--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A group of scientists were doing an investigation into problem-solving
techniques, and constructed an experiment involving a physicist, an
engineer, and a mathematician.
The experimental apparatus consisted of a water spigot and two identical
pails, one of which was fastened to the ground ten feet from the spigot.
Each of the subjects was given the second pail, empty, and told to fill the
pail on the ground.
The physicist was the first subject: he carried his pail to the spigot,
filled it there, carried it full of water to the pail on the ground, and
poured the water into it. Standing back, he declared, "There: I have
solved the problem."
The engineer and the mathematician each approached the problem similarly.
Upon finishing, the engineer noted that the solution was exact, since the
volumes of the pails were equal. The mathematician merely noted that he
had proven that a solution exists.
Now, the experimenters altered the parameters of the task a bit: the pail
on the ground was still empty, but the subjects were presented with a pail
that was already half-filled with water.
The physicist immediately carried his pail over to the one on the ground,
emptied the water into it, went back to the spigot, *filled* the pail, and
finally emptied the entire contents into the pail on the ground,
overflowing it and spilling some of the water. Upon finishing, he
commented that the problem should have been better stated.
The engineer, in turn, thought for some time before going into action. He
then took his half-filled pail to the spigot, filled it to the brim, and
filled the pail on the ground from it. Again he noted that the problem had
an exact solution, which of course he had found.
The mathematician thought for a long time before stirring. At last he
stood up, emptied his pail onto the ground, and declared, "The problem has
been reduced to one already solved."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A mathematician and a physicist agree to a psychological experiment.
The mathematician is put in a chair in a large empty room and a
beautiful naked woman is placed on a bed at the other end of the room.
The psychologist explains, "You are to remain in your chair. Every
five minutes, I will move your chair to a position halfway between its
current location and the woman on the bed." The mathematician looks
at the psychologist in disgust. "What? I'm not going to go through
this. You know I'll never reach the bed!" And he gets up and storms
out. The psychologist makes a note on his clipboard and ushers the
physicist in. He explains the situation, and the physicist's eyes
light up and he starts drooling. The psychologist is a bit confused.
"Don't you realize that you'll never reach her?" The physicist smiles
and replied, "Of course! But I'll get close enough for all practical
purposes!"
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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 waste-paper baskets. Or even better,
like the philosophy department. All they need are pencils and paper."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
So 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.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Engineers think their equations are an approximation to reality.
Physicists think reality is an approximation to their equations.
Mathematicians don't care.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A computer scientist, mathematician, a physicist, and an engineer were
travelling through Scotland when they saw a black sheep through the
window of the train.
"Aha," says the engineer, "I see that Scottish sheep are black."
"Hmm," says the physicist, "You mean that some Scottish sheep are
black."
"No," says the mathematician, "All we know is that there is at least
one sheep in Scotland, and that at least one side of that one sheep is
black!"
"Oh, no!" shouts the computer scientist, "A special case!"
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A mathematician and an engineer attend a lecture by a physicist.
The topic concerns Kulza-Klein theories involving physical
processes that occur in spaces with dimensions of 11, 12 and even
higher. The mathematician is sitting, clearly enjoying the lecture,
while the engineer is frowning and looking generally confused and
puzzled. By the end the engineer has a terrible headache. At the end,
the mathematician comments about the wonderful lecture. The engineer
says "How do you understand this stuff?"
M: "I just visualize the process."
E: "How can you POSSIBLY visualize something that occurs in
11-dimensional space?"
M: "Easy, first visualize it in N-dimensional space, then let N go to 11."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
What is "pi"?
Mathematician: Pi is the number expressing the relationship between the
circumference of a circle and its diameter.
Physicist: Pi is 3.1415927 plus or minus 0.00000005
Engineer: Pi is about 3.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A Software Engineer, a Hardware Engineer and a Departmental Manager were
on their way to a meeting in Switzerland. They were driving down a steep
mountain road when suddenly the brakes on their car failed. The car
careened almost out of control down the road, bouncing off the crash
barriers, until it miraculously ground to a halt scraping along the
mountainside. The car's occupants, shaken but unhurt, now had a problem:
they were stuck halfway down a mountain in a car with no brakes. What
were they to do?
"I know," said the Departmental Manager, "Let's have a meeting, propose
a Vision, formulate a Mission Statement, define some Goals, and by a
process of Continuous Improvement find a solution to the Critical
Problems, and we can be on our way."
"No, no," said the Hardware Engineer, "That will take far too long, and
besides, that method has never worked before. I've got my Swiss Army
knife with me, and in no time at all I can strip down the car's braking
system,isolate the fault, fix it, and we can be on our way."
"Well," said the Software Engineer, "Before we do anything, I think we
should push the car back up the road and see if it happens again."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
There was a mad scientist ( a mad ...social... scientist ) who
kidnapped three colleagues, an engineer, a physicist, and a
mathematician, and locked each of them in seperate cells with plenty
of canned food and water but no can opener.
A month later, returning, the mad scientist went to the engineer's
cell and found it long empty. The engineer had constructed a can
opener from pocket trash, used aluminum shavings and dried sugar to
make an explosive, and escaped.
The physicist had worked out the angle necessary to knock the lids off
the tin cans by throwing them against the wall. She was developing a
good pitching arm and a new quantum theory.
The mathematician had stacked the unopened cans into a surprising
solution to the kissing problem; his desiccated corpse was propped
calmly against a wall, and this was inscribed on the floor in blood:
Theorem: If I can't open these cans, I'll die.
Proof: assume the opposite...
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Several students were asked the following problem:
Prove that all odd integers are prime.
Well, the first student to try to do this was a math student. He
says "Hmmm... Well, 1 is prime, 3 is prime, 5 is prime, and by
induction, we have that all the odd integers are prime."
The physics student then says, "I'm not sure of the validity of your
proof, but I think I'll try to prove it by experiment." He continues,
"Well, 1 is prime, 3 is prime, 5 is prime, 7 is prime, 9 is ... uh,
9 is an experimental error, 11 is prime, 13 is prime...
Well, it seems that you're right."
The third student to try it was the engineering student, who
responded, "Well, actually, I'm not sure of your answer either. Let's
see... 1 is prime, 3 is prime, 5 is prime, 7 is prime, 9 is ..., 9 is
..., well if you approximate, 9 is prime, 11 is prime, 13 is prime...
Well, it does seem right."
Not to be outdone, the computer science student comes along and says
"Well, you two sort've got the right idea, but you'd end up taking too
long doing it. I've just whipped up a program to REALLY go and prove
it..." He goes over to his terminal and runs his program. Reading
the output on the screen he says, "1 is prime, 1 is prime, 1 is prime,
1 is prime...."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A doctor, a lawyer and a mathematician were discussing the relative
merits of having a wife or a mistress.
The lawyer says: "For sure a mistress is better. If you have a wife
and want a divorce, it causes all sorts of legal problems.
The doctor says: "It's better to have a wife because the sense of
security lowers your stress and is good for your health.
The mathematician says: " You're both wrong. It's best to have both so
that when the wife thinks you're with the mistress and the mistress
thinks you're with your wife --- you can do some mathematics.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The USDA once wanted to make cows produce milk faster, to improve the
dairy industry.
So, they decided to consult the foremost biologists and recombinant
DNA technicians to build them a better cow. They assembled this team
of great scientists, and gave them unlimited funding. They requested
rare chemicals, weird bacteria, tons of quarantine equipment, there
was a horrible typhus epidemic they started by accident, and, 2 years
later, they came back with the "new, improved cow." It had a milk
production improvement of 2% over the original.
They then tried with the greatest Nobel Prize winning chemists around.
They worked for six months, and, after requisitioning tons of chemical
equipment, and poisoning half the small town in Colorado where they
were working with a toxic cloud from one of their experiments, they
got a 5% improvement in milk output.
The physicists tried for a year, and, after ten thousand cows were
subjected to radiation therapy, they got a 1% improvement in output.
Finally, in desperation, they turned to the mathematicians. The
foremost mathematician of his time offered to help them with the
problem. Upon hearing the problem, he told the delegation that they
could come back in the morning and he would have solved the problem.
In the morning, they came back, and he handed them a piece of paper
with the computations for the new, 300% improved milk cow.
The plans began:
"A Proof of the Attainability of Increased Milk Output from Bovines:
Assume a spherical cow......"
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
An assemblage of the most gifted minds in the world were all posed the
following question:
"What is 2 * 2 ?"
The engineer whips out his slide rule (so it's old) 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!".
Philosopher: "But what do you _mean_ by 2 * 2 ?"
Logician: "Please define 2 * 2 more precisely."
Accountant: Closes all the doors and windows, looks around carefully,
then asks "What do you _want_ the answer to be?"
Computer Hacker: Breaks into the NSA super-computer and gives the answer.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A team of mathematicians 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. It kept falling
down, etc.
An engineer comes along, finds out their problem, and proceeds to
remove the pole from the ground and measure it easily.
When he leaves, one mathematician says to the other: "Just like an engineer!
We need to know the height, and he gives us the length!"
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Einstein dies and goes to heaven only to be informed that his room is
not yet ready. "I hope you will not mind waiting in a dormitory. We
are very sorry, but it's the best we can do and you will have to share
the room with others." he is told by the doorman (say his name is
Pete). Einstein says that this is no problem at all and that there is
no need to make such a great fuss. So Pete leads him to the dorm.
They enter and Albert is introduced to all of the present
inhabitants. "See, Here is your first room mate. He has an IQ of
180!"
"Why that's wonderful!" Says Albert. "We can discuss mathematics!"
"And here is your second room mate. His IQ is 150!"
"Why that's wonderful!" Says Albert. "We can discuss physics!"
"And here is your third room mate. His IQ is 100!"
"That Wonderful! We can discuss the latest plays at the theater!"
Just then another man moves out to capture Albert's hand and shake it.
"I'm your last room mate and I'm sorry, but my IQ is only 80."
Albert smiles back at him and says, "So, where to you think interest
rates are headed?"
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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.'
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
An engineer, a mathematician, and a computer programmer are driving
down the road when the car they are in gets a flat tire. The engineer
says that they should buy a new car. The mathematician says they
should sell the old tire and buy a new one. The computer programmer
says they should drive the car around the block and see if the tire
fixes itself.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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 humour from similar anecdotes, but considers
this anecdote to be too trivial a corollary to be significant, let
alone funny.