1583: NASA Press Conference

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NASA Press Conference
Why are we spending billions to ruin Mars with swarms of robots when Elon Musk has promised to ruin Mars for a FRACTION of the cost?
Title text: Why are we spending billions to ruin Mars with swarms of robots when Elon Musk has promised to ruin Mars for a FRACTION of the cost?


This comic is a reference to the press conference held by NASA on 28th September 2015, (the same day this comic was published), which confirmed the existence of liquid water at the surface of Mars. The comic was posted before the NASA press conference was held, although speculation about the announcement had already occurred.

The "questions" portion of the press conference is derailed by Beret Guy, acting as a reporter for a network known only as "The News". He first comments he is holding a microphone so he is "real loud now." He then asks how the data about Mars relates to data in other fields like medicine and sports. This may seem like an intelligent question upon first glance, but it is in fact nonsensical. Afterwards he asks if Mars has been "ruined" by getting wet, or if Mars will be okay when it dries out. Some things, e.g. indoor furniture, can be damaged by water, but Mars is not one of those things.[citation needed] When asked if he has any other questions he asks why Luke Skywalker was being hassled at the Mos Eisley Cantina in Star Wars. (Dr. Evazan and Ponda Baba simply told Luke that "[they] don't like [him]", but Beret Guy is evidently not satisfied by that explanation.) Although this may be somewhat space-related, NASA is not an organization that explains films, whether or not they are space related. The other reporters forget their original questions and join in on the irrelevant discussion, much to the dismay of the NASA scientist.

This is probably meant to mock previous NASA press conferences, where reporters have asked inane questions that reveal their total ignorance of the field.

The title text refers to Elon Musk, who suggested nuking Mars as a faster way of warming it up to make it habitable.


[Cueball is standing behind a lectern with the NASA logo on it.]
Cueball: That concludes the press conference. Any questions?
Cueball: Yes, you, from... it just says "The News"?
[Beret Guy is standing in a crowd holding a microphone.]
Beret Guy: Hi! I have a microphone so I'm real loud now.
Beret Guy: How does this Mars data compare to data from other fields? Like medicine? Or sports?
Cueball (offscreen): That question makes no sense.
Beret Guy: If there's water on Mars, is it ruined?
Beret Guy: Or will it be okay when it dries out?
Cueball (offscreen): Any other questions?
[The shot zooms out, showing that Cueball and the lectern is standing on a podium and also the crowd comes in to view.]
Beret Guy: What were those guys hassling Luke in the Mos Eisley Cantina trying to accomplish? I felt like I was supposed to understand that.
Cueball: Anyone else?
Ponytail: That's now my question, too.
Megan: Were they just picking a fight?
Ponytail: If so, why did...

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I think the alt image text refers to the Elon Musk's idea of Mars colonization with nuclear bombs This that (talk) 10:00, 28 September 2015 (UTC)

Yep! I suppose that too.--Complynx (talk) 10:33, 28 September 2015 (UTC)
Um, Musk didn't suggest colonizing with nuclear bombs. (Lots of Little Boy bombs on Mars running around with their moms and dads?) He said nuking the poles would be a fast way to get Mars warmer and more Earth-like so it could be colonized with people. - Equinox 14:10, 28 September 2015 (UTC)
And we realize he was throwing it out there as a terrible hypothetically quick way of making Mars habitable. He is not olanning on doing that in any way. He is lookibg at making it habitable, but he does say it will take quite a long time to make it happen. Many, many years with biodomes. I know this doesn't change what is saidnin the comic, but let's all realize he's not planning on actually doing it. -- Sean timmons (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
And let us ALSO keep in mind that even if Elon Musk wanted to and was planning on going through with it, he would not be able to acquire nuclear weapons. Say what you want about the government's excessive reliance on federal contractors, but we still keep NORAD in-house. Bbruzzo (talk) 21:20, 28 September 2015 (UTC)

Maybe this could be linked somewhere: http://waitbutwhy.com/2015/08/how-and-why-spacex-will-colonize-mars.html Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 10:27, 28 September 2015 (UTC)

the star wars thing should be explained. i realise that the possibility of anyone who doesn't already know caring at all is pretty small, but this is explain xkcd after all. (https://youtu.be/g6PDcBhODqo?t=93 scene?)-- 11:52, 28 September 2015 (UTC)

Yeah, but what were they really trying to accomplish? I've never questioned this before. I feel so alone and incomplete.... Puck0687 (talk) 15:37, 28 September 2015 (UTC)
I have the feeling it was just someone trying to cause trouble. They saw Luke and Obi Wan, knew that they weren't regulars there and decided to pick a fight with a n00b. Kind of like YouTube comments. Obi Wan slicing off Ponda Baba's arm was the equivalent of a presumed n00b on the YouTube comments making a "your mom" burn. -- 15:49, 28 September 2015 (UTC)
Is there something in the books that explains that? NotLock (talk) 16:18, 28 September 2015 (UTC)
Yeah, Obi Wan showing off that he was a Jedi knight (when he just showed in the last scene that he also has mind control powers) was a dick move, and the opposite of keeping a low profile in a city under Stormtrooper control. But he had to do it, or else the audience wouldn't have known that a lightsaber was a deadly weapon until the duel with Darth Vader. So, yeah, it's a good question. 18:36, 28 September 2015 (UTC)
Could Ben do a "This isn't the fight you're trying to pick" on both the two 'gentlemen'? And possibly anybody else currently interested in whether these two were easy pickings or not? The stormtroopers are perhaps easy to sway (indoctrinated to follow orders, so if you can tweak just the right bit... perhaps even make 'em think it was their commanding officer that told them it wasn't those droids, over their comsets) but this is a pair of bruisers, probably the resident 'noob testers', maybe even given this task by someone even more fearsome who likes to keep his hands clean.
It's not a low-profile approach, whipping out the blade, but it's not a stormtrooper-friendly bar and it conversely probably kept things quiet enough for long enough to start the process of getting off-world, compared to a brawl that spills out into the street. Instead, it was quick and surgical and could have been mistaken for some other act of seemingly random violence with an energy weapon, a bit like when Han shot Greedo (first!), over in the side-booth.
Word would spread, but details would be lost in the retelling (perhaps a general mind-force attempt by Ben to cloud the issue in the minds of all the witnesses; easy to do when everyone's already readily in a "I was never there, I never saw anything" mindset to start with, when they were doubtless prepared to turn a blind eye to a barside-assault upon Luke) and, besides which, there are no Jedi left. Something else must have happened, and they were deliberately not paying attention, right?
Or it could be a cock-up in the script, but as it's not the Prequel Trilogy, I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. ;) 14:47, 30 September 2015 (UTC)
I came to this page specifically because I now need an answer to that question. Thank-you, fellow explainers. 05:13, 24 May 2016 (UTC)
I also came here for the answer to that question. Thanks much! (I still think it should be included in the actual explanation, though.)

I think the "is it ruined" line of questions in the third panel is treating Mars as a smartphone, considering Mars to be damaged because it "got wet" and asking if Mars will be okay after it "dries out". 18:14, 28 September 2015 (UTC)

actually, I think it refers to a mars bar. If that gets (too) wet, it's not really edible anymore... ‎ (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
I think it means that mars was "cool" until news about it having water made it not cool anymore. Randall visits 4chan and in that board people enjoy things until they get popular, as popularity brings a lot of undesirable people to a fandom and kills the fun for them. 00:19, 1 October 2015 (UTC)

Could we maybe include a few examples of ill-informed questions from previous press conferences? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Here is an example. Condor70 (talk) 14:04, 29 September 2015 (UTC)

So apparently no one thought moss and cockroaches was a good idea? 14:21, 29 September 2015 (UTC)

In the second panel, I don't think he is asking how the news impacts the fields of sports and medicine. He is literally asking how the data compares with data from those fields. They are two fields which are often using data for comparisons within the field, and it is nonsensical to compare data for data's sake. 00:31, 6 October 2015 (UTC)

For a moment I thought he was asking if the water would be fixed when it dries out, which added another layer of surrealism to the proceedings. -- 22:19, 23 May 2018 (UTC)

I thought that too. By making even less sense, in a weird way it makes more sense-Beret Guy can never be too crazy. Danish (talk) 18:12, 19 December 2020 (UTC)