52: Secret Worlds

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Secret Worlds
LiveJournal title: Secret Worlds
No two adjacent circles are the same color.
Title text: No two adjacent circles are the same color.


This was the fiftieth comic originally posted to LiveJournal. The previous one was 51: Malaria, and the next one was 53: Hobby. It was among the last eleven comics posted both on LiveJournal and on xkcd.com after the new site was launched. This comic wasn't published on the same day across both sites, but most of them shared the same posting day. It was released on LiveJournal on January 23, 2006, two days after originally being posted on xkcd.com. See the triva section below.

The quote written in the large white bubbles comes from The Sandman, a comic book series about dreams. Neil Gaiman is a science fiction and fantasy author who came to fame for writing The Sandman. The interconnected bubbles represent the secret worlds of different people and how they are connected. They may have the second meaning of the neurons in our brain. The title text indicates that Randall used the Four color theorem, which states that a graph drawn on a flat plane (like this one) requires at most four colors so that each region differs from all of its neighbors. The comic uses four colors (red, yellow, green, blue). This clearly does not include the white bubbles with text. Here is the original quote:

Everybody has a secret world inside of them... All of the people in the whole world, I mean everybody — no matter how dull and boring they are on the outside. Inside them they've all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds... Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands, maybe.


[A multitude of circles connected with several lines. Most of them are rather small and colored red, yellow, green and blue. Nine of them are white, six of these are larger than all the other circles, but one is the same size as the largest colored (green) circle, and the two smallest are smaller than a few of the colored circles. Pieces of text are written in all the white circles. Although it can be confusing at first, the reading order is still the normal one: left to right and top to bottom. Reading the circles in that order gives the following text:]
"Everybody has a secret world inside of them.
All of the people in the whole world
I mean everybody
No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside
Inside they've all got unimaginable
magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing, worlds
Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands, maybe."
--Neil Gaiman


  • For unknown reasons, on January 18, 2006, 54: Science was posted on LiveJournal on the same day that 51: Malaria was released on xkcd.com. Three days later, on January 21, 2006, 51: Malaria was posted on LiveJournal, thus forcing the next two comics (this one and 53: Hobby) to be released on xkcd.com two days before LiveJournal. Four days later, on January 25, 2006, 54: Science was finally posted on xkcd.com, which fixed the date discrepancies and allowed the next comic, 55: Useless, to be published on the same day across both sites.
  • This comic was released on a Saturday.

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Just to the left of the small circle that says something like "I mean everybody!" are two adjacent yellow circles. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Nope. Red and yellow. Zoom in and you'll see it. 04:13, 30 November 2014 (UTC)

The graph does indeed require four colors, since it contains four mutually connected circles in the upper left corner. Richmond tudor (talk) 04:52, 13 March 2015 (UTC)