The Observation Table

We made it to the end of yet another week. Before the weekend begins for most of my audience—though for my UK readers, enjoy the extended bank holiday and God save the Queen—I wanted to take a look at a graphic from xkcd that shows one can use different types of scopes to make different types of observations.

All the scopes.

I’m constantly thinking about getting a record player. But if I do, maybe I’ll just start calling it my radiogyroscope.

Credit for the piece goes to Randall Munroe.

Hey, Cousin!

As many of my long-time readers know, I count genealogy as one of my hobbies. A few weeks ago for Orthodox Easter I travelled up to the hometown of my late grandfather. There I get to see people to whom I’m related as many of us can point to ancestors from the same few villages in a small geographic cluster in the Carpathian Mountains of Slovakia and Poland. In other words, we’re all cousins.

But as xkcd shows, so are we all. And that means you too, cousin.

He’s my cousin too.

Happy weekend, cuz.

Credit for the piece goes to Randall Munroe.


Well we made it through the week. Yesterday we looked at plate tectonics and the future shape of the world. So today it’s time to look at a map recently made by xkcd. Specifically it looks at the world through the lens of Madagascar.

Now try to roll it up onto a sphere.

Greenland isn’t as big as it looks on Google Maps. So this piece fixes that by placing Madagascar in its place.

Credit for the piece goes to Randall Munroe.

Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.

Any science fiction fan—and likely many who are not—can identify the character who utters those words in that order: Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek’s captain of the USS Enterprise, NCC-1701-D. Ask your Amazon Alexa for it. Or your Google Home.

Thanks to the work of xkcd, we now know that Jean-Luc—may I call him Jean-Luc?—had a number of other options in the replicator from which to choose before he settled on “hot”.

Although Garak would still like to meet that Earl Grey and tell him a thing or two about tea leaves.

Credit for the piece goes to Randall Munroe.


Happy Friday, everyone.

At the beginning of the week, we looked at the launch and deployment of the new James Webb telescope. If you recall, one of the key elements of the satellite’s design is its sunshield. As the name says, it shields the satellite from the sun, thus keeping the equipment super cold, which is necessary to operate in the range of infrared.

But, as xkcd points out, that’s not actually the real reason for the sunshield.

Credit for the piece goes to Randall Munroe.

Greater Delaware

We are at that point in the year where I begin to use up my holiday time for work. I just returned from two weeks away, but I am out again tomorrow, so no post. Ergo, this Thursday is my Friday. And so I’ll leave you with a post from xkcd that talks vexillology, or the study of flags.

Beware Greater Delaware.

Credit for the piece goes to Randall Munroe.