0718: "The Flake Equation"

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chocolate.razorblades
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0718: "The Flake Equation"

Postby chocolate.razorblades » Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:06 am UTC

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http://xkcd.com/718/
Title-text: Statistics suggest that there should be tons of alien encounter stories, and in pracitce there are tons of alien encounter stories. This is known as Fermi's Lack-of-a-Paradox.

YOU GUYS HAVE TO BELIEVE ME NOW.
Last edited by chocolate.razorblades on Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:08 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby picnic_crossfire » Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:08 am UTC

Groan. A lot of buildup for very little.
picnic time!

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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby Coffee » Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:10 am UTC

I liked that one. It wasn't so much a "hahahaha" as a "heh. Sounds about right," but I liked that one.
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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby skyo » Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:12 am UTC

Reminds me of a previous comic. I guess he has quite a bone to pick with the Drake Equation.
floop.

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Omegaton
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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby Omegaton » Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:18 am UTC

Why is it called the Flake Equation?

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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby s0merand0mdude » Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:18 am UTC

The comic itself was only kind of chuckle-worthy, but I thought the title text was hilarious.

Speaking of which, I bet there's more than 10,000 alien encounter stories out there. Google gives 114,000 results for "alien encounter", but the amount of those that are actual stories is debatable. However, there's no guarantee that there's no stories that don't have the words "alien encounter" in them, either.
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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby mszegedy » Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:19 am UTC

Yup. This was actually one of his longer comics (and several trillion times better than the last one). But didn't he DO this already? I know the exact answer to that question. And I think it's cheap to mílk a joke twice. Although this is funnier than its predecessor (all made-up variables versus one made-up variable).

But sérióúsly, he seems kind of desperate here.

EDIT: What the hell? What sort of engine is going around editing that white beverage that is generally excreted by the mammary glands of mammals known as cows into milk and that word that has a similar meaning as "literal" into seriously?

EDIT 2: And also. the colloquialism for the underworld (place of eternal punishment, etc.) is represented as the filler "hell". Although a lot of Christian text DOES refer to it as héll.
Last edited by mszegedy on Thu Mar 25, 2010 9:05 pm UTC, edited 5 times in total.

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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby Magnanimous » Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:19 am UTC

Typo in the alt text... It should be "practice". :?

Also, I liked figuring out what each variable-subscript combination stood for. This wasn't a "laugh-out-loud" comic, but I liked it. :)

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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby lu6cifer » Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:19 am UTC

Omegaton wrote:Why is it called the Flake Equation?


Perhaps it's a flaky equation?
On another note, I do hope that typo in the title-text is fixed...

EDIT: Annnnd....I've been ninja'd
lu6cifer wrote:"Derive" in place of "differentiate" is even worse.

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Omegaton
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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby Omegaton » Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:24 am UTC

lu6cifer wrote:
Omegaton wrote:Why is it called the Flake Equation?


Perhaps it's a flaky equation?

I guess I was hoping there was a reference other than rhyming with Drake.

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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby RunsWikScissors » Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:25 am UTC

Gotta divide by the number of people who might believe you.
I'd say 1/100 people? so *.1

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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby Magnanimous » Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:26 am UTC

Omegaton wrote:Why is it called the Flake Equation?


There's a ton of stuff on Google about alien abductions in Snow Flake, Arizona... Maybe that has something to do with it? I don't know.

(Also, today's MT Your Mind was fantastic. :mrgreen:)

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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby Interactive Civilian » Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:29 am UTC

"Fermi's Lack-of-a-Paradox" :mrgreen:

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!! Outstanding!
I (x2+y2-1)3-x2y3=0 science.

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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby lethesoda » Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:48 am UTC

I have confidence that, with proper research and surveys, then a healthy amount of meticulous analysis, this comic would sync up with Hotel California.
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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby xymostech » Wed Mar 24, 2010 5:09 am UTC

RunsWikScissors wrote:I'd say 1/100 people? so *.1


I'm pretty sure you mean 1/100 = *0.01, but the equation isn't for the number of people who believe them, it's the number of stories online.

In other news, the alt-text typo is really bugging me.

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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby wiserd911 » Wed Mar 24, 2010 5:14 am UTC

While intending to argue that alien abductions were caused by some kind of physiological response, Carl Sagan made the interesting argument in his book "The Demon Haunted World" that alien abduction stories are similar to incubus/succubus stories of medieval times. Of course, this could mean the opposite of what Sagan hoped for.

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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby Tova » Wed Mar 24, 2010 5:24 am UTC

Much happier today. :)

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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby Forny » Wed Mar 24, 2010 5:30 am UTC

For those who don't get the "flake" part other than the obvious rhyme, a lot of people use "flake" to refer to someone or something that is unbelievable or just generally dodgy, in the same vein as calling someone a loony or a nutjob.

PS: for the reference type crowd, Wiktionary defines it as:
3. (informal) A person who is impractical, flighty, unreliable, or inconsistent; especially with maintaining a living.
Last edited by Forny on Wed Mar 24, 2010 5:34 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby boring bore » Wed Mar 24, 2010 5:31 am UTC

Being the inattentive person that I am, I didn't notice the subscript jokes until Magnanimous pointed them out. Thanks, Magnanimous!

Does Tk=talk?
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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby SonicAcorn » Wed Mar 24, 2010 5:39 am UTC

I was just playing Mass Effect and this comic made a lot more sense when I read over it again and realized that the "encounter" wasn't sexual. This realization was, to say the least, disappointing.
P.S. I just registered and s-e-n-s-e seems to appear as "babies". However, my sentence remains unaffected. Anyone have an explanation?
Last edited by SonicAcorn on Wed Mar 24, 2010 5:45 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby Eternal Density » Wed Mar 24, 2010 5:44 am UTC

This comic is worthy of being called xkcd. Perhaps RM should only update once a week, and get an editor to tell him which ideas to skip. Or even better, have an editor to shoot down the bad concepts so he doesn't waste time on them so we can still get 3 worthwhile comics a week.
SonicAcorn wrote:I was just playing Mass Effect and this comic made a lot more babies when I read over it again and realized that the "encounter" wasn't sexual. This realization was, to say the least, disappointing.
Your point isn't quite 100% clear to me, but Mass Effect is awesome, so I can't complain. And I must say that Tali is completel-ASSUMING DIRECT CONTROL
[edit]Oh, I understand now.
Last edited by Eternal Density on Wed Mar 24, 2010 5:56 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby cprocjr » Wed Mar 24, 2010 5:47 am UTC

I liked this comic! It wasn't a rolling on the floor laughing comic, but it sure was interesting! The alt-text was also funny.

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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby Drewcifer » Wed Mar 24, 2010 5:48 am UTC

For anyone who wants to know what the solution is, it's 126,000.

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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby Magnanimous » Wed Mar 24, 2010 5:53 am UTC

boring bore wrote:Being the inattentive person that I am, I didn't notice the subscript jokes until Magnanimous pointed them out. Thanks, Magnanimous!

Does Tk=talk?

No problem. :roll:

I got World Population x (Crazy + Misinterpreted) x Talk x F0 x F1 x Details x Audience. (In exponential growths, each stage is sometimes referred to as Fstage... Though it also might stand for Friend, Firsthand [account], or Forwarded?)

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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Mar 24, 2010 6:03 am UTC

Of course aliens exist. But why would they bother coming here? We have no raw materials that can't be found on an asteroid, our tech is too primitive to be of any use to someone capable of interstellar travel, there are better stars for solar power, larger gas giants for fuel, and our atmosphere is probably poisonous anyway, being part oxygen and all. Any meat sources here would be inferior to anything that could be bioengineered.

The only real reason to come here would be for Anthropology research or to wipe us out before we are a threat. It'd be cheaper to simply send a robot instead of going in person, so the most we'd ever see from an alien is their machinery. If they wanted to wipe us out, an asteroid would do the trick.

Any entertainment value from observing us would be negligible compared to virtual reality.

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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby tastelikecoke » Wed Mar 24, 2010 6:24 am UTC

^ Maybe aliens will visit earth for slavery and debt. I think what you're saying is madness.

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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby Dylan » Wed Mar 24, 2010 6:24 am UTC

There's no 'believability' factor. There should definitely be a percentage factor in there multiplying all of it by the credibility of the original source. Drunken hillbillies don't count.

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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby Benson » Wed Mar 24, 2010 6:35 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:The only real reason to come here would be for Anthropology research or to wipe us out before we are a threat. It'd be cheaper to simply send a robot instead of going in person, so the most we'd ever see from an alien is their machinery.
Aliens would have the same manned (well. not manned...) vs. robotic exploration debate we have; what makes you think the roboticists would win, when they clearly haven't here?

But everyone knows they're here for our water, our women, or simply to eat our flesh. (Actually, the latter almost makes sense in the context of hypothetical space-illithids.)

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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby LuNatic » Wed Mar 24, 2010 6:40 am UTC

Ha, brilliance!
Cynical Idealist wrote:
Velict wrote:Good Jehova, there are cheesegraters on the blagotube!

This is, for some reason, one of the funniest things I've read today.

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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby Magnanimous » Wed Mar 24, 2010 6:54 am UTC

Dylan wrote:There's no 'believability' factor. There should definitely be a percentage factor in there multiplying all of it by the credibility of the original source. Drunken hillbillies don't count.

That's sort of the function of DT: when stories get retold many times by several different people, they tend to get molded into something more believable.

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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby kena » Wed Mar 24, 2010 7:05 am UTC

I registered just to post the following.

The proposed values fit in the "Flake Equation" is probably off by an order of magnitude. I suggest the interested parties spend some time with Carl Sagan's excellent Demon-Haunted World, where Sagan provides evidence that alien sightings are mostly a North American occurrence (and to a negligible extent, British). The "world population" on which the equation applies is thus closer to a few hundred millions, you can do the math.

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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby cappisman » Wed Mar 24, 2010 7:39 am UTC

Couldn't you multiply by the average number of 'encounters' during any individuals lifetime? A person who has one 'encounter' is far more liable to have another.

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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby mirni » Wed Mar 24, 2010 7:50 am UTC

The proposed values fit in the "Flake Equation" is probably off by an order of magnitude.


What's more, only a fraction of the "motivated to share" people have access to a media outlet. Think Africa, South America, most of India, Indochina and Indonesia and a significant part of China.

The comic's point still stands, though.

-m-

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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby mirni » Wed Mar 24, 2010 7:59 am UTC

Why did I just type c-h-i-n-a and in its place appeared "The Red Menace (that isn't that red, and is just kinda getting rich and not very menacing anymore)?"

This is rather infuriating. I would have normally typed "a-n-n-o-y-i-n-g" except that typing it produced "*fantastic*".

I doubt it's me. Has it got something to do with xkcdforum? Has it been hacked?

-m-

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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby Magnanimous » Wed Mar 24, 2010 8:03 am UTC


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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby WarPig » Wed Mar 24, 2010 8:12 am UTC

While I have seen many "UFOs" in my military career, I can not claim to have seen an extraterrestrial life form.

"UFO" means just that, an unidentified flying object. I have, additionally, seen several USOs, (submerged objects). However, I am willing to bet that if they were not optical illusions, they had USAF/USN markings somewhere on them. I have seen objects in the night sky do things that are beyond the published abilities of any known aircraft, which leads me to believe there are new things both being tested and in use that are (so far) being kept secret.

As for visitation by aliens, there remains no known physical evidence of any such visit. My mind is open to the possibility, but not convinced of the fact. Space, being large, and intelligence, probably being widespread, may mean there are no intelligent species close enough to able to contact each other before becoming extinct.

But I'd love for a Martian Rover picture to show something creepy crawly.

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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby Legendary » Wed Mar 24, 2010 8:16 am UTC

Funny title, cutesy-but-not-all-that-great variable names, complete lack of punchline.

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Flake Equation can explain the number of Religious people

Postby fuda » Wed Mar 24, 2010 8:17 am UTC

This Flake Equation can be applied to Religion as well.

The probability of telling other people is higher than 1/10, and they probably tell a higher number of people about their religion on average.

Recent converts such as born-again christians tend to be more active in proselytizing, exposing their religious message to a wider range of people.
Last edited by fuda on Wed Mar 24, 2010 8:19 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "The Flake Equation" Discussion

Postby hailspork » Wed Mar 24, 2010 8:19 am UTC

Benson wrote:But everyone knows they're here for our water, our women, or simply to eat our flesh. (Actually, the latter almost makes babies in the context of hypothetical space-illithids.)


I think it's been established that aliens dissolve in water.... or was it salt water?


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