Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Lego minifigures (often abbreviated as minifigs) are tiny plastic people designed by the Danish toy manufacturer Lego as part of their construction toy sets. Since 1978, over four billion minifigures have been sold. The figures resemble simplified humans, often with a yellow skin colour and featuring interchangeable body parts.
The graph depicted in the comic extrapolates the total number of minifigures and compares it to the growth of the world population, which reached 7 billion in March 2012. By the extrapolations of the comic, Lego minifigures will outnumber the human population by 2019. The extrapolation of statistical data has appeared in various xkcd comics, e.g. in 605: Extrapolating, 1007: Sustainable, and 1204: Detail. However, unlike the other extrapolated scenarios, the prognosis of this comic seems quite likely.
Since Lego is designed to resemble nature and civilization on a miniaturized scale, some sets also contain Lego cars as vehicles for the minifigures. With over 381 million Lego tires produced for these miniature cars, Lego is already the world's largest manufacturer of tires. This fact is addressed in the title text.
Lego (as of mid-October 2013) calculates they have made 7 billion+ figures. Earlier in 2013, they believed they would surpass the human count in 2014, but revised their numbers on the day this comic was released to what this chart says.
- [Graph: x-axis 1980, 1990, 2010, 2020; y-axis 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 billions.]
- [Plot-line 1: Number of people in the world.]
- [Plot-line 2: Number of Lego People in the world.]
- [Label above the x-axis at 2013 reads "Today".]
- [Shortly before 2020, both plot lines cross.]
- By 2019, humans will be outnumbered.
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This is my first time at trying to explain something. Even if it's replaced by a better one, I hope it gets the point across.
184.108.40.206 05:34, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
- Your explanation looks good (perhaps somebody changed it, though). I am happy for you. Welcome to.the community. You are the type of people that make wikis great.
- Zyxuvius (talk) 17:06, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
Related question: what is the current population of Teddy bears? And what about Barbies? -- Hkmaly (talk) 08:44, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
- Might Mattel be the world's largest shoe maker? 220.127.116.11 16:06, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
Then we are just waiting for a Wikipedian to remove the comparison of tires manufactures as Wikipedia is not the place for random facts appearing in XKCD comics. Pmakholm (talk) 10:17, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
- The information in the Wikipedia article on Lego tires, including the random fact that in 2011 it was the world's largest tire manufacturer, has been there since May 2012 -boB (talk) 13:30, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
I, for one, welcome our new Lego overlords.18.104.22.168 01:16, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
Just a suggestion for discussion: instead of the final phrase of the second paragraph saying "the prognosis of this comic seems quite likely", I think "the prognosis of this comic seems at least possible if not highly likely" as the point of the previous extrapolations is that they were unwarranted/probably impossible, not just unlikely. Grahame (talk) 04:34, 24 October 2013 (UTC)Grahame
I find it extremely surprising (to the point of incredulity) that the human population has been growing linearly 22.214.171.124 06:19, 24 October 2013 (UTC) FirstTimeUserAmIDoingThisRight?
- The comic is correct, it's nearly linear at that time range. Look here: world population.--Dgbrt (talk) 12:11, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
- The graph you link to has a logarithmic scale for population, so the straight lines represent exponential growth. Randall's graph has a linear population scale, so the lines should have the form of an exponential function. 126.96.36.199 12:47, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
- Ups, but at that data ranges it doesn't make a big difference. Look at page 21 here: UN PDF dokument.--Dgbrt (talk) 13:28, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
Has Randall taken into account that some of the manufactured lego minifigs have been destroyed? If not, then the number of minifigs should be compared to the number of humans that has ever been born, not only to those still alive today...(Maybe a billion or more of the minifigs have been destroyed?) Kynde (talk) 17:45, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
- Nice point. The Number of humans who have ever lived is estimated around 100 billions in total. But Randall compares the "Number of people in the world" with the "Number of Lego People in the world", so a good guess on the number of destroyed minifigs is needed. I think it's more likely about the half of the entire production.--Dgbrt (talk) 18:56, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
- Not sure that I completely agree. Keep in mind that a thrown out Lego minifigure will continue to exist for thousands of years (the same can be said of a dismembered one) while a buried or dismembered human will decompose within a few generations (with the occasional exception). Given that, it's fair to assume that every minifigure ever created still exists, while only the humans born in the past 200 years continue to do so.188.8.131.52 04:20, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
- Has anyone here actually managed to destroy a minfig? I myself have only ever broken an arm or two, which leaves the minifigure mostly intact. I suppose you could melt it down, but most people who would have a reason to (i.e. to use as ink in a 3D printer) would just buy non-LEGOified plastic, as it's cheaper.184.108.40.206 21:30, 9 February 2014 (UTC)
- Do you still count humans who have been permanently embalmed? (And how do minifigs that have been kragl'd compare?) 220.127.116.11 09:36, 23 September 2015 (UTC)
This strikes me as having a curious overlap with The Simulation Argument: If it is possible for technology to ever allow a civilization's members to casually run simulated universes, or even worlds, on their personal computers, then eventually there would be more human beings living in simulated worlds than the real one, meaning that (in an abstract sense that does not really conform strictly with the science of probability) it is more likely that WE are in a simulation, than in the real, original universe containing the simulations. — Kazvorpal (talk) 16:09, 16 December 2016 (UTC)