I think people make a lot of topics seem way more complicated than they need to be, probably to make themselves feel important.
I haven't read all of them, but they're a good attempt. (If you enjoy or can tolerate the quirkiness of japanese manga style.)
Check out The Manga Guide to Databases
or The Manga Guide to Statistics
or The Manga Guide to Linear Algebra
From the top Amazon review on The Manga Guide to Databases:
"STORY: A friend loaned me this book to show her, so I gave it to her and asked her to try it. If she read the first 10 pages and it was boring, she should stop. If she liked it, she could keep it until she was done. She opened it on the spot and was 20 pages in before she realized she still was standing in the middle of our kitchen. One day later, she was finished and said it was "cool" and that she liked it.
I asked her if she learned anything or if it was just a story and she started talking. She said a little bit and talked about tables and how information is stored in columns and rows. She talked in a 9 year old's language and vocabulary, but basically explained to me the concept and benefits of centralized data stored in a single database. She made a couple other comments whose specifics I can't remember, but clearly articulated database ideas. It was somewhat surreal hearing these things come from a 3rd grader's mouth. She didn't feel like she had learned very much. I told her I probably could count on my fingers how many people at my work (300 people total - manufacturing industry, not IT) knew more about databases than she did, based on what she had finished telling me."
The rubber duck strikes again.
However, I'm very glad that SMBC sticks to the wonderful humour and I certainly don't want the author to change the comic. Just take it for what it is: a humour for those who already know about the topic, and don't pretend it's educational.
(Only because I used to argue the exact same thing with my dad when I was a teen, and we had both read his books, and I have a human bias that when I read something that agrees with me, I smile, feel vindicated, and don't think about it further.)
"Somewhere in the multiverse, there's a superior universe where all comics are this dorktastic."
And the big red button at the end:
"Out-nerd me now, Randall!"
And more to read: Scott Aaronson's "Making of The Talk":
Zach, I think you may have finally surpassed Randall.
I would take issue with various claims in the comic anway. The idea that quantum mechanics is a "generalisation of probability" is itself a simplification. The wave function can be used to derive the probability P=Ψ.Ψ*, but it's not probability per se. It does neatly encapsulate why the Copenhagen Interpretation of the wavefunction leads to a lot of magical thinking about what the wave function represents.
We never recreated the experiment again until Ernest Wilbur Silvertooth did about one-hundred years later in the 1980s. He found a possible connection to the Ether, but by this point every scientist in the world committed to thinking the opposite; they didn't care for his findings.
People say GR works, but they keep running into weird situations where they have to keep fudging their mathematical models -- none of the equations work together, i.e. no unified field theory, -- and everyone is too afraid to suggest we've been approaching it all wrong.
God, I love how political science has become: funding, faith, pride... The world didn't care for Galileo's theories, either: it turned their whole world upside-down.
Ever tried to grasp how the detection of the gravitational waves already worked?
Quantum mechanics, special relativity, and general relativity (I'm not sure which ones you're objecting to here) all have strong predictive power. The fact that we can build extensions of these theories and see experimental validation of those theories is itself support for the underlying principles. With quantum mechanics, you can explain atomic spectra, crystal field splitting, aromaticity and antiaromaticity, vagaries of chemical bonding--and that's only in the domain of chemistry. Special relativity can also explain, say, why there is a stable Pb²⁺ ion.
I know that's a terrible analogy, but proving GR kinda works doesn't really disprove the Ether, either.
Quantum mechanics is an ur-example. Fundamentally, it's a set of mathematical equations only some of which have clear physical interpretations. What does the wavefunction actually represent, for example? To make matters worse, it also relies on mathematics that are well outside the comfort zone of most lay people--complex probabilities and renormalizable groups, for example (the latter caused consternation even within the physics community before the underlying mathematical basis was more rigorously developed). That leads popular description to rely on analogy that is at times more obfuscatory than helpful. But the underlying mathematics is quite well-understood, and we've built successful validations across chemistry, physics, and biology. As Feynman said, it's the most well-validated theory in history.
If you want to get a new scientific theory established, you need to do one of two things. The more common scenario is that you explain something that wasn't explainable beforehand. This is basically what quantum mechanics did. The less common scenario is that you find a much simpler but equally powerful explanation--this is what special relativity was.
The point of the Michelson-Morely experiment was to find the Earth's motion relative to the inherent reference frame of the universe (the ether). With the discovery of Lorentz invariance, Einstein's relativity theory basically said "it doesn't matter, any reference frame will do." Given also the many wavelength-dependent properties of light meant that you couldn't reuse the wave equations to explain electrodynamics, there was no reason to keep the ether around. Sure, you can build theories on the ether, but you're not getting anything simpler or more accurate by doing so, so what's the point?
The implications are phenomenal, -- we could be in the presence of something HUGE, -- but people seem to rather "know for a fact" that we live in an empty vacuum devoid of anything but relics of a big bang.
I dispute that premise; it seems to me unlikely that we know anything from certain, and it seems to be that expanding our understanding of the world has had diminishing returns; fire has had greater returns than agriculture, and that engineering, than Newtonian mechanics, that than relativity and quantum mechanics, and so on.
From the above observation of the utility of scientific discoveries, if Ether theory nevertheless is closer to how the world functions, it seems very unlikely, and the conditions that enable it to exhibit its characteristics seem so alien to our present way of life that it is unlikely that funding research in such a direction gives better expected returns than research into other questions.