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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ba da Bing...

Just a 'filler-post' today... it's been a bit of a sad week in the science blogosphere, so perhaps some levity is in order:

And just to get you in the mood:

Lists of favorite math jokes appear regularly on the Web… so I'll throw my hat in the ring with a dozen that I find most chuckle-worthy -- no real knee-slappers here, nor anything particularly fresh, but in case you've missed any of these along the way:

1) Q: What does the "B" in Benoit B. Mandelbrot's name stand for?

     A: "Benoit B. Mandelbrot"

2) A mathematician and his wife are driving along the Scottish countryside when the wife turns to her husband and says, "Oh, look dear, those sheep have been shorn." The husband looks across to the field and replies, "Well, at least on this side."

3) A statistician going through airport security is found to have a bomb in his bag. He explains to the security officer, "Statistics show that the probability of a bomb being on an airplane is 1/1000. However, the chance that there are two bombs on one plane is 1/1000000. So thusly, I am much safer.…"

4) Some engineers are trying to measure the height of a flag pole with a tape measure and are quite frustrated as it keeps slipping before the measurement is complete. A mathematician comes along and asks what they are doing, and they explain.
Well, that’s easy…” says the mathematician.

He pulls the pole out of the ground, lays it down, and measures across it easily.

After he walks away, one of the engineers smirks: “Sheeesh, that’s so typical of those mathematician-types! We need the height, and he gives us the length!

5)  Q: What is the difference between a Ph.D. in mathematics and a large

      A: A large pizza can feed a family of four

6) A mathematician and an engineer agree to take part in an experiment. The experimenter has them stand at one end of a room in which a beautiful naked woman stands at the opposite end. The experimenter says that after every minute the two participants will be permitted to travel half the total distance between themselves and the woman. The engineer says "okay, I understand, let's get started." But the mathematician grunts knowingly and storms out of the room, imploring the engineer as he departs, “don’t you see, silly, you’ll never actually reach her!” To that the engineer replies, equally knowingly, “au contraire, I dare say I'll soon be close enough for all practical purposes!

7) Q: How many mathematicians does it take to screw in a light bulb?

     A: 0.999999999999999999999.....

8) Q: How do you tell an extroverted mathematician from an introverted

     A: An extroverted mathematician stares at YOUR shoes when talking to

9) Infinitely many mathematicians walk into a bar. The first says, "I'll have a beer." The second says, "I'll have half a beer." The third says, "I'll have a quarter of a beer." The bartender shrugs and serves up two beers exhorting, "Here guys, know your limits."

10) And I'll use any excuse I can to throw in a little Steven Wright along the way:

"What happens if you get scared half-to-death… twice?"

11) Three logicians walk into a bar. The bartender asks, “Would you all like something to drink?” The first logician says, “I do not know.” The second logician says, “I do not know.” The third logician says, “Yes.” (...more an actual logic puzzle than a joke)

12) Lastly, I have to throw in the classic definition attributed to Paul Erdos: "A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems."

And here's a long exposition on math humor from a 2005 AMS piece (pdf):


Finally, funnier than written math jokes perhaps, I think are Sidney Harris cartoon panels, a collection of which are here:


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