Need the recent XKCD 26-second pulse comic explained? We breakdown the mysterious seismic activity panel that is going viral.

XKCD is a brilliant site that has been a source of entertainment for millions of people around the world for years.

The site is well known for bringing attention to a variety of weird and wonderful facts about our planet.

However, the recent 26-second seismic pulse comic is causing a stir online after it explained a mystery Earthquake in Guinea.

XKCD: Comic #2344

Is the 26-second pulse real?

  • Yes, the 26-second pulse off the coast of Guinea is a real phenomenon that has been studied in great detail by scientists.

You can read all about how researchers were able to triangulate the location of the mysterious seismic activity in a paper by Shapiro, Ritzwoller and Bensen (2006) here.

What causes the 26-second pulse?

  • At the time of writing, nobody knows for certain what the cause is for the 25-second pulse, but it’s not a giant’s heart…probably.

The most logical explanation is exactly the one described in the XKCD comic #2344; wave resonance within the coast. However, there are other papers that suggest volcanic activity may play a part in the mystery waves.

Interestingly, there are other examples of this that have been studied around the world. In November 2018, similar low energy rumblings were reported off the coast of Mayotte, a French colony off the northern coast of Madagascar.

The island itself was created through volcanic activity, but the consensus is that this mystery seismic activity is a result of “magnetic movement offshore”. You can read more about it here.

Another fun little note is that the 26-Second Pulse comic references Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart. In the story, the main character kills his landlord and hides his body underneath the floorboards. However, he is driven to insanity and a confession after continuously hearing the mans beating heart from under the floor.

XKCD is just a brilliant site and if you have time, I’d highly recommend watching its creator Randall Munroe speak at Google, which you can watch here.