Comics about mathematics, science, and the student life.

Warning Label

A label: Warning! Leaps of logic, a lack of clear steps, unnecessary references, and complex language follow. Proceed with caution. Caption: The label that should be attached to most papers.

In the far future, a supervisor sits down with their graduate student on their first meeting.

Supervisor: “You’re about to embark on an incredible journey. You will read lots of papers, and now these warnings are attached to nearly all of them.”

Student: “Will I ever see one without a warning?”

Supervisor: “I’ll put it this way: I still haven’t.”

Domain Fight

A scientist approaches the Name Tavern. "Welcome to the Name Tavern! What name would you like to reserve for your discipline?" "I'd like to register the name 'Astrology' for, you know, those of us who study the stars." "Alright, coming right up..." "Wait a second. I'm sorry, but it looks like another group registered it about an hour ago." "What?! Who could have done such a thing?" "I don't know. They did mention birth signs."

Those astrologers know that getting the perfect domain name is the first step to appearing legitimate.

Stuffed

Scientist pushing a box labelled "Presentation" closed. "Come on, I know I can fit a bit more in here..."

I can’t let any second or slide go to waste!

Code 30

Left panel: "Ugh, this stupid error! I have no idea what it means." "What is it?" "Code 30." Right panel: "Ha!" "What's so funny?" "Code 30 means that the issue is 30 cm in front of the computer."

Isn’t it impressive how technology is self-aware enough to tell that you’re the problem?

Scattered

A bunch of papers, all flowing up in their connections to the original idea, but with all of the needed details scattered amongst the literature.

Not pictured: The paper cited in the original work that simply says, “In preparation”, with no other identifying information.

Breadcrumbs

Left panel: A paper saying, "The reason we chose this quantity is because there are many connections to the work of others. The choice of our expression comes from the study of ... For more information on this choice, see Section 2 of Ref.(23)." (What I wish papers did.) Right panel: "But *why* won't they explain their choices?!" (What they usually do.)

I’m sure it’s just common-knowledge, or something else so banal that it’s not worth wasting pixels over…

Barrier to Entry

Left panel: Art Club (All Are Welcome). Right panel: Science and Mathematics Club. "Woah, you can't enter here without multiple years of study!"

Personally, I feel a huge barrier to entry when staring at a painting, but at least I can enjoy it in some form. The unfortunate nature of a lot of scientific and mathematical ideas (combined with how we present them), doesn’t allow us to do this.

Banned

Phrases that should be banned from papers: "It's well-known that...", "After a trivial calculation...", "It's obvious...", "This is interesting...", "Recently, ...", "The present authors ...", "Blah, blah, blah (1-75) ..." (Way too many indices).

Am I the only one who finds it difficult to parse this weird language of Academese?

Dense

*Sigh*. What's wrong? You know, I study black holes, the densest objects in the universe, yet *this* figure is denser.

My favourites are when you get figures that are labeled a) through z), with a mountain-sized caption. Really makes it feel like the figure is doing a good job!

Padding

Executive: We have the largest quantum computers in the industry. Scientist: Then why do all the papers I see use only half of the qubits? Executive: We're padding our stats.

Except for a few outliers, this seems to be the norm in the industry. There’s the “advertised” number, and the “useful” number.