Comics about mathematics, science, and the student life.

Clear Proofs

First panel: "This is an easy proof! I won't write out too many details." Second panel (two weeks later): "Was I deliberately trying to confuse myself when I wrote this?"

The best part is when I write something along the lines of, “Clearly, this is true…” I want to strangle past-me at that point.


Supervisor: "Officially, we should only work on things that have solid theoretical foundations." Student: "And unofficially?" Supervisor: "Pretend conjectures are true, and work out the consequences. That way, you will be ahead of everyone if it's proven true."

You need to be prepared. It’s a competitive world out there in academia!

Change of Variables

First panel. Student: "Professor, why do we always use 'x' for all of our computations?" Professor 1: "You don't have to, it's just a label." Second panel, two weeks later in quantum mechanics. Professor 2: "Can I see you after class?" Student: "Sure." Third panel, Professor 2 pointing to the student's homework, which replaced the standard symbol for the wavefunction with a smiley face. Professor 2: "What is this atrocity?!" Student: "Another professor said we could use whatever label we wanted, because they don't matter." Fourth panel. Professor 2: "Never do this again. The wavefunction is always written as psi. You might be able to get away with this in mathematics, but we physicists have conventions!" Fifth panel. Professor 2: "What are you going to do next, change pi for a picture of a pie?" Student scratching their head: "Can I maybe get an extension for this next assignment?"

This comic might make it seem like only physicists have these notational conventions, but don’t worry, those mathematicians are just as caught up in their ways!

Theory Building

First panel. Person 1: "I don't think this piece of data fits your theory." (Holds up a puzzle piece that won't fit in the last whole of the theorist's puzzle.) Second panel. Theorist: "Oh yeah?" (Proceeds to take out a pair of scissors and shapes the piece.) Third panel. Theorist: "There! It fits." (The cut piece is on the floor.) Fourth panel. Person 1: "What about the piece you just cut off?" Theorist (shrugging): "Experimental error."

This is precisely how it goes each time.


First panel is what we teach: "People are multidimensional, and it's important to treat them as such." The board says, "People are like vectors." Second panel is what we do. Person approaches another and starts to introduce themselves, while the other person takes the dot product between the person's vector and a unit vector.

“Wait, just give me a chance!”

“Sorry, I’ve already projected you against one axis, so I’ve lost any other information I had of you.”


Young researcher: "Finally, I'm done my first contribution to science! I can't wait to hear what others think of it." In the second panel, the researcher walks to a building called the "Science Repository". In the third panel, the researcher sets their new idea among others and says: "This is going to be a perfect fit. Everyone will see it!" Fourth panel (a year later). More ideas have come in, totally covering up the researcher's idea to the point that no one notices it anymore.

What, did you think everyone was actually going to read your new paper?

Tunable Theories

Throughout the panels, a fly is buzzing around, while someone tries to swat it. In the final panel, the fly says: "I will never be killed!" A metaphor for tunable theories.

The difference is that, while flies die pretty quickly, tunable theories enjoy long, long lives.

Neutral Response

First panel, a researcher presents their results and gives a good presentation. In the second panel, a bad presentation occurs. And yet, both result in the audience clapping.

I understand that it is the polite thing to do. I just find it interesting how applause is more of a social convention in research presentations than an actual marker of quality.

Open Science

Student reading a research paper: "This paper is so good! Plus, they reference a ton of papers. I'm going to check them all out!" (After checking a bunch of the references): "Surprise, surprise. Another paper behind a paywall. Maybe the 103rd time's a charm..."

Like my undergraduate supervisor use to tell me, at least we have the arXiv for physics.

Starved Theorists

Researcher presenting data that has a strange anomaly: "As you can see, we have some interesting results." Audience member: "New physics!" (The next day on the arXiv): Fifty new research papers on this anomaly.

We just want one morsel of new physics. Please!