My best pickup line

By Phil Plait | November 1, 2009 9:42 am

Regular readers know that Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal is one of my favorite web comics. This morning, he had an astronomy-themed bit of snark:

smbc_asteroid

I’ve blocked out the woman’s reply, so you’ll have to click through to see the punch line.

And I love Zach, the artist, I really do, but…

SPOILER for the joke:

Meteorites are after they hit the ground. Meteors are when they are still in the air and glowing, and the solid part is called a meteoroid. There is no semantic definition of when a meteoroid is is big enough to be called an asteroid, but given the size depicted in the cartoon, I’d say that one counts.

See? This is why you shouldn’t date an astronomer. Unless you like that sort of thing. Oh baby! Talk cosmic to me!

Tip o’ the Whipple Shield to Brian Carroll who tweeted the link to Rebecca at Skepchick, who is in turn technically correct in her title since I’m married and Mrs. BA can kick anyone else’s asteroid herself.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, DeathfromtheSkies!, Humor
MORE ABOUT: asteroid, SMBC

Comments (29)

  1. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    “The thing’s hollow—it goes on forever—and—oh my God—it’s full of astronomer jokes!

    [With love.]

  2. Be fair, it’s not as if there would be anyone to call it a meteorite after it destroys the Earth. She’s just anticipating things.

  3. Gary Ansorge

    I love science jokes but my favorites are Physics jokes:

    http://www.jupiterscientific.org/sciinfo/jokes/physicsjokes.html

    Hey, as far as I’m concerned, physics is the only REAL science(except for string theory).

    GAry 7

  4. Gary Ansorge

    God jokes:

    When God came into existence(Hey, in chaos, ALL things are possible, if you wait long enough)

    ITS first thoughts were:

    1) “I,,,”
    2) ” I Am,,,”
    3) “,,,where the frak am I?”

    ,,,and the universe was the result of that question,,,

    Gary 7

  5. Andrew

    That’s right Phil, you’re a scientist!

    http://www.stonemakerargument.com/5.html

  6. One day every astronomer meets that woman who says, “Can you tell my how stars form again?”

    In my case that’s my daughter who is turning out to be as big a nerd as I am.

  7. Kevin

    I know this smacks of parodelia, but doesn’t the object in question in the comic look like it’s smiling/smirking?

  8. Why can’t people get meteor right?

  9. Ibeechu

    @ DoctorAtlanis #6
    Was that a very clever pun or a coincidence?

    EDIT: Also, in retrospect, Phil, the post’s title should have been “Meteorwrong”

  10. “Oh baby! Talk cosmic to me!”

    Send me to the stars, Phil! Plunge beyond my event horizon!

    I’m now in love with the idea of an adult film filled with astronomy sexual innuendo.

  11. Once again, I’m a huge dork.

    That’s twice today where I saw something and thought, “wait, shouldn’t it be [insert correct name here]?”

    I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who thought that this morning.

    (The other one was this: http://staringatemptypages.blogspot.com/2009/11/everybody-got-something-to-hide-except.html )

  12. Darren Garrison

    Okay, maybe the likeness of of Phil Plait is okay, but since when does Wil Wheaton wear glasses?

  13. If I ever need to use this line, I’m sticking with the much safer bolide. There’s all sorts of innuendo in the etymology of it that I’ve found around the web:

    French, from Latin bolid-, bolis, from Greek, from bolē throw, stroke

    from the Greek βολις, (bolis) which can mean a missile or to flash.

  14. Amazing how many things this brought up.

    I watch/record NUMB3RS, even though Math is my weakest Science, and was going through the DVDs to verify. In one episode, there is a Conspiracy Theorist who aids the main characters in locating a serial killer. He is with ‘Larry Fleinhart’ (Peter MacNichol), a Cosmologist, and states “Thanks, Astrology Dude”.. and MacNichol replies quietly “Astronomy”.

    Also, the cartoon reminded me of the trailer for The Invention of Lying, where the guy who learns/invents lying says to one woman (approximating) “The World will end if you don’t have sex with me” – and her response “Do we have time to get to a motel?”

    4. Gary Ansorge Says:
    God jokes:

    When God came into existence(Hey, in chaos, ALL things are possible, if you wait long enough)

    ITS first thoughts were:

    Reminds me of the whale in Hitchhiker’s Guide…..

    10. Reed Braden Says:

    “Oh baby! Talk cosmic to me!”

    Send me to the stars, Phil! Plunge beyond my event horizon!

    I’m now in love with the idea of an adult film filled with astronomy sexual innuendo.

    Gives a whole new meaning to ‘entering a black hole’…..
    I should contact a friend who has a Star Trek Parody about the Starship Intercourse (no, it’s not ALL NSFW… )

    J/P=?

  15. Sili

    I knew I’d see this here soon enough when I read the “meteorite” bit.

    Pity about asteroids, but I guess they’re too big to leave anything behind if they hit.

    I still like that words “asteor” and “asterite”, though.

  16. She sounds like me…

  17. #10 Reed Braden:
    “Heavenly Bodies”
    “Debbie Does Deimos”
    “Behind the Red Planet”
    “Deep Gravity Well”

  18. Tim G

    When you find it on site, it’s a meteorite.
    When it’s out in the void, it’s a meteoroid.

    And “meteor” (the oldest of the three words) refers to the steak of light.

  19. Chas, PE SE

    >>>This is why you shouldn’t date an astronomer<<<

    I have a T-shirt I got years ago:
    Date an Astronomer
    Who else can promise the sun, moon and stars…
    AND DELIVER!

  20. Christina

    Why ARE there different words depending on where it is? It seems to me that it would make more sense to use a dingle word whether it’s in space, in the air, or on the ground

  21. Josh R.

    I think we need to form a commission to, a la Pluto, debate & define just how big an object has to be before it can be upgraded from “meteoroid” to “asteroid.” I mean, we can’t have this kind of vagueness out there!

    Of course, we’ll have to invent two new words, then. I mean, if we have “meteoroids” and their derivative forms, wouldn’t we also need to classify an asteroid entering the atmosphere as an “aster,” and the non-vaporized fragments left over after impact “asterites?”

    ;-P

  22. G Williams

    I’ve always wondered this:

    if a meteorite is a meteoroid that’s hit the Earth, would an Asteroid that’s hit the earth be called an Asterite?

  23. Petrolonfire

    @ 14 John Paradox :

    I should contact a friend who has a Star Trek Parody about the Starship Intercourse.

    I’m guessing that a likely line from the .. er .. climax there could well be :

    [Scotty voice] I canna hold her her capt’n! She’s gonna blow! [/Scotty off] ;-)

    Oh no! We’re about to have warped core breach!

    Going boldly where no one has gone before … penetrating deep into virgin territory ..

    (Hmmm .. How close to the boundaries of good taste can I go here ..?? Actually I know I can go a *very* long way into bad taste but will I be *allowed* to do so .. ;-)

  24. Jar Jya Binks Killer

    Then there’s the good old one about “beam me up Scotty” – {Pause} “I’m not sure Scotty would like that capt’n!” ;-)

  25. BigBob

    Must … resist … nitpick …
    Nah, here it comes; surely the meteor is doing several kilometers per second, so the young lady correctly figures that before her partner has heard and comprehended her words, it will have struck the ground and become … a Meteorite! Otherwise the young man will be at pains to point out her error, as they stand in the rubble of what was their former environment.
    /Sheldon
    Bob(Big)

  26. Chris A.

    @20. Christina:

    “Why ARE there different words depending on where it is? It seems to me that it would make more sense to use a single word whether it’s in space, in the air, or on the ground”

    Because it’s quite rare that the same object would be observed in two (let alone three) of these circumstances.

    “Witnessed falls” (when a meteor is seen in the sky, and later fragments are found on the ground) are unusual because typically the meteor is seen at night (making it hard to know where it hit, since is ceases being luminous long before impact), material rarely reaches the ground before being vaporized, and when it does, the impact site is a long way from the point where it was visible overhead.

    And there’s only one case in recorded history of a meteoroid being tracked to the ground, because they’re so tiny and faint when they’re in space that seeing them before atmospheric/ground impact is practically impossible.

  27. Gary Ansorge

    24. Jar Jya Binks Killer:

    “beam me up Scotty”.

    Would we then have a 200 kg hybrid? I expect Scotty would then scream “,,NOOOOOO!!!”

    At 30 km/sec, if we accept that the upper range on atmospheric entrance is 150 km(for the asteroid to start glowing) it would take about 5 secs to hit the ground. Just enough time to bend over and say goodbye.

    Gary 7

  28. 23. Petrolonfire Says:

    @ 14 John Paradox :

    I should contact a friend who has a Star Trek Parody about the Starship Intercourse.

    I’m guessing that a likely line from the .. er .. climax there could well be : [deleted]

    Actually, there was very little NSFW, as I recall. The two ‘bits’ were “The Starship Intercourse, thrusting its way.. (don’t remember)”
    The Captain (Quirk? it’s been years) finds a couple actively ‘being friendly’, and they respond “It’s alright, Captain, we’re engaged.”"Well, disengage immediately”.

    I do have to admit that I’ve forgotten most of the parody, except those two parts above, but we’re talking about having heard it probably over a decade, nearly two? ago.

    Shows that my mind is in the gutter, but there’s such a great view of the sky from here!

    24. Jar Jya Binks Killer Says:

    Then there’s the good old one about “beam me up Scotty” – {Pause} “I’m not sure Scotty would like that capt’n!” ;-)

    The other one like that is “Beam me aboard, Scotty” “Aye, sir. Will a 2 X 4 do?”

    J/P=?

  29. disownedsky

    On the new TMBG album of kid’s music Here Comes Science, they have a song that should help anyone to remember:

    Shooting star or meteor,
    Whichever name you like,
    The minute it falls down to Earth
    It’s called a meteorite.

    My kids can not stop listening to this CD…..

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