826: Guest Week: Zach Weiner (SMBC)
|Guest Week: Zach Weiner (SMBC)|
|Explainxkcd note: Don't try and click on this image to see the exhibits. Visit the actual comic instead|
Title text: Guest comic by Zach Weiner of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. When I was stressed out, Zach gave me a talk that was really encouraging and somehow involved nanobots.
List of tasks to make explanation complete
| This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: See below.|
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.
- Not all of the popups are fully/properly explained.
- Poorly Remembered History can do with more details in the explanations.
- Regrettable pranks could be better explained and linked to science where applicable
- A few cases of inconsistent style of explanation.
- Cross-reference explanations to Wikipedia where possible.
Locations of hotspots are missing?
- Comment on the notable people in the main graphics (man with red cape, double black hat guy).
- Review for grammar.
This comic is drawn by a guest webcomic artist, Zack Weiner, following the theme of "Guest Week". Zach is the author of the webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. It's interactive, so you'll have to see the original comic.
The entire comic is a hypothetical "Smithsonian Museum of Dad-Trolling, an entire building dedicated to deceiving children for amusement." It is an often occurrence that curious little boys will ask simply questions about science to their fathers, such as, "Daddy, why is the sky blue?". Father would respond, "Well Susie, the sky is blue to match your dress."
Hall Of Misunderstood Science
Each exhibit is a display set up to reinforce the false, sarcastic, or exaggerated answers to typical questions that children may ask their parents about scientific topics. The answers given involve just enough information that the child may be satisfied with the answer and repeat it to others while maintaining the irony for adults that the answers are obviously misleading or false.
The basilisk is a mythological reptilian monster that was described as having the ability to turn other living things to stone with its gaze. This plays on and encourages a relatively common childhood notion that a reptile or other animal (often an alligator, crocodile, tiger, or other large or dangerous predator) may be hiding under the child's bed or near where they sleep, causing anxiety.
The exhibit about molecules is referring to a common trope attributed especially to elderly men in that they complain or sometimes exaggerate claims about certain developments over their lifetime which change the way they view or interact with the world (e.g. "When I was your age, we had fun all day with just a piece of wood!"). Historically, though it was understood that matter was made up of small particles it was a common misnomer to refer to these particles as atoms.
The letters associated with DNA are related to the nucleotides which make up DNA chains (they are guanine, adenine, thymine, and cytosine, and are referred to respectively by the letters G, A, T, and C). The commonality of the abbreviation disguises the link to the names of the nucleotides and gives rise questions regarding the letter choices. This could be an example of a parent crafting an answer that makes enough sense to a child, while disguising the parent's ignorance of the real reasons. This may also be a reference to another lamentation of older people -- that the world gets more complicated as time goes by -- and often leads to sarcastic or exaggerated fabrications. In this case, ostensibly, back when DNA was discovered, there were fewer letters available to assign to the components of DNA.
The sleep exhibit reinforces common fears by accentuating the aspect of vulnerability associated with sleep. "The Boogie Man" is a common and generic ghost/monster name used by people telling ghost stories to young kids; he typically hides in closets and underneath beds, and attacks sleeping children.
Water is less dense as a solid than it is when in its liquid state. This is an unusual property as most materials are more dense in solid form. The exhibit falsely explains the phenomenon by linking it to a defense mechanism employed by prey species to deter predators. A rhinoceros, though fierce and territorial, is not a predator.
Regrettable Pranks: An Interactive Experience
This section holds falsehoods that a dad might use to frighten his children. It is an interactive experience, so visitors can try something for themselves, then learn the frightening fact it indicates.
This area holds concession stands, which sell food. There are misleading names on each stand.
KFP - a parody of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), a popular fast food chain which specializes in fried chicken.
Ground beef - a pun on the name. Ground refers to both the floor and the past tense of grind.
Conservatory of Poorly Remembered History
This section perhaps refers to how poorly understood world history is in America. It is interesting to note that African and Australian history is completely omitted, while European and Asian history are at least referenced.
Genghis Khan - Genghis, born Temüjin, was a Mongolian conqueror and founder of the then-largest continuous land empire in history. While Americans can easily remember Khan as a badass figure, the Asian cultures as a whole tend to get slapped with stereotypical "mystical Oriental" elements, such as Chinese-style dragons.
Crimean War - an European Conflict. The joke is that American education, stereotypically, tends not to focus on wars that did not involve the United States; the Crimean war in particular would be glossed over in favor of the California Gold Rush, the Oregon Trail, and the rising political tension that would lead to the American Civil War. So the Crimean war is incorrectly remembered as a war on crime, (probably guessed from the name "Crime"an war.)
The Renaissance - a cultural movement in Europe that took place after the Dark ages. Here, the Renaissance is incorrectly remembered as a time when wizards were in control. The Renaissance was a birth of may different art styles and paintings, so the author may have mistaken the paintings as conjured up by wizards. This could also be a reference to Harry Potter, or how people blamed "witches and wizards" in the Dark Ages.
Star Wars - fiction is often treated as fact by children, or referred to as such by adults to children, either accidentally or purposefully. The father of the child is probably a Star Wars fan, to trick his child into thinking that the Star Wars events really existed
France - this further parodies the ignorance of countries outside of the Americas, since most people know that France exists.
Rotunda of Uncomfortable Topics
The Bathrooms have 3 doors. Clicking reveals that there is one for each gender of humans, and one for "Korgmen & Spangs". This may be a reference to the Marvel alien species the Korg.
The uncategorized dark green exhibit to the right is labeled "Magic eye trick that doesn't actually work". The exhibit resembles an autostereogram, a picture that has a hidden 3D image, but has to be looked at by forcing your eyes to focus either beyond ("wall-eyed") or in front of ("cross-eyed") the image, which many people find difficult or impossible to do. Autostereograms are commonly sold in books under the trademark "Magic Eye". Presumably the exhibit only pretends to be an autostereogram without actually being one.
- In the spirit of xkcd I present a proposal for a new Smithsonian museum:
- The Smithsonian Museum Of Dad-Trolling
- An entire building dedicated to deceiving children for amusement
- (Click to view exhibits!)
- The top left room is 'The Hall of Misunderstood Science'. It contains six exhibits.
- Exhibit: A giant basilisk looms over children.
- Exhibit label: BASILISKS: Real, deadly, under your bed.
- Exhibit: Four magnets hang from a square arch. A child is touching two of them together.
- Text on the arch: Magnets only leap at each other when they're teenagers. Later, they lose interest.
- Exhibit: A child on his dad's shoulders looks up at a looming statue of Jesus behind a lectern. There are flakes falling from Jesus onto them both.
- Exhibit label: Snow is Jesus' dandruff. His scalp gets dry when it's cold.
- Exhibit: A child lies asleep, while hands and a scary face reach up around the bed toward him.
- Exhibit label: Sleep: Now you're vulnerable to the boogie man!
- Exhibit: An ice block sits on a stand in front of pictures of a wolf and rhinoceros looking frightened.
- Exhibit label: Freezing water: Expands to frighten predators.
- Exhibit: An insect on a stick is orbited by a small sphere.
- Exhibit label: Anti-matter: Matter that is more than 50% ants.
- Exhibit: A DNA strand with the letters T, A, C, and G hanging around it.
- Exhibit label: DNA only has four letters because the alphabet was smaller back then.
- Dad, to child: Told you so.
- Exhibit: A bunch of molecules hang from the ceiling.
- Exhibit label: Molecules? In my day, we only had atoms!
- The top right room is 'Regrettable Pranks: An Interactive Experience'. There are four exhibits.
- Exhibit: Five balloons float tethered to a table. A child is holding a sixth balloon. The Dad looks alarmed.
- Sign on exhibit: If this helium makes your voice go higher, it's because you're ten seconds from exploding.
- Exhibit: An alien face is shown above an outline of several hands next to a ruler. A child holds his hand up to it.
- Sign on exhibit: Measure your middle finger. If it's longer than the others, you're an alien halfbreed.
- Exhibit: Three cups are on a table. A child is walking away with a fourth cup, the dad's arm around the child's shoulder.
- Exhibit label: Has anyone seen my rabbit brain? It looks like a cherry, and I dropped it in a Jello cup.
- Exhibit: A monstrous set of jaws open upward around a bed.
- Sign on exhibit: Make your bed or monsters will know a kid lives there.
- The center right room is 'Concessions'. There are three booths.
- Booth: A concession stand is labeled 'KFP', and displays a KFC-style bucket. A dad and child are eating.
- Dad: The "P" is for "phoenix".
- Booth: A concession stand.
- Sign on stand: Ground beef: Beef we found on the ground.
- Dad, to child: Told you.
- Booth: A stand shaped like a giant eye.
- Booth label: EYES CREAM
- Subtitle: How did you think it was spelled?
- Sign on booth: Now with more of the goo in your eyes. Same as every other creamery.
- The lower left room is 'Conservatory of Poorly Remembered History'. There are five exhibits.
- Exhibit: A man is riding a dragon.
- Exhibit label: Genghis Khan: victory through dragons.
- Exhibit: A criminal in front of some windows.
- Exhibit label: The Crimean War: The first war against crime.
- Exhibit: A castle with flags hanging on it.
- Exhibit label: The Renaissance
- Subtitle: Long story short, the wizards were in control.
- Exhibit:A man in Jedi-style robes with a fake beard.
- Exhibit label: Star Wars is a documentary. No, seriously.
- Dad, to children: Kids, this man is a veteran.
- The lower right room is 'Rotunda of Uncomfortable Topics'. There are five exhibits.
- Exhibit: A wrestling ring, with a man and woman mostly obscured by the exhibit label.
- Exhibit label: Naked wrestling: perfectly normal. NEVER DO IT.
- Exhibit: a figure sits at a booth in front of a bowl of food. The dad is holding a bottle.
- Exhibit label: Alcohol is poison. I drink to save you from it.
- Dad: You're welcome.
- Exhibit: A large bird.
- Exhibit label: Mommies get big tummies before babies come because the stork likes chubby girls.
- Exhibit: A rocket ship.
- Sign on exhibit: Grandma's not dead. She just returned to Saturn. For REVENGE.
- In the areas outside the rooms, there are two more exhibits and restrooms, all clickable.
- Exhibit: A dinosaur skeleton.
- Exhibit label: That's right. Dinosaurs were made entirely of BONES.
- Dad, to kid: If you think about it, it makes sense.
- Exhibit: A large image hangs on the wall. It is a dense squiggly jumble of lines.
- Dad, to kids: You gotta squint juuust right.
- Sign on exhibit: Magic eye trick that doesn't actually work.
- Restrooms: There are three doors, each with a sign.
- First door (male logo): Men & Boys
- Second door (female logo): Women & Girls
- Third door (unrecognizable logo): Korgmen & Spangs
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