Comics about mathematics, science, and the student life.

Research Realities

Two scientists are walking and discussing their work. Scientist 1 says, "I tried fifty different things today, and one worked. Maybe." Scientist 2 says, "That's progress!" Caption: Research realities.

And you thought the batting ratio in baseball was low.


A scientist saying, "I know a ton about this." Caption above: A scientist discussing a topic they are an expert on. Caption below: Also shown: When they have no idea.

The exercise to the reader is to figure out which one you’re dealing with.


Left panel (School): A student sits at their desk, looking at their homework. "What's the right answer?" Right panel (Research): A scientist stands at their blackboard, and asks, "What's the right question?"

They don’t teach you this in school.


A scientist stands in a landscape and says, "Let's show X!" X is far away, but it is surrounded by a dotted line, with a label, "Obscure math theorem that keeps blocking you".

If only I could take this bird’s-eye view more often. It would save me a lot of time!


Left panel (Good Explanations): A student walks up a steep but manageable incline, saying, "Steady progress!" Right panel (Bad Explanations): A student looks up a series of sheer cliffs, like a giant staircase that they could never hope to climb. They say, "Well then."

The tricky part is that one giant step can ruin a perfectly good incline.

Survivor Bias

Left panel (At the end): A prominent scientist declares, "The direction to my success was always clear." Right panel (At the beginning): The scientist holds a map with only a few spots filled in, and a huge question mark. "What am I supposed to do?!"

Don’t fool yourself by only listening to those who succeeded.


A graduate student holds a recipe book, whose back cover says, "The best recipes!". The student says, "There's nothing here telling me *how* to make my own recipes." Caption: The transition from classes to research was challenging.

Wait, you mean you don’t just solve more complicated equations as you go further in school?

Extra Credit

On the left, a regular scientist says, "My work will be important for society." On the right, the physicist says, "My work is crucial for *everything*, inlcuding your work."

We’re a modest bunch.


A graph of the time you have for a given project versus the number of projects. The function is an inverse power-law decay, so more projects means less time per project.

You might think this is just your average inverse relationship, but it’s probably closer to the inverse of some power. Don’t discount the switching costs!


First panel: A male and female scientist walk together. The male scientist asks, "Can you explain in more detail?" The female scientist responds and points, "Sure, it's all over there." Second panel: The two scientists stand beside a large pile of unorganized information. The male scientist says, "That's just a pile of unorganized information!" The female scientist replies, "Did you expect me to arrange it for you? That's cute."

“I have to make you work for it!”