Talk:Countdown in header text

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During the first three weeks there were so much talk on this page, that it became very long. To help with this I will collapse all the original talk until when it became clear what it was Randall was promoting the day before the countdown ended. It will always be possible to see all the old comments by pressing the expand button to the far right. So feel free to comment below again - then someone might notice that there has been written something new again! --Kynde (talk) 19:16, 31 January 2022 (UTC)

Click to expand:

The talk on from 2565: Latency and 2566: Decorative Constants has been moved here by me when I created this page --Kynde (talk) 11:01, 12 January 2022 (UTC)

From Latency

What is happening around Feb 1st, there is a countdown that appeared a few hours ago in the upper right corner of the xkcd index. There is also the directory which might be an acronym, if it isnt a countdown package? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Damn you beat me to it ;-). But I have made a Trivia here on this comics page and links to more detail on the xkcd Header text page. I belie you are a day of, but someone will likely correct me if I'm wrong. As I can see it will be January 31st, 9:59 in Randall's home town Boston.--Kynde (talk) 20:06, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
But damned if I can wait. Sure millions will watch the page when it goes to zero! At least it is no April 1st. :-D --Kynde (talk) 20:10, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
From Decorative Constants

Any idea what's going on with the clock that's counting downwards in the banner? Currently counting down from 20 days 16 hours? 22:08, 10 January 2022 (UTC)

(Simultaneous edit) What is the days-hours-minutes in the box above the comic referring to? The image itself is dated yesterday, as you can see by saving it. Worst-case-scenario, is this a countdown to the end of XKCD? 22:11, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
It's going to hit zero at around midnight on Jan 31st 2022 CST? SteveBaker (talk) 22:16, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
Posted this on the previous comics discussion. But lets take it here where there will be more traffic: --Kynde (talk) 22:44, 10 January 2022 (UTC) -- Copy paste from previous comics discussion:
Damn you beat me to it ;-). But I have made a Trivia here on this comics page and links to more detail on the xkcd Header text page. I believe you are a day of, but someone will likely correct me if I'm wrong. As I can see it will be January 31st, 9:59 in Randall's home town Boston.--Kynde (talk) 20:06, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
But damned if I can wait. Sure millions will watch the page when it goes to zero! At least it is no April 1st. :-D --Kynde (talk) 20:10, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
Yeah - you're right - I messed up. So as I type this, it's Jan 10th 2022 at 4pm - 1600 hrs Mountain time - which is 1800 hours EST. At this moment, the countdown reads 20d 16h 0m - so Jan 30th + (18+16) hours = which is Jan 30th + 34 hours - which is Jan 31st + 10am in Boston (EST). SteveBaker (talk) 23:05, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
Hey great, can see they agree in the link to reddit below. So happy I got it right both in UTC and Boston. It will be 15:59 here in DK. Not 16:00. ;-) --Kynde (talk) 23:44, 10 January 2022 (UTC)

Counting down to Backwards Day? -- 23:28, 10 January 2022 (UTC)

There's a reddit thread discussing it: I think the most likely guess is that Randall has a new book coming out. Barmar (talk) 23:40, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
Would still seem strange if it came out that day with only promotion before being a count down. But then again, he will have the xkcd communities boiling if he gives no other hint. So every one will see if he promotes a book. Also as they wrote at the time I looked at reddit I do not think it is the end of xkcd, or Webb related. Although Webb was the first I thought about. But I mean even if it came to L2 at that day, it is not going to any specific point but just in orbit. --Kynde (talk) 23:47, 10 January 2022 (UTC)
The date fits the idea of it being Backwards Day ( but what about the choice of time? SteveBaker (talk) 03:38, 11 January 2022 (UTC)
Backwards day... Never head of it until now. Is it big in the US. I mean when looking after dates so obscure they are not mentioned on wikipedia then there are probably lots of things happening on that day? But maybe it is a think in the US? --Kynde (talk) 08:48, 11 January 2022 (UTC)
I haven't heard of it until now either, so it is probably one of the bajillions of holidays no one actually cares about, and is unrelated to the countdown. 13:22, 11 January 2022 (UTC)Bumpf

Someone has noticed the image is changing with pixels added at the bottom left corner and is keeping track of it here: 05:49, 11 January 2022 (UTC)

Looks like an image is "moving" into the frame because at the moment you can see some white pixel in the lower left, i.e. the black part might end up as a line as part of some comic. 08:31, 11 January 2022 (UTC)
Thanks used that to pinpoint the start of the countdown. Have added this info to the header text page, and the original trivia. Also just added a line of trivia to this explanation with the link. This was when this comic came out most people noticed the count down. But it did came out while Latency was up. --Kynde (talk) 08:43, 11 January 2022 (UTC)
Speculating on what it could be, the only thing that makes sense at that angle is a character's arm. 04:47, 12 January 2022 (UTC)
As of 7 PM PST, the two lines appear to be disconnected from anything else, which rules out a lot of the theories put forth here. Hmmm… I can’t really think of anything it could be other than the wing of an airplane. Maybe it’ll zoom out after it moves into view?Szeth Pancakes (talk) 03:17, 17 January 2022 (UTC)

The header changes page says that it's forcing "Friday" to move down to the next line. Not for me. Did he fix it, or is it browser-specific? Barmar (talk) 14:58, 11 January 2022 (UTC)

It must be browser specific. But i have tried bot the old Internet Explorer, Edge, Chrome and Firefox, and it does it in all cases and zooming does nothing.. Which browser do you use? I have corrected to in some browsers though, in the explanation you refer to. --Kynde (talk) 15:31, 12 January 2022 (UTC)

This is much more likely a count down related to the James Webb Space Telescope. At approximately the day the count down indicates the telescope will be orbiting the L2 gravitational spot.Perhaps most of the mirrors will be approximate place to allow for months of fine tuning. An example of a slightly similar idea is Punchcard (talk) 15:35, 11 January 2022 (UTC)

I really do not think so. There is nothing special about a specific moment for reaching L2. It will go in orbit around it, but when to day it is there or in orbit is hard to pinpoint. --Kynde (talk) 11:13, 12 January 2022 (UTC)
And after I looked at it, it seems it will reach L2 several days before the countdown. See Countdown in header text#Theories. --Kynde (talk) 15:31, 12 January 2022 (UTC)

I think the Countdown should get its own entry. What do we think? Sure (talk) 16:25, 11 January 2022 (UTC)

I think it should! What with the count itself, the speculation about what it could mean, and now the slowly arriving image (?) this seems like something beyond either of the two comics since it started! 18:00, 11 January 2022 (UTC)
I'm surprised it doesn't have one already. This is one of the more unique situations in a long while, more speculation could happen. Thisfox (talk) 22:26, 11 January 2022 (UTC)
I have now created this page and talk page for us to continue the discussion and make dedicated changes about this countdown here. And have moved all discussion from the two pages that had some already (except a few on the first talk page that was also mentioned here. --Kynde (talk) 11:13, 12 January 2022 (UTC)

If you take a look at this [[1]] it displays this: {"img":"72cb154b23f959f908f5dc8eb03069c6df3f0f54aae896a0e7ed27befb2ee639.png","start":"2022-01-10T17:00:00Z","target":"2022-01-31T15:00:00Z","until":"2022-01-11T20:55:38.205303701Z"} Hoodiesandboba (talk) 20:58, 11 January 2022 (UTC)

To correct your link:
"...If you take a look at this link it displays..."
As to where the "72cb154b23f959f908f5dc8eb03069c6df3f0f54aae896a0e7ed27befb2ee639.png" is rooted, I haven't dug into that (or what transforms might be being applied), but it looks like a manipulation of browser states might be able to prematurely reveal it. (I'm on mobile at the moment, and it's significantly more fiddly to poke into the page-scripting and markup than I can be bothered with this moment, but I know what I'd do with a good acreage of screen, mouse control and a proper keyboard to rattle away at. And the combined minds here surely can do even better than myself.) 22:38, 11 January 2022 (UTC)
The filename is a random number long enough to prevent brute force guessing to find future images. The state-file looks like some information for the javascript script where this URL comes from. I haven't looked into the script that much but from the values I'd say that it's telling when to start doing refreshs (2022-01-10T17:00:00Z) and when to stop doing that (2022-01-31T15:00:00Z). While these values are constant, the third value changes and is ten minutes after the time the page has been requested. I suppose this is telling the script, when to do a refresh of the image load. 11:05, 13 January 2022 (UTC)
After some fiddeling, I've found the origin of the filename: It's the SHA-256 hash of the image 11:05, 13 January 2022 (UTC)
There's already a note that it would be impossible to brute-force the filenames. But as the images are very similar to each other, would it be feasible to programmatically generate images similar to the last one (extending up and to the right, different variations of the line shape), hash those files, and test to see if they match images on the server? I'd expect it to reduce the number of possibilities by orders of magnitude, but not sure if that's enough to make brute-force attempts feasible and non-destructive. (Also don't know the PNG format well enough to know if an image with the same pixels in it is guaranteed to produce the same bytes in the file across different implementations) -- Angel (talk) 11:16, 14 January 2022 (UTC)
Hmm… if it was pure black and white, the total number of possible images would be within the realms of sanity to brute force. But add antialiasing and the numbers rapidly become silly. Even if you only allow pixels to change within a certain distance of the previous image, and restrict greys to places between a black and a white, the numbers quickly become absurd. Although that makes me think about making 1-bit versions of all the images so far, predicting a set of "next frame" possibilities at each step, and training a CNN to pick the correct next one; and if it gets accurate enough by the time we get to the present… hmm. How predictable is antialiasing? Do we know the software he's using to create the images; and if so is there a relatively predictable algorithm applied along the edges? Angel (talk) 11:41, 14 January 2022 (UTC)

I think it counts down to Lunar New Year (the Year of the Tiger), as measured in Korea (the earliest timezone where that is celebrated). Actually, it reaches 0 one minute before the New Year, so maybe it will switch to seconds for the last minute. 05:10, 12 January 2022 (UTC)

Could be, but why. Randall has never to rarely? mentioned this new year... --Kynde (talk) 11:13, 12 January 2022 (UTC)

I think we are seeing a zoom out of some image. Perhaps it is the arm of Cueball? --Kynde (talk) 11:36, 12 January 2022 (UTC)

It looks like there's a little curve at the top left of the line entering the frame! This makes the Cueball arm hypothesis more likely. Sure (talk) 14:18, 12 January 2022 (UTC)
I also noticed that (and moved your comment up here, as it is kind of a reply to that). Seems like the picture updates every four hours, and that it happened last time at noon UTC today. And thus it will also be at midnight. So 4, 8, 12, 16, 20 and 24. But it is not certain yet and not sure it happened like that the first day or two. --Kynde (talk) 14:46, 12 January 2022 (UTC)

I have added the first 12 images on this page: Countdown in header text/images - anyone may help uploading the new ones there. --Kynde (talk) 11:43, 12 January 2022 (UTC)

Thank you! 12:44, 12 January 2022 (UTC)

Does anyone mind if I make a few spelling/grammar corrections to the article? It feels like the kind of thing that could be interpreted as rude, so I wanted to ask first. 13:00, 12 January 2022 (UTC)

No no please help me with my poor spelling. I'm Danish and not very good at spelling in English. Also anything I write is up for debate and can be changed. Just because I started this page do not give me ownership over it. As long as relevant info is not deleted the entire layout maybe changed. But better to get the page going sooner rather than later.--Kynde (talk) 14:46, 12 January 2022 (UTC)
Alright!! Thank you so much for all your great work on this page! 18:02, 13 January 2022 (UTC)

I originally put this (without realising it wasn't the Talk page) in the Images sub-page, in response to the revelation it was (very probably) the SHA256 of the image data that was used to name the file:

  • When I first looked at it and decided it was an obvious hash (yes SHA256 sounds about right, but nice to know someone's tried it) I personally had hoped it would be a hash of the datetime (plus a salt, maybe, to give it that extra little frisson of difficulty in reverse engineering... ;) ). But if it's as you say I think I'll refrain from getting any rainbow-tables set up and bashing through the possibilities in the rather huge phase-space it could represent. Of course, there must be a look-up table used by the server. It'd be too much to hope for that it's publically exposed though, and totally a rookie-error if it is. (That Randall, and maybe anyone he actually drafted in to implement it to save himself the worry, is surely not going to commit.)

...anyway, bringing it here, as being more conversational than informative. Still thought I should say it, but stupidly long as a comment so maybe I needn't have repasted it again! 03:39, 13 January 2022 (UTC)

(Put this in here as it was before in the explanation --Kynde (talk) 12:02, 13 January 2022 (UTC):) Was going to say it's Hangman, but it looks like it's zooming in on the diagonal instead of continuing to make a gibbet. Thisfox (talk) 06:37, 13 January 2022 (UTC)

I read the javascript of the countdown and noticed one thing that i didn't see mentioned anywhere on this page: the countdown text is moving upwards. When the countdown started the text was exactly in the middle of the image and at the end of the countdown the text will be at the top (you can see how it will look by changing the time in your system). The code will also make the text disappear and leave only the image after the countdown goes to zero. 23:52, 13 January 2022 (UTC)

Uuuh thanks that was interesting. Maybe to make more room for the image? --Kynde (talk) 12:09, 14 January 2022 (UTC)

The Greensboro sit-ins started on Feb 1, though the time is different.. But black history month? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Thanks to Theusaf for helping with putting the images up on the image page. --Kynde (talk) 12:09, 14 January 2022 (UTC)

Anyone here that can make an animation out of the images and put it in the explanation? If it is "easy" could it be updated some times on the way towards the final image on January 31st... Like the one on Time. That would be really nice. --Kynde (talk) 17:02, 14 January 2022 (UTC)

I made an animation: [2] (Now i realize it wasn't needed because there already is automatically updating animation linked from the page...) 18:18, 15 January 2022 (UTC)
Not if you would let us use it here on xkcd. I have no contact to munvoseli. But if you made one we could upload here on xkcd on this page and then update it a few times, until we have a final version, then that would be much better than having one on a private persons page. Which may be deleted at any time. So cool you made one. If it is possible I would like to have one like the one at Time. --Kynde (talk) 13:41, 18 January 2022 (UTC)

There's something else moving into the frame... We'll have to see what it is. Sure (talk) 19:12, 14 January 2022 (UTC)

To even find this page, I had to page backward through the comic to get to Decorative Constants, go to the discussion, and come across the link to this page from there. I suggest that there be a direct link to this page from the explanation of every comic that existed while the countdown was in progress. A second question: has anyone determined for sure whether the ‘camera’ is zooming out from a blank spot in the final image, in which case we can expect other stuff to come into view from above and right, OR is it panning onto an image that is not changing size, in which case nothing will appear except from the direction it’s moving toward? And if it’s panning, has anyone tried estimating where the current stuff will end up? 07:42, 15 January 2022 (UTC)

I agree with you and have now changed the four comics that was active while the count down was active so far, so the link to this page is above their explanations. If people keep updating like this for new comics, there will be a link to the countdown page from the front page. --Kynde (talk) 14:40, 15 January 2022 (UTC)

Does Randall already have kids? If not, maybe his wife is expecting? That's something you'd announce and the last two comics are about kids. Another idea: he's going to space 🚀. -- 20:47, 15 January 2022 (UTC)

I’m sure he would have a birth announcement afterward, but I doubt he would try to predict it to the exact second, 21 days in advance. 22:36, 15 January 2022 (UTC)
Maybe it's a C section? Those are usually scheduled. lol but yeah that's unlikely.Wouldn't rule it out though.Sure (talk) 13:58, 17 January 2022 (UTC)

I noticed that it almost appears to be the tail fin of an airplane. I don’t know if it is, or if an airplane even makes sense? -- 22:11, 15 January 2022 (UTC)

There's not enough time for it to make the several passes necessary, before the big 'reveal', but I'd have suspected Randall capable of parodying the Airplane! in-title parody of Jaws. Would have somewhat been a shaggy-brick joke, but wouldn't put it past him... 00:18, 18 January 2022 (UTC)
I actually think, after watching the animation so far on musoveli’s page, it looks more like a main wing of a swept wing commercial aircraft. If it is, and the pattern continues, we should be able to see the main body or an engine nacelle at least. -- 13:39, 18 January 2022 (UTC)
I agree now. First I was sure it was the tail of an airplane, but the way it moves into the image now, makes me think of the wing, with the plane body soon coming into view. That was at image 59... --Kynde (talk) 17:48, 19 January 2022 (UTC)
I think at the time of posting the body has just come into view! I may be wrong, as it is only a tiny sliver, but I am hopeful!-- 01:59, 20 January 2022 (UTC)
I'm still more mentally-prepared for it being a tailfin (seen from the side, the 'new' line being the mid-dorsal surface of the main aircraft hull) than the port wing (the new bit being of the lateral airframe surface forward of the wings and perhaps just behind the cockpit point). But this POV will doubtless be overturned by the revelation of the next frame(s), which will make many of us look just as misdirectedly creduluous as each other. ;) 02:50, 20 January 2022 (UTC)
I can see the tailfin too, but because I am a human, and we dont shift our opinons easily, i still think its a plane. We might all be wrong though! This makes me think of a game from elementary school where on kid would draw a line, we would guess what it was, then the would draw another, and so on, until we guessed it. (I just realized that I wasnt logged in for my previous few posts here). --BlackBeret (talk) 13:34, 20 January 2022 (UTC)
(Me again,, whatever this signs as.) In case you read me wrong, I was meaning a tailfin of a plane (rudder surface, vertical stabiliser, whatever), so I think we have agreement. Or had. Not seen the latest picture update(s), so my views may imminently change in a few moments when I actually do, and/or yours also will by the time you read this. ;) 16:18, 20 January 2022 (UTC)
I understood what you meant by tail fin. I also now think you are right, becuase I think I can see a tiny little line poking out from the bottom corner that could be the vertical tail fin. (Is there a better word for it?)--BlackBeret (talk) 00:46, 21 January 2022 (UTC)
Once again, my opinion has changed. I now once more believe that it is a wing, now that we can see the windows of the plane. It almost looks like spaceshiptwo, which in my opinion is the coolest rocket in the industry right now. But it isn’t, because it doesn’t have the right wings. That was unrelated.--BlackBeret (talk) 02:54, 21 January 2022 (UTC)
On a second look, it could be SpaceShipTwo in “shuttlecock” formation for reentry. Wouldn’t it be cool to see Randall in space? --BlackBeret (talk) 15:23, 21 January 2022 (UTC)
SpaceShipTwo is not really looking at all like this commercial plane I believe it is. A passenger plane is my idea of how it looks now. I cannot tell if it is the wing or tail we see, but is inclined to sat that the thin line is the top of the passenger hull, and thus it is a wing, as the tailfin would not need this extra line as it is fused with the planes body. I also now begins to think the plane will land somewhere we can recognize (sky line) when the counter ends, and Randall is going there. But if he can actually land somewhere that precise seems farfetched. --Kynde (talk) 16:07, 21 January 2022 (UTC)

I believe it looks like he would draw the arm and upper "body" of a person running to the left. 01:11, 16 January 2022 (UTC)

Am I the only one thinking it'll be another extra long comic like 1190? 02:52, 16 January 2022 (UTC)

Randall is secretly in space, having launched a few days after JWST, and the countdown is to when NASA will see the fruits of his elaborate plan to create the most epic photo bomb of all time. 20:59, 16 January 2022 (UTC)

Surprised no one has linked to the xkcd comic called Countdown. It centers on the problem of having a countdown to something and people not knowing what it is (and also not being able to see all relevant information). Seems relevant in a couple ways. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Yes but there we don't know when the count ends, but we know what it is about. So kind of the reverse of this countdown. But I think I will add a line about it in the explanation. Also a search for Countdown goes there so maybe I also add a link here from that comic. (Remember to sign you comment) --Kynde (talk) 13:32, 18 January 2022 (UTC)

Did anyone calculate the speed/acceleration of the object moving in the frame? We can predict future positions if nothing changes (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

It just changed direction so nothing will come from that now. (Remember to sign you comment) --Kynde (talk) 13:32, 18 January 2022 (UTC)

Randall's new comic is about hyposthesis genration (Sound familiar?), and the title text makes a lot of sense if you think about it from his perspective. Sure (talk) 13:06, 18 January 2022 (UTC)

I really do not think this comic is a comment on the countdown. But I can see why it could be funny for us here at explain. But I'm quite sure that Randall stays away from all these fora discussing his comics. We put way to much importance to this site if we think he actually comes here... ;-) --Kynde (talk) 13:14, 18 January 2022 (UTC)

What do the comments in the explanation above that say "the timer may be using EST" mean? The timer is just counting down days, hours, and minutes. We should all see the timer reach zero at the same time even though that may be morning for some readers, afternoon for others, and night for other readers. Randall's living on Eastern Standard Time isn't going to make the countdown run any faster or slower than it would if he lived in a different time zone. -- 16:00, 18 January 2022 (UTC)

Agreed have removed all ref to EST. It is UTZ that is interesting and of course Randall's local time zone in Boston. --Kynde (talk) 16:29, 18 January 2022 (UTC) 03:54, 19 January 2022 (UTC)
Guys put that back! It's referring to comic 1061! Not that I think it's likely, butlet's not dismiss that out of hand. 03:54, 19 January 2022 (UTC)
That is ridiculous! --Kynde (talk) 07:42, 19 January 2022 (UTC)

I think the image entering the frame is a boomerang! Sure (talk) 12:53, 20 January 2022 (UTC)

Well Randall has sure been fond enough of those that we have the Category:Boomerangs. However, in none of those have he drawn that extra line that have appeared before you suggested this. So I would say, it is not!--Kynde (talk) 16:24, 20 January 2022 (UTC)

Yay, started by the new development with the counter in the xkcd Header text, I was inspired to continue the work I started back in June 2019 when I created the page regarding changes in the header. When I began adding the countdown at the top I became aware that I had left a period of more than a year with Changes not documented yet 2 from September 2015 to November 2016 (Changes not documented yet 1 is anything earlier than March 2014). And today I finished documenting the gap so now Protip on Garden is suddenly also here, just below where the undocumented section was, which I deleted today. And thus the protip is now not just mentioned in the trivia on the 1663: Garden page. Of course it would be great to continue backwards, but it is a hughe project. But there where some important changes in the now closed gap, among other the longest running book promotion for Thing Explainer. Of course I cannot say it is complete back to march 2014, but anything staying longer than two weeks in the front page header I believe I would have found. But I have not walked through every archived version ;-) They load terribly slow. --Kynde (talk) 16:39, 20 January 2022 (UTC)

I guess when more windows come into view, we’ll finally know whether the windows continue far to the left of the wing, or stop well short of the tail fin (which the two currently showing already seem to me to be too close to). (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

That is true. Wonder if the plane will land in a city that can be recognized when the counter runs out? --Kynde (talk) 16:07, 21 January 2022 (UTC)

That new bottom-left line worries me. [...] 15:50, 22 January 2022 (UTC)

Retracted. I was still thinking a viewpoint mildly downward, or exactly level with the aircraft, but a very slight upward view (and from slightly forward?) onto the underside of the HS surface would conceivably produce that profile.
Note that I'm commenting on directly, as the frames in the /images page have been left fallow for a while now. I presume someone is going to catch us up again when they have the wherewithall (unfortunately, I don't right now, hard to edit complex things on this device, and I wouldn't be able to upload the frames to the wiki anyway). rush, we have... 8d 0h 23m left, at least, to be thorough about this. ;) 14:37, 23 January 2022 (UTC)
I have now uploaded up to the current on xkcd nr. 85. --Kynde (talk) 20:09, 23 January 2022 (UTC)

I wondered if there was anything else interesting in the js file that updates the countdown. So I de-minified it. (There is nothing noteworthy.) Toby (talk) 17:20, 23 January 2022 (UTC)

The new parachute theory could be a possibility. I have added this and two others to the top of the image theories and moved all else into an Early theory section. For sure it is a plane. And also added the parachute idea to the countdown theory section. Not my theory, but moved it to two other places than where it was first stated. (Left it there though!). Not special certain it will be, but could be. --Kynde (talk) 20:09, 23 January 2022 (UTC)

Maybe Randall found D.B. Cooper? ;D (talk about me behind my back) 13:49, 24 January 2022 (UTC)

Maybe he's going to announce he is D.B. Cooper..! 14:01, 24 January 2022 (UTC)
 :o surprised pikachu (talk about me behind my back) 11:50, 25 January 2022 (UTC)

I've been checking the possible aircraft used for Zero-G (parabolic) flights, and currently - in the US at least - none of the models used have 'standard' hull-mounted horizontal stabilisers, as in the picture. They're either T-tails or cruciform (midway up the vertical stabiliser), possibly for very good reasons. (i.e., at the most crucial part of the flight envelope, it keeps the control surfaces out of the immediate wake of the wings. Handy feature, more than overcoming the engineering compromises needed to mount things that way.) Assuming any attempt at accuracy[citation needed] this might rule that option out. (And skydiving is usually high-winged non-jets, and this seems to be a low-winged jet.) Though A300-ranged planes have been used in Europe and conceivably loosely fit the given profile. But it looks like a smaller plane than many of the Vomit Comets (and larger than most parachute-party planes). Unfortunately, it still rules far too many other options in, never mind artistic innacuracy drift. 15:14, 24 January 2022 (UTC)

suggestion: make a bot that uploads the newest image with . 18:20, 25 January 2022 (UTC)Bumpf

With just five days left it is not worth the bother... --Kynde (talk) 07:50, 27 January 2022 (UTC)

Actually, this started to get a little boring a few days ago. Just sayin’ 12:52, 26 January 2022 (UTC)

First the airplane two alien-themed comics in a row...Of course!!! It seems so obvious! Randall is an alien! The countdown is to the big reveal! /j

Unless he keeps up alien themed jokes through the week I do not think they will be related to the count down. --Kynde (talk) 07:50, 27 January 2022 (UTC)

The new development makes me think it is a plane like Boeing E-3 Sentry. With a radar on top. If not another plane is above, holding this one, which could make it something with a going into space plane? Not sure if those that exist would look like this though. But the radar would probably look like this. --Kynde (talk) 07:50, 27 January 2022 (UTC)

(based on 110 frames available): The upper black "arc" can be some hair and the ellipse on the right look like the right glass of a pair of glasses. The latter I think because the upper line of the plane's main body gets refracted a bit. So this might become a picture with a glasses-wearing person in front and a plane in the background. If somebody more web-comic-savy than me recognizes a character we might see the start of Randall's vacation and his vacation replacement.Kimmerin (talk) 15:43, 27 January 2022 (UTC)

The line below the windows is a fairly common place to switch from a dark to light color with a commercial airline livery, or a line of color, etc. The floor of the passenger compartment is generally a little below the middle of the fuselage, the windows are above. The fuselage looks much more typical if that line is just paint than if it's demarking the fuselage from something else. The curved object in the upper right would be the right place for a winglet if the plane were banking slightly, particularly a winglet like the A350's.

Countdown not appearing on certain comics (most notably 980: Money)

I have not checked every comic, and this may be a bug or nerd sniping, but this could mean... something? Idk Eebop (talk) 02:41, 28 January 2022 (UTC)

Money has custom text in the header specific to the comic. I assume when he does this it just overrides the default, where the countdown is. 04:09, 28 January 2022 (UTC)
Yes that is the same for all comics that have Unique header text, so this doesn't mean anything. So far I have found 14 of those. Mainly me who edits the xkcd Header text page where all changes to the header text can be logged. And the unique headers are listed there as well. --Kynde (talk) 09:44, 28 January 2022 (UTC)

I have a feeling the black thing in the top right corner is a bird wing, and the thing beneath it on the plane is its talon, meaning a giant bird is carrying a plane. Maybe the image has absolutely nothing to do with what will happen at the end of the countdown? 13:47, 28 January 2022 (UTC)

Don't think so, also now it is clear it is the wing. --Kynde (talk) 08:10, 29 January 2022 (UTC)
Yeah, I see that now. When I posted that it certainly looked like a talon. My new guess is that I have no idea what the black thing is. However, it appears to be attached to the countdown itself now, maybe a graph?
Raptors on a Plane?

Excuse me, but that should be Raptors on every plane.Szeth Pancakes (talk) 20:08, 28 January 2022 (UTC)

Looks like a raptor tail to me. Silverfunk (talk) 14:50, 28 January 2022 (UTC)

What if? 2 on amazon

There's a listing for What if? 2 ( on amazon that may be linked to the countdown? Considering I can't find anything about it before recently I feel like the countdown could've been to announce it. Flumnble (talk) 03:29, 30 January 2022 (UTC)

I originally imagined that, and had (thought I'd) checked Amazon and another retailer, but hy neither showing an 'available for pre-order' that looked relevent was resigned to it being something else. Unless the countdown was to when the pre-orders would be possible... If it is, then someone at Amazon may have jumped the gun/not kept the gunvsafely holstered and broken the embargo early... Going to check your link in a moment, but first checking my prefered (physical) store's web-site and a couple of others... We got Kirk into space, already, so I'm not now too bothered in pushing yet more money Jeff's way. 03:59, 30 January 2022 (UTC)
ok, that's definitely correct. the picture in the countdown looks exactly like the top of the book cover. (talk) 07:20, 30 January 2022 (UTC)
That is actually really sad they could not figure out to wait with this until he announced it on xkcd. Shame on Amazon. Buy it somewhere else. :-( But the theories is over. The book anouncement and the dino on a plane was some of my first guesses. But had actually not thought about a new what if book. Can't wait to get my hands on it. --Kynde (talk) 08:18, 30 January 2022 (UTC)
AMAZONNNNNN! >:(!! (No, really, buy it somehwere else, and not just because they ruined the surprise. Signed, your friendly neighborhood anti-capitalist.)
And now the Amazon page is showing a release date in September, with pre-orders now. MAP (talk) 07:52, 31 January 2022 (UTC)
So this whole thing was a 21-day countdown to a botched announcement of something you can’t even see for another nine months? And here we all thought something was actually going to happen at the end of the countdown. At least we don’t have to sit through nine months of frame-by-frame like the Super Bowl watch party. 10:10, 31 January 2022 (UTC)
Well this was actually early on the best guess we had, that it was a book announcement. So we should not be so surprised, and I for one stated that it it was not just for the promotion, then it would be very different that with other books. But yes it was a bit little for three weeks, but we did get a new comic and some new design features on xkcd. --Kynde (talk) 19:10, 31 January 2022 (UTC)

Commenting from Melbourne Australia here. The black figure is clearly the Qantas logo of the 'flying kangaroo'. Randall is coming to visit us downunder (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

You did not read the previous comment that revealed it to be the T-rex from the what if series? --Kynde (talk) 08:18, 30 January 2022 (UTC)

This countdown first appeared in 2565 - Latency. Could this not be a continuation of that joke? Maybe the next What If? entry? That would certainly be a bit of latency! -- ByronCinNNZ (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Not really as this happened automatic and with the intended delay. --Kynde (talk) 19:10, 31 January 2022 (UTC)

It looks as though the drawing was slightly altered for the countdown - the dinosaur's tail is at a different angle between the two drawings. 02:28, 31 January 2022 (UTC).

True the final image is not the same, but also the planes angle is different. --Kynde (talk) 19:10, 31 January 2022 (UTC)

Someone should upload a gif of the final wiggling countdown. I would, but permissions... Toby (talk) 15:17, 31 January 2022 (UTC)

I agree, if someone can make that gif, I would be very happy to help loading it up on the page. The one on Munvocelis page is cool, but can we except it to stay there for ever? If you can help, then please also reply on my talk page, as I might not see it here later... --Kynde (talk) 19:10, 31 January 2022 (UTC)
Thanks to Toby who provided us with the new gif animation as well as a gif with the wiggling. Have put that on the other image page. --Kynde (talk) 20:24, 31 January 2022 (UTC)
Thanks for the gif, that really shows what I was curious to see, how the panning out exactly worked. You can see the speed changes in panning really well. Small improvement to make still: I think the last frame (the book frame) should stay on a bit longer before resetting. Like 1-2s? Thanks! 21:33, 31 January 2022 (UTC)
Like this Toby (talk) 22:44, 31 January 2022 (UTC)
Great with this improvement, and seems that you can upload a new file even if you could not create the new file. Have you seen my message in your talk page Toby? --Kynde (talk) 12:50, 1 February 2022 (UTC)
Yes indeedus I have Toby (talk) 14:29, 1 February 2022 (UTC)
Great. Maybe you wish to change your own page now, since I used it to make it a link. But my comment there really only belonged in you talk page. Where I also wrote it. --Kynde (talk) 09:05, 2 February 2022 (UTC)
I have made 22 images from countdown Day 20 to Day 0 and the day after and put them here Countdown_in_header_text/other_images#Changing_counter_position. If you or someone else could make a gif showing this that would be great. Again with a bit longer time with the last image. And also a bit slower for each frame than the gif at the top. That would be cool to have on this page as well. --Kynde (talk) 10:49, 2 February 2022 (UTC)
Thanks again Toby for this gif. --Kynde (talk) 10:01, 4 February 2022 (UTC)
Side-by-side comparison in "/other images" page.

Appreciated that the images are reduced to be less problematic, but they still make the page twice as wide as it would normally be. On this device this compresses the rest of the page to "half the screen width" as with when a single huge image (or non-breaking string of text) is put into a page) while the usual CSS bounds are respected for everything else but the browser makes sure all this big thing fits on this (already wide-ratioed) screen. Just a note (which I can't make on the 'other images' sub-page Talk, as I can't create it) although I don't know if anyone should 'fix' it, or even how they would. 15:22, 2 February 2022 (UTC)

Well it is just a couple of pages I created to be able to dump these images, for documenting what happened during the countdown, as this will be lost on xkcd fro now. And yes I know they are properly only easy to view on a real computer? I'm not sure how to fix it. I'm not going to change the size of them, but if any one else wish to do so feel free, either change the files of put in a size in the wiki code. Not sure how to do that either. Also if there needs to be space between the images that would also be possible to fix. --Kynde (talk) 10:00, 4 February 2022 (UTC)
Or maybe it was just this image here that was the problem? I have removed it from the page and just put in a link to it. Check if that helped? It was one long image. --Kynde (talk) 10:05, 4 February 2022 (UTC)
Aye, it was. Should have checked the wikisource, I had assumed you (or whoever) had forced non-breaking between a whole set of spanned images.
(From a quick look at latest change, you now provide two separate links to the same, now off-page, image? I didn't follow them, but it looks to be ultimately the same 1-20.png file.) 16:22, 4 February 2022 (UTC)
When I uploaded the image, it was by making a link to a file on the page. This was the one that broke peoples borders. So instead of leaving it there, I link to the page where the image is and where it can be changed. That is on this wiki. But if you click on the image on that page, you just get the image up on the screen. And that is the link I use both here and as the first link. It is an easy way to see the image. It is still on this page, but only displays the image. SO it is as I inteded nad only uses this local page. Great it fixed the problem for you (and others) --Kynde (talk) 16:59, 13 February 2022 (UTC)