What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

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What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby Moose Anus » Thu Apr 03, 2014 6:39 pm UTC

Link to what-if #0090

Great Axes are also used in heavy metal bands.

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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby Whizbang » Thu Apr 03, 2014 6:47 pm UTC

What a great question.

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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby rmsgrey » Thu Apr 03, 2014 6:48 pm UTC

But if all the people are this one lumberjack, where do the cops come from?

Cops are people too!

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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby Moose Anus » Thu Apr 03, 2014 6:49 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:But if all the people are this one lumberjack, where do the cops come from?

Cops are people too!
Yeah, seems like a cop out.
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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby Klear » Thu Apr 03, 2014 6:55 pm UTC

That axe-crazy stickman is my new favourite xkcd character.

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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby pkcommando » Thu Apr 03, 2014 7:01 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:But if all the people are this one lumberjack, where do the cops come from?

Thank you!

Plus, how is any area NOT sparsely populated in this scenario?


Also: Am I the only one who can't stop laughing at 'scariest woodpecker ever'? We need a representation of 'all woodpeckers combined into one woodpecker'.
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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby Ryeinn » Thu Apr 03, 2014 7:23 pm UTC

I'm curious about the rotation of the tree trunk. The discussion states that the tree will hit moving at km/s. Which part? How are we dealing with the torque? Also, has the variation of the gravitational force affected the calculation of the rotational acceleration?

I'm still at work...so I'm curious if anyone has worked this out.

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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby Djehutynakht » Thu Apr 03, 2014 7:46 pm UTC

I really hope that axe-fan stickman is incorporated into future xkcd comics.

Giant or otherwise.


(as for the police thing, all-humans-made-one-human was just a normal stick figure, not lumberjack guy. So we can just assume he's a giant and not the composite of the world's individuals)

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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Thu Apr 03, 2014 7:47 pm UTC

I demand royalties for my likeness, and the likenesses of my axes, being used in this comic without my express permission.

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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby senor_cardgage » Thu Apr 03, 2014 8:01 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:But if all the people are this one lumberjack, where do the cops come from?

Cops are people too!


No. The poem says that all the men were one man. So, clearly women are excluded (and therefore, all the cops are women).

Now, if we take "men" in the generic sense to include all mankind (i.e. male and female), then I have an objection to this claim:

In other words, the Mother Goose poem in John's question probably wouldn't wipe out the human race, but it would probably be the deadliest single disaster in our species's history.


If it's the deadliest disaster, and all mankind is one man, then that means all of humanity has been killed by this tree (especially likely if the tree falls on him). So, yes, it would wipe out the human race, which consists of one person.

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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby dawolf » Thu Apr 03, 2014 8:08 pm UTC

I'm not sure of the numbers here.

1 tooth -> ~ 2 grams

Number of men: ~ 3.5B.

So each tooth is 2 grams * 3.5B = 7B grams = 7,000,000,000 g = 7,000 tons.

A single whale is about 170 tons. so it's more like 40 whales per tooth.....

Not sure about the other values!

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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby ari11 » Thu Apr 03, 2014 8:18 pm UTC

kind of wondering where you get the calculations for the human height?

If the average human is about 1.7 meters and weighs 62 kilograms, and there are 7 billion humans, wouldn't we get:

7,000,000,000 humans * 1.7 meters would be much greater than the 3 kilometers

I can't do any calculation that gets anywhere near that low, can someone explain?

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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby Retsam » Thu Apr 03, 2014 9:17 pm UTC

dawolf wrote:I'm not sure of the numbers here.

1 tooth -> ~ 2 grams

Number of men: ~ 3.5B.

So each tooth is 2 grams * 3.5B = 7B grams = 7,000,000,000 g = 7,000 tons.

A single whale is about 170 tons. so it's more like 40 whales per tooth.....

Not sure about the other values!


I'm guessing he's calculating it based on size, not weight. If the length of a tooth is between 0.5-1% the length of the human body, then that 3 kilometer human would have between 15-30 meter teeth. According to wikipedia, blue whales have been seen up to 27 meters, so it fits pretty well, it seems.

senor_cardgage wrote:If it's the deadliest disaster, and all mankind is one man, then that means all of humanity has been killed by this tree (especially likely if the tree falls on him). So, yes, it would wipe out the human race, which consists of one person.


Hmm... except that if all men are one man, and supposing that man is somewhat unlikely to reproduce, I'm reckoning it probably would wipe out the human race.

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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby Moose Anus » Thu Apr 03, 2014 9:53 pm UTC

Retsam wrote:Hmm... except that if all men are one man, and supposing that man is somewhat unlikely to reproduce, I'm reckoning it probably would wipe out the human race.
Life, uh, finds a way. Maybe with a woodpecker.
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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby dalcde » Thu Apr 03, 2014 10:16 pm UTC

senor_cardgage wrote:No. The poem says that all the men were one man. So, clearly women are excluded (and therefore, all the cops are women).

He later said
What-if wrote:If we used the same approach to combine every living human into a single body

So it probably includes women as well

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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby JeffR23 » Thu Apr 03, 2014 10:23 pm UTC

Retsam wrote:
Hmm... except that if all men are one man, and supposing that man is somewhat unlikely to reproduce, I'm reckoning it probably would wipe out the human race.


In the versions where the women were left out (as evidenced by their availability as cops), about 3 million of them will have been pregnant at the time of the event; the human race has a fighting chance I think.

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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby ChronosDragon » Thu Apr 03, 2014 11:01 pm UTC

JeffR23 wrote:
Retsam wrote:
Hmm... except that if all men are one man, and supposing that man is somewhat unlikely to reproduce, I'm reckoning it probably would wipe out the human race.


In the versions where the women were left out (as evidenced by their availability as cops), about 3 million of them will have been pregnant at the time of the event; the human race has a fighting chance I think.


It depends on if males are automatically incorporated into the One Man upon birth, maturation, or some other criteria. Even then, humanity could go on: think of all the sperm banks they could draw from. In-vitro alone would do us pretty well, though it might encourage racism and classism - only those with access to sperm banks (i.e., those in first world countries, particularly cities) could reproduce, and once sperm supplies dwindled, the established matriarchs would carefully allot the resources.

Of course, that begs the question: does the 3km tall Man produce 9 cm sperm? And can these be used (through DNA manipulation) to fertilize regular egg cells?
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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby rmsgrey » Thu Apr 03, 2014 11:14 pm UTC

ari11 wrote:kind of wondering where you get the calculations for the human height?

If the average human is about 1.7 meters and weighs 62 kilograms, and there are 7 billion humans, wouldn't we get:

7,000,000,000 humans * 1.7 meters would be much greater than the 3 kilometers

I can't do any calculation that gets anywhere near that low, can someone explain?


To get 7,000,000,000 time the mass, assuming the same average density, you'd need 7,000,000,000 times the volume, or a little under 2,000 times the height.

2,000*1.7 = 3,400 - so 3km is accurate to within a factor of 2...

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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby Mikeski » Thu Apr 03, 2014 11:59 pm UTC

ChronosDragon wrote:Of course, that begs the question: does the 3km tall Man produce 9 cm sperm? And can these be used (through DNA manipulation) to fertilize regular egg cells?

<pedant>"begs the question" does not mean what you want it to mean.</pedant>

Anyway... it depends what the DNA of the 3-billion-man man looks like. Did his chromosomes just "vote" when he was merged together (first site, first chromosome... adenine-thymine wins with 25.00002% of the vote...), or does he have a copy of everyone's DNA in there?

If the former, you may have genetic diversity problems later on... though if you can survive a few generations, that'll solve itself by mutations. And he's probably got normal-sized cells, just 3 billion times as many. (Unless you think he's made out of protons/electrons/quarks/etc 3 billion times larger than normal subatomic particles, then he's just scaled up at all levels and he'll have giant cells and DNA compatible with no one.)

If the latter, breaking up the 1.5-billion-ploid sperm into usable haploid chunks is probably difficult (I dunno, I stitch together silicon things, not biological ones). And he would need those giant 9cm cells to hold everything. It might be easier, and better for diversity, to just merge egg cell DNA, and sort some "Y"s out of the gigasperms to swap for "X"s to make new normal-sized males. (I assume he can't be a giant chimera, since being every blood type at once would cause some clotting problems, at minimum. Though I don't know how being 3-billion-times-diploid would work, either.)

Since we've broken most of physics, chemistry, and biology either way, we are literally arguing about fairy tales, so the real "answer" is "who knows?" :|

This is a horribly un-thought-through plot point in the Saber Marionette anime series... a world populated with only men, because a handful of males were all that made it to their new planet. They had the technology to use the survivors' DNA to make more men (and not just clones of the originals, but genetically-diverse ones, so obviously mix-and-matching chromosomes), but they couldn't make women. Why not? Just swap out a Y for an X and you should get a female, and if you've got males, you've got both Ys and Xs to build with... the plot should really only work for an all-female planet.

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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby Klear » Fri Apr 04, 2014 12:37 am UTC

Mikeski wrote:<pedant>"begs the question" does not mean what you want it to mean.</pedant>


<dinosaur comics>http://www.qwantz.com/index.php?comic=693</dinosaur comics>

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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby Mikeski » Fri Apr 04, 2014 1:33 am UTC

Klear wrote:
Mikeski wrote:<pedant>"begs the question" does not mean what you want it to mean.</pedant>

<dinosaur comics>http://www.qwantz.com/index.php?comic=693</dinosaur comics>

So your saying my pedantry is a mute point?

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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby Klear » Fri Apr 04, 2014 1:53 am UTC

Mikeski wrote:
Klear wrote:
Mikeski wrote:<pedant>"begs the question" does not mean what you want it to mean.</pedant>

<dinosaur comics>http://www.qwantz.com/index.php?comic=693</dinosaur comics>

So your saying my pedantry is a mute point?

People are actually saying "mute point"? Never heard that, but I hate it already.

I actually agree with you (and T-Rex), but y point is that it's pointless to get worked up about it and complain about it. ¨ve got to bottle the hate inside of you.

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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby ijkcomputer » Fri Apr 04, 2014 2:13 am UTC

Ryeinn wrote:I'm curious about the rotation of the tree trunk. The discussion states that the tree will hit moving at km/s. Which part? How are we dealing with the torque? Also, has the variation of the gravitational force affected the calculation of the rotational acceleration?


For that matter, at this size scale the falling tree should act like a whip; the 'fall' can only propagate along it at the speed of sound in wood. Or break into pieces, but I guess it's already been determined to be arbitrarily strong? which I suppose means it could be arbitrarily rigid?

Anyway under some set of rules you could imagine whiplike behavior further accelerating the tip of the tree, thus making it far more damaging. Not to mention perhaps creating quite a sonic boom.

The difference in gravity from top to bottom is only about 2%, though, not a huge deal for this calculation.

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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby Mikeski » Fri Apr 04, 2014 2:22 am UTC

Klear wrote:People are actually saying "mute point"? Never heard that, but I hate it already.

Yup, it's my biggest grammatical pet peeve. I'll occasionally thank people who use the correct version.

I actually agree with you (and T-Rex), but y point is that it's pointless to get worked up about it and complain about it. ¨ve got to bottle the hate inside of you.

Yeah, I wasn't being hateful. I don't think one can use <pedant></pedant> tags if one is being at all serious. :mrgreen:

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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby Mikeski » Fri Apr 04, 2014 2:32 am UTC

ijkcomputer wrote:Anyway under some set of rules you could imagine whiplike behavior further accelerating the tip of the tree, thus making it far more damaging. Not to mention perhaps creating quite a sonic boom.

Hm. Would it fall fast enough to catch its own leaves on fire? (If we cut it down in the autumn when they were all dried out?) Then we could have some nice winds as all that oxygen went hurtling towards a bonfire consisting of every leaf and twig on the planet. Probably not significant compared to the damage from ocean waves, though. The ash cloud left behind might be.

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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby Klear » Fri Apr 04, 2014 2:35 am UTC

Mikeski wrote:Yeah, I wasn't being hateful. I don't think one can use <pedant></pedant> tags if one is being at all serious. :mrgreen:


There was also the fact that I'm currently archivebinge-ing Dinosaur Comics and this is the last one I read. Otherwise I'd never be able to find it, or even remember its relevance.

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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby Envelope Generator » Fri Apr 04, 2014 6:35 am UTC

I hope stubble guy will be a regular character.
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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby KrO2 » Fri Apr 04, 2014 7:42 am UTC

The court case mentioned at the end is about reasonable suspicion, not probable cause. They can stop you and ask why you're biking with an axe in the middle of the night; they can't arrest you or search you. Not based solely on that, anyway.

(Also I am pretty sure I have done this very thing, except instead of an axe it was a sword.)

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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby CharlieP » Fri Apr 04, 2014 7:48 am UTC

I'm just slightly confused as to why Randall has used the British spelling of "axe", the American spelling of "kilometre" and the just plain wrong spelling of "highlighted"...
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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby Wooloomooloo » Fri Apr 04, 2014 8:25 am UTC

rmsgrey wrote:But if all the people are this one lumberjack, where do the cops come from?

Cops are people too!

Well there's your mistake right there - they're clearly all soulless hellspawn and not human at all, as anyone who ever drove a vehicle full well knows; I bet one could even directly prove it with one of those glasses from "They live"...

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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby keithl » Fri Apr 04, 2014 8:53 am UTC

ijkcomputer wrote:For that matter, at this size scale the falling tree should act like a whip; the 'fall' can only propagate along it at the speed of sound in wood. Or break into pieces, but I guess it's already been determined to be arbitrarily strong? which I suppose means it could be arbitrarily rigid?


If the tree is shaped like an oak, with branches many kilometers long but not sagging like limp spagetti, then yes, the material must be incredibly stiff. I'll have to think more about the proportions and the bending moments, but my WAG is that the tensile modulus scales proportionally to the length scaling, 3100 times, to sag proportionally. Oak tensile modulus is 11GPa, so The One Tree material must be stiffer than 35TPa. Diamond, graphene, and carbon nanotubes are all approximately 1TPa. The speed of sound is the square root of the stiffness divided by the mass density, 750 kg/m3 for oak wood. So, the axial (lengthwise) speed of sound in the material is more than 200 km/s. I'm guessing that the period of bending vibration goes as the square root of the length, so a normal size branch that sways with a 1 second period will scale to a 1 minute period on the One Tree.

Coriolis acceleration means that the top of the falling One Tree will be accelerated eastward, though much less than the gravity torque moves it in whatever direction it started falling in.

If the falling One Tree reaches beyond the continental shelf, the branches sticking sideways will plunge through the relatively thin sea-floor crust and into the mantle. That might slow it down so that the main trunk will hit the water relatively slowly. The tree being relatively "fluffy" and slow compared to the Chicxulub impactor, much of the water may splash up into the leaves and branches rather than outwards.

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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby xorsyst » Fri Apr 04, 2014 2:21 pm UTC

I think fire axes are much more of a US thing - I don't recall ever seeing one in the UK, although they may exist. So while I suspect 5:1 to 50:1 is true in the US, I reckon much higher in some other parts of the world.

For example, I'm in a city right now of, say, 100,000 people, and the only axes _I_ know of are in the hardware store. And then there's probably only a couple or so.

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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby ahammel » Fri Apr 04, 2014 2:31 pm UTC

KrO2 wrote:The court case mentioned at the end is about reasonable suspicion, not probable cause. They can stop you and ask why you're biking with an axe in the middle of the night; they can't arrest you or search you. Not based solely on that, anyway.
To elaborate a bit, after the defendant was stopped he "showed classic symptoms of intoxication", such as not being sure what city he was in and falling over. He was then arrested for either drunk in public or DUI (not sure which). The arresting officer discovered meth on his person during the arrest.

Also, he apparently wasn't carrying the axe: the court report says that it was "attached" to the bicycle in some way.

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The officer could reasonably eliminate firefighting and logging from the list of possible pursuits the man might have been engaged in[...]
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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby speising » Fri Apr 04, 2014 3:04 pm UTC

xorsyst wrote:I think fire axes are much more of a US thing - I don't recall ever seeing one in the UK, although they may exist. So while I suspect 5:1 to 50:1 is true in the US, I reckon much higher in some other parts of the world.

For example, I'm in a city right now of, say, 100,000 people, and the only axes _I_ know of are in the hardware store. And then there's probably only a couple or so.


i have trouble imagining the use of an axe in a burning building of reasonable construction material (ie, concrete, steel fire doors) anyway.

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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby Whizbang » Fri Apr 04, 2014 3:08 pm UTC

speising wrote:
xorsyst wrote:I think fire axes are much more of a US thing - I don't recall ever seeing one in the UK, although they may exist. So while I suspect 5:1 to 50:1 is true in the US, I reckon much higher in some other parts of the world.

For example, I'm in a city right now of, say, 100,000 people, and the only axes _I_ know of are in the hardware store. And then there's probably only a couple or so.


i have trouble imagining the use of an axe in a burning building of reasonable construction material (ie, concrete, steel fire doors) anyway.


They're used to mercy-kill the women and children. At least, that's what I've always assumed.

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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby kb7iuj » Fri Apr 04, 2014 3:47 pm UTC

Oh, my goodness... Randall Munroe has planted the Tree of Might! We're all doomed.

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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby kb7iuj » Fri Apr 04, 2014 3:52 pm UTC

Oh, dear... Randall's planted the Tree of Might! Anime fans are already running away in horror... :lol:

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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby mathmannix » Fri Apr 04, 2014 4:43 pm UTC

CharlieP wrote:I'm just slightly confused as to why Randall has used the British spelling of "axe", the American spelling of "kilometre" and the just plain wrong spelling of "highlighted"...


I have been American my whole life, and I always have always used (and seen used, AFAIK) "axe", except when I play "ax" in Scrabble. I didn't realize that "ax" was the American version, but if it is it is not completely widespread. And I think only pedants use "highlit", everybody else uses "highlighted" (and just now, the interweb put a red line under "highlit" (and another one under "interweb") but not one under "highlighted". Or am I missing what you think the proper past tense of the verb "to highlight" should be?
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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby Whizbang » Fri Apr 04, 2014 4:50 pm UTC

Born and raised in Utah, moved to New Hampshire when I was 16. I am pretty sure I've mostly seen it as "axe", with an oddball "ax" thrown in just often enough to make you do a double-take.

Although, as I type this, "axe" has a red squiggle under it, indicating it is misspelled. I am not sure I've ever noticed that. Maybe I don't type the word "ax(e)" enough.

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Re: What-If 0090: "Great Tree, Great Axe"

Postby speising » Fri Apr 04, 2014 5:00 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:
CharlieP wrote:I'm just slightly confused as to why Randall has used the British spelling of "axe", the American spelling of "kilometre" and the just plain wrong spelling of "highlighted"...


I have been American my whole life, and I always have always used (and seen used, AFAIK) "axe", except when I play "ax" in Scrabble. I didn't realize that "ax" was the American version, but if it is it is not completely widespread. And I think only pedants use "highlit", everybody else uses "highlighted" (and just now, the interweb put a red line under "highlit" (and another one under "interweb") but not one under "highlighted". Or am I missing what you think the proper past tense of the verb "to highlight" should be?

randall uses "hilighted", though.


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