'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The Illustrated Guide to a Ph.D.

At the beginning of each new academic year, Matt Might explains to a fresh batch of Ph.D. students what a Ph.D. is.  It's hard to describe in words.  So he uses pictures.

 Imagine a circle that contains all of human knowledge:

By the time you finish primary or elementary school, you know a little:

By the time you finish high school, you know a bit more:

With a Bachelor's degree, you gain a speciality:

A Master's degree deepens that speciality:

Reading research papers takes you to the edge of human knowledge:

Once you're at the boundary, you focus:

You push at the boundary for a few years:

Until one day, the boundary gives way:

And that dent you've made is called a Ph.D.:

Of course, the world looks different to you now:

So, don't forget the bigger picture:

But keep pushing!

By Matt Might.

The Illustrated Guide to a Ph.D

Thanks to Flatattack.


  1. That is brilliant, suppose it would be but still very illuminating.

  2. So what Matt is saying is that a PhD is like a zit on a spotty teenager's face? Matt Might but then again he Might Not.
    Actually, I found this a useful way to get arduous learning pursuits in proper perspective.

  3. Well, that ought to take the wind out of the sails of the arrogant and self-absorbed.

  4. Elizabeth27.8.10

    That's a great way of diagramming the whole knowledge paradigm. One of the astounding things is that we never ever plummet the depths of discovery in all that is around us in this amazing, dynamic world and once we ever believe that 'we've arrived', stop being curious or think we know it all, then all it actually shows about us is how little we do know. Infact, Katherine, its a little like that last visible dog ... x


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