1778: Interest Timescales
Title text: Sometimes, parts of a slowly-rising mountain suddenly rise REALLY fast, which is extra interesting.
Randall's sharing a bit about himself and the things that interest him, in one of his strange but still funny graphs.
The caption reads: "Most of my interests fall under 'things rising up from the ground, hanging in the air, and then drifting away on the breeze,' just on very different timescales." The four examples fit this as follows:
In the case of a fireworks display, the fireworks fire up into the air, explode, and then the glowing embers drift away on the breeze in the course of a few seconds. This comic was the last released before this years New Year comic 1779: 2017, so this may explain the thoughts of fireworks.
In the case of a rocket launch, the rocket launches from the ground into space, leaving a large plume of smoke that slowly dissipates over many minutes. The rocket remains in space for a time, and then later it re-enters the atmosphere and reaches the ground—in the case of a typical parachute-descent system, it literally drifts through the air. A typical timespan for such an event is several days or weeks.
In the case of a tree, it grows from the ground upwards, remains there until autumn comes, then drops its leaves, which drift on the breeze. This process takes months. Entire trees like the one shown typically last several decades or even centuries before they die - if not felled by humans, most are eventually toppled by the wind as well. The breeze needed for that can be measured on the Beaufort scale, likely above 5.
Finally, in the case of a mountain, a mountains rise fast from the ground due to movement of tectonic plates which result in mountains either via volcanic activity or by simply pressing the ground up through the process of subduction (see 1388: Subduction License). The mountains are then very slowly broken down by natural erosion forces, and the stone particles disperse on the wind. These events are much slower than the others, typically taking tens of millions of years to completely erode away a mountain.
Additionally, some humor stems from the fact that, while on the tree and mountain, although it takes thousands or millions of years for any change to be made noticeable to humans, Cueball acts like it is a roller coaster.
The title text refers to the dramatic event in which a mountain suddenly explodes due to a violent volcanic eruption. Such events are rare and potentially deadly to living things. Calling it "extra interesting" is an understatement.
- [At the bottom of this chart there is a long double arrow pointing at two words:]
- [Above the line there are four drawings going from left to right:]
- [Cueball watches a fireworks display to the left of him, two firework rockets are going up and another one is exploding even higher.]
- Cueball: Ooooh!
- [A tine Cueball is watching a space rockets launch to the left of him while he is holding his arms in the air. The main rocket rises on a hughe plume of smoke.]
- Cueball: Wow!
- [Cueball climbs a tree, holding on to the left of the two main branches going out from the trunk beneath the treetop.]
- Cueball: Zoom!
- [A person, presumably Cueball, is standing at the tip of the highest mountain in a mountain range. The largest mountain in the background has three peaks, with Cueball on top of the tallest central peak. Four other much smaller (or distant) peaks are shown behind the big mountain, two on either side. All five mountains have a line beneath the tip that most likely indicate snow. On the big mountain the two tallest peaks are above this line, but not the third.]
- Cueball: Wheeeee!
- [Caption below the panel:]
- Most of my interests fall under "things rising up from the ground, hanging in the air, and then drifting away on the breeze," just on very different timescales.
- The original title text contained a grammatical error in subject‐verb agreement, where 'parts...suddenly rises' should have been 'parts...suddenly rise' - Randall has later corrected this error.
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