The joy of X (kcd)

xkcd is a fantastic webcomic written and illustrated by a very interesting guy called Randall Munroe. As he puts it, it’s a “webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.” (Note the Oxford comma!) The comics are out every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and cover a wide range of topics.

From a teacher’s point of view, they can be quite abstract and cover adult content, but the sheer breadth and delight of the comics are amazing. Take the one that is currently on the site “Game AIs”:

If you can’t find a way to integrate this diagram into a discussion on complexity, computer science, programming, artificial intelligence or games – you may not be trying hard enough. And xkcd is full of this kind of stuff. Giant scale diagrams from the smallest particles to the Universe. Ways of thinking about different amounts of radiation.

Beautiful little stories about flying ferrets who save people lost at sea.

You may have to be a little cautious on occasion, because some of it is quite adult, but choosing some images from this site for teaching, which Randall allows under most circumstances, can bring a lesson to life. If you haven’t seen it before, grab a comfortable chair, sit down and have a good read. There’s something here for most people who teach in or anywhere near the sciences.

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