Wednesday, August 3, 2016


Lookit how excited that guy is at the top, playing with his open jars of ether and pine pitch.

Along with the other scientific features made available in the pages of DC's sci-fi showcase Strange Adventures was Amazing Ratios, a one-pager which combined a curiosity of the universe with some of the weirdest analogies ever to grace comics.

The word "if" carries a lot of water in this one.
Just a handful of the Amazing Ratios postulated a world where a single atom was enlarged to the size of a football stadium, human lifespans doubled every two centuries for the next 2400 years, the Earth was charged (a measly two cents per kilowatt) for the sun's energy, gold was distributed from the oceans to every living being on the planet, hot dogs were cooked by the body heat of an arena full of boxing fans, paramecium multiplied at a rate sufficient to drown the universe in single-celled lifeforms, and much more. Frankly, it all sounds like a living hell.

Check out how many dudes it took to kill Marie Curie.
On occasion, the efforts to explain the amazing ratios which make up our scientific world had a sort of mortal, terrifying quality to them, like all the best science does...

I remember dad before we turned him into pencils.
It's hard to say if any of these factoids did much more than fill kids' heads with scientific trivia. It's all very well and good to know that there was sufficient sunlight reaching the planet Uranus for a spaceman to check the Help Wanted ads in his local Penny Saver, but imagine if that were all the scientific knowledge some guy had when he wandered into Dow Chemical's HR department. "Resume? I don't have a resume, but I can tell you how big a dog would be if he grew proportionately so that the iron in his blood was equal to all the iron on planet Earth. Here's a little hint -- it would be very big."

So, wait, I need a telescope to see another planet's moons? Run me through that again.

Factual inserts like the above have fallen out of favor in contemporary comics, being as they are perceived to be "for kids." Unlike comics which haven't expressly been for kids in decades, despite the fact that they are explicitly at least for wildly immature adults. Personally, I like these kinds of featurettes now that I'm old and no longer have to worry about things like "making something of my life" and "choosing a career path." It's really low-pressure to learn about sugar yield in beets now, when during my childhood expressing that fact would've gotten me locked into a food chemistry pallet at college. Phew, bullet dodged!

And that's what Jesus really meant.

1 comment:

Tom said...

Imagine the kid in the first panel staring at the jar of pine pitch with the same fixed expression of rapt admiration for the next 12 1/2 years.

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