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Latest revision as of 09:15, 8 February 2016

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!
We have an explanation for all 1686 xkcd comics, and only 7 (0%) are incomplete. Help us finish them!

[edit] Latest comic

Go to this comic explanation

World War III+
I hate how the media only ever uses the first part of this quote, stripping it of its important context.
Title text: I hate how the media only ever uses the first part of this quote, stripping it of its important context.

[edit] Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: There seems to be more to this comic than so far explained. Maybe a reference to all the Star Wars movies now planned...?

This comic takes a famous quote attributed to Albert Einstein, and expands upon it to absurd levels. The original quote is: "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." The basic premise of this quote is that World War III would be so devastating to the world that all humanity's progress would be wiped out and we would return to the technological level of the Stone Age.

This comic expands the original quote letting Einstein suggest what other weapons future World Wars will be fought with:

  • V: Crossbows. Crossbows are type of bow that is deadlier than a regular longbow, but is much more difficult to load. Most often used in medieval era.
    • It's also notable that the crossbow was the only weapon to be banned by the Vatican, due to the comparative lack of skill required to operate.
  • VI: Lasers. In science fiction, blasts of lasers are often used instead of conventional guns. This suggests that society would have managed to rebuild lasers by World War VI.
  • VII: Blowguns. A blowgun is a small tube loaded with a small dart or other projectile, fired by blowing into one end. Once again, the world has been devastated, and returned to a simpler technology.
  • VIII-XI: Skipped over.
  • XII: The same weapons as III, but in underground tunnels. This is a parody of saying that X is basically Y 'but in space/underwater/etc', and, if the quote's well-known meaning is accepted, this has terrifying implications for the state of the world. It could also be a reference to HG Well's The Time Machine where the Morlock's are the master race of the future living in underground caves. Also the fact that he did not know which weapons were used in III makes it weird that he knows the same weapons will be used again later.
  • XIII is completely unmentioned. This could be an error, but it makes some sense, considering that 13 is a number considered unlucky in many Western cultures and is sometimes skipped. For example, many tall buildings don't have a floor numbered 13, skipping straight from 12 to 14.
  • Before Einstein can discuss World War XIV, the audience of his quote seems to be going away. Einstein claims to have 'a whole list', suggesting that he may know a lot about the future wars to come more so than he has already suggested.

In the title text Randall feigns annoyance about how the media only use the first part of the quote, thus taking it out of context. He implies that this is actually a full quote by Einstein and that all other occurrences using only the "original" version of this quote are misrepresenting it. In this particular case it is a much stronger quote than the long version from the comic, but it is often the case that quotes taken out of context seem to have an entirely different meaning than originally intended.

[edit] Transcript

[A quote with white text on black background:]
"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones. World War V will be fought with crossbows, World War VI will be lasers, and World War VII will be blowguns. I don't know about World Wars VIII through XI. World War XII will use the same weapons as III, but will be fought entirely within underground tunnels. World War XIV will—Hey, come back! I have a whole list!"
                  —Albert Einstein


Is this out of date? Clicking here will fix that.

[edit] New here?

Last 7 days (Top 10)

Lots of people contribute to make this wiki a success. Many of the recent contributors, listed above, have just joined. You can do it too! Create your account here.

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 and everything in between. If it is referenced in an xkcd web comic, it should be here.

  • There are incomplete explanations listed here. Feel free to help out by expanding them!
  • We sell advertising space to pay for our server costs. To learn more, go here.

[edit] 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.

If you need assistance from an admin, post a message to the Admin requests board.

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