1378: Turbine

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Ok, plan B: Fly a kite into the blades, with a rock in a sling dangling below it, and create the world's largest trebuchet.
Title text: Ok, plan B: Fly a kite into the blades, with a rock in a sling dangling below it, and create the world's largest trebuchet.


In this comic, Megan is speaking to a wind turbine (a literary device known as apostrophe) having an unrealistic ability to respond to her, which is personification.

A wind turbine is a mechnanical device that generates power via kinetic energy produced from the turning of its blades by the wind, and converts it into electricity. A wind turbine is visually very similar to a fan, whose fan blades spin via electrical (or other) power in order to move air (i.e. create wind) to provide a cooling effect. In this way, a fan is essentially the opposite of a wind turbine.

The punchline of this comic is a pun which plays on a second meaning of the word "fan" as a colloquial short form for "fanatic" - someone who is a fanatic about something (e.g. a football team, a band, etc.).

Megan suggests that the wind turbine blow air at her so that she can use a kite to lift off the ground. When Megan asks what the turbine thinks of the idea, the turbine's response is both literal (it is a turbine, not a fan and therefore can't blow air) and colloquial (saying "I'm not a fan" of an idea that one does not like or support the idea).

Wind turbines have been used in earlier comics: In 556: Alternative Energy Revolution the Turbine is also alive but somewhat more dangerous than just being ironic... And in 1119: Undoing Cueball understood the difference between them and a fan...

The title text contains an alternative suggestion to build a makeshift trebuchet. A trebuchet is a type of catapult. The setup described would not resemble the widely known counterweight trebuchet, as the energy rotating the arm and flinging the rock would not be from a raised counterweight. It would rather be more similar to a traction trebuchet.

Trebuchets has been the subject of these two comics as well: 382: Trebuchet and 1160: Drop Those Pounds, and was also part of the story in 1190: Time.


[Megan is talking to a giant wind turbine.]
Megan: I'll hold up a big kite, and you blow air at me until I lift off!
Megan: What do you think of that idea?
Wind turbine: I'm not a huge fan.

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Why is it "horrible, horrible"? Do you really, really not like it? It's not like it's a shaggy dog cartoon which you wasted several minutes on... Oh, wait... 05:51, 6 June 2014 (UTC)

For me, it just sucks that Randall chose to end the week on a lame pun. On Mondays/Wednesdays, the "suckiness" of something like this would be offset by a good "what-if?" on Tuesday. 06:00, 6 June 2014 (UTC)

From what I've seen, Friday comics tend to be more "wacky" than the rest. 23:22, 6 June 2014 (UTC)

While I agree it isn't the best xkcd could be, let's try and keep these pages objective, and leave the opinions in the comments. Mrmakeit (talk) 06:22, 6 June 2014 (UTC)

"I'm not a huge fan" is a catchphrase of Elon Musk, his opinion on patents, which was in the news a couple of days ago. Lift-off alludes to Musk's SpaceX. Wind turbine alludes to Musk's renewable energy company Solarcity. Tww (talk) 07:36, 6 June 2014 (UTC)

What's funny to me is that a turbine really is a giant fan. You'd just have to pump a whole ton of power (at the right voltage and sync rate) into it and possibly give it a kickstart of some kind to get it to turn. You could say the same about pretty much anything that generates power from rotational motion; it's a generator, but in the opposite direction, it's also a motor. 11:25, 6 June 2014 (UTC)

I laughed at this comic, I thought it was great. As for the explanation, though, should it really be marked "complete" already? It reads like a first draft to me, and the comic is about a wind turbine, not a windmill. I'm gonna go fix that now. Enchantedsleeper (talk) 11:28, 6 June 2014 (UTC)

I also liked this one. Great pun. As Enchantedsleeper may have found out windmill is the old mills for grain. But in some languages a wind turbine is called the same as a windmill! Kynde (talk) 17:57, 6 June 2014 (UTC)

'apostrophe' is more of an oratorical device, for the benefit of an audience. In this case Megan is treating the turbine as if it were human - anthropomorphism - but this isn't really a central part of the comic, and doesn't need much explanation - Seanybabes (talk) 08:59, 9 June 2014 (UTC)

I just got the punchline today. My punnery organs evidently need a workout. --Okofish (talk) 22:01, 9 June 2014 (UTC)

WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY????????????? SilverMagpie (talk) 21:52, 13 June 2017 (UTC)