Comics about mathematics, science, and the student life.


Panel One: In the top-left corner, there's a region marked "X". On the right, there's a dotted region representing the knowledge of a person. The public (outside the comic) says: "Not an expert!" Panel Two: The two regions get a little closer, and the public says, "Not an expert!" Panel Three: The two regions get closer again, and the public says, "Not an expert!" Panel Four: The two regions overlap ever so slightly, and now the public shouts, "They're an expert!"

It’s always good to remember there are different levels of expertise.


Two scientists discussing research. Scientist One: "I want to kick off a new field!" Scientist Two: "Do you also want to spend years in obscurity no assured payoff?" Scientist Two: "Maybe I'll stick to what I'm doing."

There’s a reason people choose the usual path.


A bunch of scattered dots, representing disciplines. The distance between dots is their similarity. For two close dots, there's an exclamation: "I'm interdisciplinary!"

The trick is to keep splitting up your discipline into smaller and smaller pieces, until you can claim your work goes through a bunch of different areas.

Elevator Pitch

A friend asks their scientist friend, "So, can you tell me what you do?" The friend answers, "Uh yeah... but of, I need to go jot down a new idea!" She's leaving the frame. Caption: Maybe I should take the time to come up with a good answer.

“Do you mean to tell me you’ve spent years working on this, but you don’t know how to explain it to me?!”

“Oh no, I can do it…I’ll let you know this afternoon.” (Proceeds to spend that time frantically searching for a good way to communicate the idea.)

Reality Check

A professor at the board, addressing her class. She says, "I know you may have heard of the 'real world', but we won't have any of that in my classroom." Caption: A true theorist.

“You may have also heard of ‘experiments’ and ‘data’. We won’t worry about that here.”

Loss Landscape of Academia

An energy landscape depicting various academic activities. The "Important work" is at the global minimum, but there are many other local minima, including "Fancy positions", "'High-impact' journals", "Prestige", "Funding", and "Awards".

It’s good to check every once in a while that you aren’t stuck in a local minimum.


Flow diagram. On the left, "Simple thing I want to say". There are two arrows pointing away from it. The first box is "Requires few equations", and there's an annotation "I love math!". The second box is "Needs a ton of equations", and there's an annotation "Math is so annoying".

This is how I feel about many computer science papers. Such simple ideas, but the notation and equations are so cryptic.

Difficulty Level

A bad graph with three categories, with the vertical axis being the level of difficulty. The first bar is "Doing the science". The second bar, at about the same height, is "Writing the paper". The final bar, which goes way off the page, is "Formatting, compiling, and submitting to a journal".

You would think that this should be painless. But no, despite our civilizational advances, this is still a pain.

Project Cycle

A diagram with two concepts: "Begin a project" and "End a project", with arrows connecting both in an endless cycle. There's a break in the arrow from "End a project" to "Begin a project" which says, "Take a break and celebrate".

The highs in science are often short-lived, so make sure to give yourself the time to celebrate. You will have plenty of time to start a new project and be stuck in frustration again!


A scientist walks with her daughter. The daughter asks, "Mom, do you just solve more difficult questions than I do at school?" The scientist replies, "No dear, I also write long reports asking for money to solve them."

“And honestly, the equations I use for my work are simpler than yours.”