52: Secret Worlds

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Secret Worlds
No two adjacent circles are the same color.
Title text: No two adjacent circles are the same color.


The quote written in the large white bubbles comes from The Sandman, a comic book series about dreams. Neil Gaiman is a science fiction and fantasy author who came to fame for writing The Sandman.

The interconnected bubbles represent the secret worlds of different people and how they are connected. They may have the second meaning of the neurons in our brain.

The title text indicates that Randall used the Four color theorem, which states that a graph drawn on a flat plane (like this one) requires at most four colors so that each region differs from all of its neighbors. The comic uses four colors (red, yellow, green, blue). This clearly does not include the white bubbles with text.

Here is the quote, to those wondering how to read the comic:

“Everybody has a secret world inside of them... All of the people in the whole world, I mean everybody — no matter how dull and boring they are on the outside. Inside them they've all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds... Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands, maybe.”
Neil Gaiman, A Game of You


[A multitude of circles connected with several lines. Most of them are rather small and colored red, yellow, green and blue. Nine of them are white, six of these are larger than all the other circles, but one is the same size as the largest colored (green) circle, and the two smallest are smaller than a few of the colored circles. Pieces of text are written in all the white circles. Although it can be confusing at first, the reading order is still the normal one: left to right and top to bottom. Reading the circles in that order gives the following text:]
"Everybody has a secret world inside of them.
All of the people in the whole world
I mean everybody
No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside
Inside they've all got unimaginable
magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing, worlds
Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands, maybe."
--Neil Gaiman


  • This was the 50th comic originally posted to LiveJournal.
  • This comic kept its original title: "Secret Worlds"
    • It is part of the last six comics on LiveJournal, which all had a title without the word "Drawing" in it.
    • Five of these had exactly the same title on both sites.
    • Only 11 comics have the same title on both sites.
    • Apart from the thirteen first comics posted to LiveJournal, there were only three other comics without the word "Drawing" in the title before these last six.
  • There was no original Randall quote for this comic.
  • This comic was one of the last 11 comics posted on LiveJournal.
  • For some reason, 54: Science was posted before this one on LiveJournal on the 18th of January 2006, but first a week later on xkcd on the 25th of January 2006.
    • 52: Secret Worlds was then released on xkcd the same day as 51: Malaria came out on LiveJournal on Saturday the 21st of January 2006.
    • It then came out on LiveJournal two days later on Monday the 23rd of January 2006.
    • The release date here on explain xkcd uses the first release date, so that is the one on xkcd.
  • After the mishap with 54: Science, the next three comics came out on LiveJournal a release day later.
    • First with the last comic released on LiveJournal, 55: Useless, did the two sites release the same comic on the same day again.
  • During the start-up of xkcd, several of the comics were released on days that deviated from the normal Monday, Wednesday, Friday scheme.
    • This one was thus released on a Saturday.
    • Since it was first posted on xkcd, there is no time given for the post. But 51: Malaria was posted so early on Saturday, 1:43 am, that it could almost have been a Friday comic.
    • And it is likely that these two were posted close to each other.
    • The previous "Friday" comic 49: Want was also released on a Saturday.

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Just to the left of the small circle that says something like "I mean everybody!" are two adjacent yellow circles. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Nope. Red and yellow. Zoom in and you'll see it. 04:13, 30 November 2014 (UTC)

The graph does indeed require four colors, since it contains four mutually connected circles in the upper left corner. Richmond tudor (talk) 04:52, 13 March 2015 (UTC)