2074: Airplanes and Spaceships

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 02:46, 20 November 2018 by 108.162.216.190 (talk) (Explanation)
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Airplanes and Spaceships
Despite having now taken three months longer than the airplane people, we're making disappointingly little progress toward the obvious next stage of vehicle: The Unobtanium-hulled tunneling ship from the 2003 film 'The Core.'
Title text: Despite having now taken three months longer than the airplane people, we're making disappointingly little progress toward the obvious next stage of vehicle: The Unobtanium-hulled tunneling ship from the 2003 film 'The Core.'

Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by a TUNNELING AIRPLANE-SPACESHIP. Please mention here why this explanation isn't complete. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

This comic is pointing out that more time has elapsed since the first spaceship flight, than previously elapsed between the first airplane flight and the first spaceship flight.

Airplanes and spaceships are often considered to be related vehicles, under the term aerospace, with degrees in aerospace fields often having aeronautics (airplanes) or astronautics (spaceships) tracks. The jump in technology and performance between the first airplane and the first spaceship was enormous: the Wright Flyer had a max speed of 30 mph, and the first flights reached only about 30 feet above ground, with distances of only 120 to 850 feet. In comparison the Vostok 1 mission of Yuri Gagarin reached orbital velocity of 17,500 mph, a minimum altitude of 91 miles (480,480 feet), and traveled once around the earth (about 25,000 miles). This represents an increase in performance of between about 600 and 150,000 times.

By contrast, an equal amount of time has passed between the first spaceflight and the publish date of this comic, but aeronautical performance has not improved much at all. Although the Apollo mission broke speed and altitude records, and later space missions extended the distance traveled in a single flight by sustaining Earth orbit for longer, the overall technology and performance is not much different that that used during the first space mission.

The title text refers to the 2003 film The Core. In this film, there is an instability in the Earth's magnetic field, so a team of scientists attempt to drill to the center of the Earth and set off nuclear explosions to restart the rotation of the Earth's core. To do this, they travel in a vehicle made of "Unobtainium" that can withstand the heat and pressure within the Earth's crust. Randall is sad to report that there is little progress being made on creating this vehicle. Incidentally, The Core is a film which represents science and engineering wrong in many, many aspects. There is a long list of flaws; for instance, if a material is resistant to the extreme heat and pressure of the Earth's core, then the significantly cooler and less forceful techniques of human metallurgy would certainly not be able to work that material at all, let alone craft it into a functional hull for a vehicle.

Transcript

[A timeline is shown with three dots on it. Each dot has a label beneath the dot, and the two intervals between the dots are also labeled, with lines indicating which dots are belonging to that label.]
Dot 1:
December 17, 1903
First human airplane flight
Dot 2:
April 12, 1961
First human spaceflight
Dot 3:
Today
Interval 1-2: 57 years 4 months
Interval 2-3: 57 years 7 months
[Caption beneath the frame:]
Spaceships are now older than airplanes were when we flew our first spaceships.


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Discussion

Damn, Randall was 3 months late with this comic ;-) --Kynde (talk) 15:38, 19 November 2018 (UTC)

Should the Explanation section contain a note on when the comic was posted; and the correct difference in time? 172.68.2.76 06:58, 20 November 2018 (UTC)

By the time of the first spaceflight, air travel was available to the general public. Where is the space plane today??108.162.229.28 16:24, 19 November 2018 (UTC)

Elon's working on it, isn't he? (Hate him all you want. He's doing more to advance space flight than anyone else just be being highly visible.)162.158.79.101 20:21, 19 November 2018 (UTC)
Branson is too. https://www.virgingalactic.com - I believe prices start at a mere quarter-million.Daemonik (talk) 16:25, 20 November 2018 (UTC)

NASA released a video 2 days back - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WeA7edXsU40 Do you think that's why this comic was uploaded? I would have added it in, but I could use an opinion 162.158.167.120 17:56, 19 November 2018 (UTC)

This is... depressing. RIP Project Constellation, you will be missed.Linker (talk) 18:03, 19 November 2018 (UTC)

I suggest adding something related to steam-powered rail travel to the explanation or in a trivia section. Though, exactly what is beyond my expertise, given the information found in a quick search of Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steam_locomotive#United_Kingdom162.158.79.101 20:21, 19 November 2018 (UTC)

Randall referenced The Core a little while back. Given that it's a relatively obscure movie from the early 2000's, I have no idea why this would be. 173.245.48.117 21:54, 19 November 2018 (UTC)

Is there a collection of all of the "there is now more time between X and Y, than Y and Z" style comics? He's done them with 9/11 and the pyramids also

There's a "Comics to make one feel old" category, but I'm not sure if the ones you mention are there.162.158.88.128 14:35, 20 November 2018 (UTC)

Maybe this is the current next step https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0707-9 Javier Jelovcan from Argentina 108.162.210.100 16:39, 23 November 2018 (UTC)