Comics about mathematics, science, and the student life.

Goes Like This

Left panel (What we say): A female mathematician is at the blackboard, facing the audience. "The proof goes like this." Right panel (What we mean): She says, "This is how I *wished* the proof went, if there weren't so many technical details that make the proof not go like this at all."

No wonder I can never follow the proofs that are in the PDFs of presentations!

(Thanks to Alex Kontorovich for inspiring this on Episode 1 of the 3b1b podcast.)

Slide Numbering

Left panel: A scientist is on stage with their slides projected. In the bottom-left corner, there's a label that says "0/3". The scientist: "Okay, let's start." A person in the audience, speaking to another audience member: "Oh good, this should be short." Right panel (two hours later): The slide showing says  2/3. An outraged audience member stands up and says, "How are you only at slide 2?! I've counted at least a hundred!" The scientist replies, "Oh, it's just that I'm using a log scale."

I’m really looking forward to trying this.


Left panel (Abstract art): A painting with a lot of lines at right angles. Two people look at it. Person 1: (Thinking: I don't get it.) "This is great!". Right panel (Abstract math): Two people look at a display of a function. Person 1: "This is just too weird." Person 2: "I never got this stuff."

People seem to be very happy to say they dislike mathematics compared to other cultural products.

Making the Cut

A paper in its original form. The first part is what actually is published, while the second part (the details that I want) are usually not.

Presentations can skip the technical details. Papers should not.


A reader tries to vault over a canyon separating Equation 1 from Equation 2.

Not to scale. Equation 1 and Equation 2 would not be seen on the page if done to scale.


Left panel: "Well, I finally have some time off." Right panel: (Dumping a bucket filled with tasks into a wheelbarrow) "Might as well fill the time up as fast as I can!"

It’s the only responsible thing to do.


Left panel: (Reading the abstract) "Wow, this will be a very cool, multidisciplinary paper!" Right panel: (After reading) "And, fooled again..."

I always love reading the introduction to papers, because they show me just how far scientists go to stretch their field to touch every part of life. Unfortunately, it rarely continues into the main part of the paper.

Promising Paths

Left panel: (What we want) A clear path with a sign pointing to new work. Right panel: (In reality) A dense jungle with no path, and a person asking, "I wonder if there could be something good this way?"

The trick to being a scientific icon is to carve that first small footpath, and then convince others to work on making it a lot more friendly!


"What's it like to be a scientist?" "It's being in a state of perpetual confusion." "" "Oh, it's the best in the world!"

I start getting worried if I’m not confused at least fifteen times a week.

Breathing Room

A large area which represents the intrusive thoughts of others, while a smaller region is the quiet island of your own thoughts.

If you’ve ever had a song stuck in your head, this is exactly the problem.