1731: Wrong

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 04:36, 9 September 2016 by (talk) (Explanation)
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Hang on, I just remembered another thing I'm right about. See...
Title text: Hang on, I just remembered another thing I'm right about. See...


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Just a couple sentences to kick things off.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

All objects on earth are matter, meaning they are made of atoms. Atoms, while in the past were believed to be the smallest unit of matter, are now known to be made up of protons, neutrons and electrons. Protons and neutrons are in turn made up of quarks. Quarks come in six different "flavors": up, down, top, bottom, charm, and strange, with protons and neutrons being made of the first two types. Each quark also has a corresponding anti-quark, which would make up anti-protons, anti-neutrons, and anti-matter.

White hat and Megan appear to be discussing the topics of anti-matter and sub-atomic particles. White Hat makes the assertion that we (referring to people and objects) are made partially of anti-matter, because, as he claims, a proton (one of the particles which makes up all matter) is made of two quarks and an anti-quark. In fact, protons are made up of two up quarks and a down quark. He is making the simple mistake of maxing up the difference between flavors of quarks with the difference between particles and anti-particles. He continues to elaborate on his idea by mentioning neutrons, which are made of two down quarks and an up quark, but, by his reasoning, they would be made of two anti-quarks and and a quark.

When Megan (accurately) doubts this claim, White Hat takes out his phone to look it up, in order to show Megan that he is correct. However, upon seeing results (from Wikipedia or another site), he realizes that he was in fact incorrect. Not wanting to be incorrect or give up his position in the discussion, he convinces himself that he wasn't actually wrong, and instead completely changes the topic to try and reframe it so he may in some convoluted way not be completely wrong. This is rather common, especially among nerds, to not admit fault, and instead trying to maintain an air on infallibility and intelligence. Some people are just too prideful to admit that they are inherently fallible. White Hat is one of those people.

Megan, however, recognizes exactly what he is trying to do, and can only sigh in response to his failed efforts.

Quarks are also mentioned in xkcd.com/474/ and antimatter is mentioned in various xkcd - What if? articles.


Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
[White Hat and Megan are walking.]
White Hat: Really, we're all made of antimatter. A proton consists of two quarks and an antiquark.
Megan: ...I don't think that's right.
White Hat: Sure it is. Neutrons are, too.
Megan: Do you mean "up" and "down" quarks? I think antiquarks are a different thing.
White Hat: No, let me show you...
[White Hat takes out a cell phone.]
Cell Phone: tap tap
White Hat [thinking]: I'm...wrong?
["I'm...wrong?" is scribbled out]
White Hat [thinking]: ...
White Hat: Really, the whole idea of "particles" is inaccurate. These are abstractions arising quantum field theory, but what most people don't realize is...
Megan: *sigh*

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I wrote up a first explanation of the comic. Someone else also added in a sentence, which nicely merged in to the explanation. Still needs revision and links to articles, as well as an explanation of the title text 04:38, 9 September 2016 (UTC)

Uh... what do you mean by "just a few sentences to kick this off"??? I don't know how to fix this because I don't understand what you mean. JayRulesXKCD (talk) 7:52, 9 September 2016 (EDT)

Oh, sorry. While I was writing up an explanation, KangaroOS put in the sentence "Some people are just too prideful to admit that they are inherently fallible. White Hat is one of those people." and put in that tag. When I went to save it, it told me I had to merge our revisions, which worked fine, but I just forgot to merge the tags. Yosho27 (talk) 13:01, 9 September 2016 (UTC)
Also, if anyone's looking at the article history "" and "Yosho27" are both me (I signed in halfway through) Yosho27 (talk) 13:12, 9 September 2016 (UTC)

mansplaining much? -- 11:55, 9 September 2016 (UTC)

I don't think so. Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 12:29, 9 September 2016 (UTC)
I would dispute that Megan isn't sure what she's talking about. It seems to me that she only sounds uncertain because she is trying to be polite; this is a common strategy for women in particular. (As evidence, note that I started the previous sentence with "it seems to me" instead of an assertion of fact, and the one before that is in the subjunctive mood.) 18:01, 19 September 2016 (UTC)
Worth pointing out that other comics that could be interpreted as mansplaining have had this potential explanation purged. It is my understanding that alternative possible explanations/ of the jokes were encouraged, and many explanations include what seem to be relatively unlikely alternatives. Manplaining is apparently the only one that is verboten. I won't speculate as to why. 22:59, 24 September 2016 (UTC)
Couldn't you imagine a woman behaving like White Hat? If you can, then that shows gender has nothing to do with the joke. HumaneEngineer (talk) 00:11, 27 September 2018 (UTC)

Any reference to "Somebody's WRONG on the Internet!"? 386: Duty Calls KieferSkunk (talk) 18:51, 9 September 2016 (UTC)

Went ahead and added it. :) KieferSkunk (talk) 19:15, 9 September 2016 (UTC)

Hope someone can comment on the theory of the abstraction of particles White Hat gets into in the last panel. Seems like the only part missing so far. I like this comic! ;-) --Kynde (talk) 20:34, 9 September 2016 (UTC)

Not really a Quantum physicist, but I read that it's *theoretically* possible (and seen in some particle expierements at the LHC) for a very specific arrangement of quarks to make a (superheavy) "Proton" that contains Antimatter (Anti-quarks)... A Pentaquark. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentaquark 23:56, 9 September 2016 (UTC)

While not really part of objects, there are plenty of positrons (antielectrons) around: they are produced by radioactive decay, can appear in thunderstorms, are used in nuclear medicine. There is enough radioactive isotope of potassium in average human body to produce thousands of positrons per second. -- Hkmaly (talk) 22:26, 10 September 2016 (UTC)

Is there a technical definition of "object" I am unaware of that excludes hypothetical and abstract objects? What is it that makes a flux capacitor not an object? Or public opinion? Or indeed a sphere made of antimatter? 15:36, 12 September 2016 (UTC)larK

It doesn't sound like the title text is literally what White Hat is saying, but rather someone else summarizing their statements in a mocking way. 23:28, 10 September 2016 (UTC)

I wonder if his thought (I'm wrong) ended up annihilated as if matter came into contact with antimatter...a bit of irony considering he WAS wrong about the antimatter assertion. Add if you think it makes sense.

I just wanted to comment on the nature of particles being abstractions from quantum field theory. Look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_field_theory in the section marked "Implications". It contains references to "particle-like" and "field-like" objects. The mathematics demonstrate artifacts that appear to correspond to the particles. However, does that mean that particle is a result of the mathematics or the mathematics represent the particle. If a particle is something that can be observed, how can it be an abstraction? The particle is a real object whose behavior can be described more or less accurately by the mathematics. Now, if you had a virtual world inside a computer where Quantum Field Theory is used to determine the location of particles, then particles would be abstract data arising from Quantum Field Theory. I realize that this sounds confusing, and I am trying to think of how to word this more clearly. BradleyRoss (talk) 15:58, 13 June 2017 (UTC)

I'm not a particle physicist, so my understanding is just that of a layman. I believe what this part of QFT tries to deal with is literally HOW the particle can exist (I don't think anyone is trying to say it doesn't exist). So QFT is a mathematical theory that attempts to describes a field (similar to electromagnetic field) that is underlying the particles, the excitations in this field are thought to give rise to the particle, I believe this is why the term 'abstraction' is used. WamSam (talk) 10:08, 19 June 2017 (UTC)

What if his thoughts were erased retroactively after him "observing" he was wrong? A la the result of that double-field experiment where observing the electrons changes the result (can't remember the name as of now)? 12:15, 16 June 2017 (UTC)

You're thinking of the double-slit experiment, where light changes behavior from a particle to a wave after a measuring device recorded its motion. Here's a great animation explaininng it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfPeprQ7oGc HumaneEngineer (talk) 00:11, 27 September 2018 (UTC)