536: Space Elevators

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Space Elevators
If you think space elevators are good, but just too boring and practical, check out the 'space fountain'.
Title text: If you think space elevators are good, but just too boring and practical, check out the 'space fountain'.


Arthur C. Clarke was a science fiction writer and a futurist. The quoted remark provides a benchmark for how long it will take to create something as massive and advanced as a space elevator: when technology reaches the point where the idea is considered seriously rather than dismissed out of hand, about fifty years of further effort will make it a reality.

Mind of Mencia was an American television comedy series running from 2005 to 2008. Cueball implies that the show is so unfunny that putting it on every channel would destroy everyone's sense of humor, thus preventing them from laughing at anything, space elevators included.

The space fountain, mentioned in the title text, is another proposed method of overcoming the planet's gravitational barrier, involving an effect similar to that of a coil gun.


[Cueball and Megan sit beside a moonlit lake.]
Cueball: Arthur C. Clarke said space elevators will be built 50 years after everybody stops laughing.
[Closeup of Cueball.]
Cueball: So all we have to do is get Mind of Mencia on every channel and wait.
Megan (offscreen): Oh, hush.

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It could also be that Cueball misunderstood the 'stop laughing' part to mean stop laughing in general not related to a specific topic (in this case the space elevator) 09:19, 16 October 2015 (UTC)

Does it look like Randall is paying homage to Calvin and Hobbes here? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Why do you assume that he missed the point? I would assume he got the point and is just using the opportunity to make fun of Mind of Mencia. The "oh hush" at the end makes me think that their disagreement on the humor of this show is an inside joke for them. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I agree - this seems obvious enough that I have edited the explanation accordingly. L-Space Traveler (talk) 14:27, 3 September 2022 (UTC)

I thought the title text "fountain" was referring to Aurthur C Clark's book "Fountains of Paradise" which is majorly about building a space elevator.-- 05:51, 27 December 2018 (UTC)