Comics about mathematics, science, and the student life.

Dopamine

Graph of dopamine versus time for a scientist. Small blips are false alarms, and the breakthrough is a very prominent spike, but the dopamine crashes right after it.

Technically, it’s a Dirac delta distribution.

Compute Time

Two bars in a bar graph. The short one represents the jobs that launch and run without errors on the first try, and then a much larger bar represents the the jobs that end after two seconds from a silly typo.

The fun part is when these errors happen on the supercluster that you’ve been waiting forever on to get the job submitted.

Gap

Left panel: "Can you run this simulation for me?" "Sure, I saw this in class." Right panel: (Later) "How do I even implement Equation 1?!" Caption: Coding shows you exactly where your theoretical gaps lie.

And this is why I’m always wary of papers I read which don’t give any simulation details and just present the results.

Name Vacuum

Left panel: A scientific phenomenon depicted as a circle. Right panel: A bunch of papers pinned onto the circle, trying to establish its name. Caption: Scientists abhor a name vacuum.

Quick, use your academic influence to get your friends to cite the name you’ve chosen, making it appear standard in the community!

Dark Magic

A section of a paper on numerical simulations. Authors will always talk about what they plotted, sometimes talk about how they did things, and rarely give details on why they chose the parameters they did.

The number of times I’ve wanted to know the details of a simulation and was given nothing is truly impressive.

Follow The Evidence

Scientist follow the evidence. Okay, maybe not that evidence.

I mean, clearly that evidence just isn’t good, so I’ll ignore it.

Broken

Regular people are devastated when their work is broken. Scientists are happy to have science break, unless it's their own work.

I need to call Customer Service to the Universe and demand an explanation. Clearly I should have been right!

Right Questions

Research sometimes sounds like going from A to B, but really, most of the time is spent wondering if you're asking the right question.

Most of my struggles in research start here.

Introduction Slide

A researcher presenting, with a slide showing that their project was formed by choosing a bunch of buzzword and blending them together.

“That’s not how you pick your research projects? Huh, I guess that’s why you don’t get as much funding as I do…”

Learning Curve

A list of instructions, with comments on the side pointing out all of the hidden assumptions. There are a lot of them!

In my experience, the bulk of my work as a PhD student is uncovering all of the hidden assumptions in papers I read.

(And hopefully, making sure I write down the explanation to them for both my future self and others!)