1. I thought it was funny.
    Although since Selena Gomez is “after my time” I guess it means I’m older than the leftover radiation of the Big Bang.
    Is this Randall Munroe’s way of saying, “OK, boomer”?

  2. Doing a bit of googling I discover that a Selena Gomez (whom I have heard of) is older than Ariana Grande (whom I have heard) of and Cardi B (whom I have not) and they are older Post Malone (whom I’ve never heard of) and somehow this is an Internet trending meme about how shocking this is.

    Why this would be surprising to anyone, I have no idea.

    Anyway…. she’s sarcastically pointing out their results are contaminated (the radio frequency is drowning out the reionization) and he’s hoping that that *is* the reionization (which is absurd). The hover over text is the absurdity that the star formation happened sometime after Selena Gomez’ rise to fame but tying in with this apparent internet trend of being surprise Gomez is older than Malone.



  3. gotta love wikis.

    In the explain xkcd site there is the following: “Although it is theoretically possible that a naturally occurring radio transmission might sound like music to humans, it would not contain clearly understandable coherent sentences in a language that did not exist when the transmission was created.[citation needed]”

    I love that. “citation needed”.

    No-one seems to have gotten the reference to that Selena Gomez is older than Post Malone connection. But then I completely missed the “pre-star = pre- celebrity” connection.

  4. This was an almost LOL for me.

    The first tangible evidence to support the so-called “Big Bang” theory for the creation of the universe was discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation. The discovery came about accidentally as a couple guys working on a new radio telescope were trying to uncover the source of what they thought was problem with the radio scope that was causing static/interference. Eventually, they realized that their telescope was actually detecting existence of the previously theoretical CMB. The discovery ended up winning them the Nobel Prize,

    In this case, the girl researcher is looking a special case of static, but since that static is in the FM band, it is difficult to find amidst the much stronger FM radio signals. The girl suggests that if the announcer would shut up, she might have a chance of detecting what she looks for. The guy jokingly suggest that perhaps she isn’t hearing a radio station at all (alluding to the CMB discovery), but by some gigantic coincidence the reionization sounds like a pop radio station. The girl’s tongue-in-cheek response is that if that is the case, the reionization sure seems to play a lot of Selena Gomez.

    As far as the secondary hover-text joke, there is a bit of reference to the gomez/malone meme and the “Post Malone”/”post-malone” wordplay.

  5. As much as I enjoy XKCD, half of it goes over my head. The “Explain XKCD” site is helpful, as can be the XKCD sub-Reddit, though the Reddit discussions can be dense as it appears to be populated by technical types that speak a technical language I don’t follow. Lurking there I feel like an artist standing in the corner of a party thrown by computer nerds and scientists.

    My favorite ones are where Randall goes beyond the bounds the classic comic page and lets you wander around a world that can consume a day exploring.

    I don’t follow current pop music, so the premise for the jokes in this comic were lost on me.

  6. I don’t think the “pre-star formation/Post Malone” comment is based on anything other than the fact that there is a (terrible) “rapper” who performs as Post Malone.

  7. An old joke is to write out “unionized” and have your mark say it aloud. Then you classify them as a social sciences or physical sciences person depending on whether they said it union-ized or un-ionized.

  8. Just like you can separate the fishermen from the musicians by asking them to pronounce “bass”.

  9. There’s a word for this, but I can’t figure out how to pronounce it… it keeps coming out “sibboleth”.

  10. It happens that “shibboleth.uchicago.edu” is the nominal hostname for redirected sign-in of other protected pages in that domain. An end-user doesn’t actually type that at any point in the process, so it isn’t exactly the analogue of the original story.

  11. @ Dave – Then I suppose it’s not fair to blame you for the rabbit hole I descended into while looking up the correct pronunciation of the word.

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