|Wish on a Shooting Star|
Title text: Congratulations to whoever wished for revenge on a forest near the Tunguska River, a 1980 Chevy Malibu in Peekskill NY, Alabama resident Ann Hodges, every building in Chelyabinsk with glass windows, and the non-avian dinosaurs.
This comic was published at the annual peak of the Perseids meteor shower. It is a common practice to make a wish when one sees a shooting star, in hopes that the wish comes true. This comic consists of a Venn diagram showing what things are commonly wished for upon seeing a shooting star, and what things the shooting star may cause. Shooting stars, as they are actually meteors, can only cause changes to physical phenomena, such as radio noise or the appearance of the sky as they burn up in the upper atmosphere. The only thing that is shared between the potential wish side of the diagram and the shooting star caused side is revenge. This would occur when a shooting star actually hits the planet, becoming a meteorite. This is frequently highly destructive, given the high speed of falling meteors. As such, it would be possible for the meteorite to hit something that someone for some reason or another wished revenge upon. However, given the massive surface area of the planet, the likelihood that someone's revenge would be "granted" by a meteorite would be very low (although not quite as low as dunking a meteorite through a basket). The title text makes fun of this by detailing several incidents where a meteorite landed and caused damage.
List of things that were damaged by meteorites (from title text):
- On June 30, 1908 (Gregorian Calendar, Russia still used Julian and was recorded there as June 17), an airburst caused by the breakup of a 100-meter falling meteorite or comet with the energy of some 30 megatons of TNT flattened some 80 million trees over 830 square miles (2,150 km2) of land in central Siberia near the Tunguska River. Due to the remoteness of the area, no people were confirmed dead in the incident.
- On October 9, 1992, a meteorite totaled a 1980 Chevrolet Malibu in Peekskill, New York.
- On November 30, 1954, a fragment of a meteorite passed through the roof of a house and struck a woman named Ann Hodges. She survived. Only two other people are known to have been hit by meteorites.
- On February 15, 2013, a meteorite exploded in an airburst over Chelyabinsk, Russia, creating a shockwave that shattered windows in the area.
- The extinction of the dinosaurs around 66 million years ago is believed to be caused by an impact of a comet or asteroid. Randall mentions "non-avian" dinosaurs, as birds are dinosaurs, though the general public not trained in science often doesn't realize this. No humans were alive to wish for the extinction of the dinosaurs, but perhaps the wish was made by some ancestral mouse-like mammal (or else wishes may violate causality).
If there is a "message" to this comic strip, it could be similar to those of 1024: Error Code and 2247: Weird Hill: that we shouldn't bother wishing for things that shooting stars can't give us, but should instead take time away from our temporal concerns and just relax and appreciate their beauty. Or maybe the message is that, if you must wish on a shooting star, you should wish for revenge, because that's something that might come true. Of course, as the title text makes clear, meteorites don't really land according to our designs and schedules, and if you're close enough to a shooting star to see it, and you wish for it to avenge you, and it is big enough to hurt someone, you're probably at risk yourself.
Meteorites were most recently mentioned in 2328: Space Basketball. Randall has discussed strange and "impossible" wishes in 1086: Eyelash Wish Log.
|| This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
- [A Venn diagram is shown:]
- [The left circle is labeled "Things people wish for" and contains:]
- [The right circle is labeled "Things shooting stars can cause" and contains:]
- Radio noise
- Dust and ionized gas in the upper atmosphere
- Cool lights in the sky
- [The only item in the overlapping section is:]
- [Title text., Congratulations to whoever wished for revenge on a forest near the Tunguska River, a 1980 Chevy Malibu in Peekskill NY, Alabama resident Ann Hodges, every building in Chelyabinsk with glass windows, and the non-avian dinosaurs:]
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The other title text references:
I often wish for cool lights in the sky tho...
- Not a bad wish to have. 220.127.116.11 21:58, 12 August 2020 (UTC)
- Though someone could think of wanting that, it wouldn't be anyone's first most important choice if you told them they could have a wish granted, unlike the things listed in the wish part of this diagram.--18.104.22.168 05:57, 13 August 2020 (UTC)
Am I the only person who wishes for radio noise? GreatWyrmGold (talk) 21:53, 12 August 2020 (UTC)
- Enough radio noise on the right frequencies could drown out talk radio, so ... you're not the only one wishing. 22.214.171.124 21:58, 12 August 2020 (UTC)
Hams (and others) using meteor burst communications wish for ionized gas in the upper atmosphere. Now all we need somebody who wishes for infrasound so we get a proper subset.126.96.36.199 18:18, 14 August 2020 (UTC)
Meteors relative speed to Earth is surely high. However, note that Earth's orbital speed is 29.78 km/s, while the average orbital speed of meteoroids is 20km/s. In many cases it's therefore Earth which hits the meteors with it's high orbital speed ... -- Hkmaly (talk) 00:37, 13 August 2020 (UTC)
That's wrong, because no matter how low the relative velocity is, as the asteroid falls through Earth's gravity well, its going to accelerate to escape velocity at the very least. So its going to hit at 11km/s+ at a minimum if it hits the earth. Get your facts right.
- A laughable claim, Mister Bond, perpetuated by overzealous teachers of science.
- (The unsigned comment above looked to be continued in the unsigned comment below, until I came here to day something and saw they were separate. Hey, people...) It would help if you could say "average at 20km/s whilst crossing Earth's orbit...", because averaged across its entire track might include a lot of drifting around 'out there' and maybe zooming by (or not) during the perihelion segment. And then you only need to worry about retrograde ones (20+29.78, for a palpably mutual hit) and all kinds of other directions of cross, not just ones obviously aphelioning at 1AU in a relatively recently induced orbit that is about to end. Someone must have a table of (known/calculated) closing speeds, as well as directional components defined to Earth's frame-of-reference. 188.8.131.52 04:08, 13 August 2020 (UTC)
With the valuable minerals contained within meteorites, it's reasonable that shooting stars could cause money/power. And to astrogeologists, there's success right there!
- If someone makes money off of selling a meteor they found, it's because they are a rare curiosity or of scientific value, not due to the minerals being of high value if they didn't come from a meteor. Though there are some historical cases of people without the technology to forge iron normally making iron tools from a meteor. However, someone finding the meteor on the ground later is a little different than the direct results of it falling (as the chart says things caused by "shooting stars" not "meteor rocks")--184.108.40.206 05:57, 13 August 2020 (UTC)
- Even if there are valuable minerals in a meteorite, the quantity is too small for anyone but a villainous business guy from a kid's cartoon to care more about that than the "This is a SPACE ROCK!" factor. If an industrially meaningful quantity of valuable minerals struck the Earth from space, we would be mourning the lives lost to the earthshaking impact, not celebrating the mineral wealth. (...well, maybe a couple of mining executives who secured the contract would be celebrating. Those kid's cartoons aren't completely wrong.) Remember—it's not the minerals that makes space rocks valuable, it's being able to mine them easily and without damage to the environment. (And, for some of the coolest applications, the fact that we don't need to drag them into space.) GreatWyrmGold (talk) 12:20, 19 August 2020 (UTC)
Gee, and here I thought he was making a pun to do with assassinating celebrities. -- 220.127.116.11
Why did somebody write "Of course, as the title text makes clear, meteorites don't really land according to our designs and schedules"? It's equally valid to interpret it as meteorites being very precise and capricious on their revenge-wish-granting. -- Anonymous
There should be a reference to https://xkcd.com/1337/ as well. -- Myon
My first guess was historical reference. Octavian/Augustus Caesar supposedly used the seven-day outburst of Caesar's Comet as evidence of Julius Caesar's divinity, and as a political tool in his own rise to power. It certainly afforded him great capacity for vengeance against his political foes and the likes of Marc Antony, since being the adoptive son of a god was Sort Of A Big Deal when it came to political clout in that volatile time. As such, it does seem to have contributed to his gaining fame, power, money and success, largely in the form of his very own Roman Empire... To say the least, he'd presumably have been quite satisfied with the results if he HAD wished on that fateful star. Nitro~Nina (talk) 04:58, 26 August 2020 (UTC)