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Wait for it.

by Austin Brown on April 24th, 02013


There have been many comic strips that run for a long long time, but rarely does a single entry take on a prodigious life of its own. Randall Munroe has been publishing xkcd since 02005 – not a bad run – and regularly stretches the medium’s definition. Entries can range from a single panel, to massive informational charts. From the beginning of the strip, time, and vast quantities of it, has been a common theme. One recent foray into this subject matter garnered the strip a mention, alongside Long Now, in The Economist because it’s been updating for almost a month now.

Time,” as the piece is called, started off as a single panel with two people sitting on a beach. xkcd’s punchlines are generally hidden in the image’s title text, but in this case it simply says “Wait for it.” Every half-hour the image is updated, forming a very, very slow animation. (Most animated films, for instance, move along at 24 frames per second; this is more like .0006 frames per second.) The characters have been building a sandcastle and fortifying it against a rising sea since March 25th, 02013. You can see the whole thing, sped up, on Explain xkcd, a wiki created about the comic.

The eventual fate of the sandcastle and its creators, as well as the ultimate length of this story, remain unknown. Wait for it.

Maps of Deep Time
Alexander Rose - Twitter: @zander