852: Local g
Title text: In Rio de Janeiro in 2016, the same jump will get an athlete 0.25% higher (>1cm) than in London four years prior.
Cueball explains in the first panel, that the centrifugal force (not be confused with the centripetal force - which is made clear in 123: Centrifugal Force - cited in the first frame of this comic) along with variations in the earth's shape causes the gravitational force to vary by half a percent between some cities. These variations could have a significant effect on certain sporting events; for example, Cueball explains that a pole vaulter might jump 2 cm higher in a city with a smaller gravitational force.
So Cueball writes an article reevaluating pole vaulting world records based on the city in which the record was accomplished. His article suggests that some athletes should not have received an award for breaking a record because they did so in a city with a below average gravitational force. These pole vaulters whose records were questioned by Cueball's article angrily stage a protest outside of Cueball's apartment.
Then Cueball proceeds to taunt them reasoning that they can't harm him because his building is locked. Cueball and Megan then hear a crash indicating that the protesters have managed to reach the apartment's balcony. When Cueball asks out loud how the pole vaulters reached the balcony, Megan stares at him for a moment and then he realizes the stupidity of that question: the pole vaulters pole-vaulted onto the balcony.
At the title text Randall explains that in fact the gravity force at the Olympic Games at Rio de Janeiro in 2016 compared to London in 2012 will make a difference of more than one centimeter, mainly because Rio de Janeiro is much closer to equator than London resulting in an increased centrifugal, or, perhaps centripetal, if you prefer to be more contrasting, force.
- [Cueball is sitting at a desk, working, with a a laptop in front of him. Megan is behind him. Cueball has turned his head to talk to Megan]
- Cueball: Did you know that because of centrifugal* force and the shape of the Earth, "gravity" can vary by nearly half a percent between major cities?
- *Yes, centrifugal. xkcd.com/123
- [Closeup on Cueball, who is looking down at some notes.]
- Cueball: That's not a lot, but it could affect, say, pole vaulting. In a 5m jump, it could make a difference of 2cm.
- [Zoomed out on Cueball, who is typing on his laptop. Megan is behind him, with her hand on her chin.]
- Megan: Huh, interesting.
- Cueball: I'm going to write an article reevaluating vaulting records to take this into account.
- Three days later:
- [Cueball is sitting in an armchair. Megan is behind him, and is pointing behind her.]
- Megan: Good job. There's an angry mob of athletes outside.
- [Cueball looks off the balcony. A mob of athletes is out of frame.]
- Athlete: That record was mine!
- Athlete: How dare you cast doubt on our honor?
- Athlete: Have you no respect?!
- Athlete: Make him pay!
- Cueball: Hey, the math doesn't lie. Suck it, jocks.
- [Megan stands next to Cueball, who is walking away to the right]
- Megan: Dude, don't provoke them.
- Cueball: Whatever. The building's locked. Let 'em vent for a-
- Off-panel Athlete: GET HIM!
- [Megan stands next to Cueball. They are both in shock. Megan has her hand on her mouth.]
- Cueball: Crap!
- Cueball: How did the pole vaulters get up to our balcony?
- [Beat frame with only Megan. Cueball is out of frame.]
- Megan: ...
- [Beat frame with just Cueball.]
- [Zoom in on Megan and Cueball, who is facepalming.]
- Megan: That might be the stupidest question I've ever heard.
- Cueball: Right.
- A similar effect on sports caused by of altitude was one of the topics of 2153: Effects of High Altitude.
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