2820: Inspiration

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An apple fell on Isaac Newton's head and gave him the idea that the moon might be a tasty apple, though this turned out not to be true--the Apollo program eventually determined that it was just a desolate and bland Red Delicious.
Title text: An apple fell on Isaac Newton's head and gave him the idea that the moon might be a tasty apple, though this turned out not to be true--the Apollo program eventually determined that it was just a desolate and bland Red Delicious.


The apple falling on Cueball's head is a reference to the folk tale about the inspiration for Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation. One of Isaac Newton's biographers reported that his inquiries into the nature of gravity were "occasion'd by the fall of an apple" as he sat under a tree. Over time, this evolved into the story that a falling apple struck Newton on the head. Some versions of the story imagine him gazing at the moon when the apple hits him, and having the revelation that the force pulling the apple toward the earth was the same force that kept the moon in orbit.

In this strip, Cueball (or Issac Newton) is similarly struck by a falling apple, while gazing at the moon. But rather than an insight about gravity, he makes a different connection, that of starting an apple orchard on the Moon. This would, of course, require some form of massive terraforming project (or at least the construction of a large, pressurized dome), since the airless environment of the moon wouldn't allow any plants to survive. It's not entirely ridiculous that the contrast between the lifeless moon and the lush landscape of an apple orchard would inspire someone to seek to plant life on the moon.

The title text claims that Newton thought that the Moon was in fact a tasty apple, but the Apollo program proved it was a Red Delicious apple. This is a jab at Randall's least favorite type of apple, as has been previously noted. That apple variety became the most popular variety in the USA after its introduction but, to satisfy market demand, growers began selecting for storage and cosmetic appeal over flavor and palatability. Popularity has declined significantly in recent decades. "Desolate and bland" echoes Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin describing the moonscape as "magnificent desolation".

The tale of Newton and the apple was previously mentioned in 1584: Moments of Inspiration.


[Cueball sits under a tree. An apple falls from the tree and hits him on the head, then arcs towards the ground.]
[The view zooms out, showing the moon, which Cueball looks up at. The apple lies at Cueball’s feet.]
[Closeup on Cueball.]
Cueball: ...
Cueball: We should grow apples on the moon.

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Apples that fall off the tree on the moon cause less pain, could that also be a motive for his proposal? APB 13:18, 26 August 2023 (UTC)

Here we see Cueball as W. B. Yeats, inventing the silver apples of the moon. Aasasd (talk) 03:24, 26 August 2023 (UTC)

Ah yes, another jab at red delicious apples from Randall. I love it. Trogdor147 (talk) 03:39, 26 August 2023 (UTC)

"Another"? would you mind linking to previous jab(s) so that we may link to it/get a category created for these jabs, and link to that category? - Vaedez (talk) 10:27, 26 August 2023 (UTC)
One prior comic 'jab', for which the explanations refers to his book-jab at them. There may be more, that was just from memory, but not sure Cat-worthy just yet. But a direct reference link can wait until someone has searched for more/better, maybe. 13:18, 26 August 2023 (UTC)
i dont feel like comic 388 itself contains any jab at the Red Delicious breed of apple, though the explanation page certainly does reference Randall's distaste for Red Deliciouses - Vaedez (talk) 09:31, 27 August 2023 (UTC)
"...the explanations refers to his book-jab at them", in explaining his differing attitudes to red/green. So a good proxy for the (unlinkable?) book content. But 1766: Apple Spectrum (someone also linked that) definitely gives an in-comic justification. Looks good to me. 20:41, 28 August 2023 (UTC)

In the UK I have not come across a Red Delicious, just Golden ones, which are sort of golden, but sounding similarly bland. RIIW - Ponder it (talk) 08:27, 27 August 2023 (UTC)

I grew up and live in New England in the USA and red delicious apples are a common apple I see as low quality. They are often given as part of larger system meals, such as school lunches or soup kitchens. They are very soft and go bad very quickly compared to crisper apples, and often are already browned a little inside when bitten into. I think of them as the polar opposite of the naturally green apples, often sold waxed, which are very tart but I've rarely ever seen them go bad at all. Then other apples like the macintosh are somewhere between the extremes of sweet and soft vs sour and hard. EDIT: Honestly it's pretty obvious most red delicious apples were picked green and ripened with ethylene gas in trucks, which significantly reduces their sweetness. Perhaps their popularity, stimulating their modern mass production and distribution, was their downfall. 00:14, 28 August 2023 (UTC)

Uhh, Randall was lacking inspiration for a comic? I saw nothing worth a comic, so I came here. Seems like Randall just doesn’t like Red Delicious.—Besides, is there a better word than “jab”? Mockery?-- 06:30, 26 August 2023 (UTC)

If this is a running gag, should there be some kind of category for it, like Category:My Hobby does? 08:03, 26 August 2023 (UTC)
Actually, Randall stole (inadvertently, I'm sure) this from a running gag in a famous French BD named Rubrique-à-Brac [1]. Isaac Newton is a recurring character who regularly gets hit in the head with different objects. Vfp15 (talk) 23:10, 26 August 2023 (UTC)
You might not be aware, but Rubrique-à-Brac is not the origin of the story of Isaac Newton getting hit on the head with an apple. 13:08, 29 August 2023 (UTC)
I mean, he's made nearly 3000 comics. Some of them HAVE to be just puns, just complaints or just kind of ridiculous. They're not all going to be hilarious. Mushrooms (talk) 10:43, 1 September 2023 (UTC)

This feels a bit like a pun that he expected a "tasty" apple but found a "delicious" instead--or maybe just an assertion that the name of Red Delicious apples is a lie. - Vaedez (talk) 10:19, 26 August 2023 (UTC)

It absolutely is a lie, but there's a reason for that. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgZNDTJSvJQ&pp - 16:10, 26 August 2023 (UTC)
thank you, kind stranger; i'll stick this on my watch later - Vaedez (talk) 09:18, 27 August 2023 (UTC)

Why didn't Randall draw Newton's hair when he was fully capable of doing so in 626: Newton and Leibniz? 11:48, 26 August 2023 (UTC)

Because it's not Newton. From the apple story,some people seem to have got the impression that Newton was the first to observe gravity, and therefore "was he really such a genius? I reckon I'd have noticed things falling to the floor". The comic makes fun of these would-be discoverers of the laws of gravitation, and presents an alternative inspirational moment that might be equally likely to these lesser intellects without the benefit of hindsight. 12:09, 26 August 2023 (UTC)
again, it wasnt that newton discovered that gravity existed, it was that he realized it was the same gravity that holds planets in their orbits and us on the surface of the earth. he discovered the way that gravity is, not that earth has gravity in general. - Vaedez (talk) 09:22, 27 August 2023 (UTC)

The Apple in question was a Flower of Kent - Newton saw it fall, not on his head ...

the mention of the moon could be referencing the moon landing, that occurred the day prior to the comic's release, confirming ice deposits (meaning potential for apple growing). I don't think the cueball in the comic represents newton but rather someone parodying Newton, possibly they thought for a moment that the apple fell from the moon [visible in the background], and then got the inspiration for moon apples. it is also possible that cueball hoped that moon apples would hurt less (or maybe grow bigger)

Just my foible, but everyone knew about gravity, "they even leave it on at the weekend"* but his insight was that it is universal,not a number of different ones. *Douglas,Adams' Dirk Gently's HDA RIIW - Ponder it (talk) 08:27, 27 August 2023 (UTC)

It is important to note that, prior to Galileo’s telescopic observations, common belief in Europe was that the Moon and planets stayed up due to being made of a substance that was immune to falling down (i.e. did not experience the effects of gravity). Newton proved mathematically that all that was needed to keep them in orbit was gravity and the appropriate velocity.--Ijuinkun (talk) 15:44, 27 August 2023 (UTC)

I think the joke is that because (as Newton observed) the Moon doesn't fall to Earth, apples should be grown there instead, so they won't fall on people's heads. 00:57, 28 August 2023 (UTC)NickM