1501: Mysteries

This forum is for the individual discussion thread that goes with each new comic.

Moderators: Moderators General, Prelates, Magistrates

Alexius
Posts: 342
Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2008 4:45 pm UTC

Re: Orange Lights

Postby Alexius » Tue Mar 24, 2015 6:07 pm UTC

scharb wrote:
It was very common during WWII for fighter pilots to report colorful balls of light following them or flying in formation, and it was called St. Elmo's Fire. It was really just distant explosions "following them" the same way the Moon "follows" you. Afterwards they were displaced in UFO reports by flying saucers. Probably, the association between aliens and balls of light is just a culturally-infused, subconscious relic from the 40's... although I'm surprised at the scope of this dissemination, if it influenced reports from Brazil and Russia.


"Foo Fighters" and St. Elmo's Fire are different things.

St. Elmo's Fire, also known as Corposant, is an actual phenomenon. It's a glow at the tips of pointed objects (like ships' masts or aircraft wingtips) in a strong electric field (such as a lightning storm) due to ionisation of the air.

This is the most impressive photo of it I can find- at the tips of antennae on the Austrian meteorological observatory at the top of Hoher Sonnenblick.

Foo fighters, on the other hand, are just unexplained things that WW2 pilots saw- people have suggested that they were anything from Nazi secret weapons to ball lightning.

User avatar
HES
Posts: 4889
Joined: Fri May 10, 2013 7:13 pm UTC
Location: England

Re: 1501: Mysteries

Postby HES » Tue Mar 24, 2015 6:57 pm UTC

One is a band, the other is a puppet.
He/Him/His Image

User avatar
Klear
Posts: 1965
Joined: Sun Jun 13, 2010 8:43 am UTC
Location: Prague

Re: 1501: Mysteries

Postby Klear » Tue Mar 24, 2015 7:32 pm UTC

Fuck grapefruit.

speising
Posts: 2350
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 4:54 pm UTC
Location: wien

Re: 1501: Mysteries

Postby speising » Tue Mar 24, 2015 8:52 pm UTC

Klear wrote:Fuck grapefruit.

they are rather acidic. that could be uncomfortable.

max_rbmc
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2015 6:51 pm UTC

Re: 1501: Mysteries

Postby max_rbmc » Wed Mar 25, 2015 6:53 pm UTC

If Randall thinks that the "Voynich Manuscript" tends toward "Not that weird" and "Explanation seems pretty clear," I'd *really* like to hear his thoughts on the matter.

speising
Posts: 2350
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 4:54 pm UTC
Location: wien

Re: 1501: Mysteries

Postby speising » Thu Mar 26, 2015 12:24 am UTC

max_rbmc wrote:If Randall thinks that the "Voynich Manuscript" tends toward "Not that weird" and "Explanation seems pretty clear," I'd *really* like to hear his thoughts on the matter.


we already had that:
Eoink wrote:
niauropsaka wrote:The Voynich Manuscript is in the lower left quadrant? Clearly neither of the middle lines is zero, because that is definitely >0 weird and >0 unclear.


It was solved about 6 years ago...

http://xkcd.com/593/

FireandAir
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Feb 24, 2014 6:16 pm UTC

Re: 1501: Mysteries

Postby FireandAir » Fri Mar 27, 2015 4:37 pm UTC

Fascinated that those weird things in the asphalt back home are actually A Thing Unto Themselves. I've walked past them dozens of times in my life and never thought twice about them. I always just figured they were simply a part of the normal noise level of Center City weirdness. Schizophrenic street art -- literally, it appears.

FireandAir
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Feb 24, 2014 6:16 pm UTC

Re: 1501: Mysteries

Postby FireandAir » Fri Mar 27, 2015 4:41 pm UTC

speising wrote:
max_rbmc wrote:If Randall thinks that the "Voynich Manuscript" tends toward "Not that weird" and "Explanation seems pretty clear," I'd *really* like to hear his thoughts on the matter.


we already had that:
Eoink wrote:
niauropsaka wrote:The Voynich Manuscript is in the lower left quadrant? Clearly neither of the middle lines is zero, because that is definitely >0 weird and >0 unclear.


It was solved about 6 years ago...

http://xkcd.com/593/


Not only that, but I think in a world where we have both Toynbee Tiles and the Voynich Manuscript, it's quite likely that the two have the same explanation. Paranoid, obsessive nutters aren't a modern invention.

irvy
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2015 10:38 pm UTC

Re: 1501: Mysteries

Postby irvy » Mon Mar 30, 2015 10:43 pm UTC

Okay, some info on the UVB-76 for those still curious.

AFAIK it's a station used by national defence forces to send out a set of pre-defined orders to multiple sites in Russia and around. The noise we hear at other times is just a "heartbeat", so that people on those sites know the line is still live.
I would like to hear some more opinions, though.

User avatar
Coyoty
Posts: 195
Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2012 5:56 pm UTC

Re: 1501: Mysteries

Postby Coyoty » Fri Apr 03, 2015 12:31 am UTC

kcsaff wrote:
Kit. wrote:
Envelope Generator wrote:What's the clear explanation of the Dyatlov Pass incident?

Recklessness of the group, exacerbated by Dyatlov's poor leadership skills.


The central mystery to me is, why did nine adults leave a tent in the middle of the night with hardly any clothes on, run a mile away, actually succeed in starting a fire, and then abandon the fire? The rest could be explained as injuries after all this, but mere recklessness doesn't seem sufficient.

The avalanche theory doesn't seem to fit, because the naked footprints of the party were found at the site, including near the tent, which didn't seem to have collapsed due to avalanche. There just doesn't seem to be enough snow, there's been no reports of other avalanches there, there were no signs of avalanche such as displaced rocks and sticks, etc.

Even if some members of the party flipped out, if the situation wasn't urgent it would have only taken one sane person to take the time to get fully dressed before leaving the site for the picture to look different. The fact is then all nine must have seen whatever was happening as immediately life threatening, even more so than leaving the tent with little clothes on at -20F.

The explanation of paradoxical undressing doesn't work because hypothermia doesn't affect all people the same way at the same time. Also after leaving the tent they were at least capable enough to start a fire, an accomplishment in the circumstances and not what you would expect from people in a paradoxical undressing state.


They found an evil carrot.

User avatar
Copper Bezel
Posts: 2426
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:35 am UTC
Location: Web exclusive!

Re: 1501: Mysteries

Postby Copper Bezel » Fri Apr 03, 2015 7:52 am UTC

A parsimonious and mundane explanation. I approve.
So much depends upon a red wheel barrow (>= XXII) but it is not going to be installed.

she / her / her

User avatar
OmniLiquid
Posts: 59
Joined: Mon Dec 09, 2013 5:24 am UTC
Location: Burning in the Texas heat.

Re: 1501: Mysteries

Postby OmniLiquid » Mon Apr 06, 2015 12:27 pm UTC

Don't you know, epileptic trees explain everything!
Eris = best deity.
(cis male he/him/his)

imil
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri May 08, 2015 9:56 pm UTC

Re: 1501: Mysteries

Postby imil » Fri May 08, 2015 10:27 pm UTC

As for Dyatlov pass, there's an important detail. The guys slept in a cold tent. They had a stove, but not enough fuel to keep it warm all night, and the tent was not a perfect insulator. Yes, Soviet tourists were THAT crazy. That's a proven fact, everything below is speculation.

Apparently, their plan for the morning was:
1) wake up
2) light the fire
3) wait until it gets warm
4) get dressed and leave

Unfortunately, this cunning plan had no safety margin. So when something (most likely panic due to a small or imaginary avalanche) caused the tent to lose integrity in the middle (or beginning) of the night, the group had no way to survive on top of the mountain. I believe that's also the reason for some people leaving barefeet: putting on frozen boots would be either painful or impossible. The only reasonable action in these circumstances was to get down to the closest forest ASAP, make a fire and a temporary shelter, and in the morning get back, repair the tent and salvage the supplies. Might have worked, except for the fact that it didn't.

MaxArt
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Jun 13, 2015 3:24 pm UTC

Re: 1501: Mysteries

Postby MaxArt » Sat Jun 13, 2015 3:33 pm UTC

imil wrote:As for Dyatlov pass, there's an important detail. The guys slept in a cold tent. They had a stove, but not enough fuel to keep it warm all night, and the tent was not a perfect insulator. Yes, Soviet tourists were THAT crazy. That's a proven fact, everything below is speculation.

Apparently, their plan for the morning was:
1) wake up
2) light the fire
3) wait until it gets warm
4) get dressed and leave

Unfortunately, this cunning plan had no safety margin. So when something (most likely panic due to a small or imaginary avalanche) caused the tent to lose integrity in the middle (or beginning) of the night, the group had no way to survive on top of the mountain. I believe that's also the reason for some people leaving barefeet: putting on frozen boots would be either painful or impossible. The only reasonable action in these circumstances was to get down to the closest forest ASAP, make a fire and a temporary shelter, and in the morning get back, repair the tent and salvage the supplies. Might have worked, except for the fact that it didn't.

While some crazy explanations can be reasonably ruled out, like aliens or yetis, even the most probable reconstruction suffer of annoying levels of uncertainty. Most of us still wouldn't make safe bets on what has happened there, but Randall seems ready to do so according to where he placed that dot.
I consider myself a rather rational person with a scientific background, so I'm really curious to know what has led someone with an akin education to have a "clear explanation".

User avatar
orthogon
Posts: 3059
Joined: Thu May 17, 2012 7:52 am UTC
Location: The Airy 1830 ellipsoid

Re: 1501: Mysteries

Postby orthogon » Mon Jun 15, 2015 12:21 pm UTC

MaxArt wrote:While some crazy explanations can be reasonably ruled out, like aliens or yetis, even the most probable reconstruction suffer of annoying levels of uncertainty. Most of us still wouldn't make safe bets on what has happened there, but Randall seems ready to do so according to where he placed that dot.
I consider myself a rather rational person with a scientific background, so I'm really curious to know what has led someone with an akin education to have a "clear explanation".

Whilst I take your point that imil's explanation is just one possibility, and perhaps the axis could be better labelled, but I assume that what Randall was getting at was the "explicability" of the incident. I might observe that my colleague is in the office today; to explain this observation, I might speculate that he came by train, or bus, or underground; perhaps he stayed in a nearby hotel last night and walked; maybe he spent the weekend at his in-laws' in Lincoln and drove straight to the office this morning. Each of these explanations is more or less likely, but that doesn't mean it's inexplicable; in fact the problem in working out what happened is rather a surfeit of plausible explanations.

This kind of argumentation is one of the more vexatious aspects of conspiracy theorists such as the 9/11 Truthers. They tend to seize on uncertainty about a particular mundane explanation as evidence that there can be no mundane explanation, whereas people like me tend to see the existence of one or more plausible explanations as sufficient to convince me that there's no need to look for a conspiracy. We don't have to accept that the explanation is exactly what happened: maybe this column buckled, maybe a different one. This red/grey chip in the WTC dust is consistent with primer paint, but it doesn't match either of the paints we think were used; the fact remains that it's probably primer paint. So maybe the contractor substituted a cheaper alternative; maybe the spec was changed at the last minute and not recorded; maybe it's from a different building or a different part of the building. It's unexplained but it's not inexplicable.

I often wonder what it would be like to try to reconstruct a completely ordinary, un-newsworthy day in a random city in the way that days like 9/11 are reconstructed. My conclusion is that there would be all sorts of unexplained facts, grassy knolls and red/grey dust. It might almost be worth doing as an exercise.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.


Return to “Individual XKCD Comic Threads”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 32 guests