Comics about mathematics, science, and the student life.

Research Bubble

Five research papers reference each other, with no one actually doing any work. Researcher: "Did anyone actually take the time to look outside of these five papers?!"

In mathematics, this is known as “proof by circularity”, and is partly where I got the idea for this comic (from someone else).

However, my real motivation came from the fact that I was looking at the literature for a specific topic, and I kept on seeing the same few papers being referenced. I was hoping to find something new, but I couldn’t seem to break this “bubble” of citations.

Arbitrary Function

Professor: "Okay, so to motivate this theorem, let's start with an arbitrary function..." (Draws essentially a curvy function.) Caption: Every professor's idea of an "arbitrary function" seems to be a sine wave.

Now that you’ve seen it, you won’t be able to unsee it.

Textbook Explanations

Colleague: "A lot of people are complaining about your new textbook. They're saying that you don't actually explain anything." Professor: "That's ridiculous. I explained everything that was confusing to me."

I’ll file this one under curse of the expert.

Supervisor Choice

Student: "Okay, time to find a supervisor for the next several years. I need to make sure we are a good fit beyond superficial reasons...OOh, this person has a cool website, so they must be good!"

I can’t be the only one who uses this criterion!

Exhaustion

Student 1: "I heard this guy's nickname is Professor Exhaustion." Student 2: "Because his class if tiring?" S1: "No, because he likes to prove everything by exhaustion." (Door of classroom is ajar, in which the professor is speaking) "Let's check that 6079 is prime by going through cases!"

He also doesn’t believe in exhaustion, since you can’t check each case. Nor is he a fan of the continuum.

Proof By Previous Result

Student 1: "That last proof was difficult, right?" Student 2: "Not really. It was like three lines." S1: "Only three!? Mine took a whole page! What technique did you use." S2: "'Proof by quoting a previous result.'"

“To prove this statement, I invoke Theorem 3.2 of our textbook in conjunction with Corollary 67.1, which together implies our result trivially.”

Spin

Left panel (Politician): "We may have lost the battle, but we will win the war!" Right panel (Scientist, after a null result): "This might seem like a disappointment, but it's still a good thing. As long as get more money." Caption: No matter your job, humans are always good at putting a spin on things.

The side job of a scientist is being a public advocate for science anyway. I guess we are close to politicians after all.

Reasonable Assumptions

Left panel (Your paper): "As you can see, my paper uses the regular assumptions." (Points to pi = e = 3, and the small angle approximation.) Right panel (Other papers): "What?! This author is assuming that N^2 - 1 = N^2 when N = 10^6. What a ridiculous assumption!"

I just try to be unreasonable all the time. Much easier to be consistent.

Typographical Miss

Student: "Wow, I can't believe the author added so many problems that differ by a single number. Some poor souls are going to do the wrong one for the assignment." (Half an hour later) "Damn it!"

As you might imagine, this is definitely based on a true story. I mean come on, the problem was identical to the previous, save one number.

Question Period

Professor: "...and that completes the proof. Any questions?" (Three microseconds later) "Okay great, let's move on!"

“You just told me I had to give the students a chance to ask questions, not that they actually needed to!”