About

A Note on our Logo


The Marginal Gains logo was designed by John Balmer and Josh Poertner based on 2 ideas that stem from the continuing improvement focus of the marginal gains methodology.  


In thinking of a logo that could give us an ‘M’ or a ‘G’ or both we quickly thought of using a butterfly to create the M which links us to the idea of the ‘Butterfly Effect’.  The Butterfly Effect comes from the narrative that perhaps a butterfly flapping its wings somewhere could disturb or change the airflow locally in such a way that the changes propagate and grew, affecting other flow and so on until the weather was changed somewhere downstream.  We plan to cover this in a future episode, so I’ll leave the explanation right here for now.  


The second and more significant inspiration came from a beautiful piece of art and story by Matt Might, which he has used to inform, encourage, and inspire Ph.D. students.  Matt and his wife are the proud parents of Bertrand Might, who was born with a previously unknown genetic disorder, which has since been discovered and named through their exhaustive work.  Matt turned his talents for computer science and data visualization into a presentation and later a book called “The Illustrated Guide to a Ph.D.”


My wife is a Neonatologist who has dedicated her life to saving babies, educating young physicians and continually pushing the boundaries of knowledge and procedures so that things will further improve for the next generation.  I am fortunate that I get to play with Marginal Gains for sport and for fun, but it is important to remember those for whom this is truly life and death.


Imagine a circle that contains all of human knowledge:
Imagine a circle that contains all of human knowledge.
Knowledge to save my son's life
Knowledge to save my son’s life.


Might then beautifully envisions the attainment and progress of knowledge:

By the time you finish elementary school, you know a little.
By the time you finish high school, you know a bit more.
With a bachelor’s degree, you gain a specialty.
A master’s degree deepens that specialty.
Reading research papers takes you to the edge of human knowledge.
Once you’re at the boundary, you focus.
You push at the boundary for a few years.
Until one day, the boundary gives way.
And, that dent you’ve made is called a Ph.D.
So, don’t forget the bigger picture.

Keep Pushing.

We would like to send a big thank you to Matt Might for his incredible work on The Illustrated Guide to a Ph.D.

Matt Might, a professor in Computer Science at the University of Utah, created The Illustrated Guide to a Ph.D. to explain what a Ph.D. is to new and aspiring graduate students. [Matt has licensed the guide for sharing with special terms under the Creative Commons license.]