826: Guest Week: Zach Weiner (SMBC)
|Guest Week: Zach Weiner (SMBC)
|Explainxkcd note: Don't try and click on this image to see the exhibits. Visit the actual comic instead
Title text: Guest comic by Zach Weiner of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. When I was stressed out, Zach gave me a talk that was really encouraging and somehow involved nanobots.
This comic is drawn by a guest webcomic artist, Zach Weiner (now Weinersmith), following the theme of "Guest Week". Zach is the author of the webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. The original comic is interactive. It will show images of the exhibits (see below) by clicking on them.
The entire comic is a hypothetical "Smithsonian Museum of Dad-Trolling, an entire building dedicated to deceiving children for amusement." It is a common occurrence that curious children will ask simple questions about science to their parents, such as, "Daddy, why is the sky blue?" and a parent could respond, "Well Susie, the sky is blue to match your dress."
Guest Week was a series of five comics written by five other comic authors. They were released over five consecutive days (Monday-Friday); not over the usual Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule.
The five comics are:
- 822: Guest Week: Jeph Jacques (Questionable Content)
- 823: Guest Week: David Troupes (Buttercup Festival)
- 824: Guest Week: Bill Amend (FoxTrot)
- 825: Guest Week: Jeffrey Rowland (Overcompensating)
- 826: Guest Week: Zach Weiner (SMBC)
Hall of Misunderstood Science
Each exhibit is a display set up to reinforce the false, sarcastic, or exaggerated answers to typical questions that children may ask their parents about scientific topics. The answers given involve just enough information that the child may be satisfied with the answer and repeat it to others while maintaining the irony for adults that the answers are obviously misleading or false. These explanations may be given because the parent does not know how to explain the topic.
In this exhibit the marquee claims that basilisks exist, and that they live under your bed. The basilisk is a mythological reptilian monster that was described as having the ability to kill other living things with its gaze. This story might be believed by children because children often imagine that a monster or a dangerous creature is hiding under the bed at night, and verifying that the basilisk is under the bed and might kill the child would likely terrify the child.
In this exhibit the marquee claims that "In my day" molecules did not exist, and everything was just atoms. Molecules are chains of atoms, and therefore more complex than atoms. This story might be believed by children because old people often tell unbelievable and questionably credible "In my day" stories about how different, or in this case less complicated, things when they where younger. This story may sound no less credible than these stories to a child. Like most "In my day" stories there is at least a grain of truth. The word atom has changed its meaning over time; at one time all discovered molecules were called atoms, as when they were modified their properties change. Also, according to the Big Bang theory, there was a period billions of years ago when the universe contained no molecules, yet still contained atoms.
In this exhibit the marquee claims that magnets are only attracted to each other when they are teenagers. This is an inside joke that the child is not in on about how there is a loss of sexual desire in adults. This story might be believed because magnets are seen as mysterious and possibly magical by children.
In this exhibit the marquee claims that the reason that there are only four components of DNA is because there where only four letters back then. The following letters describe the nucleotides that make up DNA chains: "G" guanine, "A" adenine, "T" thymine, and "C" cytosine. This story might be believed by children as DNA can be thought as an instruction set to build life. Instructions contain words, and therefore the letters G, A, T, and C can be thought of as the letters that the words in the instructions are made from.
In this exhibit the marquee claims that you are more vulnerable to the boogie man when you are sleeping. "The Boogie Man" is a common legend used to scare young kids; he typically hides in closets and underneath beds, and attacks sleeping children. This story might be believed by children as some believe in the boogie man.
In this exhibit the marquee claims that water increases its size to frighten predators. Ice is less dense than liquid water. This is an unusual property as most materials are more dense in solid form. This might be believed by a child because many animals appear to increase their size to frighten away other threatening animals. A rhinoceros, although not traditionally a predator, would be a predator of water.
In this exhibit the marquee claims that anti-matter is composed of half ant and half matter. The prefix anti means "the opposite of", but sounds similar to the word ant. This story might be believed by children because a hyphen is often used to combine two words together with different meanings to create a word with the meaning of both. Combining the words ants and matter could produce a word meaning something composed of both ants and matter. Antimatter is also referenced in 683: Science Montage, 1621: Fixion and 1731: Wrong as well as being the subject of the what if? Antimatter. It was also mentioned in another what if?: Lake Tea.
Regrettable Pranks: An Interactive Experience
This section holds falsehoods that a dad might use to frighten his children. Fear is often used to discourage children from disobeying their parents. It is an interactive experience, so visitors can try something for themselves, then learn the frightening fact it indicates.
In this exhibit the sign claims that helium makes your voice higher because you are about to explode. Helium makes your voice high-pitched, because sound travels faster in helium than in air (79% nitrogen and 21% oxygen), and it does not explode because it is a noble gas; although it could rupture containers in accordance with the combined gas law, which governs the relationship between pressure, temperature and volume: i.e. if a balloon is over-inflated or exposed to heat, it will burst. This story might be used by parents to discourage children from inhaling helium. This story might regrettably convince a child that they are dying after they inhale helium. On the other hand, it can be dangerous to inhale helium from a gas container if the pressure is too high. So maybe better scared than dead.
In this exhibit the sign claims that if your middle finger is longer than all the others, you are an alien half-breed. For almost all people the middle finger is longer than all the others. This story might be used by parents to tease their children. This story might regrettably convince a child that one of their parents is an alien, and therefore not to be trusted. Another possibility is that everyone is an alien half-breed, and therefore, their progeny are also alien half-breeds.
In this exhibit the sign claims that one of the cups of Jello had a rabbit brain instead of a cherry. Cherries are a common ingredient in gelatin based deserts. One cup is missing and in the hands of the child, possibly eaten. This story might be used by parents to tease their children, or discourage them from eating more dessert. This story might regrettably convince a child that they ate the brain of a small cute fluffy animal.
In this exhibit the sign claims that monsters will eat you if you do not make your bed. In some stories monsters specifically prey on children. This story might be used by parents to encourage children to make their beds. This story might regrettably convince a child that there are monsters under their beds and frighten them so they can not sleep.
This area holds concession stands, which sell food. There are misleading names on each stand. The pop-outs in this section are based on jokes parents tell their children to frighten them about food.
In this exhibit the marquee announces the name of the concession stand as KFP. The parent claims that the "P" stands for phoenix, and the operator adds "also ponies". KFP is a parody of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), a popular fast food chain which specializes in fried chicken. A phoenix is a mythical bird that throws it self into a fire and later rises from the ashes. This story might be believed by children because phoenixes are birds and a fried one may look similar to a chicken.
In this exhibit the marquee announces that the concession stand sells ground beef and further explains that ground beef is beef that is found on the ground. The word "ground" here refers to the floor or dirt, but can also be the past tense of the word "grind". This story might be believed by children because the words are spelled and pronounced the same.
In this exhibit the marquee announces that the concession stand sells ice cream and claims that ice cream is really spelled eyes cream, and always composed of eyeballs. This story might be believed by children because the words "eyes cream" sounds similar to "ice cream".
Conservatory of Poorly Remembered History
Each exhibit is a display set up to reinforce the false, sarcastic, or exaggerated answers to typical questions that children may ask their parents about history. The answers given involve just enough information that the child may be satisfied with the answer and repeat it to others while maintaining the irony for adults that the answers are obviously misleading or false. These explanations may be given because the parent does not know how to explain the topic.
In this exhibit the marquee claims that Genghis Khan achieved his victories by using dragons. Genghis Khan was a Mongolian conqueror who conquered almost all of Asia and much of Europe founding the Mongol Empire, and creating the largest continuous land empire in history. This story might be believed by children because some children associate magical and other fantastic elements with the past instead of fantasy.
In this exhibit the marquee claims that the Crimean War was a war on crime. The Crimean War is an often forgotten Eastern European conflict between Russia and a European coalition (including France, which the comic also pretends doesn't exist) with aims to stop Russia's expansion. This story might be believed by children because adding an "a" to a people group sometimes is used to create a country name, making Crimea sounds similar to a nation of criminals. Also worth noting is that the criminal depicted in the mural appears to be the Hamburgler, a McDonald's mascot.
In this exhibit the marquee claims that wizards were in control during The Renaissance. The Renaissance is a cultural movement in Europe that took place after the Dark Ages. This story might be believed by children because some children associate magical and other fantastic elements with the past instead of fantasy.
In this exhibit the marquee claims that Star Wars is actual history. Star Wars is a fantastical science fiction movie. This story might be believed by children because the movie begins "a long time ago in a galaxy far away", and some children associate magical and other fantastic elements with the past instead of fantasy. The "veteran" presented here appears to be wearing a fake beard as part of his costume.
In this exhibit the poster claims that France does not exist. The adult in the comic continues to attempt to convince the children that France does not exist. This is supposed to be funny because the knowledge of France as a country is common. This may be parodying the global warming debate, a common theme in both XKCD and SMBC. It may also be a reference to the Bielefeld Conspiracy.
Rotunda of Uncomfortable Topics
Each exhibit is a display set up to explain uncomfortable topics that children may ask their parents about. The answers given so that the children do not ask further questions.
In this exhibit the sign on the box covering up a couple in bed claims that naked wrestling is perfectly normal, but kids should never engage in it. "Naked wrestling" is a euphemism for sex. A parent may give this explanation if a child walks in on their parents having sex and they have to come up with an explanation on the spot, or they feel that the children are too young to know about sex.
In this exhibit the sign over the stand claims your parents drink alcohol to prevent you from drinking it as alcohol is a poison. This is technically true, as alcohol is a toxin. A parent may give this explanation to a child who asks their parents why they drink alcohol if it is bad for you, and did not want to explain the pleasurable experience of alcohol because it might encourage children to drink.
In this exhibit the banner claims that mommies have big tummies because storks like chubby girls. According to some childhood stories storks deliver babies. Also, there are men who prefer heavy women; these men are often called chubby chasers. A parent may give this explanation to a child who asks why, if a stork delivers babies, their mother is changing while she is pregnant, and the parent continues to try to avoid the topic of sex.
In this exhibit the sign claims that grandma did not die, but is going back to Saturn. The choice of Saturn as grandma's destination is appropriate because the god Saturn was associated with aging, as in "Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age" from The Planets. Some parents tell their children that their loved ones have gone away instead of telling them the truth, that their loved ones are dead. Going to Saturn "for revenge" is added for comic value. A parent may give this explanation to avoid causing their child pain.
In this exhibit the marquee claims that dinosaurs are made of bones only. The fossil record includes the imprints of the other tissues of dinosaurs including skin, nails, teeth, and feathers. This story might be believed by children because the majority of all displays of dinosaurs in museums only include bones.
The restrooms have 3 doors. Clicking reveals that there the two standard gendered restrooms found in the majority of public buildings, and another one for "Korgmen & Spangs" which does not correspond to any known human trait. This could be a reference to the Marvel alien species the Korg.
In this exhibit the sign (which the children can not see) explains that the "Magic Eye poster" contains no hidden images. Magic Eye is a company that sells autostereograms in books. Autostereograms contain a "hidden" three-dimensional image that can only be seen by converging one's eyes towards a point other than upon the poster itself. This takes time and many people find it difficult or impossible to do.
- In the spirit of xkcd I present a proposal for a new Smithsonian museum:
- The Smithsonian Museum Of Dad-Trolling
- An entire building dedicated to deceiving children for amusement
- (Click to view exhibits!)
- The top left room is 'The Hall of Misunderstood Science'. It contains six exhibits.
- Exhibit: A giant basilisk looms over children.
- Exhibit label: BASILISKS: Real, deadly, under your bed.
- Exhibit: Four magnets hang from a square arch. A child is touching two of them together.
- Text on the arch: Magnets only leap at each other when they're teenagers. Later, they lose interest.
- Exhibit: A child on his dad's shoulders looks up at a looming statue of Jesus behind a lectern. There are flakes falling from Jesus onto them both.
- Exhibit label: Snow is Jesus' dandruff. His scalp gets dry when it's cold.
- Exhibit: A child lies asleep, while hands and a scary face reach up around the bed toward him.
- Exhibit label: Sleep: Now you're vulnerable to the boogie man!
- Exhibit: An ice block sits on a stand in front of pictures of a wolf and rhinoceros looking frightened.
- Exhibit label: Freezing water: Expands to frighten predators.
- Exhibit: An insect on a stick is orbited by a small sphere.
- Exhibit label: Anti-matter: Matter that is more than 50% ants.
- Exhibit: A DNA strand with the letters T, A, C, and G hanging around it.
- Exhibit label: DNA only has four letters because the alphabet was smaller back then.
- Dad, to child: Told you so.
- Exhibit: A bunch of molecules hang from the ceiling.
- Exhibit label: Molecules? In my day, we only had atoms!
- The top right room is 'Regrettable Pranks: An Interactive Experience'. There are four exhibits.
- Exhibit: Five balloons float tethered to a table. A child is holding a sixth balloon. The Dad looks alarmed.
- Sign on exhibit: If this helium makes your voice go higher, it's because you're ten seconds from exploding.
- Exhibit: An alien face is shown above an outline of several hands next to a ruler. A child holds his hand up to it.
- Sign on exhibit: Measure your middle finger. If it's longer than the others, you're an alien halfbreed.
- Exhibit: Three cups are on a table. A child is walking away with a fourth cup, the dad's arm around the child's shoulder.
- Exhibit label: Has anyone seen my rabbit brain? It looks like a cherry, and I dropped it in a Jello cup.
- Exhibit: A monstrous set of jaws open upward around a bed.
- Sign on exhibit: Make your bed or monsters will know a kid lives there.
- The center right room is 'Concessions'. There are three booths.
- Booth: A concession stand is labeled 'KFP', and displays a KFC-style bucket. A dad and child are eating.
- Dad: The "P" is for "phoenix".
- Booth: A concession stand.
- Sign on stand: Ground beef: Beef we found on the ground.
- Dad, to child: Told you.
- Booth: A stand shaped like a giant eye.
- Booth label: EYES CREAM
- Subtitle: How did you think it was spelled?
- Sign on booth: Now with more of the goo in your eyes. Same as every other creamery.
- The lower left room is 'Conservatory of Poorly Remembered History'. There are five exhibits.
- Exhibit: A man is riding a dragon.
- Exhibit label: Genghis Khan: victory through dragons.
- Exhibit: A criminal in front of some windows.
- Exhibit label: The Crimean War: The first war against crime.
- Exhibit: A castle with flags hanging on it.
- Exhibit label: The Renaissance
- Subtitle: Long story short, the wizards were in control.
- Exhibit:A man in Jedi-style robes with a fake beard.
- Exhibit label: Star Wars is a documentary. No, seriously.
- Dad, to children: Kids, this man is a veteran.
- The lower right room is 'Rotunda of Uncomfortable Topics'. There are five exhibits.
- Exhibit: A wrestling ring, with a man and woman mostly obscured by the exhibit label.
- Exhibit label: Naked wrestling: perfectly normal. NEVER DO IT.
- Exhibit: a figure sits at a booth in front of a bowl of food. The dad is holding a bottle.
- Exhibit label: Alcohol is poison. I drink to save you from it.
- Dad: You're welcome.
- Exhibit: A large bird.
- Exhibit label: Mommies get big tummies before babies come because the stork likes chubby girls.
- Exhibit: A rocket ship.
- Sign on exhibit: Grandma's not dead. She just returned to Saturn. For REVENGE.
- In the areas outside the rooms, there are two more exhibits and restrooms, all clickable.
- Exhibit: A dinosaur skeleton.
- Exhibit label: That's right. Dinosaurs were made entirely of BONES.
- Dad, to kid: If you think about it, it makes sense.
- Exhibit: A large image hangs on the wall. It is a dense squiggly jumble of lines.
- Dad, to kids: You gotta squint juuust right.
- Sign on exhibit: Magic eye trick that doesn't actually work.
- Restrooms: There are three doors, each with a sign.
- First door (male logo): Men & Boys
- Second door (female logo): Women & Girls
- Third door (unrecognizable logo): Korgmen & Spangs
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