10: Pi Equals
Title text: My most famous drawing, and one of the first I did for the site
There are two possible references here. One is from the book Contact by Carl Sagan, where the existence of God was shown in the last chapter to be encoded in the digits of pi. The other is an old joke of a fortune cookie with a fortune that reads "Help! I'm trapped in a fortune cookie factory!" Similar jokes are often repeated for any mass-manufactured personalized item, often implying that the worker who made the item is working in a sweatshop somewhere or is literally trapped inside a factory and calling for help via the items he produces. This joke is also referenced in 327: Exploits of a Mom's title text, where Mrs. Roberts daughter's name is "Help I'm trapped in a driver's license factory."
The most literal interpretation of the joke would be that some being who helped to create the universe in a "universe factory" snuck a message into the digits of pi (a number that has an endlessly long decimal that never repeats) asking for help to get out. Mathematical concepts being manufactured in a factory is the main mental image here. One can't help but wonder if the primordial beings who labored on the universe to produce things like the gravitational constant and pi have a labor union. Judging by the fact that they're calling for help, it seems they don't.
Of course, because pi never ends and never repeats, if you assign each number pair a letter from the alphabet and look through the digits of pi, somewhere within it is the entire work of Shakespeare, or any other piece of information that could be expressed with human language. So, ironically, somewhere in pi, there actually is the phrase stated in the comic, in a sense.
Interestingly enough, this could also work for pictures if you assign a set of numbers to equal an x coordinate, a y coordinate, and an RGB value - eventually you will find the Mona Lisa.
- Pi = 3.141592653589793helpimtrappedinauniversefactory7108914...
- This is the eleventh comic originally posted on livejournal. The previous was 9: Serenity is coming out tomorrow. The next was 14: Copyright. View archive here.
- The book version of this comic (in xkcd: volume 0) has different title text: "I've put rescue instructions in e. You'll need the cheat codes for your universe, which I hid in the square root of two."