A City on a Polar Grid (and 15 other math cartoons)

The Sirens of Indirect Proof

2018.3.1 siren of indirect proof

This particularly afflicts Odysseus during undergrad, when the temptation is overwhelming. But even years later, a chance wind may carry that fatal song across the sea to his ears…

The Abandoned Exercise

2018.3.2 house left as an exercise

“This proof has been left as an exercise for StackExchange.”


The Easiest Rhyming Dictionary to Create

2018.3.5 tautological rhyming dictionary

Really, “so tautological, it’s tautological” would make a great slogan for just about anything.


“Seeing” the Fourth Dimension

2018.3.6 seeing the fourth dimension

“I meant a fourth SPACE dimension.”
“Careful. Make it to Dimension X and you’ll run into Krang.”


Teaching for Understanding

2018.3.8 perfect explanation

I think my first decade working in education has made me slightly better at explaining things, and vastly better at knowing the limits of my explanations.


Infinite Thoughts

2018.3.9 infinity eyes

Don’t divide 1 by 0, kids. Stay safe.


The Shortest Distance…

2018.3.12 shortest line

The pick-up-line-save is an underrated literary genre.


Since Time Immemorial

2018.3.13 time immemorial

It’s funny how much stuff from undergrad I lapped up unquestioningly, and looking back now I struggle to imagine what drove my sense of intellectual need. I don’t think I was more curious then; I think I was merely curiousĀ enough, and understood my incentives.


Evil Fermi

2018.3.15 bond villain fermi questions

To be fair, enough megatons of dynamite will block out the sun all by themselves, with no volcano required. But Bond villains rarely go in for simple plans.


When Am I Going to Use This?
Biology Edition

2018.3.16 ribosomes

Ugh. Kids today, with their rRNA. They don’t know we lived.


City on a Grid

2018.3.19 coordinate grids

Commenters on Facebook and Twitter pointed out that some cities do work on this principle! It sounds kinda nice honestly.


Checkered Flag Errors

2018.3.20 flags

Not pictured: “White Flag” errors, which make the teacher and student alike feel an overwhelming sense of surrender.


And What’s Next to Prickliness?

2018.3.21 virtue map

Thank goodness for the internet. This comic would have required a lot more brain-wracking and patience to write back in the day of paper dictionaries.


Slope Notation

2018.3.22 skiing

There’s actually some pretty fun Wikipedia-ing to be done on this issue.


A Worrying Absence

2018.3.23 absences

I think I found this joke more amusing than anyone else did. Which is to say, you’re all missing out! Yogurt on a quiz! How could that have happened? The mystery runs deep!


An Easy-to-Judge Shelf

2018.3.26 book by cover

7 thoughts on “A City on a Polar Grid (and 15 other math cartoons)

  1. With respect to “‘Seeing’ the Fourth Dimension”, I always give my students a handy little trick which makes it very simple. Suppose that you want to visualize the fourth dimension. First, you visualize $n$-dimensional Euclidean space, then simply consider the case $n=4$. It really isn’t *that* hard.

    1. I’m rather fond of a tweet I saw about visualising 14-dimensional space. You simply visualise 3-dimensional space and quietly whisper ‘fourteen’ to yourself.

  2. I always thought the diamond modality meant “it is possible that…”. So maybe a black diamond means “it is _very_ possible that…”. The semantics of a double black diamond is left as an exercise for the reader.

  3. Cities on a polar grid.

    They say that cities on a Cartesian grid have the feature that they are less windy.

    Book covers.

    This is what the book cover of a math book (differential equations, no less) is supposed to look like


    But now they have artsied it up.


    That cover adds $50 to the purchase price.

  4. Okay, I’m pretty sure this was wrong, but my first impression was that the student’s *score* on the quiz was yogurt. Like, they somehow contrived, possibly through a mixture of culinary science, confusion, and surrealism, all in the form of quiz responses, to make you conclude that the most reasonable grade to give them was not any kind of number but rather a kind of cultured dairy product. That is art.

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