387 thoughts on “Odd Temporal Milestones

  1. My physics teacher used your comic 435 “physicist character” in a slide today in class; Awesome!


  2. I started on Wikipedia today on Pigeon and ended in a loop. Your theory of first link traveleing is ineffective. Although I brushed very closely with ‘Philosophy’, I never made it..


  3. The Beatles always felt like ancient history to me (I was born in ’74). But the music I grew up with, which I still listen to regularly with my kids, is older to my kids than the Beatles were to me.


  4. They also say if you start from the “Philosophy” Wikipedia page, within six degrees you’ll reach the page for Kevin Bacon!


  5. Re: ISO 8601, I stumbled on the method myself, and have found it best, with or without the dashes, for making sure that my notes are dated-ordered simply by the saved filname (“DailyNote20130302.rtf”). Never new, until today, that there was a standard. Now, if we could just convince the rest of the world…

    Keep up the good work.


  6. @Note Science, I think you must have missed ‘clade’ on the Pigeon (actually redirects to Columbidae because taxonomy [accidentally typed taconomy] is a tangle, particularly when it comes to doves/pigeons/rock versions of those) article, because it goes to a well-known cycle ([Ancient] Greek [Language] / IndoEuropean / et cetera) pretty quickly.
    Coercion/Threats are|is a deliciously short cycle, though.
    @Jeremy, it makes little sense that the rule would be absolute, especially considering Wikipedia’s ever-changing (and self-aware) nature. I think it is just an interesting observation that the first link in an article tends to be towards a more general topic, and that eventually the most general (in line with the comic the first person in this thread posted a link to) is Philosophy. This leads to other games, like following the *last* non-meta (for that is really what Mr. Munroe is getting at when he says no hatnotes, pronunciation links, et cetera) link in an article – it doesn’t take you anywhere in particular, except maybe articles in need of editing. Or picking the *least likely* link out of an article: it is amusing to see the chain from an outside perspective (check browser history) later.

    But to address the blag post itself: first, instead of the unwieldy construction ‘temporal milestone’, why not just use ‘hourstone’ or some such? 😛
    And why when people make observations like this do they only look over the past century or so? One could note that we are much farther from the fall of Roman Civilisation than we are from the farthest in the future Arthur C. Clarke ventured in his 2001 tetralogy. Or even (although this is less defensible by far) that we are farther from the Renaissance then the people of that period were from the beginning of the so-called Dark Ages.


  7. Oh, also:

    @Dana, what if we taught people to get familiar with the Unix Epoch? Would it be possible?

    Also, another fun/thought-provoking Wikipedia game (although this works for any semantic network, I think) is the cycle-breaker (not guaranteed to break all cycles, but works pretty well): the same rules as the original XKCD game, but if that first eligible link has been followed (purple styling) the status of the link to click to continue defers to the next eligible (non-meta) link.


  8. @Jeremy

    There is no page “pigeon” there are the following

    Columbidae > Clade > Monophyly > Cladistics > Entomology > Science > Knowledge > Facts > Proof (Truth) > Necessity and Sufficiency > Logic > Reason > Consciousness > Subjectivity > Subject (Philosophy) > Philosophy

    Feral Pigeon > Domestic Pigeon > Rock Pigeon > Bird > Class (biology) > Biological Classification > Taxonomy (biology) > Discipline (specialism) > List of Academic Disciplines > Knowledge > (see above)

    Common Wood Pigeon > Columbidae > (see first list)

    Carrier Pigeon > Homing Pigeon > Domestic Pigeon > (See second list)

    Pigeon Racing > Racing Pigeon > Breed > Behaviour > Organisms > Biology > Natural Science > Science (see first list)

    Passenger Pigeon > North America > Continent > Landmasses > Ocean > Saline Water > Water > Chemical Compound > Chemical Substance > Chemistry > Outline of Physical Science > Physics > Natural Philosophy > Philosophy

    Fancy Pigeon > Domestication > Population > Species > Biology > (See Pigeon Racing)

    Lieutenant Pigeon > United Kingdom > Sovereign State > Political Geography > Human Geography > Geography > Science > (see above)

    Flying Pigeon > China > East Asia > United Nations > International Organization > organization > Social > Organism > Biology > (see above)

    Sea Pigeon > National Hunt Racing > Horse racing in Great Britain > Horse Racing > Equestrianism > Horses > Extant Taxon > Biology > (see above)

    New Zealand Pigeon > Bird > (see above)

    Speckled Pigeon > Columbidae > (see above)

    Project Pigeon > World War II > War > States > Political System > System > Set (Mathematics) > Mathematics > Quantity > Property (Philosophy) > Logic > (See above)

    Are you sure you weren’t on Wiktionary?

    Pigeon > Columbidae > Family > Father > sire > lord > master > control > influence > power > capability > ability > skill > separate > apart > together > same > selfsame > same

    and there’s your loop.


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  10. There are some closed loops.

    United states constitution > supremacy Clause > Article Six of the United States Constitution > United states constitution and loop

    For instance.


  11. Comment about today’s comic (1188):

    First: Haha! Delightful.

    Now on to the analysis: Unfortunately that code would be more accurately described as tossing a ball upward and catching it yourself, then handing the ball to your friend and him doing the same.

    I spent a couple minutes trying to think of a way to have one P throw and the other P catch, back and forth, but then I overflowed my stack and gave up.

    By the way, your code would cause a stack overflow as well.


  12. Hi!
    Your comic is awesome and I’m sure you heard it a thousand times. I’m not a scientist and not even a student but I love your “graphic novel”)) I wonder if your life is so interesting as life of your characters’. Great job man! I’m your Number One fan in Russia!


  13. Hey Randall: re: Your most recent (1189): Isn’t “trans-Neptunian panic-zone” a reference to “Event Horizon” (which, sadly, started out with such promise, only to devolve into yet another “Hellraiser” movie)? And, that being said . . .

    Isn’t it maybe time you started a new thread, before this one collapses under its own weight and sucks eve______? And please hurry; it’s already started (and yes, I know, this comment is contradicted by the science, but then hey, if you can reference schlock Sci-fi/Horror, why can’t we posit schlock sci______? See? There it goes again. HURRY!


  14. I just heard about the pitch drop experiment today and thought that went very well with you comic


  15. Does anything happen on the Time comic (1190)? I’ve “Wait[ed] for it” for a while now and might have missed it but nothing seems to happen.


  16. Just keep going back to it, daily. It started out “Time,” plus the mouse-over text. Each day the perspective pulls back and the (sand?) castle(s) grow. IF these are sand castles, then my best guess is that eventually we’re going to see a big-butt wave come in and . . . .


  17. I genuinely hope someone smarter than me has been saving the 1190 images. I keep thinking about doing it, and then deciding against it on the assumption that someone else probably already is… keep up the good work and thanks for all that you do.


  18. xkcd(dot)aubronwood(dot)com has all the frames in a neat little slideshow with controls et al. Also the forums has them all documented and there is a wiki dedicated to this.


  19. Another odd temporal milestone: this blog post is now closer to one year ago than to now.


  20. My understanding of ISO 8601 is that YYYY-MM-DD AND YYYYMMDD were BOTH acceptable. YYYY.MM.DD, YYYY/MM/DD, and all the other formats are not.


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