Comics about mathematics, science, and the student life.


Two friends are talking. One says, "Wow, you're so put together!" The friend says, "Thanks". He's sitting on a box that's shaking and has a swirling mess inside, labelled, "Inner chaos".

Even when you see the success of others, they often have a similar box.

Model Failure

Two scientists are walking together. The first one says, "I'll admit it: my model failed dramatically." The friend says, "So you're going back to the drawing board?" She replies, "Of course not! I'll just make my model more complicated."

“Aren’t you worried about having too many knobs?”

“No, I’m worried about having too few to describe the data!”


A bar chart ranking performance. On the left is a small bar with the label "Skill". On the right, a larger bar with the label "Mindset".

Mindset is the foundation for your craft.

Wrong Turns

A supervisor hands their student a scroll and says, "Congratulations on persevering through so many wrong turns." The student says, "Thanks! What is this?" Supervisor: "A PhD."

This is one of those places where many wrongs might make a right.


Two scientists are in a rowboat near a whirlpool. One of the scientist cries out, "Get us away from here!" "What is it?" "A science problem that's going to suck us in!"

Honestly, the whirlpool tends to be much bigger and often sucks in more than two lone scientists.


A scientist is solving a problem for a friend. The scientist says, "Here's the solution to your problem." The friend looks down at the solution and says, "Thanks-wait. What are all these new symbols? Where are my variables?!" The scientist answers, "Oh, they were terrible to work with, so I redefined them to be more natural." Pause. "You're welcome."

If a mathematician hasn’t redefined your initial problem, you might just be a mathematician yourself.

Potential Barrier

A woman stands in a "U"-shaped function. Above her is the label, "Where you are". Outside of the U, there's the label "Where you want to be". The U is a potential barrier of your own creation.

Unfortunately, there’s no quantum tunneling in here.


A scientist and his daughter look up in the sky where he is pointing. He says, "It's there." She says, "I don't see anything Dad." He says, "You just need to squint more." Caption: A theorist connecting their work to the real world.

I’m publishing this a day before Erica Thompson’s wonderful new book Escape from Model Land. This book is a treasure trove of ideas about the limitations of models and how we should question their foundational assumptions. If you work with models, please check out this book!


A scientist tries to shove a blob labelled, "Any Problem" into a cubby labelled "The tools from your PhD". The scientist says, "Come on, I know it will fit!"

“I’m going to milk these tools for everything they’re worth!”


A graph of "How much I think I know" versus "Time". There's a steady linear increase until grad school, where it plummets before slowly increasing again.

Graduate school: Realigning your expectations.