Comics about mathematics, science, and the student life.

Cooking Up

Student: "Professor, why do you make the problems so hard for us?" Professor: "Hard?! If you think this is bad, wait until you get to grad school. We are like chefs here! We cook up perfect problems for you. It only gets worse."

“From what we give you, it might be possible to think that you could solve any problem in the world. If only!”

Big Numbers

Person 1: "Look at all those stars! Do you ever step back in awe as a physicist at all of the mind-boggling numbers you deal with?" Person 2: "No, we physicists have figured out a way to get rid of that feeling. The speed of light? We set it to 1. The distance from here to the Sun? 1 A.U. The trick is to always redefine big numbers into smaller numbers." P1: "Now I see why you don't do any scientific outreach."

If it was possible, I think physicists would like to exclusively work with the number 1.

Two Types of Tests

On the left, a student ascends a rollercoaster, feeling comfortable. On the right, their cart does a midair "jump" across a gap. The difference between knowing what to expect and having a teacher throw a curve ball.

Just like a rollercoaster, the one consolation is that they both have a fixed time.

Mapping

A function from reality to reality. As an input, an unsuspecting student. As an output, a proof machine.

Warning: this function is not invertible.

Hoops

Researcher 1: "Did you read my proof I sent you?" Researcher 2: "I tried, but I couldn't get through it." Researcher 1: "Oh, that's because you have to read it during a full moon with one eye closed, in an area without Wi-Fi."

“Ah, I did the rest, but I forgot about the Wi-Fi part. Silly me!”

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.”