2767: Recipe Relativity
Title text: It says to cut the onions into 1/4" slices, but I'd better correct for length contraction.
In this comic, Randall is cooking a recipe found online. It took him much longer than the recipe said it would, and he concludes that this was due to time dilation as described in the theory of special relativity; that is, the recipe author was moving at 94% of the speed of light, causing relativistic effects, so that only 35 minutes passed for the author while 105 minutes passed for Randall. To calculate the 94% figure, he takes the recipe’s official duration (t’) and his actual duration (t), and then calculates what speed of light fraction would account for the cooking time difference.
This is absurd and therefore humorous primarily because the most likely cause of the difference in time is that Randall is less skilled in making the recipe than its author, rather than relativistic effects. The recipe author would report the time in their own frame of reference, not Randall's, no matter what the difference in motion between the two.
Randall is poking fun at online recipes that state an optimistic cooking time. The recipe author may assume an ideally equipped kitchen, a skilled chef, and the availability of prepared ingredients, such as canned or frozen cooked black beans instead of dried beans which take over an hour to soak and cook.
The title text takes the relativistic theory even further, saying that because of Lorentz contraction caused by the recipe author moving close to the speed of light, Randall should use different sizes of ingredients. If the recipe author calling for 1/4" onion slices is indeed traveling at 94% of the speed of light relative to Randall, he wonders whether his onions should be cut to 3/4" slices to match their size in his frame of reference. This is similarly absurd and therefore humorous.
- [In a small square panel the top part is written in black. It looks like a search from the internet and most of the top part of the browser is too small to be read. There are three small squares and a long rectangular address bar. To the right of the first small square which has a triangle inside it pointing down, there are two lines with unreadable text. Then followed by the second square, which is empty, and the address bar with a long line of unreadable text. Finally there are two lines of unreadable text before the last square which has a plus-shaped symbol inside it. Beneath this is a large header which can easily be read:]
- Black bean burrito bowl
- [Beneath this header there is a line with unreadable text, and below that line a thin empty rectangle. Beneath this is the second line of readable text. The last part indicating a time is circled in red. The readable black words are written in normal letters, as opposed to the standard of xkcd with all small caps.]
- Total time: 35 minutes
- [Beneath this there are three more lines of text, but this has all been written in red. Also it uses the standard xkcd all caps text format. The first line is normal text. And the last indication of time is also circled in red as the one above it, and a small double arrow goes between those two red lines around the time.]
- My actual time: 1h 45m
- [Below this there are two lines with equations written in math version, but here given here in text. The second equation is split over two lines. The last result is also circled in red.]
- v=c*√(1-(t'/t)2) = c*√(1-(35/105)2) = 0.94c
- [Caption below the panel:]
- I think this recipe author is moving past me at 94% of the speed of light.
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