877: Beauty

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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The best hugs are probably from hagfish, which can extrude microscopic filaments that convert a huge volume of water around them to slime in seconds. Instant cozy blanket!
Title text: The best hugs are probably from hagfish, which can extrude microscopic filaments that convert a huge volume of water around them to slime in seconds. Instant cozy blanket!


Many people believe that over-analysis is boring and only serves to detract from the beauty, wonder, or emotional moments of the subject. This is especially compounded in literature classes, but it's a gripe common throughout many studies. Keats in particular is said to have joked that Newton had "destroyed all the poetry of the rainbow, by reducing it to the prismatic colors". Many experts and professionals, however, disagree greatly, claiming that they see more wonder and excitement in those subjects than they did before.

Ponytail's statement to Cueball in the first panel is proved wrong by Megan's actions throughout the comic and the statement in the title text, to the point where she retracts and changes her statement.

Megan comes in, excited about slime molds, in particular F. septica. Slime molds are not particularly attractive [citation needed] — in fact, the average person would probably say they were gross and slimy. Ponytail is rather grossed out and horrified by the mold, and changes her statement in response to Megan's enthusiasm for the mold, in keeping with Ponytail's own disgust. She thinks that Megan is crazy to see the wonder in such a disgusting-looking creature.

F. septica is a remarkable species. As the comic says, it can tolerate extremely high zinc levels. The yellow pigment bonds to the zinc and renders it biologically inactive. As with other slime molds, it forms a multi-nucleate mass which can move like an amoeboid. It changes to a sponge-like form before releasing spores. Although the taxonomy is still fluid, the slime molds are distinct enough to be classified as neither animals, plants or fungi, but form a kingdom of their own, with some types of amoeba.

In the title text the hagfish is described as the best hugger as it can create a huge blanket of slime around it self in a few seconds, which is uses as a defense against predators, and maybe also to move out of its own "prey", which is often dead fish and whales that it burrow into to feed. "Their unusual feeding habits and slime-producing capabilities have led members of the scientific and popular media to dub the hagfish as the most 'disgusting' of all sea creatures." Nevertheless, they too fascinate researchers, and the slime may have various medical applications. See for instance the slime in this video and active slime defense (and knotting) in this video.


[Ponytail and Cueball are discussing science. They are interrupted by an off-panel shout.]
Ponytail: The problem with scientists is that you take the wonder and beauty out of everything by trying to analyze it.
Megan (off panel): Dude!
[Megan runs across this frame less panel, carrying a microscope and a yellow slime mold.]
Megan: My plasmoidal slime molds have heightened pigment production! Check out that yellow color! That actually makes them zinc-resistant. Amazing, huh?
[A close up of Megan's hands holding the yellow slime mold up to Ponytail who takes her hands up to her mouth.]
Ponytail: It looks like dog barf.
Megan (off panel): Hah, yeah! F. Septica is nicknamed "dog vomit slime mold." Cool, huh? Check out my slides!
[Megan has set down the microscope on the floor of the panel, and the slime mold is jiggling in her hands, while Cueball watches but Ponytail looks away.]
Ponytail: Okay, never mind: What's wrong with scientists is that you do see wonder and beauty in everything.
Ponytail: Oh God, it's moving!
Megan: It wants to hug you! So cute!

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In his book The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, Richard Feynman takes exception to the common characterization of scientists as unable to see beauty. He also mentioned this in a 1981 interview.--Prooffreader (talk) 01:29, 23 November 2012 (UTC)

08:24, 25 November 2012 (UTC)overanalyze probably is the point where there is no need which could mean while scientist miss the beauty and wonder while others wonder at the Beauty. Though they see beauty in things which are not conventional

Beauty is not only sink deep.

I used Google News BEFORE it was clickbait (talk) 23:43, 23 January 2015 (UTC)

I can't believe nobody's mentioned NetHack. My! That was a yummy slime mold! Leafy Greens (talk) 21:31, 16 November 2014 (UTC)

Richard Dawkins wrote a book, Unweaving the Rainbow, debunking Megan's original thesis. (Published 1998) Nitpicking (talk) 23:01, 8 September 2021 (UTC)