Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
There is an often repeated legend that according to the laws of aerodynamics, bumblebees cannot fly. In fact, it would be more accurate to say that all the mechanics of bumblebee flight are not known and that the approximations to the aerodynamics equations which work well for fixed-wing aircraft, do not work for bumblebees. In recent years, there have been more sophisticated computer models of bumblebee flight, and they have discovered how bumblebee wings produce adequate lift.
The strip also creates a fallacy that because experts can't explain something, they must not be able to understand it (when in reality, the fact in question should be verified first). In this case it is stated as fact that bumblebees can fly planes. The assumption is that since physicists can't explain why that is physicists have more to learn. The knowledge physicists are implied to lack is that bumblebees can fly planes and it's assumed that physicists should examine this problem more closely. When in reality any physicist would tell you that bumblebees simply can not fly planes.
An alternate explanation is that physicists have been studying the "problem" of why bumblebees can not fly airplanes for a long time and the physicists assume that there is no known reason why a bumblebee shouldn't be able to fly a plane. When to a common person it is obvious that the bumblebees are physically and mentally incapable of controlling an airplane.
This strip could be a reference to Bee Movie, in which the main character, Barry B. Benson, enlists the help of other bees to land a plane with the last reserves of pollen on earth. The opening quote of the movie repeats the Bumblebee legend, followed by saying, "The bee, of course, flies anyway, because bees don't care what humans think is impossible."
The title text mentions that sociologists are also unable to explain why many people repeat this obviously wrong urban legend.
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- Science fact:
- [A bumblebee is perched on the yoke (control column) of an airplane.]
- Physicists still can't explain how bumblebees can fly airplanes.
Bumblebee#Flight 188.8.131.52 05:49, 15 March 2013 (UTC)
Amazing that this urban legend is still going. I seem to remember reading that the aerodynamicist who came to this conclusion sobered up and withdrew his comments within a day or two, 80 years ago. DD (talk) 09:22, 15 March 2013 (UTC)
In Richard Hammonds Invisible Worlds (Great Series) they shows slow motion footage of a bee's flight through smoke, revealing that the be TWISTS ITS WINGS in order to swing downwards twice in one flap of its wings, doubling its lift and removing the up-flaps negative lift. Here is the link, http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p007vs8p.184.108.40.206 10:37, 15 March 2013 (UTC)
I also saw this comic as a reference to the movie "A Bee Movie" where Jerry Seinfeld's bee character is helping the human land the plane. I realize the human is actually flying the plane in that situation, but the bees were helping her. -- User:Mattsinc (talk) 12:31, 16 March 2013 (UTC)
Bumblebees DO fly planes. <Can't believe what I'm about to say...> Ask an economist <Forces self to overcomes retching impulse>. Bumblebee#Agricultural_use #TIL about Buzz pollination. 220.127.116.11 14:44, 16 March 2013 (UTC)
The alt-text also plays with this urban legend. Claiming that sociologists cannot explain why people like to claim that bumblebees can't fly is exactly like claiming that scientists cannot explain bumblebee flight, to the extent that the motivation for people to cite the myth about bumblebees is actually quite easily explained by the desire to discredit science as a way to avoid having to consider the implications of your own beliefs being contradictory to science (e.g. young-earth creationism). 18.104.22.168 03:47, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
Does the explanation actually say that not all mechanics of bumblebee flight are understood? Because it's actually been completely understood for years. 22.214.171.124 07:34, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
Nah, its just saying that one interpretation is that it is an alternate universe where physicist are just scrambling to try to come up with an answer to the claim that bumblebees can't fly airplanes. --Lackadaisical
) 21:21, 12 November 2013 (UTC)