793: Physicists

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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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 a difficult problem, since they think they can fix it 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. This attitude leads to great annoyance from those who have probably spent years and years working on the problem, hence the Cueball with balled up fists, implying that he wants to punch the physics major.

This argument is similar to the spherical cow, an idea that basic models taught in early physics classes only work in frictionless vacuums, as shown in 669: Experiment.

The title text takes the dismissive attitude to its logical extreme. The comment "liberal-arts majors can be annoying sometimes" seems to be referencing the stereotype that they're all elitist know-it-alls.

Cueball later behaves similarly in 1831: Here to Help.


[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 Cueball-like 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?
[Caption below the panel:]
Liberal-arts majors may be annoying sometimes, but there's nothing more obnoxious than a physicist first encountering a new subject.

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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.
Probably because of the "whilst"

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)

So, uh, it's been two and a half years. Yeah... 19:19, 16 January 2020 (UTC)