288: Elevator

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Quick, try it with 'LOVE'.
Title text: Quick, try it with 'LOVE'.


Cueball is in an elevator, and notices that, beneath the certificate of Elevator Inspection, mandatory in all U.S. elevators at least, there are buttons for Floor 1, 2, 3, and 4, and then a mysterious unlabeled button. Possible logical conclusions he might have made include (1) there is a fifth floor reachable by pushing the bottom button which for some reason is not labeled; or (2) the button has some other function, a common one is to stop the elevator wherever it may be; or (3) the panel with the buttons is from a template used for various elevators with up to five floors, and as this particular elevator only goes to four floors, the bottom button is unlabeled, and nothing will happen if he pushes it.

He has, however, chosen to believe in a different explanation: the fifth button is not currently assigned, but giving it a label will assign it to whatever floor or other function he can give it. The possibilities are truly endless. And so, the intrepid Cueball writes "Zeppelin!" on a slip of paper and tapes it next to the unassigned button, thereby assigning it to move the elevator not to Floor 5, but to a Zeppelin. And it works; the elevator opens aboard a Zeppelin floating in the air, high above a land with many glacial lakes, perhaps Minnesota, Nunavut, or elsewhere on the Canadian Shield.

The specific choice of a "ZEPPELIN!" is a reference to 73: Zeppelin. That comic, in turn, referenced Zeppelin watches, which may have the word "ZEPPELIN!" replacing one of the numerals on the dial. In the previous comic, having the hour hand of the watch pointing at the word invoked the appearance of a zeppelin.

The title text is most likely a reference to the Aerosmith song "Love in an Elevator," which really is about sex in an elevator. However, it would also be great if one could reach the elevation of love by getting there in a magic elevator.


[Elevator panel, with a Certificate of Inspection and five floor buttons, numbered 1–4. The fifth button is unlabeled.]
[Cueball thinks.]
[Cueball writes something on a small piece of paper.]
Write Write
[Cueball tapes it onto the panel.]
[Elevator panel, with the same Certificate and buttons, and with the piece of paper labeling the fifth button "Zeppelin!"]
[Cueball presses the new "Zeppelin!" button.]
[Elevator moves.]
Elevator: Ding
[Cueball is looking out the door of a Zeppelin. The Zeppelin is flying over a green landscape with many lakes.]


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That certainly is a distinctive landscape. Does anybody know of any literary (or otherwise) allusion? 02:24, 8 January 2014 (UTC)

I can't help but think of the Wood Between the Worlds from The Chronicles of Narnia. It's probably not it, though. Those look more like lakes than pools of water. Also, there's that larger body of water. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Looks a bit like the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota. Not sure why it would be that, however. 14:44, 7 November 2014 (UTC)
The location might be the Lena Delta in northern Russia. This is also referenced in xkcd 1169 "Expedition" by clicking on the comic. 04:59, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

Why are the floors labeled backwards from the reality, with the lowest floor at the top? Is this common in the U.S.? 13:21, 19 May 2014 (UTC)

No, most, if not all, buildings in the US have the highest floor on top and the lowest floor on bottom, with everything else in descending order as you look from top to bottom. Mulan15262 (talk) 03:33, 10 June 2014 (UTC)Mulan15262
Floors appear with the highest on top and the lowest on the bottom. However, the number one is assigned to the ground floor or the floor above it. Normally, basements are not assigned a number, and are simply marked with the letter "B". However, in buildings with more than one floor below ground, they may be numbered. In other words, the numbering might not be backwards, if 1 is 1 floor below ground, 2 is 2 floors below ground, etc. In the television show Stargate SG-1, there are elevators that stop at "sub-levels" (floors below ground) inside Cheyenne Mountain. In real life, elevators that go multiple floors below ground are found in underground parking garages, subway stations, etc. 02:49, 8 December 2014 (UTC)

With the landscape, i cant help but think of the dead marshes from LOTR 02:33, 21 November 2014 (UTC)

I first thought of bizarrely pond-covered landscape of some parts of Canada, and I think maybe Wisconsin and Minnesota. Because I'm looking I can't find them, but there are some aerial shots of lake regions up there that are almost identical to this. Or is this just something I dream about until it seems real? —Kazvorpal (talk) 16:35, 1 November 2019 (UTC)

I've just noticed that the image, with the heavy blues and greens, seems to move when you read the explanation below. It seems to be some sort of motion illusion, though I don't know the exact name of it. Kirdneh (talk) 02:25, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

Adding your own labels is also seen in What-if xkcd 35. -- 10:45, 28 June 2015 (UTC)

It reminds me of some children's picture book, but I don't know which one... I'm thinking some doctor Suess book maybe? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)