again as there are so many spots that they start to merge into fewer, larger spots. It cycles from very few (or zero) sunspots, when the sun is light, through many sunspots, sun is heavily light/dark spotted, and completes the cycle when the number of spots returns down to near-zero, when the sun is dark. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Or to put it another way, at "peak sunspot" every 11 years, it would be equally accurate to describe the sun as being bright with dark spots or dark with bright spots. Akin to how the moon has a 29.5 day brightness cycle, but also a 14.75 day halfiness cycle. 16:57, 17 January 2023 (UTC)

To what "financial crash of 2014" does this refer? I recall the housing crisis causing financial trouble, but that was around 2008. 03:51, 17 January 2023 (UTC)

This has nothing to do with finance so if you think the peak at 2014 should have any meaning I think you are wrong. there where just for some reason more sunspots even though the sun was still in the dark period. Maybe most of the few huge sunspots broke into smaller but with only thin lines between, so still dark but the count goes up. Then they closed again later keeping the sun dark but the number of spots fluctuating. --Kynde (talk) 08:05, 17 January 2023 (UTC)
It was a question about explanation text that was added in this revision and removed about half an hour later. 03:33, 18 January 2023 (UTC)

Does anyone have any idea what is supposed to be on the Y axis of the bottom graph? Something that goes up when the sun is transitioning between brightnesses and is at its lowest when the sun is either fully bright or fully dark? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

It's the "number of spots" (whether light or dark), since a fully bright sun has no dark spots and a fully dark sun has no "light spots"Dextrous Fred (talk) 05:02, 17 January 2023 (UTC)
But what are the thin lines indicating, it it just to show that the sun is not yet really dark? Like a gray shade with very long between the dark lines? --Kynde (talk) 08:05, 17 January 2023 (UTC)

Did anyone else notice that the sine-wave is wrong? the trough should be the same every cycle, yet it's drawn as bright in the first trough and dark in the second trough. -Weylin Piegorsch 06:52, 17 January 2023 (UTC)

If you reefer to the bottom graph it is correctly drawn. The sunspots number are near zero when the sun is bright in the first through and then it is again near zero when the sun is dark as there are then only one sunspot. So that is why it is alternating between light and dark for every through. Just as shown in the upper graph. --Kynde (talk) 08:05, 17 January 2023 (UTC)--Kynde (talk) 08:05, 17 January 2023 (UTC)
Ah - the y axis of the upper graph is #subspots (which maximizes as they merge and minimizes at full dark/full bright), not magnitude of brightness. Thanks for the clarification! -Weylin Piegorsch 14:47, 17 January 2023 (UTC)

I do not think it is set in an alternate universe per se, but in the images of the sun spots the minimum brightness of the whole sun is subtracted. So only the sun spots stay visible. So the sun images are depictions of our sun. The number of sun spots loses common-sense meaning after merging starts. Sebastian -- 07:58, 17 January 2023 (UTC)

Well since the sun is dark in this universe for 10 years, then it cannot be our universe, and since they also have 90s memes, then it is either a parallel universe or well... Randall's fantasy :-) --Kynde (talk) 08:05, 17 January 2023 (UTC)

I didn't have enough space in my last edit summary to explain my change. As if anyone who needs to really reads those, anyway... So here (unconstrained by petty character limits!) is why I took off the apostrophes in "90's kid", etc...:

/* Explanation */ Removing apostrophes not used by Randall. (I would personally say '90s, the apostrophe being for the contraction of 1990s, but here only the quoting-apostrophes of '90s kid' seems necessary and capable of being consistent. "The 90s" is a pluralisation of all years of the decade based upon (19)90. A kid *of* the 90s could be a 90s' kid, but I think we're intended to treat this as an adjectival descriptor, not a posessive element.)

And I outright reject the idea that apostrophes can ever be used for pluralising, despite some 'authorities' on the matter. Especially where it clashes with plural-possessive, contraction and single-quoting uses in a single case, upon a wiki where doubled-up apostrophes would incite italics. Better to rewrite. But, for now, I've just rationalised to go with actual demonstrated usage (both from Randall and more or less in general) and intent. 10:27, 17 January 2023 (UTC)

Well, I don't think there's any value in spending 000's of hours debating it. 15:13, 17 January 2023 (UTC)

Does this remind anyone else of oscillations in population dynamics (increase in population eventually causes overpopulation and triggers a period of reduction before the population starts to recover, etc.)? 15:24, 17 January 2023 (UTC)

I had thought to say that a budding sunspot would become 'dark' if it was forming on light surface and 'light' if forming on darkened surface, which has a relationship with some biological population frequencies/responses (even within the same population, an expressed variation can be linked to the perception of what is/is not lacking in its fellows or just various overlapping territories). But a simple scenario (of instantaneous points; having the choice of locale to materialise, or else the accident of 'birth' into any given situation from which to sway their appearance) would settle into an equilibreum as a slightly more than half-dark Sun would spawn proportionately more 'light spots' than a slightly more than half-light one.
It needs to have a time-delayed aspect (as with natural creature populations, a post-gestation glut being based upon pre-gestation plenty; or upon the opposite negatively influencing pressures), so budding might start (and be fixed into its identity) years before it becomes a visible member of the population. A resonant hysteresis, of some kind? 16:20, 17 January 2023 (UTC)

Is there a way to shrink the size of the comic?

Is there some way to shrink the size of the comic? It startled me a little bit when I typed in the URL of this website and saw this taking up a large amount of space, with me initially thinking that this was just another stupid case of vandalism. SilverTheTerribleMathematician (talk) 16:32, 17 January 2023 (UTC)

Fixed PoolloverNathan[talk]UTSc 17:07, 17 January 2023 (UTC)

This comic me think of the long seasons of Westeros in A Song of Ice and Fire. Mnl (talk) 00:02, 18 January 2023 (UTC)

Should we say anything about the weird aliased version of this comic that went up originally? 01:08, 18 January 2023 (UTC)

The alternately dark and bright sun is very reminiscent of the OnOff star in Vernor Vinge's novel A Deepness in the Sky, although the duty cycle of the OnOff star is very different, spending 215 years "off" and 35 years "on" in a 250-year cycle. The On-Off Star even has an planet that is Earthlike and habitable, at least during the times the OnOff star is "on". Somehow life on that planet evolved to cope with the cryogenic freezing temperatures (the atmosphere actually freezes to the surface) when the star is "off" and is inhabited by an intelligent race of arachnid-like creatures. Stevev (talk) 08:31, 18 January 2023 (UTC)

For different astronomical reasons, it made me mostly think about the Helliconia series by Brian Aldiss. 13:50, 18 January 2023 (UTC)

Someone put the following in the Incomplete tag. I don't think it's right (a 7 year cycle... Could have been fudged to somehow happen three times in every two solar-cycles to more closely match..?) but it deserves to be seen in the context of every other potential inspirational source being mentioned:

Title text is a clear allusion to Bradbury's "All Summer in a Day" which is about the sun coming out every 7th year on Venus, an event which only Margot can remember. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Summer_in_a_Day

...also, that editor should have tried using the site-standard {{w}} method for the link, perhaps, if they're reading this. For your future info, ok? 01:17, 19 January 2023 (UTC)

We now have a counterexample for "The sun is bright, and its light illuminates the Earth [citation needed]", which is from comic 285 19:22, 18 January 2023 (UTC)