Comics about mathematics, science, and the student life.

Simple Result

Student: "Pi!? I went through five pages of integrals, algebra, and coordinate transformations to get only this?" Caption: I often have to take the long way before I realize there was probably a faster way.

As one of my professors used to say, “When you’re solving a problem, it doesn’t matter if your proof is messy, convoluted, or entirely unnecessary. If you’re using logic correctly, then it’s fine.”

Labyrinthine Sentence

Researcher reacting to editing suggestions: "What do you mean, my sentence is too long and has too many commas?! You're supposed to use them like parentheses." Caption: After working with nested parentheses for most of their lives, a mathematician or scientist can navigate a labyrinthine sentence with the ease of Theseus.

When a single sentence begins to have its own subplots and narrative structure, you’re probably going overboard.

Marketing

A grant application. Under the headline "The Big Picture", points include: changing the world, making our country look good, and leading to lucrative technology. Only at the bottom in parentheses it says "Will improve our fundamental understanding." Even researchers have to be marketers.

Maybe we need to throw in a bit more hyperbole at the top. You know, really dig deep and go for it here.

Squeezing

Person 1 (while a mathematician is squeezing a lemon to make lemon juice): "I think that lemon is all squeezed out." Mathematician: "Not if I have anything to say about it!" Caption: Mathematicians: the best at squeezing everything they can from what they have.

“Okay, it’s definitely squeezed now.”

“Wait, I just saw a drop!”

Nice Answers

Student: "I thought I did the problem right, but the answer comes out to be 71.367, which must be wrong. My professor only assigns problems with nice answers." Caption: I sometimes think we're conditioning students to believe in numerology.

On second thought, maybe we just end up switching our idea of a “nice” answer.

Reading Versus Understanding

Student 1: "How did the test go?" Student 2: "Not great. I had no idea how to do anything." S1: "How's that possible?! You spent hours reading the textbook." S2: "Nobody said I had to understand it, too!"

I think every student has found themselves sitting at a desk with a textbook, eyes glazed over. Unfortunately, putting your eyeballs in front of a textbook is not quite enough.

Parasitism

Professor: "As your teacher, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. When I'm stuck on a proof, I look for another result that implies mine trivially." Student: "So you're telling us to be lazy." Professor: "I prefer, 'proof by paraistism'."

Bonus tip: when stuck on a step during a test, try to argue that there’s a theorem that proves that step, and then proceed from there. This stops you from being unable to complete the problem!

Brushing Up

A conversation in which, like every other physics student in existence, the student tries to avoid actually learning the mathematical details of what they work with.

The resolution of every single physics student, ever.

Fruit of Knowledge

After years of work, the two young physisists finally made it to their field's tree of knowledge. Student 1: "All of the low-hanging fruit has been picked!" Student 2: "I think the biology one is still ripe."

Say what you will about one discipline being more “pure” than another, but there are some exciting things going on in biology right now.

The Fundamental Rule of School Breaks

Student: "Now that the semester is over, I'm sure I can handle some new projects." (Later when the semester starts up again) "How did I ever think I'd have time for all of this when the semester started up again!?"

The semester is just long enough for me to always forget this very important lesson before the next break comes along.