October 7, 2010
Original: Airfoil (803)
View in: original forum thread, xkcdsw.com, direct image link/enlarge
A picture of a reindeer with several arrows around it.
Handling a student who challenges your expertise with an insightful question:
So, kids, the air above the reindeer travels a longer distance, so it has to go faster to keep up. Faster air exerts less pressure, so the sleigh is lifted upward.
The teacher is visible
But then why has no one seen Santa?
The teacher stands there for a panel. The panel has arrows connecting it to the next three panels, suggesting that these are alternatives rather than in a sequence
Wow, good question! Maybe this picture is simplified—or wrong! We should learn more.
It's... complicated. And we need to move on.
Labelled "Very wrong:"
Santa Claus is your parents.
Title text: This is a fun explanation to prepare your kids for; it's common and totally wrong. Good lines include "Then why don't other animals fly?" and "Then why is there always coal in my stocking?"