877: Beauty

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 23:15, 11 August 2014 by (talk) (Explanation)
Jump to: navigation, search
The best hugs are probably from hagfish, which can extrude microscopic filaments that convert a huge volume of water around them to slime in seconds. Instant cozy blanket!
Title text: The best hugs are probably from hagfish, which can extrude microscopic filaments that convert a huge volume of water around them to slime in seconds. Instant cozy blanket!


Many people believe that over-analysis is boring and only serves to detract from the beauty, wonder, or emotional moments of the subject. This is especially compounded in literature classes, but it's a gripe common throughout many studies. Keats in particular is said to have joked that Newton had 'destroyed all the poetry of the rainbow, by reducing it to the prismatic colours'. Many experts and professionals, however, disagree greatly, claiming that thy see more wonder and excitement in those subjects than they did before.

Ponytail's statement in the first panel is proved wrong by Megan's actions throughout the comic and the statement in the title text, to the point where she retracts and changes her statement.

Megan comes in, excited about slime molds, in particular F. septica. Slime molds are not particularly attractive — in fact, the average person would probably say they were gross and slimy. Ponytail is rather grossed out and horrified by the mold, and changes her statement in response to Megan's enthusiasm for the mold, in keeping with Ponytail's own disgust. She thinks that Megan is crazy to see the wonder in such a disgusting-looking creature.

F. septica is a remarkable species. As the comic says, it can tolerate extremely high zinc levels. The yellow pigment bonds to the zinc and renders it biologically inactive. As with other slime moulds, it forms a multi-nucleate mass which can move like an amoeboid. It changes to a sponge-like form before releasing spores. Although the taxonomy is still fluid, the slime molds are distinct enough to be classified as neither animals, plants or fungi, but form a kingdom of their own, with some types of amoeba.

Concerning the hagfish: "Their unusual feeding habits and slime-producing capabilities have led members of the scientific and popular media to dub the hagfish as the most 'disgusting' of all sea creatures." Nevertheless they too fascinate researchers, and the slime may have various medical applications.


[Ponytail and Cueball are discussing science. They are interrupted by an off-panel shout.]
Ponytail: The problem with scientists is that you take the wonder and beauty out of everything by trying to analyze it.
Megan: Dude!
[Megan runs across the panel, carrying a microscope and a slime mold.]
Megan: My plasmoidal slime molds have heightened pigment production! Check out that yellow color! That actually makes them zinc-resistant. Amazing, huh?
[The slime mold is proffered to the same human who was speaking earlier. The close up hides Megan's face.]
Ponytail: It looks like dog barf.
Megan: Hah, yeah! F. Septica is nicknamed "dog vomit slime mold." Cool, huh? Check out my slides!
[Megan has set down the microscope on the floor of the panel, and the slime mold is jiggling.]
Ponytail: Okay, never mind: What's wrong with scientists is that you do see wonder and beauty in everything.
Ponytail: Oh God, it's moving!
Megan: It wants to hug you! So cute!

comment.png add a comment! ⋅ comment.png add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


In his book The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, Richard Feynman takes exception to the common characterization of scientists as unable to see beauty. He also mentioned this in a 1981 interview.--Prooffreader (talk) 01:29, 23 November 2012 (UTC)

08:24, 25 November 2012 (UTC)overanalyze probably is the point where there is no need which could mean while scientist miss the beauty and wonder while others wonder at the Beauty. Though they see beauty in things which are not conventional

Beauty is not only sink deep.

I used Google News BEFORE it was clickbait (talk) 23:43, 23 January 2015 (UTC)

I can't believe nobody's mentioned NetHack. My! That was a yummy slime mold! Leafy Greens (talk) 21:31, 16 November 2014 (UTC)