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Math jokes

  1. Jul 31, 2003 #1
    A party of people travel in a hot-air balloon. The balloon is blown out to sea, and after many days, land comes into sight again. When floating over the coastline, they see a man walking along a path. One of them shouts: 'Hello! Where exactly are we?'

    The wanderer looks up, scratches his head, and thinks for some time. Then he shouts: 'You're in the gondola of a hot-air balloon!'

    That must have been a mathematician. Because:
    1) He thought a long time before giving an answer.
    2) The answer is absolutely correct.
    3) The answer is absolutely useless.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 31, 2003 #2
    A mathematician organized a raffle in which the prize was advertised as an
    infinite amount of money. He sold all the tickets quickly. When the winning
    ticket was drawn, and the happy winner came to claim his prize, the
    mathematician explained the mode of payment:
    1 dollar now, 1/2 a dollar next week, 1/3 a dollar the week after that...
  4. Jul 31, 2003 #3
    Problem 1: You have a pot full of water. It's on the right-hand side of the oven. Make it boil.

    Engineer: Put it on the oven.
    Physicist: Put it on the oven.
    Mathematician: Put it on the oven.

    Problem 2: You have a pot full of water. It's on the left-hand side of the oven. Make it boil.

    Engineer: Put it on the oven.
    Physicist: Put it on the oven.
    Mathematician: We move the pot to the right-hand side and, in doing so, reduce the problem to one we have already solved...
  5. Jul 31, 2003 #4

    Tom Mattson

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    A physicist, an engineer and a mathematician were given the following simple task:

    Given a length L of fence, build a pen that encloses the maximum area.

    The physicist knew the well-known result of calculus of variations that a circle maximizes the area, so he set up a circular pen.

    The engineer was conscious of all the production costs, including R&D time, so he didn't bother with the math and simply set up a square pen.

    The mathematician wrapped the fence tightly around himself, and said "I define myself to be on the outside".
  6. Jul 31, 2003 #5

    Tom Mattson

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    Engineers think that equations approximate reality.
    Physicists think that reality approximates equations.
    Mathematicians have yet to make any connection between the two.
  7. Aug 1, 2003 #6


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    A Topologist is a mathmatician who cannot tell the difference between his morning cup of coffee and his donut.
  8. Aug 1, 2003 #7
    An engineer, a physicist and a mathematician applied for a job requiring computational skill. The test question was "What is 2 times 2?"

    The engineer pulled out a slide rule {this is an old joke!} and replied "3.998".
    The physicist used a scientific handheld calculator and came up with "3.99999998 x 100".
    The mathematician answered "I don't know the value, but I can prove it exists and that it is unique."
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2003
  9. Aug 3, 2003 #8
    Then the accountant walked over to the door closed it and sat back down. Quietly he asked "What do you want it to be?".
  10. Aug 4, 2003 #9
    This legend, the truth of which is not necessarily related to
    its value, concerns a question in a physics degree exam at the
    University of Copenhagen: "Describe how to determine the height
    of a skyscraper with a barometer."

    One student replied: "Tie a long piece of string to the neck
    of the barometer, then lower the barometer from the roof of the
    skyscraper to the ground. The length of the string plus the
    length of the barometer will equal the height of the building."

    This highly original answer so incensed the examiner that the
    student was failed immediately.

    He appealed on the grounds that his answer was indisputably
    correct, and the university appointed an independent arbiter
    to decide the case. The arbiter judged that the answer was
    indeed correct, but did not display any noticeable knowledge
    of physics.

    To resolve the problem it was decided to call the student in
    and allow him six minutes in which to provide a verbal answer
    which showed at least a minimal familiarity with the basic
    principles of physics.

    For five minutes the student sat in silence, forehead creased
    in thought. The arbiter reminded him that time was running
    out, to which the student replied that he had several extremely
    relevant answers, but couldn't make up his mind which to use.

    On being advised to hurry up the student replied as follows:

    "Firstly, you could take the barometer up to the roof of the
    skyscraper, drop it over the edge, and measure the time it
    takes to reach the ground. The height of the building can then
    be worked out from the formula H = 0.5g x t squared. But bad
    luck on the barometer.

    "Or if the sun is shining you could measure the height of the
    barometer, then set it on end and measure the length of its
    shadow. Then you measure the length of the skyscraper's shadow,
    and thereafter it is simple matter of proportional arithmetic
    to work out the height of the skyscraper.

    "But if you wanted to be highly scientific about it, you could
    tie a short piece of string to the barometer and swing it like
    a pendulum, first at ground level and then on the roof of the
    skyscraper. The height is worked out by the difference in the
    gravitational restoring force T = 2 pi sq root(l / g).

    "Or if the skyscraper has an outside emergency staircase, it
    would be easier to walk up it and mark off the height of the
    skyscraper in barometer lengths, then add them up.

    "If you merely wanted to be boring and orthodox about it, of
    course, you could use the barometer to measure the air pres-
    sure on the roof of the skyscraper and on the ground, and
    convert the difference in millibars into feet to give the
    height of the building.

    "But since we are constantly being exhorted to exercise inde-
    pendence of mind and apply scientific methods, undoubtedly
    the best way would be to knock on the janitor's door and say
    to him 'If you would like a nice new barometer, I will give
    you this one if you tell me the height of this building'."

    The student was Niels Bohr, the only Dane to win the Nobel
    prize for Physics.
  11. Aug 4, 2003 #10
    There are only 10 types of people in the world: programmers, and those who don't get it.
  12. Aug 4, 2003 #11
    Ha! Ha! Right! He got the job, because it was an auditing position.
  13. Aug 5, 2003 #12
    Three (3) statisticians were out duck hunting, and a duck took off, right it front of them.

    The first Statistician fired at a duck and was ahead of it by 15%, the second Statistician fired off a quick follow up, and was behind the duck by 15%, the third Statistician dropped his calculator and screamed "WE GOT IT!"
  14. Aug 5, 2003 #13
    Let |[ee]| < 0
  15. Aug 8, 2003 #14
    That is really very funny!
    I would like to see some fabulous conclusion made from an antecedent like this-- like those sneaky, covert divide-by-zero conclusions,
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2003
  16. Aug 8, 2003 #15


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    I don't get it.
  17. Aug 8, 2003 #16
    Note the absolute value sign. Is there ever a negative absolute value?
  18. Aug 9, 2003 #17
    I understood that. My problem was that I didn't think that it was funny. It is just something which does not make sense.
  19. Aug 9, 2003 #18
    Mathematician & normal guy in a bar.
    Mathematician: "When I come home from work, always the same thing happens. As soon as I step out of the car, my dog comes zooming out of the front door. While I walk along the garden path towards the house, the dog keeps zooming back and forth between me and the front door. If the path is 15 m long, I move at 2 m/s, and the dog at 4 m/s, what total distance does the dog cross? (grin)"
    Normal guy: "30 m"
    Mathematician: "Woooow! You did that nasty sum all in your head?!! Whoa!"
    Normal guy: "What sum?"
  20. Aug 9, 2003 #19
    I heard a different telling of this story:

    In the 1940s, a guest at a house party in Princeton cornered John Von Neumann and told him this puzzle. JVN instantly spat out the answer, 30 m.

    The guest replied, "Oh course, you are a clever mathematician. You saw the trick right away. The man is walking 15 m at speed 2 m/s. So, the man takes 15/2 seconds, or 7.5 seconds, to reach the door. Since the dog always runs at speed 4 m/s during that time, then the distance covered must be 30 m. But you were fast to see that opportunity."

    JVN replied "No, I didn't think of that. I just added up the series of terms.
    It's 10 + 10 + 10/3 + 10/3 + 10/32 + 10/32 + 10/33 + 10/33 and so on, and that is just 30."
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2003
  21. Aug 9, 2003 #20
    I know it's a humor thread but I think it was supposed to be more paradox-by-nature or ironic.

    I didn't get it at first but after a second, I could find subtle humour in it.
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