Comics about Graduate Students

The comics by Jorge Cham collected in these books are quite funny. It shows the humor of academic life of a graduate student. If you have ever been in grad school, then perhaps can relate to some of the comic strips.

Author Jorge Cham had been a Graduate Student at Stanford University where he later got his PhD in Mechanical Engineering. Now he writes and draws comics about life in academia. You can see his comics on his site at

Because of his engineering studies, some of his strips has some “technical humor”. For example, there is a parody of Newton’s first, second, and third laws of motion.

The strip also does parodies of popular U.S. movies and television…

You can get a sense of the humor of the strips by looking his 200 Most Popular Comics.

The comic’s protagonist is a black haired male that wears glasses and is never named strip. So he is often referenced as the “Nameless Hero” in other publications. The other major characters in the strips are Cecilia (an engineering student who admits that she’s a geek), Tajel (a female student in the social sciences), Mike Slackenerny (who is lazy and has been in grad school for a long long time), and faculty adviser Prof Smith.

He had mentioned that the comics are drawn directly into digital form using a graphic pen tablet.

Video On How To Solve KenKen Puzzles

Puzzle-master Will Shortz of NPR radio will introduce us on the rules of KenKen puzzles and how to solve them.

The above video was showing a KenKen that only uses the add operation of the digits. However, general KenKen puzzles have add, minus, multiply, and divisor operators indicated next the results number within their cages. The below video shows how to work out these more difficult forms of the puzzles.

Play KenKen Puzzle Online

Start with an easy KenKen which is a 4×4 grid.

How to Play KenKen

See video that gives you a quick summary of the game and how to play and solve them.

Basically, you have a square grid of cells. You put a digit into each cell. The digits are 1, 2, 3, etc. up to the size of the grid. So for a 4×4 grid above, you can only use the digits 1, 2, 3, and 4. For a 6×6 grid below, you can use the digits from 1 to 6.

You will notices that cells are grouped into “cages” as denoted by their darken outlines. Each cage as a number with a mathematical symbol. The digits that you put in the cells must result in that number if you apply the mathematical operation on the digits. Furthermore, any row or column in the overall grid can not have a repeating digit.

KenKen Strategy

So the strategy is to use the above constraint rules to eliminate which digit can not go into each cell. This game is basically a process of elimination. Start working on the smaller cages first. That way fewer possible digits can go into them. One you have filled in the smaller cages, the digit in there will constraint what digits you can put in the other rows and columns.

More difficult 6×6 KenKen

Once you’ve mastered the strategy of KenKen, try a more difficult 6×6 KenKen grid …

Have fun.

Play Sudoku Online

You can play Sudoku online here (courtesy of Fill in the squares of the grid with numbers from 1 to 9. Make sure there are no duplicate numbers in any rows, columns, or any of the nine smaller inner 3×3 grids. You can select the difficulty level.

Educational Wii Games

Some Educational Wii Games that are both fun and educational…

Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree

15 activities to challenge your brain and sees how you measure up in five categories: memory, analysis, number crunching, visual recognition, and quick thinking

Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader

Educational trivia video game based on the popular TV series of the same name.

Smarty Pants: Trivia for Everyone Wii Game

The questions are tailor to the player’s age. That is why everyone can play.

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire

Trivia game with over 3000 questions. Based on the TV show of the same name.

Bubble Sokoban Online Game

Found this Flash puzzle game on

You move a person around in a grid with obstructions. Your goal is to push the movable block into the highlight squares. Plan your move carefully. Because you might push the blocks into an orientation where you can not solve the puzzle.

Books on Brain Health

Just as we need to keep our body health, we also need to keep our brain healthy. Here are some books on improving and maintaining brain health.

Brain Longevity: The Breakthrough Medical Program that Improves Your Mind and Memory

Author Dr. Dharma Singh Khalsa is a holistic healer that combines Eastern and Western medicine. He believes cortisol plays a major factor in brain aging. He explains the four pillars to brain health: diet, exercise, stress reduction, and supplements.

The Better Brain Book

This book is all about improving memory and sharpness as well as slowing brain aging. Dr. David Perlmutter talks about nutrition, supplements, lifestyle changes, removing toxins, and brain workout. Book includes a “brain audit” as well as four recommended medical tests.

Dr. Daniel G. Amen, founder of Amen Clinics, is a physician, psychiatrist, and brain imaging specialist who had been featured on Public Television specials. He has a few books on brain health including Change Your Brain, Change Your Life and Magnificent Mind at Any Age.

Earth’s Magnetic North Pole is on the Move

The earth’s magnetic North pole moves (sometimes as much as 40 miles to 50 miles a year).

Note that this is the magnetic North pole, the north that you compass points to. It is not the geographic north pole, which is the north end of the earth’s axis of rotation.

This causes issues for us and devices that rely on the magnetic north pole’s position. In one instance, a Florida airport had to repaint it directional signs because of the shift.

In fact, in the Earth’s geological past, the magnetic poles has in fact reversed (the north pole became the south pole, and vice versa).


Humor Books

On a light side, here are some humor books to lighten your day…

Piled Higher and Deeper: A Graduate Student Comic Strip Collection

Comics about life in academia. The comics are smart, some of which are science related. Written and drawn by Jorge Cham who did his Ph.D in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University.

Dairy of a Wimpy Kid
Funny comics and story of protagonist Greg Heffley in his pre-teen years. These series of book inspired an movie based on it.

The Best of The Joy of Tech comics
Selection of the best humor from The Joy of Tech online series by Nitrozac and Snaggy which provides you with a humorous look at the tech world.

Sunny Side Down: A Collection of Tales of Mere Existence
Book by Lev Yilmaz who had done YouTube comic drawing videos that was a great hit on the Internet. For example, see his video about procrastination.