Professor Cuthbert Calculus (French: Professeur Tryphon Tournesol) is a good friend of Tintin, and one of the main characters in the series. He has invented many things, including the rocket in Destination Moon, the shark proof submarine in Red Rackham's Treasure, and many more inventions like the clothes-press, the Super Calcacolor, motorized skates, etc. He is very nearly deaf though he claims he is just a little hard of hearing in his right ear. It was he who generously supplied the large sum when Captain Haddock bought Marlinspike Hall. The Captain therefore allows him to live there. He is usually carrying his pendulum which he uses to find direction and navigate through the many problems he encounters. He also dislikes it when somebody tells him that he is acting the goat, and gets extremely angry if he is called a goat. In Flight 714, Calculus becomes infuriated when Carreidas pops his hat up, and releases completely raw fury and attacks him, showing unusual strength for his age. Calculus first appeared in Red Rackham's Treasure, and was the last of Hergé's long list of absent-minded professors. Calculus is very hard of hearing, which is a very frequent source of humour.
Calculus is a genius, who demonstrates himself throughout the series to be an expert in many fields of science, holding two PhDs in Nuclear and Theoretical Physics and calculus, and an MSc in Planetary astronomy. He is also an experienced engineer, archaeologist, biologist and chemist. Many of his inventions precede or mirror similar technological developments in the real world (most notably the moon rocket, but also his failed attempt at creating a colour television set). He seeks to benefit mankind through his inventions, developing Stopalcol, a pill that cures alcoholism by making alcohol unpalatable to the patient, and refusing under great duress to yield his talents to producing weapons of mass destruction. Much of Calculus's more dangerous work is criticized by Captain Haddock, although Calculus usually interprets this the other way round; his deafness often leads him to misinterpret Haddock's words, preventing him from hearing his real opinion.
Calculus's deafness is a frequent source of humour in his interactions with other people, as he often repeats back what he thinks he has heard, usually in the most unlikely words possible. Additionally, he often diverts the subject of a conversation by responding to a misinterpreted remark. For example, "But I never knew you had..." leads Calculus to respond "No, young man, I am not mad!" In the same book he believes that Tintin and Haddock are talking about his sister, before remembering a few moments later that he does not have a sister. He is not perturbed by his handicap, even if it is a source of deep frustration to his friends. He himself does not admit to being near-deaf and insists that he is "only a little hard of hearing in one ear."
In the course of the Moon books, however, Calculus leads a team of scientists and engineers working on a major rocket project, motivating him to adopt an ear trumpet, and later a hearing aid, and for the duration of the adventure he has near-perfect hearing. This made him a more serious character, even displaying leadership qualities which are never shown before or since. However, after completing the journey to the Moon, Calculus discarded his hearing aid, forcing his friends to re-adjust to his hearing impairment (aside from one panel in The Castafiore Emerald, when Tintin is seen speaking to him through his ear-trumpet) and this restored the humour surrounding him.
Red Rackham's treasure
- Captain Haddock: Your name!? Cuthbert: Gone away?... What a pity! Never mind. I'll come again. I particularly wanted to speak to Mr. Tintin himself... -pg. 5
- Haddock: You're going to buy me a new outfit, do you hear? Cuthbert: That? ... Yes, its for brushing clothes. -pg. 7
- Haddock: You can't come aboard! We aren't interested in your machine! Cuthbert: Tomorrow? Haddock: No, not tomorrow! Never! Cuthbert: Today?... Good. I'll go and fetch it at once. -pg. 11
- Haddock: Wretch! ... Ignoramus!... Abominable Snowman!... I'll throw you overboard, d' you hear? Cuthbert: Thank you, Captain, thank you very much! It's just what I expected from you... Such a kind welcome! You'll see -you won't regret it! -pg. 20-21
- Cuthbert: Captain, what is happening?... We seem to turn back. Haddock: Yes, Professor Calculus, we're turning back. Cuthbert: Oh, that's all right then.. I was afraid we were turning back. -pg. 24
- Haddock: Let's hope nothing goes wrong... Cuthbert: Gone long? Why, it's only ten minutes since he dived... -pg. 33
- Haddock: Well, what do you say now, my friend? All's well that ends well, eh? Cuthbert: Just as I always said: more to the west! Haddock: Yes, yes. But I said: all's well, that ends well. Don't you agree? Cuthbert: Your maritime gallery... I think it's very successfull! Haddock: Thanks. But I was just saying that our adventures has a happy ending. They've ended, and happily!... Cuthbert: No thank you. Never between meals. Haddock: No, no! Blistering barnacles! All's well, that ends well! ALL'S WELL, THAT ENDS WELL! Cuthbert: Without any doubt! Cuthbert: ...and this is just the moment to quote that old saying: All's well that ends well! -pg. 62
When he first appeares in Red Rackham's Treasure, Calculus is living in an apartment which he mainly uses as a lab. Later he maintains a laboratory at Marlinspike Hall, in which he conducts various experiments. He is fairly protective of his work, on occasion hiding his scientific endeavours from Tintin and Haddock (which gets him into trouble in The Calculus Affair). His lab is also stripped of all its apparatus in the same book. On an earlier occasion, during his efforts to find an antidote to Formula Fourteen in Land of Black Gold, Calculus almost destroyed half of Marlinspike Hall in an explosion.
Although generally mild-mannered, Calculus flies into an uncharacteristic rage if he feels insulted or ridiculed. He is especially provoked if he ever hears the Captain (or anyone else) call him a "goat." On one famous occasion in Destination Moon, he displays uncontrollable ire ("Goat, am I?") when an irritated Haddock accuses him of "acting the goat" by attempting to build a Moon rocket. His subsequent tirade and blatant disregard for security terrifies the usually ebullient Captain, and he even lifts the director of security barring his way onto a coat rack. (In the original French, "faire le zouave" sets him off, not an exact translation of "acting the goat" but roughly meaning "acting the idiot". In the 1960 American Golden Press edition, the offending phrase is "acting like a goat".)
Another occasion is in Flight 714 when, due to some misunderstanding, he physically assaults Laszlo Carreidas and has to be held back with great effort by Haddock and Tintin. Despite his gentle nature, Calculus is rather sensitive about his work and does not appreciate being ridiculed or belittled for his scientific efforts. His beard, moustache and hair also seem to be spiked every time he is angry.
Haddock invites Calculus to stay at Marlinspike Hall after Calculus lends him money (earned through selling the patent for his shark-submarine to the government) for the purchase of Marlinspike Hall. Calculus feels indebted to Haddock and Tintin who provided him with the opportunity to test the submersible when they were searching for Red Rackham's treasure. As they then discover the treasure in the Marlinspike Hall crypt, Haddock would be immediately able to repay Calculus's loan, but it is not clear if this repayment is ever made.
Calculus occasionally comments that he was a great sportsman in his youth, with a very athletic lifestyle. He is a former practitioner of the French martial art savate, although a demonstration in Flight 714 shows him to be a bit rusty. Calculus also studied at university together with Hercules Tarragon, a member of the Sanders-Hardiman Expedition that uncovered the remains of the Incan Emperor Rascar Capac.
Calculus is partly modeled on inventor Auguste Piccard (1884–1962), Hergé stated in an interview with Numa Sadoul: "Calculus is a reduced scale Piccard, as the real chap was very tall. He had an interminable neck that sprouted from a collar that was much too large... I made Calculus a mini-Piccard, otherwise I would have had to enlarge the frames of the cartoon strip."  The Swiss physics professor held a teaching appointment in Brussels when Hergé spotted his unmistakable figure in the street. In The Castafiore Emerald, Bianca Castafiore mentions that Calculus is "famous for his balloon ascensions," an ironic reference to Piccard.
Tintinologist Philippe Goddin has suggested that Calculus' deafness was inspired by Paul Eydt, whom Hergé had known at Le Vingtième Siècle where Tintin's adventures had first appeared. Cuthbert Calculus' original French name is "Tryphon Tournesol", "Tournesol" meaning sunflower" in French.
In contrast to his unquestionable scientific merits, Calculus is a fervent believer in dowsing, and carries a pendulum for that purpose. Hergé himself was a believer in the subject: dowser Victor Mertens had used a pendulum to find the lost wedding ring of Hergé's wife in October 1939.
Calculus's introduction appears to have supplied Hergé with the bizarre nature he wished to portray in a man of science. Other figures of high education were shown as more stable and level-headed. The members of the archaeological expedition who fall victim to The Seven Crystal Balls show no apparent signs of eccentricity. The most prominent member of this group is Calculus's friend Hercules Tarragon, with whom he attended university. Tarragon is a large, ebullient man, possessing a jovial nature, but not necessarily eccentric.
While he sometimes appears aloof when absorbed in his work, Calculus corresponds with other scientists and also collaborates with many of them on his projects. Notably, he works with Baxter and Frank Wolff on the Moon rocket and corresponds with ultrasonics expert Alfredo Topolino of Nyon in The Calculus Affair.
Relationship to women
Calculus is the only regular character in the Tintin series to display signs of attraction to women. This is notably evident in his interactions with Bianca Castafiore, with whom he is smitten during her long stay at Marlinspike Hall in The Castafiore Emerald. During her stay, his botanic experiments lead him to create a new variety of roses, which he names "Bianca" in her honour. Nonetheless, he happily congratulates Captain Haddock on his "engagement" to Castafiore (in fact, it was a media hoax which he unwittingly fueled).
Calculus is also distressed by Castafiore's imprisonment in Tintin and the Picaros, and is adamant on going to her defence. In the same book, he is charmed by the unattractive Peggy Alcazar (wife of General Alcazar) and kisses her hand after she bluntly criticizes Tintin and Haddock (a remark which Calculus mistakes for a warm greeting).
Calculus has made many inventions over the years. A list of the most notable ones are listed below:
- Soda-water maker Red Rackham's Treasure
- Clothes brushing machine Red Rackham's Treasure
- The Wall Bed Red Rackham's Treasure
- Electric-powered submarine with oxygen supplies for two hours' diving Red Rackham's Treasure
- An antidote to Formula Fourteen Land of Black Gold
- Moon Rocket Destination Moon
- Ultrasound Emitter The Calculus Affair
- Motor-roller-skates The Red Sea Sharks
- Super Calcacolor The Castafiore Emerald - colour TV with poor picture quality
- New breed of white roses, "Bianca" The Castafiore Emerald
- Machine that replicates three dimensional objects Tintin and the Lake of Sharks
- Herbal tablets that keep alcoholics away from the bottle Tintin and the Picaros
In other media
Calculus' original French name was "Tournesol" which is the French term for sunflower. In the 1970s and 1980s, he starred in a series of cartoon television commercials for Fruit d'or products which included cooking oil and mayonnaise made from sunflower oil. Some of the ads would conclude with him floating up into the air to demonstrate how they kept a good healthy balance. Other characters from the books were also included.
His name was used in naming an album by Stephen Duffy and the group Tin Tin, which was called "Dr. Calculus."
In other languages
- Afrikaans: Professor Tertius Phosfatus
- Arabic: Professor Bergel
- Brazilian Portuguese: Professor Girassol
- Catalan: Silvestre Tornassol
- Chinese: 向日葵 (meaning sunflower)
- Czech: Profesor Tryfon Hluchavka
- Danish: Professor Tournesol
- Dutch: Professor Trifonius Zonnebloem (meaning Sunflower)
- Finnish: Professori Teophilus Tuhatkauno
- French: Professeur Tournesol (meaning Sunflower)
- German: Balduin Bienlein
- Greek: Καθηγητής Κούθμπερτ Κάλκιουλούς or Τρύφον Τουρνεσόλ depending on the edition.
- Icelandic: Prófessor Vilhjálmur Vandráður
- Indonesia: Profesor Kalkulus, Profesor Lionel Lakmus (New Edition)
- Italian: Professor Girasole
- Japanese: Professor Beaker (ビーカー教授)
- Persian: Professor Tournesol (پروفسور تورنسل)
- Polish: Profesor Lakmus
- Portuguese: Trifólio Girassol (Pintadinho in older editions)
- Romanian: Profesorul Trifon Turnesol
- Russian: Профессор Лакмус
- Spanish: Silvestre Tornasol (Cuthbert Tornasol or Professor Tornasol in Latin America)
- Swedish: Professor Karl Kalkyl
- Turkish: Profesör Turnusol
- Horeau, Yves The Adventures of Tintin at Sea 1999, English translation 2004 for the National Maritime Museum, published by John Maurray, ISBN 0719561191. Chapter on Outside characters drawn into the Adventures.
- A la recherche du trésor de Rackham le Rouge (French for "In Search of Red Rackham's Treasure") by Hergé, with comments by Daniel Couvreur and Frédéric Soumois, published by Editions Moulinsart in November 2007, ISBN 978-2874241604