849: Complex Conjugate
Title text: Fun fact: if you say this every time a professor does something to a complex-number equation that drops the imaginary part, they'll eventually move the class to another room and tell everyone else except you.
This comic is a joke on the common phrase "Shit just got real", meaning that something has suddenly increased in difficulty so it is now a real challenge. Cueball is standing in front of a board delivering a lesson, and is about to multiply a wavefunction by its complex conjugate. In mathematics, a complex number has a real part (a) and an imaginary part (b*the imaginary unit). The number can be written as a+bi. The complex conjugate of a number (a+bi) is a–bi. When one multiplies a complex number and its conjugate, the result is (a+bi)(a–bi), which is a2–(bi)2 = a2–b2i2. The imaginary unit i is defined as "the square root of –1", hence i2=–1.
This process yields a result of (a2+b2) that does not have an imaginary part, making it a real number, which is a play on the aforementioned phrase. Accordingly, Cueball dictates that the people who are not skilled enough should leave.
The title text states that if you joke about this every time it's applicable, that will be annoying enough that the class will ditch you and attempt to take place in another room.
- [Cueball is standing at a whiteboard covered in equations, one of which is the time dependent Schrodinger equation.]
- Cueball: Okay, anyone who's feeling like they can't handle the physics here should probably just leave now.
- Cueball: Because I'm multiplying the wavefunction by its complex conjugate.
- Cueball: That's right.
- [Dramatic zoom. It appears Cueball is writing on the side of the panel.]
- Cueball: Shit just got real.
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