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0447: "Too Old For This Shit"

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 4:02 am UTC
by Wes Janson
Image

Alt Text: They say if a mathematician doesn't do their greatest work by age eleven, they never will.


Somehow that phrase sounds familiar...

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 4:04 am UTC
by RAPTORATTACK!!!
making fun of his own character art now? There are a few people I have to show this to...

*masses of crying children left in wake*

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 4:04 am UTC
by TheHand
This is what's great about minimalist comics...

The punchline here reveals something about the nature of the characters that goes counter to our assumptions.

This discrepancy can be called a "joke."

Anyway, thumbs-up.

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 4:05 am UTC
by wizzfizz
I was looking for a hidden message in the formulae on the (white|black)board in the background.

Unfortunately I was let down.

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 4:06 am UTC
by mache-b123
I felt like that when I changed from university career yesteryear. Chemical Engineering is for young, not-so-lazy people. Instead, Economics is for oldies like me.

- But mache, you only got 20.

F*** off, I got enough. I'm leaving!

This mental conversation, brought for you thanks to: Coca Cola, Red Bull, and Management 102. Winning combination for 29 hours without sleeping.

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 4:06 am UTC
by sje46
wizzfizz wrote:I was looking for a hidden message in the formulae on the (white|black)board in the background.

Unfortunately I was let down.

There's a sideways happy face on the right of the guy on the right . . .near his hand.

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 4:12 am UTC
by Joshua
Here's the image darkened so you can read the blackboard...

xkcd.png
xkcd.png (73.38 KiB) Viewed 19512 times

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 4:19 am UTC
by Hexadecimator
There are curly letters on that whiteboard. Seems a little advanced for 13 year olds...
It might just be algebra if I could actually read it, but in general, the curvier the symbols get, the more complicated and difficult life becomes.

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 4:22 am UTC
by Lunch Meat
I pretty much am past my prime in math, and I'm only twenty. I think I'm to the point where I've stopped learning and started forgetting. That's because I only needed to take one math class for my major, and I took it my senior year of high school, which was three years ago now...I'm still very into math, but it's a lot harder now because I'm not doing it every day.

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 4:25 am UTC
by crp
Joshua wrote:Here's the image darkened so you can read the blackboard...

xkcd.png


I actually thought that this was photoshopped until i checked myself

Randall, you sneaky bass tard

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 4:25 am UTC
by Minchandre
...This is so true.

I remember the precise point in 8th grade when I realized I could no longer do math as quickly as I could the previous year. It was scary, especially as I wanted to be a mathematician at that point. Thankfully, it was only the next year that I started on calc, and that managed to distract me...

"Hey, 12 year old self, what's the integral of x^2 dx?"
"Integrals are those weird squiggly things, right?"

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 4:38 am UTC
by gormster
Minchandre wrote:...This is so true.

I remember the precise point in 8th grade when I realized I could no longer do math as quickly as I could the previous year. It was scary, especially as I wanted to be a mathematician at that point. Thankfully, it was only the next year that I started on calc, and that managed to distract me...

"Hey, 12 year old self, what's the integral of x^2 dx?"
"Integrals are those weird squiggly things, right?"


Oh god, you're on of them. We here in the real world started integration in year twelve.

(Edit: for the record, I mean school year twelve, avg. age 17)

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 4:45 am UTC
by Air
This feels so true.

I know so many people like that, too. It's not only math. You basically have to start young at anything anymore, especially sports.

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 4:50 am UTC
by sje46
gormster wrote:
Minchandre wrote:...This is so true.

I remember the precise point in 8th grade when I realized I could no longer do math as quickly as I could the previous year. It was scary, especially as I wanted to be a mathematician at that point. Thankfully, it was only the next year that I started on calc, and that managed to distract me...

"Hey, 12 year old self, what's the integral of x^2 dx?"
"Integrals are those weird squiggly things, right?"


Oh god, you're on of them. We here in the real world started integration in year twelve.

(Edit: for the record, I mean school year twelve, avg. age 17)

Umm, I don't know what an integral is.

I'm 19 . .. is that bad?

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 4:51 am UTC
by Wes Janson
I have the sneaking suspicion the quote might be vaguely related to Psychohistorical Crisis.

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 4:52 am UTC
by aleflamedyud
MUAUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

I learned to program at age 11.

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 5:07 am UTC
by japanese_jew
Don't worry, you're not special. I knew a kid who was working through Calc III when he was eleven. Coding is easy. Calc III is . . . well, I suppose it's arguably also easy, but I certainly wasn't working through it when I was eleven.

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 5:12 am UTC
by gormster
aleflamedyud wrote:MUAUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

I learned to program at age 11.


Who didn't? Hacking away in VB6 :P

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 5:13 am UTC
by CrazyMathemagician
Hah, this one is awesome.
I'm interested in this issue though of whether math really is a game for the young. There's Hardy who says it is, and that few older mathematicians did anything important. But then there's Andrew Wiles proving Fermat's Last Theorem, and Paul Erdos who continued publishing math papers pretty much up to his death.
Anyway, I loved this!!!

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 5:13 am UTC
by justaman
crp wrote:
Joshua wrote:Here's the image darkened so you can read the blackboard...

xkcd.png


I actually thought that this was photoshopped until i checked myself

Randall, you sneaky bass tard


It is photoshopped, Yeah, the reflections are all wrong. Definitely photoshopped

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 5:30 am UTC
by roseneko
I'm thinking maybe Randall has gone and seen Proof recently....

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 5:37 am UTC
by Eugo
Air wrote:I know so many people like that, too. It's not only math. You basically have to start young at anything anymore, especially sports.


Which makes it pointless in a way. I mean, what's the point in knowing and thinking all that science if you can't fight it over a keg with your colleagues? Where's the fun? Where's the time to ponder all the philosophy behind it, about how the universe in which both math and real world can exist and actually both make sense somehow doesn't make sense...

I was just lucky to have went to study maths just to get a diploma, to broaden my horizons, while reading all other, completely unrelated books. Only at my junior year I started to like it... which felt great then; once I graduated I found it hard to stop. Lucky to had both the leisure, width and, well, the wherewithal to even graduate in the end 8).

And then at the age of about 30 I found that the age of creativity is capped at about... up to 28 (inflation cut it to Randall's 11 meanwhile, he had to recalculate that into real years). Just gave it all up ("I'm too old for this") and went into programming.

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 5:41 am UTC
by Kashkalgar
Well, I am a 28 year old mathematician working on my doctorate, and I think I can safely say that my best work is ahead of me. I am working on genetic algorithms on... well, call it chaotic systems. Sensitive to small perturbations, anyway.
The trick to keeping it fresh (besides a good quantity of alcohol) is to not get discouraged by the blank stares of people around you when you try to tell them about your work... keep plugging away like they are understanding.
The brain works quite similar to the poem, 'The Hunting of the Snark,' "What I tell you three times is true." Repetition will get the ideas into your head... now, however, there IS the issue of creativity. When the neurons in the brain no longer are as capable of sending out new dendrites... creativity will fade and one will become locked into previously learned thought processes. However, I have seen evidence that great effort/stress on even a very old brain can cause the creation of new pathways. (I taught my mother how to play go, and she can now beat me with a nine stone handicap.)

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 7:00 am UTC
by Markavian
I jumped for joy the day I had no more math exams at university, that was 3 years ago. I am still a happy man.
QUIT WHEN YOUR EARLY. Good advice?

Unless you really like maths : |
I prefer programming, it is several scales more practical.


Kashkalgar, I prefer the method of teaching having someone explain a problem back to you as apposed to forced repetition; if they can explain it in their own words then you know they've learnt it, playing cards is a good example of that.

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 7:11 am UTC
by Astronick
Markavian wrote:I jumped for joy the day I had no more math exams at university, that was 3 years ago. I am still a happy man.
QUIT WHEN YOUR EARLY. Good advice?


Absolutely - we had a significant maths component for the first two years of our four year engineering degree. I was so happy moving into the third year. Maths makes so much more sense to me when applied to the real world. I'm sure xkcd would sympathise :)

Markavian wrote:Kashkalgar, I prefer the method of teaching having someone explain a problem back to you as apposed to forced repetition; if they can explain it in their own words then you know they've learnt it, playing cards is a good example of that.


Again I very much agree - get away from the parrot effect and find out what they've actually learnt.

BOT: I really enjoyed this comic. It illustrates everything that xkcd can do so effortlessly - hugely emotive stick figures, off-centre punchlines and a healthy dose of geekiness. Who else would think they had done their best maths work at thirteen? Kinda reminds me about a Mozart-related joke I once heard.

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 7:15 am UTC
by stormoftara
HAHA Good one! Although I must say...when I was 13 math did seem easier. :|

In any case, this reminds me of a funny story. When my youngest brother was about 6, he'd complain about learning addition and subtraction. Saying it was too hard and he'd never have to use it in the real world. Ahahaa...

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 7:38 am UTC
by spec8472
Isn't this a reference to Ender's Game?
i.e the reason they chose kids 8-11(?) was because their reaction times were higher than those older than that.
I'm sure there's a comment from Ender somewhere towards the end where he says something along the lines that he's too old for that stuff.

Edited for clarity (somewhat).

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 7:50 am UTC
by Sykotic1189
I don't have that problem with math, but man I get my ass handed to me when a group of twelve year olds plays against me and my dad. You have no idea how emotional a 45 year old man will get when he is beaten by someone younger than his son.

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 8:20 am UTC
by Ubiquitous
I'm a mathematics grad student, and I'm taking a summer course in Algebraic Number Theory. I was telling my instructor (who is also my advisor, and a really fun person to be around) that my birthday was coming up. She asked how old I was going to be, and I said 23. Without missing a beat she replied, "Well, at least you'll be in your prime."

See? Mathematicians have a sense of humor just like normal people! ...honest!

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 9:00 am UTC
by super_aardvark
roseneko wrote:I'm thinking maybe Randall has gone and seen Proof recently....


Exactly what I was thinking. Question is, was it the play or the movie?

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 9:15 am UTC
by spec8472
Ubiquitous wrote:IMathematicians have a sense of humor just like normal people! ...honest!


I've yet to see any proof of this statement.

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 9:38 am UTC
by poohat
CrazyMathemagician wrote:Hah, this one is awesome.
I'm interested in this issue though of whether math really is a game for the young. There's Hardy who says it is, and that few older mathematicians did anything important. But then there's Andrew Wiles proving Fermat's Last Theorem, and Paul Erdos who continued publishing math papers pretty much up to his death.
Anyway, I loved this!!!

Well the world is quite different now than it was 100 years ago - it would be rare to reach the point where you were capable of contributing to the forefront of pure mathematics until you were 25+ and finished your PhD, simply because theres so much more that needs to be learned now than there was centuries ago when people like Gauss were able to do novel mathematics before they hit 18. As such, I would imagine that theres less groundbreaking work done by young mathematicians in their 20s than there was even 100 years ago.

Ed Witten was 44 when he came up with M-theory.

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 9:42 am UTC
by VelociraptorEvader
sje46 wrote:Umm, I don't know what an integral is.

I'm 19 . .. is that bad?

yes very bad

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 10:23 am UTC
by zero10
Every day I get slower at what used to be nearly instantaneous mental math... *sigh* this comic is depressing, thanks

At least I'm not the only one feeling that way though

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 10:27 am UTC
by deja
i was just reading the book 'The man who loved only numbers" about paul erdos. xkcd never misses a beat!

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 10:55 am UTC
by Anarch
This comic rings extraordinarily true with me. Back when I was in middle school, I considered myself to be amazing at math, and probably rightly so. I'd ranked fairly well on a few national-scale math competitions (which I do realize are in no way definitive or even moderately useful when it comes to determining general mathematical ability or anysuch).

Then I hit high school and it all went to pot. Like, I now know more math then I did in middle school (advanced trig and calculus), but I simply can't think as quickly or develop nearly the kind of ingenious solutions to conundrums that I could before.

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 11:55 am UTC
by cburke
The scary thing is that I teach 13-year-olds.
Yeah, for many of them, the glory days are behind them.

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 12:09 pm UTC
by mattme
Erdos' biography 'the man who loved only numbers' is fantastic :) Read it, y'all. Never grow up.

Sykotic, did you say what you were beat at?

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 12:26 pm UTC
by The Hyphenator
gormster wrote:
aleflamedyud wrote:MUAUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

I learned to program at age 11.


Who didn't? Hacking away in VB6 :P

Or the TI-83/84 calcs, for me. :) I started at age... 12? Something like that. I remember making my first "Add one" program*, which was just supposed to display consecutive numbers: there was one program that added one to a variable, stored it into another variable, displayed it, called another program, which added one to that variable, stored it into the first one, displayed the first one, and called the first program. I cringe whenever I think about it, especially since it can be done with three lines of code. :|

*OK, my friend made it, but we kinda worked together.

Re: "Too Old For This Shit" Discussion

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 12:35 pm UTC
by an axe murderer
I learned the BASICs (yes, that's a joke) of programming when I was like 8. I think that was normal, possibly even later than many, in 1983.

I think that people probably learn programming at a later age now than they did in 1983. Back then there was only so much existing software, and you had to start writing your own just to be able to have something interesting on the computer. Hell, it was unavoidable. Most computers booted up to a BASIC prompt, and the shell you used to start other programs *was* the BASIC language.

Now, the average person can be completely entertained by software written by other people, and unless they use Linux, they use a computer designed to keep them as far from any form of coding as possible.

In other words, the world sucks compared to 1983.