Comics about mathematics, science, and the student life.

Good Enough

A student climbs a hill toward the top 1% of their field, and can't help but feel like they aren't good enough, even though they are further ahead than the 99%.

You’re allowed to look back and enjoy your progress, you know.

Linearity

Linearity of expectation.

I’m just trying to not break mathematics here.

Bad Calibration

After realizing one small thing went badly on a test, a student says, "Oh no, I really messed up that question! That probably means I got other things wrong too! I'm done for! I'm going to fail the course! How could I be so stup..." On how our internal calibrators are a little too biased toward negative results.

I am notorious for getting into these thought cycles. I go from one thing wrong to imagining that I’ve somehow forgotten everything about physics, and sooner than later I’ve convinced myself that I know nothing.

Prestige

Researcher: "Must resist giving more credence to this research just because it was published in a popular jounal." (Later) Researcher: "...Oh year, this research is top-notch. After all, it was published in the prestigious journal Nature!" (What we say versus what we do.)

Once I started noticing this in magazines and other science outreach publications, I couldn’t unsee it. You’re welcome.

Intermediate Steps

Professor: "We are running out of time, so let's use my favourite method of proof." Students: "Contrapositive?", "Contradiction?", "Induction?" Professor: "Proof by skipping intermediate steps!"

“I don’t know why they don’t teach this in school anymore. I’ve found it to be very helpful in getting through material quickly.”

Mistakes

First panel: The supervisor tells his student that there was a mistake in their paper, so it's the student's job to fix it. Second panel: All week, the student looks for the mistake, but can't seem to find it. The student concludes they are being stupid. Third panel: The supervisor tells the student that the good news is that there wasn't any mistake after all!

More or less based on a true story.

Low Expectations

A physics student walks toward their new lab, hoping that it will have a nice window. Instead, all they get is a view of people's feet.

Maybe I was just unlucky with where I studied, but the windows reminded me of a prison.

Well-Known

Researcher 1: "So, I just cracked a big math proof in my field." Researcher 2: "Oh yeah?" Researcher 1: "Yep, it's a well-known conjecture that I've been working on for years." Researcher 2: "How many people know about this conjecture?" Researcher 1: "Tons! At least ten."

I apologize to the mathematicians that may be offended. Don’t worry, my research problems are probably just as well known!

Resiliency

On the left, a student complains about seeing a topic on the test which is slightly different than what they saw in class. On the right, the student sees this as a fun challenge.

I aspire to be the student on the right, but I know myself well enough to admit that my reaction is usually the one on the left.

Lecture Audience

A three-panel progression of an audience during a lecture, from the perspective of the teacher. The audience starts attentive, and gradually the students fall off one by one.

I wonder if teachers play a mental game of seeing who can hang on in the lecture the longest.