Title text: Maybe someday science will get over its giant collective crush on Richard Feynman. But I doubt it!
The first panel references a scene in the movie A Beautiful Mind in which Dr. John Forbes Nash, Jr. comes up with his famous concept of Nash equilibrium when he realizes that they get suboptimal results if all the guys go after the same hot girl. The second panel deconstructs the idea as Dr. Nash point out that staying away from the hot girl does not actually constitute a stable Nash equilibrium. The third panel has physicist Dr. Richard Feynman render their entire discussion a moot point by getting all the girls while the mathematicians ponder optimal strategies.
In fact, the situation in the comic is a great example of what a Nash equilibrium is not. The only reason that one player (pun intended) wouldn't try to go for the hot girl is if they were afraid that someone else would go for the hot girl as well. However, in a Nash equilibrium, each player assumes that the other players won't change their strategy, and concludes from this assumption that their own strategy shouldn't change either. If all of them have the strategy of flirting with the hot girl's friends, and all of them are assuming (incorrectly) that the others won't change their strategies, then they all would change their strategies simultaneously, breaking the equilibrium.
Feynman shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965 for his important work in quantum electrodynamics. Feynman wrote popular books and gave public lectures. These presented his work in advanced theoretical physics to the general public, a practice that was not very common at that time. One of his more famous books, Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! gives many personal anecdotes from his lifetime, and it contains a passage giving advice on the best way to pick up a girl in a bar.
The aforementioned public books and lectures brought him great attention in the media, and his exceptional results in physics coupled with this have led to his getting an almost cult-like following among scientists. He's also (largely due to his book) known as something of a womanizer, thus why he would take several women home at once.
The title text explains that Randall wonders whether this "collective crush" (crush as in love affair) will fade away one day, but he doubts it. Great respect for Feynman continues to this day, even though he died about a quarter-century ago.
- [Cueball and Dr. Nash (the Cueball-like guy to the right) stand talking to each other. Cueball is looking left and pointing off-panel.]
- Cueball: Hey, Dr. Nash, I think those gals over there are eyeing us. This is like your Nash Equilibrium, right? One of them is hot, but we should each flirt with one of her less-desirable friends. Otherwise we risk coming on too strong to the hot one and just driving the group off.
- [Cueball is now looking at Dr. Nash.]
- Dr. Nash: Well, that's not really the sort of situation I wrote about. Once we're with the ugly ones, there's no incentive for one of us not to try to switch to the hot one. It's not a stable equilibrium.
- [Cueball again looks left while Dr. Nash shakes his fist.]
- Cueball: Crap, forget it. Looks like all three are leaving with one guy.
- Dr. Nash: Dammit, Feynman!
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