i get it

By Phil Plait | May 22, 2008 3:00 pm

Man, I’m a geek, but this is actually funny.

[Click it to see the rest of the cartoon.]

Understanding such things is as easy as pi. ‘e just goes to the root of the problem, cos it’s no sin. And if you don’t get it, well, secant you shall find.

Tip o’ the HP-41CX to Digg.


Comments (106)

Links to this Post

  1. Amigo… at 100nexos | May 23, 2008
  2. Seed's Daily Zeitgeist: 5/23/2008 - General Science | June 3, 2008
  1. Alex

    Math is punny.

  2. Wes

    I chuckled.

    Guess that makes me a nerd. :)

  3. Doc

    Hehehe … I like it!

    Then again, I’ve got Kate Bush’s song “pi” on my iPod – and it gets listened to frequently.

  4. Dan D

    I get it. It’s funny because the little numbers have eyes and they talk. But they can’t do that. Silly numbers.


  5. Cameron

    Sorry, Phil, but it was hilarious until I read your puns.Now it’s just funny.

  6. Speaking strictly for myself, I’ve always been fond of 69.

  7. Kaptain K
  8. Well, I’ll be the first to admit I don’t. I know 2^3 == 8, but aside from that, the panel makes no sense to me. :)

  9. David D.G.

    Do you know why six was scared of seven? Because seven eight nine.

    ~David D.G.

  10. Ho ho, and then I realize it’s not a single panel, but a strip, and the BA only showed part of it! Now I feel dumb…

  11. bswift

    I was really confused by the panel and didn’t get it. By the time I clicked through, hoping for more explanation, I saw the whole strip. By that point it wasn’t really that funny. :( It would have been if I’d seen it all at first.

  12. Ed

    Is the new freind named Harvey?

  13. Gib

    I saw this a couple of weeks ago at work, and laughed out loud. I sent it to a few workmates, and they didn’t like it. I suppose it takes a certain person to appreciate it. I’m not sure what sort of person that is.

    OK, I’m pretty sure what sort of person that is, but I’m not one!!!

  14. @Ed:

    Oh man, I’m a geek, AND I’m old – because I get that too.

  15. Tim G

    I was expecting a simple joke but it’s complex.

  16. MH

    Tim’s pun got me more than anything in the comic or in Phil’s post.

  17. Blaidd Drwg

    Lugosi, Are you aware of the square root of 69?

    8. something…

  18. aiabx

    i don’t get it.

    (Yes, the lower case i is intentional.)

  19. Doug Little

    It should have been an i, it seems clumsy that the author had to actually draw the square root of minus 1. Anyone who understood it would have understood it with i instead. BTW the garfield with out garfield comic strip is hilarious if you want a good laugh.

  20. Wes
  21. This is still my all-time favourite geek joke:

    “There are 10 types of people in the world, those who understand binary, and those who don’t”.

  22. aiabx

    Crap. Forgot about the article heading. Well, it’s funnier in the negative.

  23. Come on peeps, the strip’s pretty cute. (After I realized that I have to go and see the whole strip—umh, that there is a whole strip, actually—and not try and crack my noodle over some sophisticated mathematical pun well hidden but revealable in principle from the single frame posted above, that is.)


  24. See, you made me feel dumb because I DIDN’T get it… then I realized there was more than one frame, and clicked to get the full strip.


  25. Michelle

    …I dunt get it.

  26. Mitch Miller

    I don’t really get it. Why can 8 see an imaginary number but not 2 or 3? Maybe it is infinity and not an eight? Still doesn’t make sense to me.

  27. Iain T

    The subject matter was a bot on the heaviside for me.

  28. So, BA goes off on a tangent with puns?


  29. Iain T

    Or a “bit”, even. Curse my rubbish typing!

  30. And Noah said to the animals: “Go forth and multiply!”

    But the adders came to Noah and said: “But we cannot multiply, we are

    Then Noah went out and chopped down some trees and built a table of
    logs. And he showed it to the adders and said: “Look I have built you a
    table of logs! Now you adders can multiply!”

  31. Doug: there are two square roots of -1. You can’t say “the” there.

  32. Mango

    Why do computer programmers confuse Christmas and Easter?

    Because 31 Oct = 25 Dec.


    Paul Turnbull’s Noah joke rocks.

  33. Just to note I did not write the adder joke, in fact I can’t even remember where I got it from. It’s been in a sig file of mine for years.

    Also in that file:

    Recursive: adj. See Recursive


    There are only three kinds of people in the world: those who can count, and those who can’t.

  34. Ok, that *is* funny.

  35. Zoom Kapowie


    That is the definition of an imaginary number. The square root of negative one.

    But, anyone know why only 8 can see him?

  36. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA…. friend.

  37. But, anyone know why only 8 can see him?

    Because it’s not 8, it’s a bipedal infinity!

  38. Thomas Siefert

    Ben E. King and Tom Jones have sung about this.

    i, i who have nothing
    i, i who have no one
    Adore you, and want you so
    i am just a no one,
    With nothing to give you but Oh
    i Love You

  39. Okay, and this is for Ed:


    Anyone who gets this will have to be old enough to know who Harvey is, and young enough to know who Frank is.

  40. Gemini
  41. Mango

    John Armstrong wrote:
    “there are two square roots of -1.”

    What’s the other one?

  42. Mango, don’t you mean Christmas and Halloween?

    And am I the only one who got the joke? (31 Octal = 25 Decimal)

  43. SonOfSLJ

    The Mr. Snuffleupagus of numbers…

  44. zeb

    I get it! I get jokes!

  45. Overstroming

    OK, I’m not a maths guy :-( I don’t get it. However, the point of the cartoon made a pleasant whooshing noise as it passed over my head.

    So that was nice.

  46. Martin Moran

    Over my head, but not so far I can’t see, it is no.8’s imaginary friend!

  47. Ignorant

    69? What’s the square root of 69? eight something?

  48. Robert Madewell

    Too funny. I must be the biggest geeek in the whole world. My wife dint get it.

  49. DLC

    Definitely worth a chuckle. thanks, Phil for pointing this out.

  50. Nicole

    A brief explanation of imaginary numbers…


  51. Ibeechu

    It’s times like these when I’m so glad I’m a nerd. Sort of like little inside jokes that the jocks can’t get. lol.

  52. Daniel

    I did not get it at all… right up until I clicked on the image and noticed that it had another 2 panels.

  53. RawheaD

    Like several people above, I was trying to figure out if there was some mathematical significance in the fact that 8 can see i but not 2 or 3. I guess the joke was simply that 8’s “new friend” was imaginary 😉

  54. Ibeechu

    Same, Daniel. I was ashamed at myself not getting it. Then I remembered how Phil always only shows one panel of a comic. Pretty sneaky, Phil.

  55. Michelle

    …I’m gonna cry. I really don’t get it!

  56. Chew

    I read this joke somewhere..
    3 statisticians go duck hunting. The 1st statistician shoot 1 foot above the duck, the 2nd statistician shoots 1 foot below the duck, the 3rd yells, “We got it!”

  57. yy2bggggs

    @John Armstrong:

    “there are two square roots of -1.”

    Bah! There are at least 14 roots of -1 that I know of.

  58. IAmMarauder

    LOL! I love it :)

    Reminds me of another math joke:

    Two missionaries are looking down into jungle clearing at hundreds of natives gathered around a stone likeness of a huge zero.

    They strain to hear what they’re all chanting, but finally make it out: “Nulll, nulll, nulll…”.

    “My God!” one says quietly to the other. “Is nothing sacred?”

  59. Taz

    Test for a mathematician:

    Q1: You’re in a room with a pan of water on the floor and a stove. You want to heat the water. What do you do?

    A1: Obviously you put the pan on the stove.

    Q2: You’re in a room with a pan of water on a table and a stove. You want to heat the water. What do you do?

    A2: Obviously you put the pan of water on the floor, thus reducing the problem to one that’s already been solved.

  60. Groan…..




    Those in the planetarium pun world will get it 😉 – John if you ever rattle this one off, you are definitely on double secret probation.

  61. So that’s why I didn’t get it! (From a comment above, I realized I’m not seeing the whole strip!) “Imaginary” friend… LOL

    Honestly, I think your puns are a little overdone – I feel really nerdy looking at them. (Kinda reminds of “Numbuh 2” Hoagie Gilligan of KND)

  62. Tim G


    I think that (31 Oct == 25 Dec) is better.

    Folks, the values of the numbers 2,3 and 8 have no meaning. The author just needed three real numbers. The fact that 2^3 = 8 is an unfortunate distraction.

  63. Tim G

    i see what you did there, Phil.

  64. CR

    I hear that five out of four kids can’t understand fractions…

  65. Sorry folks. It didn’t occur to me people wouldn’t click it; I don’t like to cut-and-paste entire comic strips since that isn’t fair to the artist. I added a line to make it easier on everyone!

  66. Tim G, I was wondering if anyone would get the fact that the title of this post is the worst pun of all.

  67. Thomas Siefert

    69? What’s the square root of 69? eight something?

    If you have to ask, you don’t want to know. 😉

  68. bswift

    Yeah, I got the 31 Oct == 25 Dec joke too…clever :)

  69. Geomancer

    Phil’s post = great

    IRONMANAustralia’s post = greater

  70. JackC

    A friend and I had an old joke. It starts by whistling the three tones you get when you get that annoying Telco warning that you have dialed an incorrect number, followed by:

    “The number you have reached is imaginary. Please hang up, rotate your phone 90 degrees, and place your call again.”


  71. Ouch! Please never do quantum superposition jokes…

  72. @Geomancer:

    Yay! I’m a bigger nerd than Phil! Hoora …

    … wait … that’s bad if I’m trying to score with hot chicks right?

    Damn it. :(

  73. Redx

    “Elwood Herringon,

    …And am I the only one who got the joke? (31 Octal = 25 Decimal)”

    No, but it works better when it’s told right.

    It took me a second to realize the posted panel wasn’t the punchline. I stared at it for, like, a minute before realizing it there wasn’t anything to get yet.

  74. John

    Thanks for the laugh Phil. Even better, I showed my daughter (first year at university, studying science) and she laughed out loud. I’m not the only geek in the family!

  75. Matt

    This reminds me quite a lot of
    where pi and e are on a date. I think the people who would appreciate the comic you linked would appreciate that video as well!

  76. My friend didn’t get it, so I told him to “imagine it was funny.”

    He still didn’t get it.


  77. Michelle

    Mikel, maybe your friend is just like many people like me who just… don’t get it, even if we see the full strip. 😐

    What’s that about the roots?

  78. Tim G

    That was a good video, Matt.

    I have a question for everyone: What you know about math?

  79. Kyle

    Even as a mathtard I got it and love it because I got so messed up with that damn “i”.

    It its imaginary then it can be anything I want it to be so there!

  80. Sohvan

    I got the imaginary friend part, but was also left wondering why 2, 3 and 8 specifically. I guess the numbers were incidental. Here’s another old but good one http://youtube.com/watch?v=OGh97__-uLA

  81. Sohvan

    Here’s a version with a bit better picture quality

  82. Quiet Desperation

    Religion makes life complex. It adds an imaginary component.

  83. Yes, I get the original joke, the “10 types of people” joke, the “31 Oct == 25 Dec” joke, and so on.

    And I know who Harvey is, but who’s Frank?

    Now, if only I could remember this poem I heard years ago… It’s about making a cube with edges of length negative one, and putting it in a cube of edges of positive one.

  84. Sergei

    I didn’t get it at first, but I have an excuse – I didn’t think in English. I my language “imaginary” in “imaginary friend” and “imaginary number” are different words through both words are synonyms.

  85. Michael from Labrador

    AGHHHRRHH…!! IMAGINE that! Or is that…imaginary?

  86. Shoeshine Boy

    j get it too.

    // EE nerd

  87. Wayne

    I must be math geeky, too, because I thought it was great :)

  88. Doc

    342 – 173

    “You can’t take 3 from 2 – 2 is less than 3 – so you go to 4 in the ten’s place. Now that’s really 4 tens, so you make it 3 tens, regroup and you change the ten to 10 ones, and you add them to the 2 and get 12 and you take away 3, that’s 9.

    “Now instead of 4 in the ten’s place you’ve got 3 (’cause you added 1 — that is to say 10 — to the 2) but you can’t take 7 from 3 so you look at the hundreds. From the 3 you then use 1, and you know why 4 + (-1) + 10 is 14 – 1 (’cause addition is commutative, right), and so you’ve got 13 tens, and you take away 7, and that leaves 5 … well … 6 actually, but it’s the thought that counts.

    “Now go back to the hundred’s place. You’re left with 2 and you take away 1 from 2 and that leaves … now let’s not always see the same hands … 1. Everyone who got 1 can stay after to help clean the erasers.”

  89. ARP1234

    And mathematicians still wonder why they can’t get any
    with jokes like this….

  90. annonymous

    Jesus = lim(x->infinity)(c + xi)
    It all makes sense now :)

  91. ggremlin

    It takes a real character to see an imaginary number. That will be eight bits please.

  92. Ray M

    @Doug Little: Anyone who understood it would have understood it with i instead.

    Or a j, if you happen to be an electrical engineer. (At least, that was the case some – ahem – decades ago in the UK.)

  93. rob

    i think it was funny. but then, i once did this to students in a physics lab i was teaching:

    i was working out a problem on the board. i got to a step where i had


    i crossed out the 6 in the numerator and the 6 in the demoninator, which made it


    and then wrote 4 as the answer and went on.

    a confused hush fell over the room before someone finally asked about my method of reducing the fraction.

  94. I want the 4 minutes back where I stared at the one frame you posted before reading down and seeing the link for the FULL COMIC.

  95. Tim G

    I once wrote up a complex number class and used it to render Mandelbrot sets. I suppose I could use that class in a program on friendships.

  96. defectiverobot

    Keeping in mind that I nearly failed college algebra…I don’t get it.

    And no, I am not proud of my innumeracy.

  97. bir92

    come on people.

    the square root of -1 is called an imaginary number, because the square root of a negative number is a mathematical impossibility (the square of any number is always positive).

    so no one else can see the square root of -1 because it is imaginary.

    just in case no one else got that.

  98. The Mutt

    Rene Descartes was sitting in a restaurant.

    The waiter asked, “Will you be having dessert?”

    Descartes said, “I think not.”

    And he vanished!


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