Christmas is Approaching

Panel 1: Man: Since Christmas is approaching, we thought we'd make this comic less math-intensive and focus on spreading warmth and cheer and… wait… what are you doing? The mathematician (in front of the blackboard: 13 days until Christ(out of field vision) The only group of(out of field vision) cyclic group C₁₃ Panel 2: Man: Ummm… On the blackboard: 12 days until Christmas. There are 5 groups of order 12: C₁₂, C₆×C₂, A₄, D₆ and C₃⋊C₄ Panel 3: The mathematician: Is now a bad time to mention that proof of false comics are often autobiographical? On the blackboard: 11 days until Christmas. The only group of order 11 is the cyclic group C₁₁ Man: Where's the joke in this comic? Panel 4: On the blackboard: 10 days until Christmas. There are 2 groups of order 10: C₁₀ and D₅ The mathematician: There are 2 groups of order 10 but no 2-groups of order 10.

The true story behind this comic involves a 2004 incident where a friend's new year's project was to list the finite simple groups of order n on a dorm chalkboard on each nth day. The punchline finally arrived after 60 days when A5 was written on the chalkboard. It's the first unsolvable group, which can only happen in an order divisible by 4, and it was written on February 29th, which can only happen in a year divisble by 4.

Christmas is Approaching

12 December 2006