88: Escher Bracelet

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Jump to: navigation, search
Escher Bracelet
The only downside is that it would be a little uncomfortable.
Title text: The only downside is that it would be a little uncomfortable.

[edit] Explanation

This image parodies "WWJD" bracelets, which is an acronym for "What Would Jesus Do?". Christians (primarily) wear such bracelets (or other "WWJD" paraphernalia) as a reminder to act in a way that Jesus would act, which presumably is the "Christian" way to act. It is not entirely clear, but this particular type of bracelet appears to be the rubber type most famously popularized by cyclist Lance Armstrong's charitable Livestrong yellow rubber bracelets for charity, which later became a popular fad amongst all sorts of charitable and non-charitable messages.

In this comic, the "J" has been replaced by an "E" for M. C. Escher, a Dutch graphic artist (1898–1972) best known for art containing imagery that would be impossible in the real world (often referred to as impossible constructions or optical illusions). Among his most famous works are "Drawing Hands" – two hands drawing each other on paper; "Relativity", in which a series of staircases and arches come from the floor, ceiling, and the walls in all directions, each with people standing on them as if each direction is "down"; and "Ascending and Descending" – a building with a staircase on its roof that is a closed square that appears to ascend or descend infinitely, depending on the direction that is walked.

In keeping with Escher's art, the WWED bracelet has a single half-twist in it. This creates what is known as a Mobius strip, which actually can exist in physical space. Although the Mobius strip is not an impossible construction, it is still an apparently confusing structure that Escher used in his art. Most notably, his work "Mobius Strip II" depicts ants crawling around a Mobius strip. One can create this shape simply by taking a strip of paper (or any bendable material), making a half twist, and taping/stapling/etc. the ends together. If you draw a single continuous line starting down the centre of the bracelet from the middle of the "W" going left, you will end up drawing from the "WWED", going around again on the "inside" of the bracelet, before coming back around to the front again and ending up at the "D". In other words, the surface of the bracelet has only one side (the front and the back are the same side). The phrase "the only downside" in the image-text may be a pun referencing this one-sidedness. As the image-text suggests, the twist in the bracelet might make it uncomfortable to wear.

[edit] Transcript

[A Livestrong-type bracelet is featured, but with an Escher twist in it. The band is a Mobius strip. The band has the letters "WWED" printed on it.]
What Would Escher Do?

comment.png add a comment! ⋅ comment.png add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


Search the Internet for WWFSMD. Xhfz (talk) 22:12, 22 October 2013 (UTC)

Something you might like to try with two paper Mobius strips (apologies if you already know these)...take the first one you made and with scissors make a hole in the middle of the strip and cut all the way around making sure to stay along the middle until you get back to the start... see what you ended up with? It gets better... take the second strip you made and repeat the cutting but this time make sure you cut along the strip 1/3rd of the way from the edge (youll need to go around twice before you get back to the starting puncture hole)... how cool is that!Squirreltape (talk) 18:43, 3 March 2014 (UTC)

If the bracelet band is a Möbius strip, shouldn't the words on it have been "What Would Möbius Do?" 19:51, 2 October 2017 (UTC)

Personal tools


It seems you are using noscript, which is stopping our project wonderful ads from working. Explain xkcd uses ads to pay for bandwidth, and we manually approve all our advertisers, and our ads are restricted to unobtrusive images and slow animated GIFs. If you found this site helpful, please consider whitelisting us.

Want to advertise with us, or donate to us with Paypal?