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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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<big>''Welcome to the '''explain [[xkcd]]''' wiki!''</big>
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<font size=5px>''Welcome to the '''explain [[xkcd]]''' wiki!''</font>
  
 
We have collaboratively explained [[:Category:Comics|'''{{#expr:{{PAGESINCAT:Comics}}-9}}''' xkcd comics]],
 
We have collaboratively explained [[:Category:Comics|'''{{#expr:{{PAGESINCAT:Comics}}-9}}''' xkcd comics]],
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remain. '''[[Help:How to add a new comic explanation|Add yours]]''' while there's a chance!
 
remain. '''[[Help:How to add a new comic explanation|Add yours]]''' while there's a chance!
 
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== Latest comic ==
 
== Latest comic ==
 
 
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<span style="float:right;">[[{{LATESTCOMIC}}|'''Go to this comic explanation''']]</span>
 
<span style="float:right;">[[{{LATESTCOMIC}}|'''Go to this comic explanation''']]</span>
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* If you're new to wikis like this, take a look at these help pages describing [[mw:Help:Navigation|how to navigate]] the wiki, and [[mw:Help:Editing pages|how to edit]] pages.
 
* If you're new to wikis like this, take a look at these help pages describing [[mw:Help:Navigation|how to navigate]] the wiki, and [[mw:Help:Editing pages|how to edit]] pages.
  
* Discussion about various parts of the wiki is going on at [[Explain XKCD:Community portal]]. Share your 2¢!
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* Discussion about various parts of the wiki is going on at [[Explain XKCD:Community portal]]. Share your 2¢!
  
 
* [[List of all comics]] contains a complete table of all xkcd comics so far and the corresponding explanations. The red links ([[like this]]) are missing explanations. Feel free to help out by creating them! [[Help:How to add a new comic explanation|Here's how]].
 
* [[List of all comics]] contains a complete table of all xkcd comics so far and the corresponding explanations. The red links ([[like this]]) are missing explanations. Feel free to help out by creating them! [[Help:How to add a new comic explanation|Here's how]].
  
 
== Rules ==
 
== Rules ==
Don't be a jerk. There are a lot of comics that don't have set in stone explanations; feel free to put multiple interpretations in the wiki page for each comic.
+
Don't be a jerk. There are a lot of comics that don't have set in stone explanations; feel free to put multiple interpretations in the wiki page for each comic.
  
 
If you want to talk about a specific comic, use its discussion page.
 
If you want to talk about a specific comic, use its discussion page.

Revision as of 05:35, 4 March 2013

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!

We have collaboratively explained Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ",". xkcd comics, and only Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ",". (Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ",".%) remain. Add yours while there's a chance!

Latest comic

Go to this comic explanation

Orbital Mechanics
To be fair, my job at NASA was working on robots and didn't actually involve any orbital mechanics. The small positive slope over that period is because it turns out that if you hang around at NASA, you get in a lot of conversations about space.
Title text: To be fair, my job at NASA was working on robots and didn't actually involve any orbital mechanics. The small positive slope over that period is because it turns out that if you hang around at NASA, you get in a lot of conversations about space.

Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Potentially complete, does not duplicate content that can be learned elsewhere
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

Orbital mechanics can be somewhat counter-intuitive. The art of changing orbits involves relative velocities, positions and times in a complex interaction. As soon as you try to deviate from a perfectly regular orbit, or start having to deal with N-body problems and orbital resonances, you have to coordinate your movements in possibly counter-intuitive ways. It's no longer a matter of just pointing where you want to go (the events in the film Gravity, notwithstanding) and hoping for the best.

Here Randall roughly plots how High School Physics, undergraduate-level physics and (according the the title text) a rather osmotic learning process at work, whilst within NASA itself to undertake ostensibly unrelated work, somewhat increased his knowledge of the subject. But this learning (and some fading away of the learning, through non-use) was apparently of nothing compared to the 'direct' experience of playing with Kerbal Space Program, the sandbox rocket building and piloting game.

See also:

  • 1244: Six Words ("it works in Kerbal Space Program" it is not good argument for NASA)
  • 1106: ADD ('land a rocket on the moon in Kerbal Space Program' was a task finished)

Transcript

Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
How Well I Understand Orbital Mechanics:
[There is a graph with the X-axis labeled as 'time' increasing in the positive X. The Y-axis is unlabeled but it can be assumed that it could be labeled 'understanding'. The line stays flat until the first bump, which is annotated "Took High School Physics". The line decreases, then grows to a higher maximum with the annotation "Got Physics Degree". There is a small amount of decrease until a gradual bump in the graph labeled "Actual Job At NASA". It gradually decreases to pre-NASA levels, but then begins to increase exponentially. The annotation reads "Started Playing Kerbal Space Program".]

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You can read a brief introduction about this wiki at explain xkcd. Feel free to sign up for an account and contribute to the wiki! We need explanations for comics, characters, themes, memes and everything in between. If it is referenced in an xkcd web comic, it should be here.

  • List of all comics contains a complete table of all xkcd comics so far and the corresponding explanations. The red links (like this) are missing explanations. Feel free to help out by creating them! Here's how.

Rules

Don't be a jerk. There are a lot of comics that don't have set in stone explanations; feel free to put multiple interpretations in the wiki page for each comic.

If you want to talk about a specific comic, use its discussion page.

Please only submit material directly related to —and helping everyone better understand— xkcd... and of course only submit material that can legally be posted (and freely edited.) Off-topic or other inappropriate content is subject to removal or modification at admin discretion, and users who repeatedly post such content will be blocked.

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