More on Nerdy T-Shirts

Recently I received an email imploring me to check out all of the “unique designs” available at a site called nerdytshirt.com. I’m not sure why I was the recipient of such an email – they could have found me through my university affiliations, or through this blog, but I’m not sure which.

If you’ve been reading my musings for a while, you may know of the problems I have with the intersection between mathematics and clothing. Most of what’s out there is junk. As one might expect, I was therefore quite skeptical when I received this solicitation. At the same time, I’d never heard of this site before, and so I hoped that perhaps a company that understood my frustrations had come to fruition.

Have my prayers been answered? Sort of. Let’s consider a few examples.

Despite claiming to have “unique designs,” the shirts at nerdytshirt.com are all variations on one theme: put a formula on the shirt, and below that make a pun related to the formula. Sometimes the results of this pairing are good:

wokka wokka wokka!

A good gift for Sarah Palin, perhaps?

Other times, however, the jokes just fall flat.
Is this even a joke?

On the plus side, the website doesn’t restrict itself to just math jokes; they also offer shirts for chemistry, physics, and statistics. The underlying principle never changes, though: take an equation, expression, or sequence, then add a pun underneath.

I certainly don’t think this is a bad strategy – on the contrary, I find some of them quite clever (as clever as one can find a pun to be, I suppose). But by restricting themselves to this one type of design, the whole enterprise seems a little one-note. Not only are they robbing us of the full power of their creative juices by using this one format, but they also exhaust this one idea fairly quickly. There are some good shirts, it’s true, but there are duds as well, and so one is left feeling that in their rush to claim that they are “now offering more than 100 unique Nerdy T-Shirt designs,” they have placed quantity over quality.

Their site is still in its infancy, and so one hopes that the masterminds behind the site will not be afraid to branch out in their shirt designs. There is potential here, and I wouldn’t mind wearing some of the shirts they have for sale, but it may be dangerous to give one of these shirts as a gift unless you are able to separate the wheat from the chaff. Also, the link to their website in small fond on the front of every t-shirt may be a dealbreaker for some.

At the very least, one could use the following t-shirt for Halloween, should one choose to be the monster group (as I’ve discussed before).

That large number is the size of the monster group.
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3 comments to More on Nerdy T-Shirts

  • StreamingGourmet

    My favorite t-shirt from the Swarthmore physics dept. in the nineties went something like this:

    kiss=kiss
    ¥ = ¥
    G^mn = -(8pG/c2)T^mn
    as t -> ∞

    As in…
    A kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh.
    The fundamental things apply
    As time goes by.

  • Matt

    that one's pretty good. the ucla math department has some t-shirts, but none of them are that inspired. but maybe i'm just a curmudgeon about these things.

  • Hey, I just wanted to drop a note and say nice post!

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