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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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If I wait a while, it's not so bad, because then it's just shaped like me, plus some pipes and tanks and probably eventually all of Earth's oceans.
Title text: If I wait a while, it's not so bad, because then it's just shaped like me, plus some pipes and tanks and probably eventually all of Earth's oceans.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by a cup, or possibly a bottle. Maybe even a teapot. Should be expanded upon. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.

It is frequently stated that liquids take the shape of their container. While being poured, though, what that "shape" is is open to interpretation. The comic shows the "shape" of a liquid being "poured" down someone's throat (in the process of drinking) and highlights how unsettling this may look without any visible guidance for its flow. While the flow of the beverage wets every parts downwards, it looks as if the stomach is only partially filled, because the process of drinking is still underway and the glass is still half full, and because the contents of the glass would not be enough to fill the stomach in any case. Therefore the shape of the liquid in the stomach area would not correspond to the full shape of the stomach, and there could be additional blobs of liquid where it might have splashed and detached from the main liquid mass, such as depicted by the two little disconnected pieces to the right of the stomach area.

The title text expands on this, encouraging the reader to think of the liquid travelling through the entire human digestive tract and to consider that it will eventually dilute through the entire human body ("shaped like me"), with what doesn't leaving the body to pass through the water treatment process ("some pipes and tanks"), and that finally most particles from any ingested liquid will mix with all water on Earth ("all of Earth's oceans"). But by the time a beverage is diluted enough to take the shape of Earth's oceans, the molecules will be so dispersed that the beverage effectively becomes invisible.


[Inside a single frame, liquid pouring out of a glass through mouth, the esophagus, and to the stomach is shown. However the surrounding bodies like the organs or the glass are not pictured, are only defined by the shape of the liquid, and must be imagined. Further two small parts within or near the invisible stomach with no visible connection to the rest are also wetted.]
[Caption below the frame:]
It freaks me out to imagine what a beverage is shaped like when I’m in the middle of drinking it.


  • Similar imagery was used in the films Memoirs of an Invisible Man and Hollow Man.
  • Radiotopia's recently released Everything is alive podcast's premiere episode, "Louis Can of Cola", features a discussion between the beverage and the host who {spoiler alert} drinks the beverage during their discussion.
  • How much of Earth's water has been turned into soda was the subject of the what if? "Soda Planet". In this article it turns out that all of Earth's water has at least once (and probably at least ten times) been turned into dinosaur pee.

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