2310: Great Attractor
Title text: Living in the southern hemisphere was nice because I could jump extra high, but I like it here too. Besides, if I ever want to move back, I can just curl up in a ball and wait!
| This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by a Greatly Attractive SpaceBOT. 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.
People will often complain about falling out of bed as an indicator of having slept badly. The later sunset is often linked to worsened sleep . However, Beret Guy didn't fall from the bed, he fell from the wall. While being able to figure out he's talking about his worsened sleep, Cueball is understandably confused, so Beret Guy clarifies.
Beret Guy is strongly affected by the Great Attractor, a large gravitational anomaly that influences the galaxies near it, but is difficult to observe directly. Beret Guy claims that the Great Attractor pulls on him unusually hard, which could be another one of his strange powers. This attraction, while not overpowering the gravity of the earth, (as he states that he can only "Jump extra high" in the Title Text) affects his life greatly, such as allowing him to sleep on walls. While 'normal' people can probably (if uncomfortably) lie down on the top of a boundary wall, for Beret Guy this may, at various times, mean that he can lie on the vertical surface of any wall (external or internal) that is currently orientated in a fortuitous direction.
He fell off of the wall this morning due the Great Attractor being below him during daylight hours and on the horizon during night hours. Because the Day starts earlier in the summer, he fell unexpectedly.
He gives a short explanation of why the Great Attractor affects him, apparently caused by his bones existing in more dimensions than our normal 3 dimensions of space and 1 of time, and the motion of galaxies, which normally has no significant affect on a person.
Beret Guy then says that day-sliding season is near, due to the Great Attractor being at the horizon in the day, and offers to run errands for Cueball in the South, implying that he will be pulled towards the south during day-sliding season.
Beret Guy is not standing straight up during this comic, he has one knee slightly bent; and walks with a strange gait and movement lines around him. This is presumably due to the extra downwards force that the Great Attractor is currently exerting on him, so he has to exert more effort to hold himself upright and seems quite content, in the titletext, to entirely stop bracing himself against the pull by crouching into a more spherical shape and rolling down the 'sloping' ground to some place with lower net gravitational potential.
A prior example of an xkcd character with alternate gravitational susceptibility is 417: The Man Who Fell Sideways, where a consistent off-vertical pull somehow applies (rather than one linked to a spot on the stellar sphere) while other fictional examples of 'personalised' gravitational susceptibilities also exist, in various forms.
Some of the humor of the comic has to do with the immense differences in scale between Beret Guy and the Great Attractor.
In very round numbers our own Milky Way galaxy is 200,000 light years across. It is just one of several galaxies in something called the Local Group, which is around 10,000,000 light years across. And the Local Group is itself in something called the Local Supercluster (also called the Virgo Supercluster), around 110,000,000 light years across. Each galaxy, each group, and each supercluster is not just a chance alignment, but is a gravitationally coherent structure.
Something unpredicted (hence "anomalous") is going on with the galaxies in the Local Supercluster (including our own). These galaxies are indeed accelerating away from one another as seen by their red shift. Hubble's Law predicts the expansion should be uniformly proportional to their distance from Earth and from one another. But for the Local Supercluster something is restricting the expansion. That something is, as "viewed" from Earth, somewhere in the direction of the Southern Triangle constellation but 250,000,000 light years distant, and has (but only since 1988) been termed the Great Attractor. The Great Attractor can't conveniently be seen at visible wavelengths, because that direction is the so-called Zone of Avoidance: the area of the night sky obscured by our own Milky Way.
Boiling this all down: something a quarter of a billion light years away that makes an anomalous blip in the local rate of expansion of the universe, and whose existence astronomers deduce only by X-ray observations of stellar red-shift, has large-scale effects on everyday gravitational forces uniquely experienced by Beret Guy. OK, now you can smile.
|This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.|
- [Cueball and Beret Guy stand next to each other, talking.]
- Cueball: I can't believe it's still light out. It's 8:00 PM!
- Beret Guy: Seriously! This morning I fell off the wall.
- [In a frameless panel, Cueball and Beret Guy are still standing and talking. Beret Guy is gesturing to the right.]
- Cueball: Wait, why were you sleeping on the wall?
- Beret Guy: The Great Attractor is near the horizon at night right now.
- [A regular panel, zoomed in on Beret Guy, who is gesturing to the left.]
- Cueball (off screen): The Great Attractor?
- Beret Guy: Yeah! The space one.
- Beret Guy: It pulls on me extra hard. Doctors said it's something to do with galactic motion and how many dimensions my bones have.
- [Zoomed back out to show Cueball, standing still, and Beret Guy, who is sliding away to the right.]
- Beret Guy: This time of year, it's below us all day, so I stand vertically. But day-sliding season is near!
- Beret Guy: Let me know if you have any errands to run to the south!
- Beret Guy: Goodniiighttt
add a comment! ⋅ add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ refresh comments!