Comics about mathematics, science, and the student life.

Work Acknowledgement

A line graph that shows the portion of your work that's visible to others. A small portion is visible, but most is invisible. Be sure you're happy with the invisible parts.

I try to remind myself that there are many ways to find joy in the work.

Activation Energy

A graph of "Annoyance" versus "Time". The curve oscillates. It begins with very low annoyance. Then suddenly an annoying event occurs and the curve shoots up, but not quite enough to hit the activation energy required to do something about it. The curve then returns to normal and you forget about the annoying thing, only for it to happen again and again in a cyclical pattern.

“I’ll do something about it next time!”

Curious Intelligence

A graph of "How intelligent you seem" versus "Curiosity". The relationship is increasing and nonlinear, indicating people find those who are curious to be particularly smart.

Even if you think they are “stupid” questions, I still think people will view you as more engaged and intelligent about the topic than if you stayed silent.

Development Trajectories

A graph of development trajectories for different research fields over time. "Application is a linear function of time. Above it is a rapidly increasing function which has the label "Theory". The growing distance between the two over time is a hype bubble. Below the "Application" function is one that increases more slowly and is another possible trajectory for "Theory". For this one, the distance to "Applications" has the label, "Woah, let's be careful!"

Both theory trajectories can lead to exciting times, but when it comes to science (as opposed to mathematics), I feel like we should try and stick somewhat close to the application (or experiment) curve.

Interdisciplinary Fruit

A graph of "Low-hanging fruit" versus "Interdisciplinary". The curve increases rapidly, indicating that there's a lot of low-hanging fruit when you do interdisciplinary work.

The hard part is finding the right people and figuring out which questions to ask. Oh, and finding people that aren’t so siloed away that they will care about your work.


A student hands in her final exam to her professor. She says, "Here's my test." He says, "Thanks. You'll get your grade in a few weeks." She asks, "Will I get to see my mistakes?" He answers, "Why would you care about that?"

If we really cared about learning, we’d take the time to go over the mistakes of a student. Instead, complete silence and then a numerical grade follows a final exam, without much other context.

Speed of Understanding

A graph of "Speed" versus "How easy it is for beginners to understand your code". The function is decreasing linearly, indicating a loss of speed when the code is easier to understand.

Actually, speedy code is often illegible to me, even if I have years of experience.

Enthusiastic Fun

A graph of "Fun" versus "Enthusiasm". The graph is linearly increasing.

When you get into what you’re doing, it’s so much better.

Poking Holes

Two friends are walking. One asks his friend, "What have you learned from being stuck so long?" She answers, "I'm *really* good at finding holes in new ideas!"

“I sometimes even find holes in old ideas!”

Summer Availability

A graph of problems coordinating meetings versus time of year. The number of problems is low everywhere except for summer, where it spikes up.

(As the final meeting before summer wraps up)

Student: “So I’ll keep you updated on the progress–”

Professor: “Alright, see you in a few months!”