Comics about mathematics, science, and the student life.

Arithmetic Skills

A teacher works on a problem on the board. They apologize for their bad arithmetic skills, but they turn out to be quite good.

Seriously, teachers are the epitome of self-deprecation.

Arbitrary Memorization

A student asks if they can have an equation sheet for the final exam. The professor says no, and that they must be memorized. The student says that they could just memorize them in the two minutes before the test and the professor replies that this is exactly what they want.

I understand the need to remember some things, but this tends to come from using the equations, not cramming them into your head right before an exam. I’ve literally made sure I can remember the equations before I enter the room, so that I can write them down immediately. Should students be punished if they can’t do this?

Brevity

A student presents a slide on Dirac matrices, which look like 2x2 matrices but are actually 4x4 matrices.

Sometimes it gets so bad that the general public might be fooled into thinking the work we do is easy!

Edge Effects

A student presents the data from their experiment. Someone asks why the data doesn't seem to fit the curve, and the student dismisses the error as "edge effects".

“Edge effects” is one of the quintessential examples of handwaving in physics students.

Academic Grunt

A researcher finishes a calculation at their desk and hands it off to their student assistant to make sure there aren't any mistakes.

I actually like going through calculations, but there’s no doubt that this can definitely be classified as “grunt work”.

Delicate Balance

In the first panel, a student presents their data and comments on how it's almost perfect. In the second, they talk about how even the Big Bang might have contributed some error.

I love how a student’s job in the class is to convince the professor that they got really accurate results while also finding a bunch of sources of error that actually contribute in a significant way.

Abelian Group

A student tries to put their socks on before their shoes, and concludes that they can't form an abelian group with them.

“Maybe there’s an opportunity for a lucrative invention here?”

Elementary

A person asks their mathematically inclined friend if this "elementary" book on mathematics is a good place to start. The friend replies, "Sure..."

“Wow, so that’s what “elementary” means? I don’t even want to think about what an advanced textbook looks like then!”

Thought Experiments

A theoretical physicist begins to explain their thought experiment, but is interrupted by an experimental physicist who says that they could fund an actual experiment if they got a dime for each thought experiment that was cooked up.

“Oh come on, my other ideas weren’t as good as this one…”

Violent Language

Two students overhear some violent language from a classroom. One wonders what kind of class this could be, but the other assures them that it's just mathematics.

This isn’t just a mathematics thing. I think I hear my professors speak like this even more in my physics classes. I guess we like to be really graphic in our descriptions.