793: Physicists

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 19:50, 2 January 2014 by Dgbrt (Talk | contribs)

Jump to: navigation, search
If you need some help with the math, let me know, but that should be enough to get you started! Huh? No, I don't need to read your thesis, I can imagine roughly what it says.
Title text: If you need some help with the math, let me know, but that should be enough to get you started! Huh? No, I don't need to read your thesis, I can imagine roughly what it says.


This comic shows a view that many physics students, upon first encountering a well-known problem, think that it is not so much of a problem, as they can fix it, in their minds, using an extremely simplified model. The obvious problem with this is that if it was that simple to solve the problem to a useful degree, there wouldn't be an entire department studying the problem, thus leading to great annoyance from those who have probably spent years and years trying to work on the problem. This argument is similar to the Spherical cow and idea that basic models taught in early physics classes only working in friction-less vacuums as shown in 669: Experiment.


[Cueball stands at a blackboard covered in equations and diagrams, an open laptop and scattered paper at his feet. His fists are balled in anger and there is a little angry squiggle over his head. A physicist stands behind him, arms out in a shrug.]
Physicist: You're trying to predict the behavior of <complicated system>? Just model it as a <simple object>, and then add some secondary terms to account for <complications I just thought of>.
Physicist: Easy, right?
Physicist: So, why does <your field> need a whole journal, anyway?
Liberal-arts majors may be annoying sometimes, but there's nothing more obnoxious than a physicist first encountering a new subject.

comment.png add a comment! ⋅ comment.png add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


And thus, the character of Sheldon Cooper was born... -- (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Oh great, now I can't help but read the title text in his voice. 22:04, 10 November 2016 (UTC)
Lol accurate 04:59, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
Nobody seriously reads scientific papers all the way through. Most of it is just about conditions used as controls, et cetera. Most people just get by on the abstract and the conclusion whilst seriously interested people get through to the introduction from the abstract before skipping to the conclusion.
I read the above statement in Raj's voice because of the original comment. Not sure why Raj.

I used Google News BEFORE it was clickbait (talk) 15:54, 26 January 2015 (UTC)

The transcript claims the blackboard contains equations and diagrams. But there is no equation on the blackboard.

How does the title text take the dismissive attitude to an extreme? What does the thesis statement mean? I would add an incomplete tag, but this comic is so old I don't think I should. If this page doesn't get more thoroughly explained soon, I might add one. 625571b7-aa66-4f98-ac5c-92464cfb4ed8 (talk) 00:40, 3 May 2017 (UTC)

Personal tools


It seems you are using noscript, which is stopping our project wonderful ads from working. Explain xkcd uses ads to pay for bandwidth, and we manually approve all our advertisers, and our ads are restricted to unobtrusive images and slow animated GIFs. If you found this site helpful, please consider whitelisting us.

Want to advertise with us, or donate to us with Paypal?