Comics about mathematics, science, and the student life.

Filling The Bucket

First panel (undergraduate): A cloud labelled 'collect this information', and a student with a bucket. Student: "I'm pretty good at this. I should go to grad school!" Second panel (graduate): Teacher: "Okay, time to come up with your own original idea!" Student: "But how am I going to fill up my bucket?"

I wonder how well we prepare students during their undergraduate degree to make the decision of doing graduate studies.

Intuition

Professor: "So what does your physical intuition tell you?" Student (thinking about finding their intuition): "Umm..." Caption: Each time I'm asked for my intuition, I feel like I'm being tested for my worth as a physicist.

I’ve been meaning to get to this, but I just can’t seem to find the time…

Participation Grade

It's kind of telling how fun a course is when you see a participation grade.

At least the professors are being transparent.

Abridged

First panel: "Eight pages later, and I'm done! That's going to be long to include in the book..." Second panel: "That should be good!" Textbook simply says: "After some straightforward algebra, one finds..."

Are textbook authors trying to make me think I’m stupid?

Historical Conventions

Student: "Professor, why are you teaching us like that? It's confusing." Professor: "Three reasons: I'm used to it, it makes sense to me, and I'm the boss."

Student: “I’m going to fight against these stupid conventions!”

Professor (shrugs): “Fine, but I think every student in the history of teaching science has said that, and yet here I am.”

Feedback

First panel: "Sweet, I'm already getting feedback for my new paper!" Second panel (in an email): Subject: Feeback. "Dear researcher, Your paper looks good. I think you should look at my 32 papers which are tangentially related. Also, please cite these papers!"

This is not what I expected when I first started publishing papers.

Clear Proofs

First panel: "This is an easy proof! I won't write out too many details." Second panel (two weeks later): "Was I deliberately trying to confuse myself when I wrote this?"

The best part is when I write something along the lines of, “Clearly, this is true…” I want to strangle past-me at that point.

Ahead

Supervisor: "Officially, we should only work on things that have solid theoretical foundations." Student: "And unofficially?" Supervisor: "Pretend conjectures are true, and work out the consequences. That way, you will be ahead of everyone if it's proven true."

You need to be prepared. It’s a competitive world out there in academia!

Change of Variables

First panel. Student: "Professor, why do we always use 'x' for all of our computations?" Professor 1: "You don't have to, it's just a label." Second panel, two weeks later in quantum mechanics. Professor 2: "Can I see you after class?" Student: "Sure." Third panel, Professor 2 pointing to the student's homework, which replaced the standard symbol for the wavefunction with a smiley face. Professor 2: "What is this atrocity?!" Student: "Another professor said we could use whatever label we wanted, because they don't matter." Fourth panel. Professor 2: "Never do this again. The wavefunction is always written as psi. You might be able to get away with this in mathematics, but we physicists have conventions!" Fifth panel. Professor 2: "What are you going to do next, change pi for a picture of a pie?" Student scratching their head: "Can I maybe get an extension for this next assignment?"

This comic might make it seem like only physicists have these notational conventions, but don’t worry, those mathematicians are just as caught up in their ways!

Theory Building

First panel. Person 1: "I don't think this piece of data fits your theory." (Holds up a puzzle piece that won't fit in the last whole of the theorist's puzzle.) Second panel. Theorist: "Oh yeah?" (Proceeds to take out a pair of scissors and shapes the piece.) Third panel. Theorist: "There! It fits." (The cut piece is on the floor.) Fourth panel. Person 1: "What about the piece you just cut off?" Theorist (shrugging): "Experimental error."

This is precisely how it goes each time.