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Mathematician, Physicist, and Engineer (et al) Jokes

A man was walking down the street with two suitcases when a stranger came up and asked, "Have you got the time?" The man put down the suitcases and looked at his wristwatch and said, "It's exactly five-forty six and fifty point six seconds and the barometric pressure is 30.06 and rising and if you'd like to see where we are by satellite positioning, I can show you that too, or get onto the Internet, check your e-mail, make a long distance call, send a fax. It's also a pager and it plays recorded books and it receives FM." "That's amazing. I've got to have that watch. I'll pay you ten thousand for that." "No, it's not ready for sale yet. I'm the inventor. I'm still working out the bugs. I haven't got it all programmed yet, it's not completely voice-activated." "I've got to buy that watch. Fifteen thousand. Twenty." "Well, okay." He takes off the watch and the stranger walks away with it and the guy holds up the suitcases. "Don't you want the batteries?"

Engineering is the art of molding materials we do not fully understand into shapes we cannot fully analyze and preventing the public from realizing the full extent of our ignorance.

The difference between mechanical engineers and civil engineers is that mechanical engineers build weapons, civil engineers build targets.

The optimist sees a glass that's half full. The pessimist sees a glass that's half empty. An engineer sees a glass that's twice as big as it needs to be.

A businessman needed to employ a quantitative type person. He wasn't sure if he should get a mathematician, an engineer, or an applied mathematician. As it happened, all the applicants were male. The businessman devised a test. The mathematician came first. Miss How, the administrative assistant took him into the hall. At the end of the hall, lounging on a couch, was a beautiful woman. Miss How said, "You may only go half the distance at a time. When you reach the end, you may kiss our model." The mathematician explained how he would never get there in a finite number of iterations and politely excused himself. Then came the engineer. He quickly bounded halfway down the hall, then halfway again, and so on. Soon he declared he was well within accepted error tolerance and grabbed the beautiful woman and kissed her. Finally it was the applied mathematician's turn. Miss How explained the rules. The applied mathematician listened politely, then grabbed Miss How and gave her a big smooch. "What was that about?" she cried. "Well, you see I'm an applied mathematician. If I can't solve the problem, I change it!"

A group of wealthy investors wanted to be able to predict the outcome of a horse race. So they hired a group of biologists, a group of statisticians, and a group of physicists. Each group was given a year to research the issue. After one year, the groups all reported to the investors. The biologists said that they could genetically engineer an unbeatable racehorse, but it would take 200 years and $100 billion. The statisticians reported next. They said that they could predict the outcome of any race, at a cost of $100 million per race, and they would only be right 10% of the time. Finally, the physicists reported that they could also predict the outcome of any race, and that their process was cheap and simple. The investors listened eagerly to this proposal. The head physicist reported, "We have made several simplifying assumptions. First, let each horse be a perfect rolling sphere . . ."

A man flying in a hot air balloon realizes he is lost. He reduces his altitude and spots a man in a field down below. He lowers the balloon further and shouts, "Excuse me, can you tell me where I am?" The man below says, "Yes, you're in a hot air balloon, about 30 feet above this field." "You must be an engineer," says the balloonist. "I am. How did you know?" "Everything you told me is technically correct, but it's of no use to anyone." The man below says, "You must be in management." "I am. But how did you know?" "You don't know where you are, or where you're going, but you expect me to be able to help. You're in the same position you were before we met, but now it's my fault."

A math student and a physics student are camping. The physics students takes his turn to do the cooking first. He makes a tasty stew, but in so doing, uses up all the water. The next day, it is the math student's turn to do the cooking. The physics student watches him go to the creek to fetch the water. He puts the water into the pot and then stops and goes off to do something else. Puzzled, the physics student asks the math student when he is going to finish making dinner. The math student tells him that there is nothing left to do as now it has been reduced to a problem which has already been solved.

A Mathematician, a Biologist and a Physicist are sitting in a street café watching people going in and coming out of the house on the other side of the street. First they see two people going into the house. Time passes. After a while they notice three persons coming out of the house. The Physicist: "The measurement wasn't accurate." The Biologist: "They have reproduced." The Mathematician: "If one person enters the house then it will be empty again."

A mathematician, an engineer, and a physicist are out hunting together. They
spy a deer* in the woods. The physicist calculates the velocity of the deer and
the effect of gravity on the bullet, aims his rifle and fires. Alas, he misses;
the bullet passes three feet behind the deer. The deer bolts some yards, but
comes to a halt, still within sight of the trio. "Shame you missed,"
comments the engineer, "but of course with an ordinary gun, one would
expect that." He then levels his special deer-hunting gun, which he rigged
together from an ordinary rifle, a sextant, a compass, a barometer, and a bunch
of flashing lights which don't do anything but impress onlookers, and fires.
Alas, his bullet passes three feet in front of the deer, who by this time wises
up and vanishes for good. "Well," says the physicist, "your
contraption didn't get it either." "What do you mean?" pipes up
the mathematician. "Between the two of you, that was a perfect shot!"

[*How they knew it was a deer: The physicist observed
that it behaved in a deer-like manner, so it must be a deer. The mathematician
asked the physicist what it was, thereby reducing it to a previously solved
problem. The engineer was in the woods to hunt deer, therefore it was a deer.]

A mathematician, an engineer and a physicist sat around a table discussing how to measure the volume of a cow. The mathematician suggested the use of geometry and symmetry relationships of the cow, but his idea was rejected on the grounds of being too time consuming. The engineer suggested placing the cow in a pool of water and measuring the change in the height of the water, but his idea was rejected on the grounds of impracticality. "It's easy," said the physicist. "We'll make an assumption that the cow is a small sphere, calculate the volume and then blow it up to the actual size."

A mathematician, a physicist, and an engineer were given a red rubber ball and told to find the volume. The mathematician measured the diameter and evaluated a triple integral, the physicist filled a beaker with water, put the ball in the water, and measured the total displacement, and the engineer looked up the model and serial numbers in his red-rubber-ball table.

A mathematician and a physicist are given the task of describing a room. They both go in, and spend hours meticulously writing down every detail. The next day, the room is changed, and they are again given the task. The physicist spends the better part of the day, but the mathematician, amazingly enough, leaves within a minute. he hands in a single sheet of paper with the following description: "Put picture back on wall to return to previously solved state."

A physicist, a chemist, and a statistician are called in to see their dean. Just as they arrive the dean is called out of his office, leaving the three professors there. The professors see with alarm that there is a fire in the wastebasket. The physicist says, "We must cool down the materials until their temperature is lower than the ignition temperature and then the fire will go out." The chemist says, "No! No! We must cut off the supply of oxygen so that the fire will go out due to lack of one of the reactants." While the physicist and chemist are debating, they observe with alarm that the statistician is running around the room starting other fires. They both scream, "What are you doing?" To which the statistician replies, "Trying to get an adequate sample size."

A physicist and a mathematician setting in a faculty lounge. Suddenly, the coffee machine catches on fire. The physicist grabs a bucket and leaps towards the sink, fills the bucket with water and puts out the fire. The second day, they are sitting in the same lounge, and the coffee machine catches on fire again. This time, the mathematician stands up, gets a bucket, hands the bucket to the physicist, thus reducing the problem to a previously solved one.

A team of engineers were required to measure the height of a flag pole. They only had a measuring tape, and were getting quite frustrated trying to keep the tape along the pole. A mathematician comes along, removes the pole from the ground and lays it on the ground, measuring it easily. When he leaves, one engineer says to the other: "Just like a mathematician! We need to know the height, and he gives us the length!"

An assemblage of the most gifted minds in the world were all posed the following question: "What is 2
x 2 ?" The engineer whips out his slide rule and shuffles it back and forth, and finally announces "3.99". The physicist consults his technical references, sets up the problem on his computer, and announces "it lies between 3.98 and 4.02." The mathematician cogitates for a while, oblivious to the rest of the world, then announces: "I don't what the answer is, but I can tell you, an answer exists!" The philosopher says, "But what do you
* mean* by 2 x 2 ?" The logician says, "Please define 2 x 2 more precisely." The accountant closes all the doors and windows, looks around carefully, then asks "What do you
* want* the answer to be?"

An economist, an engineer, and a physicist are marooned on a deserted island. One day they find a can of food washed up on the beach and contrive to open it. The engineer said: "let's hammer the can open between these rocks". The physicist said: "that's pretty crude. We can just use the force of gravity by dropping a rock on the can from that tall tree over there". The economist is somewhat disgusted at these deliberations, and says: "I've got a much more elegant solution. All we have to do is assume a can-opener."

An engineer, a physicist, a mathematician, and a statistician are taken, one at a time, into a room to undergo a psychological test. In the room is a table (upon which is a pad and pencil), a chair, a bucket of water, and a waste basket rigged so that it can be set ablaze from an adjacent room in which the psychologists watch. The engineer is first, and the basket is set ablaze. The engineer immediately jumps up, grabs the bucket of water and dashes the entire thing onto the fire, flooding the entire room and extinguishing the fire. The physicist is next. The basket ignites, the physicist quickly calculates exactly how much water is required to extinguish the flames and pours exactly that amount, neatly extinguishing the flames. The mathematician next. The basket blazes up, the mathematician calculates exactly how much water is required to put out the fire, and then walks out of the room. The statistician is last. The basket is ignited. He grabs the bucket, pours half on one side, half on the other, and announces, "It's out."

An engineer, a physicist and a mathematician are staying in a hotel while attending a technical seminar. The engineer wakes up and smells smoke. He goes out into the hallway and sees a fire, so he fills a trash can from his room with water and douses the fire. He goes back to bed. Later, the physicist wakes up and smells smoke. He opens his door and sees a fire in the hallway. He walks down the hall to a fire hose and after calculating the flame velocity, distance, water pressure, trajectory, etc. extinguishes the fire with the minimum amount of water and energy needed. Later, the mathematician wakes up and smells smoke. He goes to the hall, sees the fire and then the fire hose. He thinks for a moment and then exclaims, "Ah, a solution exists!" and then goes back to bed.

An engineer, a physicist, and a philosopher were hiking through the Scottish highlands. Coming to the top of a hill, they saw a solitary black sheep standing before them. The engineer said, "Remarkable! Scottish sheep are black." The physicist said, "Strange! Some of the sheep in Scotland must be black." The philosopher said, "Um. At least one of the sheep in Scotland is black, on one side anyway."

Dean, to the physics department. "Why do I always have to give you guys so much money, for laboratories and expensive equipment and stuff. Why couldn't you be like the math department - all they need is money for pencils, paper and wastepaper baskets. Or even better, like the philosophy department. All they need are pencils and paper."

Engineers think that equations approximate the real world. Scientists think that the real world approximates equations. Mathematicians are unable to make the connection.

Four engineers were travelling by car to a seminar, when unfortunately, the vehicle broke down. The chemical engineer said, "Obviously, some constituent of the fuel has caused this failure to occur." The mechanical engineer replied, "I disagree, I would surmise that an engine component has suffered a catastrophic structural failure." The electrical engineer also had a theory: "I believe an electrical component has ceased to function, thereby causing an ignition malfunction." The software engineer thought for some time. When at last he spoke he said, "What would happen if we all got out and then got back in again?"

One day a farmer called up an engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician and asked them to fence of the largest possible area with the least amount of fence. The engineer made the fence in a circle and proclaimed that he had the most efficient design. The physicist made a long, straight line and proclaimed, "We can assume the length is infinite," and pointed out that fencing off half of the Earth was certainly a more efficient way to do it. The Mathematician just laughed at them. He built a tiny fence around himself and said "I declare myself to be on the outside."

There are three umpires at a baseball game. One is an engineer, one is a physicist, and one is a mathematician. There is a close play at home plate and all three umpires call the man out. The manager runs out of the dugout and asks each umpire why the man was called out. The physicist says "He's out because I calls 'em as I sees 'em." The engineer says "He's out because I calls 'em as they are." And the mathematician says "He's out because I called him out."

Three men with degrees in mathematics, physics and biology are locked up in dark rooms for research reasons. A week later the researchers open the a door, the biologist steps out and reports: 'Well, I sat around until I started to get bored, then I searched the room and found a tin which I smashed on the floor. There was food in it which I ate when I got hungry. That's it.' When they free the man with the degree in physics and he says: 'I walked along the walls to get an image of the room's geometry, then I searched it. There was a metal cylinder at five feet into the room and two feet left of the door. It felt like a tin and I threw it at the left wall at the right angle and velocity for it to crack open.' Finally, the researchers open the third door and hear a faint voice out of the darkness: 'Let C be an open can.'

Three people were going to the guillotine, and the first was the lawyer, who was led to the platform and blindfolded and put his head on the block. The executioner pulled the lanyard and nothing happened. So, out of mercy, the authorities allowed him to go free. The next man to the guillotine was a physician, and he lay his head on the block, and they pulled the lanyard ... nothing. The blade didn't come down. So, to be fair, they let him go too. The third man to the guillotine was an engineer. They led him to the guillotine and he laid his head on the block and then he said, "Hey, wait. I think I see your problem."

An engineer, a physicist and a mathematician find themselves in an anecdote, indeed an anecdote quite similar to many that you have no doubt already heard. After some observations and rough calculations the engineer realizes the situation and starts laughing. A few minutes later the physicist understands too and chuckles to himself happily as he now has enough experimental evidence to publish a paper. This leaves the mathematician somewhat perplexed, as he had observed right away that he was the subject of an anecdote, and deduced quite rapidly the presence of humor from similar anecdotes, but considers this anecdote to be too trivial a corollary to be significant, let alone funny.