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.

Sunshield

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.

The Hexagons of Saturn

Well, it’s the end of another week. I’ll save the bigger posts I have planned for next week and instead end with this little astronomy/geometry gem from xkcd. It takes a look at Saturn’s polar storm that takes the shape of a hexagon, not a circle or anything else.

Gooaaaallllllll

Credit for the piece goes to Randall Munroe.

The Years of the Asterisks

Happy Friday, all. Another week and we made it.

This Friday I want to highlight a graphic from xkcd that, strictly speaking, isn’t really data visualisation, but it does speak to that world because it’s about the underlying data.

And as with the best humour, there’s an element of truth in it.

2020-21, the years of the asterisks

Credit for the piece goes to Randall Munroe.

Greenland Uber Alles

Happy Friday, all. Whether we’re talking melting ice sheets or attempted purchases by the Trump administration, the island of Greenland has often been in the news the last few years.

So here’s an appropriate map from xkcd comparing the size of Greenland to the rest of the world.

Some prime beachfront property in the north Atlantic looks pretty good to me…

Credit for the piece goes to Randall Munroe.

Easing Back into Normalcy

Happy Friday, all. Apologies for the lack of posting yesterday, I wasn’t feeling well and sitting in front of my computer typing stuff up wasn’t happening. But now the weekend is nearly upon us and to get in the mood I wanted to share this great dot plot from xkcd. It captures something I’ve definitely been thinking about.

Hopefully crossing most of these off in the next few weeks/months.

For example, on 3 March 2020, I had a friend over to my flat for drinks and to watch the Super Tuesday Democratic primary results come in. Tomorrow, if all goes according to plan, will be the first time I’ve had company over in 15 months.

In essence we have check boxes of the normal things we did in the before times and we’re just checking them off one by one until we can feel normal again.

Just please don’t contract a novel bat virus again.

Credit for the piece goes to Randall Munroe.

The Month That Lasted a Year

Two Fridays ago I received my second dose of the vaccine. In other words, I’m fully vaccinated and can resume doing…things. Anything. And so this piece from xkcd seemed an appropriate way to wrap up what has been a horrible, no good, terrible year.

The longest month of our lives.

Credit for the piece goes to Randall Munroe.

Party Time Post-Vaccine

If all goes according to plan, your author today will receive his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, the Pfizer variety for the curious. As such, it feels appropriate to share this recent piece from xkcd.

Also looks like some funky bar chord notation.

All joking aside, it should be said that, and as this graphic illustrates, just because you receive your first dose, doesn’t mean you should be out socialising and seeing people later that night.

You are not fully vaccinated until two weeks after your second dose, or the first if you received Johnson & Johnson. And so while I may be receiving my first dose this afternoon, it is going to be close to a month and a half before I’m able to leave my household unit and socialise with others. Probably three weeks for my second dose and then another two weeks for the vaccine to fully take effect.

Doesn’t mean I won’t be counting the days, though.

Credit for the piece goes to Randall Munroe.

But What About Pluto?

Damn you Neil deGrasse Tyson (but not really though)!

Because, you know, he advocated for de-planet-fying Pluto back in the oughts.

Which I mention because of this post from xkcd, which corrects common images of planets in the solar system accounting for their population.

Still, though, no Pluto?

Credit for the piece goes to Randall Munroe.