An MIT Alumni Association Publication
Professor Patrick Henry Winston ’65, SM ’67, PhD ’70


Every year, my wife forces me to take a vacation, this year on a cruise ship. My daughter and I were cooling off on the top deck after spending a little time in the exercise room when a woman approached and, looking at my daughter's T-shirt, asked, “Are you a math whiz?”

Comparing herself to MIT students, rather than to the population at large, she replied, “Well, not exactly.”

“Oh, I'm a high school math teacher. I know what the square root of -1 is. That's i. But what is the rest?”

“You can work it out!”

“Ok, E/c2–that reminds me of Einstein's equation, E = Mc2. Ah! M. But what about PV/nR?”

Here, reaching back a long time, to 5.01, and wanting to hold up my end of the conversation, I helpfully supplied “Ideal gas law. Pressure times volume equals the number of moles of gas times the gas constant times the absolute temperature.”

“Oh, MIT!” she said.

A little later I ran into the teacher again and fell into a conversation about Artificial Intelligence, high-school teaching, and this and that. As we were about to go our different ways, I said “You seemed impressed that my kid went to MIT. Would you have been impressed if her T-shirt carried a Harvard logo?”

“Phooey. There are lots of Harvards.” Good point.


Phuket car rental

Fri, 07/30/2010 4:10pm

Where can I buy one?

Toni Stimmel

Thu, 11/10/2016 2:02am

That formula stumped me for several days as I tried to interpret MJT. then it dawned on me, some people use "I". That was a long time after I graduated ('60) and I had never used "i".

I always liked the "And God said .... and there was light"

A colleague's office was in a software group and he put a sign on his door that read "Heisenberg may have slept here". When I saw it about a month later and busted out laughing, it drew everybody's attention. One asked me what was so funny and when I told him, he and none of the others got it.

Nancy DuVergne Smith

Mon, 08/02/2010 9:27am

You can buy these t-shirts at the MIT Coop. This is a place to start: Good luck!

In reply to by Phuket car rental

Alan Boulton

Fri, 03/06/2015 3:06pm

It's a tad marred by the odd casing:


(As Edward Kwok also observed)

Mark Boyle

Tue, 11/16/2010 1:52pm

I was just browsing interesting facts about shirts and this caught my attention. I'd also recommend checking out there are so funny shirts there, I couldn't handle it :)

B. Billy

Wed, 09/01/2010 5:52pm

I love it! what on the back of the t-shirt and how can I get one?


Sun, 08/22/2010 3:34pm

My best story is a guy that noticed the date below and asked me if this is the date the equation was invented....


Thu, 07/29/2010 5:50pm

I just looked up the shirt at the coop and am a bit disappointed. From the above article, it looks like the font is LaTeX, which of course would be awesome and nerdy. But alas, the real shirts have some awful helvetica-type font.


Thu, 07/29/2010 1:44am

rich, both the MIT Museum and the MIT Coop had them for sale.


Wed, 07/28/2010 4:36pm

I have had similar experiences wearing the same shirt at my local gym. Most people look at it as if it were written in Chinese. I can pick out the true nerds by those who try (and usually succeed) in deciphering it.


Wed, 07/28/2010 3:52pm

OK, I'm game. Where can I buy one?


Thu, 07/22/2010 4:29pm

Traditional means "Old School"... as in "There are 10 kinds of people in the world: those who understand binary and those who do not"


Thu, 07/22/2010 1:21pm

Why is this tagged "Modern Geekhood"? Does "Traditional Geekhood" exist? If so, we haven't found it at UoC yet.

Edward Kwok

Tue, 07/20/2010 6:29pm

I thought it resolved to mjT, but then I was 6.


Tue, 07/20/2010 5:56am

I had a similar conversation while wearing the shirt with the checkout guy at Trader Joe's. He figured it out too.


Mon, 07/19/2010 1:14pm

I saw that t-shirt when in the MIT Museum a couple of weeks ago, and I ended up explaining it to someone in the store.
More on the MIT Museum on my blog at

Enrique Laya

Mon, 07/19/2010 1:06pm

Does the back of the T-shirt have the M^2 (M to the square) simbol?. The same way puzzles have an answer top side down...


Meta Brown

Sun, 07/18/2010 10:34pm

That's a charming story. And a funny shirt.

Michael McKinley

Tue, 06/27/2017 3:43am

Sad that this is listed as an equation when it is really three expressions. Sad panda.

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