Comics about mathematics, science, and the student life.

One and Done

Two friends are talking. One observes that they have never seen the other one read, and the other person replies that they tried reading once, and didn't like it, so they gave up.

If we opened our eyes just a little bit more, we would realize that we didn’t have a good experience, not that we don’t like the activity itself.

Apply this to any activity you want to convince someone to try.

Operational Definition

The professor asks for the difference between a theorem and a lemma. A student replies that a theorem is something they need to memorize for a test, while a lemma is something they can immediately forget.

Unfortunately, I think we’ve all been in the situation where we needed to recall some obscure lemma that we were sure wasn’t going to be on the test.

Recently

A number line showing how people use the word 'recently'. From cosmologists to high-energy physicists.

We’ve got experts covering all time scales!

Shaking Off

A researcher drives their pickup truck fast while undergraduates try to cling on for dear life from the back.

It’s okay, I’m making these students more resilient. They will thank me for this extra training!

Order

A student realizes they have an exam early in the morning. Instead of moving their other obligations to later times, they decide to front load everything even earlier so they don't break the usual chain of events.

I can’t be the only one who runs before the sun comes up in order to be done before school! Right?!

Simplification

Two people are asked to imagine a car going down a hill. The regular person imagines a car driving down, while the physics student imagines a block of mass M sliding down a wedge.

If we taught you correctly in school, you won’t ever imagine any “real” objects. Those are for the engineers to worry about!

Mopping

The first person is impressed with how the second is a researcher, and says that it must be awesome. The researcher replies that they sometimes feel just like a janitor. The first person is confused, and the researcher explains that, sometimes, they have to go ahead and clean up the literature of a bunch of mistakes.

“But wait, isn’t the scientific literature peer-reviewed and free of mistakes?”

“Yes, I think that was the dream at some point…”

Old Material

A student complains in class because the teacher is going over material they covered last semester. The teacher is surprised that the student covered everything in the textbook, and the student clarifies that they *only* got to Chapter Four.

I suspect the number of students who ever cover the material in an entire textbook of any kind is vanishingly small. And yet, we often get to the end of the semester thinking that we’ve learned all we need to know about a subject.

Information Loss

One person is incredulous that their physicist friend does not believe in conservation of information. The friend explains that they lost faith in the idea after seeing so many students forget topics that he taught them.

The real challenge would be explaining this information loss if information was conserved!

Powerful Tools

On the left, a mathematics professor presents their students with safety scissors, promising that the real thing will come after ten more weeks of work. On the right, a physics professor simply gives them the sharpest object they can find.

My favourite part is when a physics professor will skip all of the details surrounding a mathematical idea and simply say, “This is what you need to do the calculations here.”