Comics about mathematics, science, and the student life.

Author Long Jump

Authors are practicing the long jump, where the distance markers are the level of confusion one produces from equation to equation.

“To get to the last equality, the steps should be obvious. If they aren’t, please close this book and find something easier to read.”

Gas-Deadline Equivalence

A gas fills its container, while a project fills up the time until the deadline.

“I’m going to get started early and finish this way before the deadline!”

(Ten minutes later.)

“Well, maybe I’ll just take it easy. I mean, just look at how much time is left!”

Scientific Equipment

Someone asks a physicist if they get to play with a lot of cool science devices. The physicist shrugs and says that their most advanced device is a mechanical pencil.

Ah, do I just love the simple life of a theorist!

Shortcut

Student ponders a problem involving an integral, wondering if there's a shortcut to make it equal to zero.

As you do more problems, you groan at an “easy” but tedious integration, but you love it when you can pull out a neat trick to simplify things.

Near Miss

A student is working for a long time on their homework problem, only to find that they are *just* off by a small factor. They then decide to slowly drop terms in order to get the agreement.

The more advanced the problem, the more frustrating this becomes.

Scientific Process

The left panel shows someone explaining how the heliocentric model just made *so* much more sense, while the right panel shows the audience not buying the data for a new theory that a researcher is presenting.

Science is less about abrupt phase changes and more about slowly convincing your critics that what you say makes sense.

Equivalences

Various definitions of equivalence in mathematics, including the regular "equals", "isomorphism", "definition", "only valid in a coordinate system", "approximation", and "the author left a lot of steps between these two lines, but you'll figure it out!"

Seriously, it feels like the authors of textbooks are sometimes just trying to mess with me.

In Theory

A researcher explains that they work in theory, by which they mean "in theory", so as little as possible.

“I don’t know why people think my job is so special.”

Show Your Work

In the first panel (representing school), the professor tells the student to always show their work while solving a problem. In the second panel (representing research), the professor tells the student that they need to show less work.

“We’re working with professionals here, not some young grad students!”

“But what about the grad students like me who are trying to learn from our paper?”

“I’m sure they will figure it out.”

Frictionless Learning

A student sits on a block and slides on a frictionless plane.

Watch a pretty video explaining a concept, and you will come out thinking you know everything. Sit down and try to work through a problem, however, and you will quickly realize you learned almost nothing.

Learning requires a lot of slow movement, with a lot of friction.