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1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 4:26 am UTC
by Euler
Image

Title text: It's commonly believed that Lorentz contraction makes objects appear flatter along the direction of travel. However, this ignores light travel times. In fact, a fast-moving butt would appear rotated toward the observer but not substantially distorted. Shakira was right.

I don't understand.

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 4:28 am UTC
by rhomboidal
Ok, I'm pretty sure punning across languages violates general relativity.

Re: 1233: Relativity

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 4:29 am UTC
by Quicksilver
Would a perfect vacuum make his bum look big?

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 4:32 am UTC
by Caesar
I'm german and I have no idea what Randall meant with "Gedankedank". "Gedanke" means "thought". "Dank" means "gratitude". So "thoughtgratitude"? Maybe he meant "Gedankengang" (train of thought)? But that still wouldn't be funny, so I'm probably missing something important.

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 4:36 am UTC
by Cal Engime
Caesar wrote:I'm german and I have no idea what Randall meant with "Gedankedank". "Gedanke" means "thought". "Dank" means "gratitude". So "thoughtgratitude"? Maybe he meant "Gedankengang" (train of thought)? But that still wouldn't be funny, so I'm probably missing something important.
Einstein is famous for his Gedankenexperimente. Randall is punning on badunkadunk, an African-American slang term for "junk in the trunk," or that which is possessed by a callipygian woman.

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 5:19 am UTC
by Eutychus
See also the latest What-if. Maybe Randall just came across the word recently.

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 5:20 am UTC
by hetas
From yesterdays What-If:
20 meters per second is about how fast an average person with a good arm could throw a bouncy ball. Therefore, to determine the result of an impact, we can make use of what Einstein called a gedankenexperiment, or "thought experiment"

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 6:24 am UTC
by Djehutynakht
Really, who knows what Einstein thought up. There must have been thousands of amazingly weird ideas he never told us about.

...it bothers me. I must know.

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 6:50 am UTC
by sackerson
At the speed of light, wouldn't Einstein be able to see everyone else's butt (if they were facing him)?

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 6:59 am UTC
by pelrigg
On the other other hand; Shakira's butt when rotated toward the viewer does look pretty awesome. (Just saying.) 8-)

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 7:25 am UTC
by Znirk
So what is it she was right about?

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 7:26 am UTC
by Afrael
Cal Engime wrote:
Caesar wrote:I'm german and I have no idea what Randall meant with "Gedankedank". "Gedanke" means "thought". "Dank" means "gratitude". So "thoughtgratitude"? Maybe he meant "Gedankengang" (train of thought)? But that still wouldn't be funny, so I'm probably missing something important.
Einstein is famous for his Gedankenexperimente. Randall is punning on badunkadunk, an African-American slang term for "junk in the trunk," or that which is possessed by a callipygian woman.


Okay, but then it would still have to be Gedankendunk. Unfortunately, the rules for building German compound words are not found easily. So the only source I have right now is the fact that all the derived words at the German wictionary (scroll down to Wortbildungen) and the English one both feature the n.

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 7:30 am UTC
by Angelastic
Cal Engime wrote:
Caesar wrote:I'm german and I have no idea what Randall meant with "Gedankedank". "Gedanke" means "thought". "Dank" means "gratitude". So "thoughtgratitude"? Maybe he meant "Gedankengang" (train of thought)? But that still wouldn't be funny, so I'm probably missing something important.
Einstein is famous for his Gedankenexperimente. Randall is punning on badunkadunk, an African-American slang term for "junk in the trunk," or that which is possessed by a callipygian woman.

Thanks; I'm not German and I hadn't heard of badunkadunk. Now, can someone explain the Shakira reference? Does she have a song that states her butt is always pointing at you? Searching the web for Shakira's butt isn't particularly enlightening. :)

Hehe... it could be like that song 'Right Here Waiting':

Whereever you go,
whatever you do,
my butt is always pointing at you.

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 7:59 am UTC
by chrullrich
Hips Don't Lie: youtube:MuL8PFWokxU

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 10:16 am UTC
by Sandor
I'm pretty sure Einstein would have thought "If I were traveling near the speed of light...", not "at the speed of light" as that would be impossible.

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 11:11 am UTC
by orthogon
This description of Terrell rotation is quite good, i.e. I nearly understood it.

If you follow it on a couple of pages, it explains how the rotation is only an approximation for small or distant objects, and that the full effect is an apparent curvature of the axes. This explains what Nelly was singing about when she said "Girl, I think my butt can bend". (I'm sure that's what she says).

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 11:14 am UTC
by rivulatus
We all know Einstein had a great ass no matter what speed he is traveling at.

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 11:29 am UTC
by J L
Afrael wrote:
Cal Engime wrote:
Caesar wrote:I'm german and I have no idea what Randall meant with "Gedankedank". "Gedanke" means "thought". "Dank" means "gratitude". So "thoughtgratitude"? Maybe he meant "Gedankengang" (train of thought)? But that still wouldn't be funny, so I'm probably missing something important.
Einstein is famous for his Gedankenexperimente. Randall is punning on badunkadunk, an African-American slang term for "junk in the trunk," or that which is possessed by a callipygian woman.


Okay, but then it would still have to be Gedankendunk. Unfortunately, the rules for building German compound words are not found easily. So the only source I have right now is the fact that all the derived words at the German wictionary (scroll down to Wortbildungen) and the English one both feature the n.


You're right about the "n", but since this whole pun doesn't make much sense in the first place, and the German "a" is pretty close to the "u" here ... Maybe "Gedankadank" would have been even better. I had to look this one up on explainxkcd, too, to get the joke.

On another note, too bad Steve isn't here anymore.

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 12:02 pm UTC
by Znirk
rivulatus wrote:We all know Einstein had a great ass no matter what speed he is traveling at.

Certainly at all speeds which he ever did travel at. However, at relativistic speeds the Law of Conservation of Ass becomes a little more complicated.

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 12:48 pm UTC
by Barstro
I have a feeling that yesterday's What-If existed just so Randall could make today's pun. Much the same way I think a particular episode of The Simpsons existed just so they could get Skinner's Ball Sack past the censors.

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 2:05 pm UTC
by gladiolas
Speaking of awesomeness, somebody has written on the topic of the "Helen" as a unit of beauty sufficient to launch 1000 Greek warships and to burn one Greek city.

http://www.goines.net/Writing/HELEN_of_TROY.html

As for the spelling of Randall's nonce word, isn't it sufficient to say that languages aren't logical?

:D :roll:

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 2:27 pm UTC
by richP
Caesar wrote:I'm german and I have no idea what Randall meant with "Gedankedank". "Gedanke" means "thought". "Dank" means "gratitude". So "thoughtgratitude"? Maybe he meant "Gedankengang" (train of thought)? But that still wouldn't be funny, so I'm probably missing something important.


Randall should have added at least one superfluous umlaut to Gedankedank to make the joke clear.

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 2:28 pm UTC
by Klear
gladiolas wrote:Speaking of awesomeness, somebody has written on the topic of the "Helen" as a unit of beauty sufficient to launch 1000 Greek warships and to burn one Greek city.

http://www.goines.net/Writing/HELEN_of_TROY.html

As for the spelling of Randall's nonce word, isn't it sufficient to say that languages aren't logical?

:D :roll:


That's my favourite unit... I especially like the notion of negative Helen - ugliness that will launch 1000 ships in the opposite direction.

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 4:21 pm UTC
by J L
Umlaute are never superfluous, and that Helen piece just made up for a very dull day without laughs :)

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 4:46 pm UTC
by yellow103
So thats what he said on his deathbed, shame no one understood it.

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 5:09 pm UTC
by origimbo
Klear wrote:That's my favourite unit... I especially like the notion of negative Helen - ugliness that will launch 1000 ships in the opposite direction.

Isn't the SI unit the millihelen though?

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 5:10 pm UTC
by JonathanA
That led to Einstien's lesser-known badonkenexperiment. :)

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 6:36 pm UTC
by Klear
origimbo wrote:
Klear wrote:That's my favourite unit... I especially like the notion of negative Helen - ugliness that will launch 1000 ships in the opposite direction.

Isn't the SI unit the millihelen though?


Probably, but launching a single ship doesn't sound too impressive to me.

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 6:44 pm UTC
by Raineer
I thought of Gedankendank the first time I heard the word in Physics 3, but I had no idea how to fit it into a joke.

Randall, you complete me.

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 7:02 pm UTC
by FrobozzWizard
Of course, if you cross Einstein with Trace Adkins, you get a "Honky-tonk Gedankedank".

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 7:11 pm UTC
by gmalivuk
richP wrote:
Caesar wrote:I'm german and I have no idea what Randall meant with "Gedankedank". "Gedanke" means "thought". "Dank" means "gratitude". So "thoughtgratitude"? Maybe he meant "Gedankengang" (train of thought)? But that still wouldn't be funny, so I'm probably missing something important.


Randall should have added at least one superfluous umlaut to Gedankedank to make the joke clear.

To people familiar with both words making up the pun, the joke was already clear enough. To everyone else, I'm not sure how an umlaut would have helped.

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 7:58 pm UTC
by Pfhorrest
Klear wrote:
origimbo wrote:
Klear wrote:That's my favourite unit... I especially like the notion of negative Helen - ugliness that will launch 1000 ships in the opposite direction.

Isn't the SI unit the millihelen though?


Probably, but launching a single ship doesn't sound too impressive to me.

Perhaps, but it makes sense that the base unit should be one on a familiar scale. An ordinarily beautiful woman might be enough to launch a single ship. It's only rare and extraordinary beauty that could launch a thousand ships. Same reason the SI unit of mass isn't the megagram (or the gram for that matter); we deal much more regularly in kilogram scale masses than megagram (or gram) scale ones. (Which has made me wonder why "gram" wasn't defined as 1000 times its current scale in the first place, so we would have an unprefixed word for our base unit. Was there already a "gram" in use which was close to the mass of 1 mL of water or something?).

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 8:50 pm UTC
by lgw
Pfhorrest wrote:Was there already a "gram" in use which was close to the mass of 1 mL of water or something?).


A gram is between a grain (1/15th gram) and a dram (~1.7 grams).

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 10:18 pm UTC
by thevicente
Einstein's butt.

So it has come to this.

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 11:16 pm UTC
by rmsgrey
thevicente wrote:Einstein's butt.

So it has come to this.


Sounds like the macguffin for an episode of a bad sci-fi show - someone plans to clone Einstein using epithelial cells from an old cigar butt...

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Thu Jul 04, 2013 2:14 am UTC
by Klear
Pfhorrest wrote:
Klear wrote:
origimbo wrote:
Klear wrote:That's my favourite unit... I especially like the notion of negative Helen - ugliness that will launch 1000 ships in the opposite direction.

Isn't the SI unit the millihelen though?


Probably, but launching a single ship doesn't sound too impressive to me.

Perhaps, but it makes sense that the base unit should be one on a familiar scale. An ordinarily beautiful woman might be enough to launch a single ship. It's only rare and extraordinary beauty that could launch a thousand ships. Same reason the SI unit of mass isn't the megagram (or the gram for that matter); we deal much more regularly in kilogram scale masses than megagram (or gram) scale ones. (Which has made me wonder why "gram" wasn't defined as 1000 times its current scale in the first place, so we would have an unprefixed word for our base unit. Was there already a "gram" in use which was close to the mass of 1 mL of water or something?).


Agreed. The SI unit should be a millihelen. I find it preferable to use other than the SI unit in this context though. (even though I'd say a millihelen is at least 30% funnier than just helen)

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Thu Jul 04, 2013 5:47 am UTC
by Cal Engime
Klear wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:
Klear wrote:
origimbo wrote:
Klear wrote:That's my favourite unit... I especially like the notion of negative Helen - ugliness that will launch 1000 ships in the opposite direction.

Isn't the SI unit the millihelen though?


Probably, but launching a single ship doesn't sound too impressive to me.

Perhaps, but it makes sense that the base unit should be one on a familiar scale. An ordinarily beautiful woman might be enough to launch a single ship. It's only rare and extraordinary beauty that could launch a thousand ships. Same reason the SI unit of mass isn't the megagram (or the gram for that matter); we deal much more regularly in kilogram scale masses than megagram (or gram) scale ones. (Which has made me wonder why "gram" wasn't defined as 1000 times its current scale in the first place, so we would have an unprefixed word for our base unit. Was there already a "gram" in use which was close to the mass of 1 mL of water or something?).


Agreed. The SI unit should be a millihelen. I find it preferable to use other than the SI unit in this context though. (even though I'd say a millihelen is at least 30% funnier than just helen)

What does that difference come out to in centichaplins?

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 5:38 am UTC
by ps.02
So the way I c it, Einstein couldn't be talking about going at the speed of light in a vacuum, because he of all people would believe that's not even possible. He must be talking about the speed of light in the room he's in. Or...something.

I mean, this comic is still a FAIL, but at least the completely nonsensical part of the thought can be explained away. Kinda.

Klear wrote:
origimbo wrote:Isn't the SI unit the millihelen though?

Probably, but launching a single ship doesn't sound too impressive to me.

I dunno. I'm not sure anyone I know could inspire the launching of one ship. So a millihelen seems impressive enough to me. Maybe Robin Wright Penn had 12 millihelens in Forrest Gump.

As for inspiring 1/1000 of a city to be sacked, that part may be a bit more within reach. How many 1000ths of Los Angeles did Rodney King inspire the sacking of?

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 12:38 pm UTC
by steve waterman
J L wrote:On another note, too bad Steve isn't here anymore.

Actually, I just recently posted into the Science section...regarding my first/recent You Tube post.
http://forums.xkcd.com/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=103140

EDIT - hmmm, here is the actual url for the posting on YouTube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7d1FhvWUGM

Re: 1233: "Relativity"

Posted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 7:22 pm UTC
by bmonk
ps.02 wrote:So the way I c it, Einstein couldn't be talking about going at the speed of light in a vacuum, because he of all people would believe that's not even possible. He must be talking about the speed of light in the room he's in. Or...something.


What? Einstein did not do a thought experiment about going the speed of light (in a vacuum)?

That's the whole reason it's a thought experiment--because it can't be a real experiment, now can it?