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So You Think Physics is Funny?

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the no-laughing-matter dept.

It's funny.  Laugh. 926

mzs writes "I just found this article in PhysicsWorld by Robert P. Crease detailing some of the 'better' physics jokes that readers sent him in response to an earlier article. Read about why the elements of magnetic flux are hard to understand or about the sexual adventures of Alice and Bob in a bar. Let's use the comments for this article to list more jokes from our technical professions which are funny but not necessarily to those outside of the field. I will close with this gem from the article: 'What's new?' 'E over h.'"

cancel ×

926 comments

Funny? Yes. (4, Funny)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641411)

Just not 'ha, ha' funny.

Re:Funny? Yes. (2, Funny)

IdleTime (561841) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641464)

You just need to be faster than the speed of light in order to read the webpage. Slashdotting seems to defy all laws of physics!

Re:Funny? Yes. (3, Funny)

EvilSporkMan (648878) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641608)

How fast does the speed of light go? It'd make more sense if you had to be faster than light to read the page...

A very interesting story, IMO! (-1)

Captain Goatse (715400) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641418)

I'd really like to take this opportunity to congratulate both the Gentoo devs and the PhysicsWorld devs on a job well done. This is one of the many reasons why I continue to use and recommend Open Source to my friends, my boss, and my colleagues. The community simply does a first rate job of identifying and patching problems in their software. Most commercial software vendors wish they had a track record as good as most of the important open source projects out there.

Keep up the great work, guys! I'm definitely donating to the Gentoo project this Xmas ;) It has put the fun back in computing for me.

Not funny (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7641419)

Seriously.

Spirit of America? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7641422)


Spirit of America has come loose from its mooring
Gone limp -- deflated
Nosedived into a pile of crap [presstelegram.com]

Again slashdot (-1, Troll)

nil5 (538942) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641430)

you have proven to me that this worthless BS is not funny. and any stupid karma whore that starts saying something that is "agreeable" to the slashdot consensus is going to wind up with a big ol' can of whoop-ass. NO MORE STUPID ARTICLES. NEWS FOR NERDS? YES. STUFF THAT MATTERS? HECK NO!

Re:Again slashdot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7641492)

yes, like not posting this [ivillage.com] story about how over-heated Teflon pans cause flu-like symptoms.

Is Physics funny fuckers? NO! It's not. Neither is this story...

guess they are slashdot readers (1)

sinucus (85222) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641438)

"That should have alerted me that I was bring set up."

Guess they didn't hit the preview button!

Re:guess they are slashdot readers (1)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641617)

Who knows? Maybe bring set up is what it takes for all your bases are belong to us

group theory (5, Funny)

rsilverman (266807) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641448)


Q: What's purple and commutes?

A: An Abelian grape.

Re:group theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7641578)

i don't get it

Re:group theory (5, Funny)

gnu-generation-one (717590) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641588)

Why was Heisenberg's wife unsatisfied?

When he had the time he didn't have the energy, and when he had the position, he didn't have the momentum.

Re:group theory (1)

billimad (629204) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641631)

Q: What's purple and commutes?

A party of dicks going to work in the tunnel?

Re:group theory (1)

billimad (629204) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641657)

damnit that should have been a party of hardons going to work in a tunnel

Re:group theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7641667)

now thats fucking funny!

Schrodinger's Cat (5, Funny)

jdh-22 (636684) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641449)



Wanted Dead or Alive.

Re:Schrodinger's Cat (4, Funny)

Afrosheen (42464) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641534)

Shouldn't that read...

Wanted: Dead AND Alive.

Re:Schrodinger's Cat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7641623)

Or neither dead NOR alive...

Re:Schrodinger's Cat (5, Funny)

Uma Thurman (623807) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641630)

I really don't know.

Re:Schrodinger's Cat (1)

haystor (102186) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641671)

My absolute favorite bit by Douglas Adams was when Dirk Gently began discussing how they were performing the Schrodinger Cat experiment.

There are only 3 posts... (0, Troll)

onion_breath (453270) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641450)

... and yet somehow this site is slashdotted. Go figure.

Re:There are only 3 posts... (5, Funny)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641533)

and yet somehow this site is slashdotted. Go figure.

Defies the notion that nobody reads the articles before posting, doesn't it?

Re:There are only 3 posts... (1)

Vaevictis666 (680137) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641595)

and yet somehow this site is slashdotted. Go figure.

Defies the notion that nobody reads the articles before posting, doesn't it?

And at the same time, reveals the cause.

Obligatory MS bash (-1, Offtopic)

doublem (118724) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641452)

"Microsoft Works"

Ha! Ha!

OK, now we can all move on and tell REAL jokes instead of just bashing Microsoft.

Oh, and just so the trolls don't beat me to it:

Microsloth

Yeah, I don't find them funny either, but they have to be gotten out of the way.

MOD PARENT DOWN! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7641497)

Someone mod this karma whoring fluffer back to the stone age.

Protons (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7641455)

Protons have mass? I didn't even know they were Catholic!

Re:Protons (4, Funny)

aborchers (471342) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641491)

Sodium and Neon were walking down the street. Suddently, Sodium stops, looking around frantically.

"What's wrong?", asks Neon.

The nervous Sodium replies, "I think I just lost an electron!"

Neon, concerned, asks, "Are you sure?"

"Yep. I'm positive!", Sodium responds.

Re:Protons (0, Redundant)

aborchers (471342) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641525)

Ah, crap. It was already in the article. I thought this was one case where posting without reading the article might not make me look like an idiot...

Re:Protons (5, Funny)

golo (95789) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641550)

A neutron walks into a bar and asks "how much for a beer?" The bartender replies "for you, no charge."

Okay... (5, Funny)

American AC in Paris (230456) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641460)

Let's use the comments for this article to list more jokes from our technical professions which are funny but not necessarily to those outside of the field.

Q: What did the webserver say to Slashdot?
A: HRRRRRNNNnnnnnnghhhh......

Text cause it's slow already (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7641468)

The best physics humour ever
Points of View: December 2003

Robert P Crease selects the funniest jokes about physics and physicists from his readers' poll

Three months ago I asked readers of Physics World to contribute samples of new physics jokes, fresh forms of physics wit, or cases of "found humour" in physics (see "So you think physics is funny?"). I received about 200 replies, including jokes in several languages, stories, Photoshop creations, video clips and links to science cartoon databases.

I was also contacted by a representative of BBC Radio Five Live, who claimed to be interested in having me talk about physics humour late one night. My subsequent negative experience - I hope nobody was awake to hear it - illustrates an important lesson about science humour.

Outsiders don't get it
When I was first hooked up, the show's host Dotun Adebayo was finishing a segment on dirty bombs, treating the expert being interviewed with deference and respect. When that concluded, he said something like: "And now for something completely different!" That should have alerted me that I was bring set up.

Adebayo retold some jokes from my column in Physics World - accompanied by a conspicuously too-loud laugh track - then asked me to explain the jokes. Stupidly, I complied. Too late, it dawned on me that while some aspects of science, such as safety and health, are sacred to outsiders, other parts are simply targets for ridicule. Professional humour is one. The point of the programme was to laugh, not at jokes, but at physicists for their supposedly mechanical and cerebral wit.

The lesson was that I should have resisted. Being jousted, I should have jousted back - perhaps with the aid of a simple jest. "I can't explain these jokes to you, Dotun, they're only for smart people!" I should have said. "But try this one: did you hear about the restaurant NASA is starting on the Moon? Great food, no atmosphere! Still with me, Dotun? Shall I slow down?" (Thanks to Larry Bays from the Los Alamos National Laboratory for that joke.)

My Five Live experience reminded me of two other cases of comedians appropriating professional humour. One is a recent New Yorker article in which Woody Allen couches everyday anxiety-provoking experiences (being late for work, trying to seduce someone) in language borrowed from physics. A typical sentence runs: "I could feel my coupling constant invade her weak field as I pressed my lips to her wet neutrinos." Allen lumbers across a whole page in this meant-to-be-cute vein. Don't abandon that film career, Woody.

The other comedian to have tackled professional humour is Steve Martin, who tells his audience that he has worked up a joke about wrenches because a convention of plumbers is in town that night. The punchline, when it eventually comes, is: "It says sprocket, not socket!" When the supposedly expected guffaws fail to materialize, Martin feigns puzzlement. "Were those plumbers supposed to be here this show?" he asks. Now that brings laughs.

These episodes illustrate a mixture of ways in which outsiders can appropriate the technical vocabulary of a profession for humorous purposes. Allen uses the poetic suggestiveness of technical terms (coupling, weak field and so on) for good-natured fun; his sentences do not make sense if you are an insider and go only by the words. Martin makes fun out of our not being insiders and not understanding the words. Radio Five Live made fun of the insiders themselves: the fact that they do understand the words.

Jests
Humour, anthropologists tell us, is a flexible tool for managing the social environment. It can be used to draw people in by sharing, to keep people away by intimidating, to build charisma, to impress, to entertain, to relieve tension, to test and challenge oneself and others. But it is an especially useful tool in science, and particularly physics, precisely because it engages, fosters and celebrates the same values that the field itself depends on - namely cleverness, play and imagination. These qualities were abundantly in evidence in the submissions I received. I have the space to retell only a few, and even those I will have to abbreviate.

Many of the jokes were jests, which take us unexpectedly into another dimension of meaning where the actual content and logic of the transition is of no interest.

Puns - references to getting Bohr'd, fission chips and the like - are an example of this kind of humour, as are the quirky names that physicists often given things. Joy Hathaway of Fermilab, for example, recalled a softball team called the Unified Fielders from her postgraduate days, as well as a sextet of roommates called the Six-Fold Degenerates.

Sometimes this kind of play involves symbols. Bobby Morris, an undergraduate at Leicester University, explained to me that he found the elements of magnetic flux hard to understand because they d common-sense.

On other occasions the play takes more conventional forms, such as when two atoms bump into each other:
"I think I've lost an electron!" says one.
"Are you sure?" replies the other.
"I'm positive!"

Jests are silly, and some of the silliest are shaggy-dog stories. One, which Warwick undergraduate Philip Ryder claims was "the worst joke in the entire history of the universe", involves a quantum-mechanical observable who wanders into an auction preview. As he cannot speak the language well, he is assisted by translators from exotic countries, including one called Hermitia. His attention is attracted by a particular item, but various commitments make it impossible for him to attend the auction itself. En route we are treated to crude puns, including someone saying "Eigenvalue this for you!". If told in full, the story would go on for pages, detailing various complex arrangements for him to bid via telephone. I will spare you the entire joke, even though the power of the final release - "I must be represented by a Hermitian operator!" - arises from enduring the details, which you will have to reinvent when retelling this.

The humour of all such jests depends on the way the language thrusts us unexpectedly into a different dimension of meaning than the one we assumed we were in. Amitabha Chakrabarti, a theorist at the Ecole Polytechnique in Palaiseau, France, told a story that makes explicit this unexpected transition. "Do you know that Hausdorff published poems?" a colleague asked him.
"Oh," Chakrabarti replied, "he had another dimension!"

Witnessing two nearby colleagues bent over with laughter at this straight line, Chakrabarti realized that the humour arose from the fact that "through decades they have associated two words - Hausdorff dimension - only in a special context", and that this remark provided an unexpected new dimension for "dimension".

But the winner in the jest category - for sheer absurdity, economy, and unexpectedness - was submitted by David Herzog of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:
"What's new?"
"E over h."

Jokes

In jokes proper, where the quality of humour is not silly but comic, the content plays a more important role in the transition to the unexpected dimension. An entire genre of jokes, for instance, involves the uncertainty principle. A dozen people sent me versions of a joke in which Heisenberg is pulled over for speeding:
"Do you know how fast you were going?" the police officer asks, incredulously.
"No," replies Heisenberg, "but I know exactly where I am!"

In other jokes the content is more about physicists than physics; their supposed unworldliness, for example. Another dozen people submitted versions of the story in which a physicist is recruited to improve the performance of a racehorse, the milk capacity of a cow, or the egg productivity of a chicken. The punchline is always some variant of: "Assume a spherical animal in a vacuum..."

Other jokes centre around physicists' obsessive love for their work. The basic version of one runs as follows. A physicist, who has spent the evening out, is caught by his wife trying to sneak into his house early the next morning. Saying that he has something to confess, he tells of meeting a woman in a bar, drinking too much and winding up going home with her. "You shit," his wife screams, "you've been working late in the lab again!"

Ruth Hamilton of The Yorkhill NHS Trust told an amusing variant in which a lawyer, an accountant and a physicist are discussing, over a beer, whether life is better with a wife or with a girlfriend.
"A wife is better," declares the lawyer, "because of the family support and the help she'll be to your career."
"Nonsense," says the accountant. "A girlfriend is better: you can keep your independence and go out with your friends more."
They turn to the physicist, who says, "It's better to have both. That way, the wife thinks you're with the girlfriend, the girlfriend thinks you're with the wife, and meanwhile you can be down at the lab!"

And four postgraduate students from Bristol and Oxford - David Leigh, Gavin Morley, Denzil Rodrigues and Jamie Walker - evidently had a surplus of time and imagination during last year's QUIPROCONE quantum-computing conference in Dublin. One evening they challenged each other to come up with jokes that begin with "So Alice and Bob walk into this bar...", referring to the two familiar characters whose entanglements are used to illustrate various points in quantum cryptography.

Of the dozens they sent me, the one that made me laugh the hardest had Alice and Bob flirting, then getting more and more intimate, before finally - and as this is evidently a family magazine I was censored and you'll have to supply the explicit content yourself - seeming to perform two incompatible sexual acts simultaneously. This puzzles the barman, who cannot make out exactly what they are doing.
"What's going on?" he says to the house drunk. "I can't quite see it - it looks brilliant but it doesn't make any sense."
"Yeah," the drunk sighs wistfully, "it's a super position."

Found humour
But my favourite category of physics humour is found humour. The phrase is analogous to "found art", in that it refers to humour that is not produced intentionally but stumbled on unexpectedly. This type of humour can be ambivalent or subtle, as illustrated by the following examples.

One, proposed by Chakrabarti, illustrates a subgenre of found humour that consists of serious remarks by would-be science interpreters. The French philosopher and urbanist Paul Virilio once described a quantum-mechanical representation as "a sum of observables that are flickering back and forth" - though, to be fair, his English translators appear to be co-conspirators in this amusing sentence. Chakrabarti noted that while the conjured-up image of frantic suburban commuters dashing from one destination to another is comic - to a physicist it involves a sudden and unexpected shift into another meaning dimension - the lack of understanding involved is "no longer funny, not at all".

The other example of found humour, proposed by US presidential science advisor John Marburger, is the cosmological constant. The term was introduced by Einstein in his equations of general relativity to express the rate at which the universe expands. The admittedly refined humour lies not in the constant itself, Marburger explained, but in the absurdly large discrepancy - some 50-100 orders of magnitude - between its measured value and its value as estimated by the best and most comprehensive theories. "It's as if nature were thumbing its nose at science - like suddenly depositing a mermaid or the Loch Ness monster in a biology lab."

The critical point
What surprised me, though, was how guilty many of the respondents felt about telling and enjoying these jokes, calling them "trivial", "dumb" or designed to make the joke-teller feel "intellectually superior". It was as if those who enjoyed these jokes were afraid of having to endure the Five Live treatment by others, or by their own super egos.

But in a field that uses imagination and play to disclose new truths about nature, the trivial and the true, the fanciful and the factual can be momentarily indistinguishable, frequently giving its practitioners the experience of unexpectedly winding up in new dimensions of meaning. The ability to practise both physics and humour are thus intimately connected - "entangled", you might say - inseparably bound up together in a common and deep-lying origin.

Certain outsiders may resent or be disturbed by the thought that a group of people make a living essentially by playing, and be inclined to make fun of it. But thriving humour in physics - in all its various forms and range of purposes - testifies, not to its narrow-mindedness or superficiality, but rather to its vitality and depth. Only misguided simple pictures of science as a purely logical process relegate humour to the exterior of the scientific enterprise.

Don't be defensive. Laugh loudly and proudly. With respect to the rest of your work, it's not completely different.

Author
Robert P Crease is in the Department of Philosophy, State University of New York at Stony Brook, and historian at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, e-mail rcrease@notes.cc.sunysb.edu

Re:Text cause it's slow already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7641640)

as well as a sextet of roommates called the Six-Fold Degenerates.

Must... resist... urges...

Yes and no. (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641469)

Road Runner physics is funny. Newtonian physics is not.

Original Joke (4, Funny)

pez (54) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641471)

Perhaps it's sad, but this is seriously the only joke I've ever made up in my life.

Q: How many quanta does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: One and a half.

Re:Original Joke (3, Funny)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641568)

Q: How many clowns does it take to screw in a lightbulb?



A: As many as they can fit inside

Re:Original Joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7641593)


Jokes are made up???? I always thought there was an electrified joke making machine.

Re:Original Joke (4, Funny)

Bohnanza (523456) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641621)

I don't get it. Maybe because I'm stupid? Anyway, the only joke I ever made up was a light-bulb joke as well:

Q: How many people does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: Two, the same number it takes to screw anywhere else.

Sorry, I don't have any physics jokes. I'm a chemist.

I refuse to laugh (1)

KalvinB (205500) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641658)

out of pity.

Have you ever considered a career as a straight man?

Ben

Physics humor (4, Funny)

Metallic Matty (579124) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641483)

Physics can be very humorous, but only to those who actually understand the area that the joke is coming from.

Just like in various other occult groups (such as RPGers), some things they find very hilarious indeed can make little to no sense to a normal individual.

(PS, I am in no way trying to insult physicists, gamers or any other group. I am all of the above myself.)

Re:Physics humor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7641651)

That explains why this comment was rated "+4, Funny".

Re:Physics humor (5, Funny)

gnu-generation-one (717590) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641673)


I have a quantum car. Every time I look at the speedometer I get lost...

Higher education (5, Funny)

SeanAhern (25764) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641688)

Someone once said that the point of higher education was so that you could understand more jokes.

Civil Engineering Jokes (5, Funny)

johnthorensen (539527) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641484)

So there was an argument over what type of engineer God was, to have created man. Some suggested Electrical Engineer, given the complex neural network, others suggested Mechanical Engineer, given the amazing mechanics of the body. It was finally realized that he was a Civil Engineer, as only a Civ. E. would put an waste management facility in a recreational area.


Another...
Q: What's the difference between civil engineers and mechanical engineers?
A: Mechanical engineers build weapons, civil engineers build...targets :)

-JT

energy conservation joke (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7641486)

"Conserve Energy, commute with an Hamiltonian!"

if you get, you are a pretty geeky physics nerd.

Of course it's funny (1)

HungWeiLo (250320) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641488)

You can always call up Schuck's/Knecht's/your favorite auto parts store and ask for a flux capacitor for a 1987 Honda Accord.

Already dead :P (4, Informative)

dema (103780) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641496)

Google cache [216.239.37.104] to the rescue!

Re:Already dead :P (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7641574)

Pretty damned bad when you slashdot google even.
I'm on a cable modem and can't even get that page to render.

Re:Already dead :P (1)

afree87 (102803) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641602)

It's still trying to pull up all the images from the website.

Neils Bohr (2, Interesting)

cortez (316233) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641506)

My favorite was the joke about the physics exam in which a young Neils Bohr goes through all the different ways to measure the height of a building using a pen.

Unfortunately I can't remember enough to do it justice... Anyone? I'm sure its good for a +1 Funny.

Re:Neils Bohr (4, Funny)

monadicIO (602882) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641551)

Unfortunately I can't remember enough to do it justice... Anyone?
Yes, the examiner reading his answers got Bohr'ed to death.

Re:Neils Bohr (3, Funny)

adamy (78406) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641590)

Tie String to pen
lower pen from top of building
measure string.

Re:Neils Bohr (2, Funny)

DucatiBoy (680350) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641656)

I thought it was something more like.... Walk into the building, go to the superintendent and say "Hey, if you tell me how tall this building is, I will give you this lovely pen."

Re:Neils Bohr (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7641669)

I believe the instrument was a barometer. Here is the account I got off of http://www.snopes.com/college/exam/barometer.asp
The joke works with a barometer because of the "correct answer" as seen in the story. And incidentally, it probably was not Niels Bohr of course.

The following 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:

"You 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. The student 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 that 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 a 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 sqr 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 pressure 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 independence 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 skyscraper'."

The student was Niels Bohr, the only Dane to win the Nobel Prize for physics.

E over h? (1)

sh00z (206503) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641511)

Shouldn't that be c over lambda?

OK my original physics/cs joke (4, Funny)

monadicIO (602882) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641519)

Q:Why did the universe get destroyed?

A:Some strings weren't null terminated.

i want to rtfa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7641520)

could somebody give me a mirror, or post the text?

My favorite... (5, Funny)

bravehamster (44836) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641521)

[red sign posted on my professors door]

If this sign looks blue...SLOW DOWN

Re:My favorite... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7641678)

Will somebody please explain this joke? My uhh friend doesn't get it. Yeah that's it he doesn't get it.

Poor physicsweb.org server. Full Text (0, Redundant)

zippity8 (446412) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641524)

The best physics humour ever
Points of View: December 2003

Robert P Crease selects the funniest jokes about physics and physicists from his readers' poll

Three months ago I asked readers of Physics World to contribute samples of new physics jokes, fresh forms of physics wit, or cases of "found humour" in physics (see "So you think physics is funny?"). I received about 200 replies, including jokes in several languages, stories, Photoshop creations, video clips and links to science cartoon databases.

I was also contacted by a representative of BBC Radio Five Live, who claimed to be interested in having me talk about physics humour late one night. My subsequent negative experience - I hope nobody was awake to hear it - illustrates an important lesson about science humour.

Outsiders don't get it
When I was first hooked up, the show's host Dotun Adebayo was finishing a segment on dirty bombs, treating the expert being interviewed with deference and respect. When that concluded, he said something like: "And now for something completely different!" That should have alerted me that I was bring set up.

Adebayo retold some jokes from my column in Physics World - accompanied by a conspicuously too-loud laugh track - then asked me to explain the jokes. Stupidly, I complied. Too late, it dawned on me that while some aspects of science, such as safety and health, are sacred to outsiders, other parts are simply targets for ridicule. Professional humour is one. The point of the programme was to laugh, not at jokes, but at physicists for their supposedly mechanical and cerebral wit.

The lesson was that I should have resisted. Being jousted, I should have jousted back - perhaps with the aid of a simple jest. "I can't explain these jokes to you, Dotun, they're only for smart people!" I should have said. "But try this one: did you hear about the restaurant NASA is starting on the Moon? Great food, no atmosphere! Still with me, Dotun? Shall I slow down?" (Thanks to Larry Bays from the Los Alamos National Laboratory for that joke.)

My Five Live experience reminded me of two other cases of comedians appropriating professional humour. One is a recent New Yorker article in which Woody Allen couches everyday anxiety-provoking experiences (being late for work, trying to seduce someone) in language borrowed from physics. A typical sentence runs: "I could feel my coupling constant invade her weak field as I pressed my lips to her wet neutrinos." Allen lumbers across a whole page in this meant-to-be-cute vein. Don't abandon that film career, Woody.

The other comedian to have tackled professional humour is Steve Martin, who tells his audience that he has worked up a joke about wrenches because a convention of plumbers is in town that night. The punchline, when it eventually comes, is: "It says sprocket, not socket!" When the supposedly expected guffaws fail to materialize, Martin feigns puzzlement. "Were those plumbers supposed to be here this show?" he asks. Now that brings laughs.

These episodes illustrate a mixture of ways in which outsiders can appropriate the technical vocabulary of a profession for humorous purposes. Allen uses the poetic suggestiveness of technical terms (coupling, weak field and so on) for good-natured fun; his sentences do not make sense if you are an insider and go only by the words. Martin makes fun out of our not being insiders and not understanding the words. Radio Five Live made fun of the insiders themselves: the fact that they do understand the words.

Jests
Humour, anthropologists tell us, is a flexible tool for managing the social environment. It can be used to draw people in by sharing, to keep people away by intimidating, to build charisma, to impress, to entertain, to relieve tension, to test and challenge oneself and others. But it is an especially useful tool in science, and particularly physics, precisely because it engages, fosters and celebrates the same values that the field itself depends on - namely cleverness, play and imagination. These qualities were abundantly in evidence in the submissions I received. I have the space to retell only a few, and even those I will have to abbreviate.

Many of the jokes were jests, which take us unexpectedly into another dimension of meaning where the actual content and logic of the transition is of no interest.

Puns - references to getting Bohr'd, fission chips and the like - are an example of this kind of humour, as are the quirky names that physicists often given things. Joy Hathaway of Fermilab, for example, recalled a softball team called the Unified Fielders from her postgraduate days, as well as a sextet of roommates called the Six-Fold Degenerates.

Sometimes this kind of play involves symbols. Bobby Morris, an undergraduate at Leicester University, explained to me that he found the elements of magnetic flux hard to understand because they d common-sense.

On other occasions the play takes more conventional forms, such as when two atoms bump into each other:
"I think I've lost an electron!" says one.
"Are you sure?" replies the other.
"I'm positive!"

Jests are silly, and some of the silliest are shaggy-dog stories. One, which Warwick undergraduate Philip Ryder claims was "the worst joke in the entire history of the universe", involves a quantum-mechanical observable who wanders into an auction preview. As he cannot speak the language well, he is assisted by translators from exotic countries, including one called Hermitia. His attention is attracted by a particular item, but various commitments make it impossible for him to attend the auction itself. En route we are treated to crude puns, including someone saying "Eigenvalue this for you!". If told in full, the story would go on for pages, detailing various complex arrangements for him to bid via telephone. I will spare you the entire joke, even though the power of the final release - "I must be represented by a Hermitian operator!" - arises from enduring the details, which you will have to reinvent when retelling this.

The humour of all such jests depends on the way the language thrusts us unexpectedly into a different dimension of meaning than the one we assumed we were in. Amitabha Chakrabarti, a theorist at the Ecole Polytechnique in Palaiseau, France, told a story that makes explicit this unexpected transition. "Do you know that Hausdorff published poems?" a colleague asked him.
"Oh," Chakrabarti replied, "he had another dimension!"

Witnessing two nearby colleagues bent over with laughter at this straight line, Chakrabarti realized that the humour arose from the fact that "through decades they have associated two words - Hausdorff dimension - only in a special context", and that this remark provided an unexpected new dimension for "dimension".

But the winner in the jest category - for sheer absurdity, economy, and unexpectedness - was submitted by David Herzog of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:
"What's new?"
"E over h."

Jokes

In jokes proper, where the quality of humour is not silly but comic, the content plays a more important role in the transition to the unexpected dimension. An entire genre of jokes, for instance, involves the uncertainty principle. A dozen people sent me versions of a joke in which Heisenberg is pulled over for speeding:
"Do you know how fast you were going?" the police officer asks, incredulously.
"No," replies Heisenberg, "but I know exactly where I am!"

In other jokes the content is more about physicists than physics; their supposed unworldliness, for example. Another dozen people submitted versions of the story in which a physicist is recruited to improve the performance of a racehorse, the milk capacity of a cow, or the egg productivity of a chicken. The punchline is always some variant of: "Assume a spherical animal in a vacuum..."

Other jokes centre around physicists' obsessive love for their work. The basic version of one runs as follows. A physicist, who has spent the evening out, is caught by his wife trying to sneak into his house early the next morning. Saying that he has something to confess, he tells of meeting a woman in a bar, drinking too much and winding up going home with her. "You shit," his wife screams, "you've been working late in the lab again!"

Ruth Hamilton of The Yorkhill NHS Trust told an amusing variant in which a lawyer, an accountant and a physicist are discussing, over a beer, whether life is better with a wife or with a girlfriend.
"A wife is better," declares the lawyer, "because of the family support and the help she'll be to your career."
"Nonsense," says the accountant. "A girlfriend is better: you can keep your independence and go out with your friends more."
They turn to the physicist, who says, "It's better to have both. That way, the wife thinks you're with the girlfriend, the girlfriend thinks you're with the wife, and meanwhile you can be down at the lab!"

And four postgraduate students from Bristol and Oxford - David Leigh, Gavin Morley, Denzil Rodrigues and Jamie Walker - evidently had a surplus of time and imagination during last year's QUIPROCONE quantum-computing conference in Dublin. One evening they challenged each other to come up with jokes that begin with "So Alice and Bob walk into this bar...", referring to the two familiar characters whose entanglements are used to illustrate various points in quantum cryptography.

Of the dozens they sent me, the one that made me laugh the hardest had Alice and Bob flirting, then getting more and more intimate, before finally - and as this is evidently a family magazine I was censored and you'll have to supply the explicit content yourself - seeming to perform two incompatible sexual acts simultaneously. This puzzles the barman, who cannot make out exactly what they are doing.
"What's going on?" he says to the house drunk. "I can't quite see it - it looks brilliant but it doesn't make any sense."
"Yeah," the drunk sighs wistfully, "it's a super position."

Found humour
But my favourite category of physics humour is found humour. The phrase is analogous to "found art", in that it refers to humour that is not produced intentionally but stumbled on unexpectedly. This type of humour can be ambivalent or subtle, as illustrated by the following examples.

One, proposed by Chakrabarti, illustrates a subgenre of found humour that consists of serious remarks by would-be science interpreters. The French philosopher and urbanist Paul Virilio once described a quantum-mechanical representation as "a sum of observables that are flickering back and forth" - though, to be fair, his English translators appear to be co-conspirators in this amusing sentence. Chakrabarti noted that while the conjured-up image of frantic suburban commuters dashing from one destination to another is comic - to a physicist it involves a sudden and unexpected shift into another meaning dimension - the lack of understanding involved is "no longer funny, not at all".

The other example of found humour, proposed by US presidential science advisor John Marburger, is the cosmological constant. The term was introduced by Einstein in his equations of general relativity to express the rate at which the universe expands. The admittedly refined humour lies not in the constant itself, Marburger explained, but in the absurdly large discrepancy - some 50-100 orders of magnitude - between its measured value and its value as estimated by the best and most comprehensive theories. "It's as if nature were thumbing its nose at science - like suddenly depositing a mermaid or the Loch Ness monster in a biology lab."

The critical point
What surprised me, though, was how guilty many of the respondents felt about telling and enjoying these jokes, calling them "trivial", "dumb" or designed to make the joke-teller feel "intellectually superior". It was as if those who enjoyed these jokes were afraid of having to endure the Five Live treatment by others, or by their own super egos.

But in a field that uses imagination and play to disclose new truths about nature, the trivial and the true, the fanciful and the factual can be momentarily indistinguishable, frequently giving its practitioners the experience of unexpectedly winding up in new dimensions of meaning. The ability to practise both physics and humour are thus intimately connected - "entangled", you might say - inseparably bound up together in a common and deep-lying origin.

Certain outsiders may resent or be disturbed by the thought that a group of people make a living essentially by playing, and be inclined to make fun of it. But thriving humour in physics - in all its various forms and range of purposes - testifies, not to its narrow-mindedness or superficiality, but rather to its vitality and depth. Only misguided simple pictures of science as a purely logical process relegate humour to the exterior of the scientific enterprise.

Don't be defensive. Laugh loudly and proudly. With respect to the rest of your work, it's not completely different.

Author
Robert P Crease is in the Department of Philosophy, State University of New York at Stony Brook, and historian at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, e-mail

Told to me by a polish professor... (4, Funny)

Komi (89040) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641528)

Q: What do you call a Polak in a F15?

A: A simple pole in a complex plane.

<ba dum ching>

Re:Told to me by a polish professor... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7641665)

I think my IQ just dropped a couple of points...

Bumper sticker (4, Funny)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641529)

If this sticker is blue, you're going too fast.

Re:Bumper sticker (1)

SpaceRook (630389) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641674)

This post was marked as redundant, but I'd glad the joke got posted again. Reading it a second time, I finally get it.

a bumper sticker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7641535)

A red bumper sticker:

"If this sticker is blue, you are driving too fast."

Two atoms are walking down the street... (-1, Redundant)

sczimme (603413) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641539)


and they bump into one another,

Atom #1 "Are you all right?"

Atom #2 "I think I lost an electron."

Atom #1 "Are you sure?"

Atom #2 "I'm positive."

PS It's more fun if you imagine the voice of Rainier Wolfcastle saying "Up and at them!"

Re:Two atoms are walking down the street... (1)

monadicIO (602882) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641577)

Turned out that a neutron had stolen it. But he never went to jail. He was never charged.

A terrible geek joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7641544)

Did you hear the one about the human that tried to mate with a parallel-port printer?

He failed to meet the IEEE 1284 standard.

Here's one (0, Flamebait)

Coaster-Sj (614973) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641549)

Why did the chicken cross the road..... To beat the $hit out of an end user. I wonder why everyone doesn't find this funny.

IT joke (5, Funny)

lordbios (729438) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641553)

A man is standing on a hilltop when a man riding in a hot air balloon starts to drift by. The man in the balloon asks "Do you know where I am?" The man on the ground replies "In a hot air balloon." The man in the balloon says "You must work in Information Technology. What you told me is 100% correct, but does not help me at all" To which the man on the ground replies "You must be in Business Administration, because you are in the same mess you were in before, but now it is my fault!"

What the? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7641561)

Why submit such ruthless supernerd gibberish knowing the links will get slashdotted and nobody in heaven,hell,or earth will understand what the hell it is you're talking about? How 'bout the one about the bobcat and the flux capacitor?..How 'bout the disco dancing lobster and the laserdisc time machine formula generator??? Well?? Hahaha....No.

Age joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7641562)

Ted: "Happy birthday, Gary!"

Gary: "Thanks. Yeah, the big 4-0."

Ted: "Is that hexadecimal?"

Solar physics joke (4, Funny)

isomeme (177414) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641566)

A solar physicist walks into a bar, gets the bartender's attention, and says "I'd like a Mexican beer, please."

The bartender immediately begins shouting "OK, everybody out! Right now! Everyone out of the bar!" And he heards all the patrons out into the street, slamming the door behind them.

The solar physicist shakes his head ruefully. "Darn," he says, "I should have seen that Corona mass ejection coming!"

(By the way, it goes without saying that the bar is in SoHo.)

Article Text (in case of /.ing (-1, Redundant)

cortez (316233) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641571)

The best physics humour ever
Points of View: December 2003

Robert P Crease selects the funniest jokes about physics and physicists from his readers' poll

Three months ago I asked readers of Physics World to contribute samples of new physics jokes, fresh forms of physics wit, or cases of "found humour" in physics (see "So you think physics is funny?"). I received about 200 replies, including jokes in several languages, stories, Photoshop creations, video clips and links to science cartoon databases.

I was also contacted by a representative of BBC Radio Five Live, who claimed to be interested in having me talk about physics humour late one night. My subsequent negative experience - I hope nobody was awake to hear it - illustrates an important lesson about science humour.

Outsiders don't get it
When I was first hooked up, the show's host Dotun Adebayo was finishing a segment on dirty bombs, treating the expert being interviewed with deference and respect. When that concluded, he said something like: "And now for something completely different!" That should have alerted me that I was bring set up.

Adebayo retold some jokes from my column in Physics World - accompanied by a conspicuously too-loud laugh track - then asked me to explain the jokes. Stupidly, I complied. Too late, it dawned on me that while some aspects of science, such as safety and health, are sacred to outsiders, other parts are simply targets for ridicule. Professional humour is one. The point of the programme was to laugh, not at jokes, but at physicists for their supposedly mechanical and cerebral wit.

The lesson was that I should have resisted. Being jousted, I should have jousted back - perhaps with the aid of a simple jest. "I can't explain these jokes to you, Dotun, they're only for smart people!" I should have said. "But try this one: did you hear about the restaurant NASA is starting on the Moon? Great food, no atmosphere! Still with me, Dotun? Shall I slow down?" (Thanks to Larry Bays from the Los Alamos National Laboratory for that joke.)

My Five Live experience reminded me of two other cases of comedians appropriating professional humour. One is a recent New Yorker article in which Woody Allen couches everyday anxiety-provoking experiences (being late for work, trying to seduce someone) in language borrowed from physics. A typical sentence runs: "I could feel my coupling constant invade her weak field as I pressed my lips to her wet neutrinos." Allen lumbers across a whole page in this meant-to-be-cute vein. Don't abandon that film career, Woody.

The other comedian to have tackled professional humour is Steve Martin, who tells his audience that he has worked up a joke about wrenches because a convention of plumbers is in town that night. The punchline, when it eventually comes, is: "It says sprocket, not socket!" When the supposedly expected guffaws fail to materialize, Martin feigns puzzlement. "Were those plumbers supposed to be herethis show?" he asks. Now that brings laughs.

These episodes illustrate a mixture of ways in which outsiders can appropriate the technical vocabulary of a profession for humorous purposes. Allen uses the poetic suggestiveness of technical terms (coupling, weak field and so on) for good-natured fun; his sentences do not make sense if you are an insider and go only by the words. Martin makes fun out of our not being insiders and not understanding the words. Radio Five Live made fun of the insiders themselves: the fact that they do understand the words.

Jests
Humour, anthropologists tell us, is a flexible tool for managing the social environment. It can be used to draw people in by sharing, to keep people away by intimidating, to build charisma, to impress, to entertain, to relieve tension, to test and challenge oneself and others. But it is an especially useful tool in science, and particularly physics, precisely because it engages, fosters and celebrates the same values that the field itself depends on - namely cleverness, play and imagination. These qualities were abundantly in evidence in the submissions I received. I have the space to retell only a few, and even those I will have to abbreviate.

Many of the jokes were jests, which take us unexpectedly into another dimension of meaning where the actual content and logic of the transition is of no interest.

Puns - references to getting Bohr'd, fission chips and the like - are an example of this kind of humour, as are the quirky names that physicists often given things. Joy Hathaway of Fermilab, for example, recalled a softball team called the Unified Fielders from her postgraduate days, as well as a sextet of roommates called the Six-Fold Degenerates.

Sometimes this kind of play involves symbols. Bobby Morris, an undergraduate at Leicester University, explained to me that he found the elements of magnetic flux hard to understand because they d? common-sense.

On other occasions the play takes more conventional forms, such as when two atoms bump into each other:
"I think I've lost an electron!" says one.
"Are you sure?" replies the other.
"I'm positive!"

Jests are silly, and some of the silliest are shaggy-dog stories. One, which Warwick undergraduate Philip Ryder claims was "the worst joke in the entire history of the universe", involves a quantum-mechanical observable who wanders into an auction preview. As he cannot speak the language well, he is assisted by translators from exotic countries, including one called Hermitia. His attention is attracted by a particular item, but various commitments make it impossible for him to attend the auction itself. En route we are treated to crude puns, including someone saying "Eigenvalue this for you!". If told in full, the story would go on for pages, detailing various complex arrangements for him to bid via telephone. I will spare you the entire joke, even though the power of the final release - "I must be represented by a Hermitian operator!" - arises from enduring the details, which you will have to reinvent when retelling this.

The humour of all such jests depends on the way the language thrusts us unexpectedly into a different dimension of meaning than the one we assumed we were in. Amitabha Chakrabarti, a theorist at the Ecole Polytechnique in Palaiseau, France, told a story that makes explicit this unexpected transition. "Do you know that Hausdorff published poems?" a colleague asked him.
"Oh," Chakrabarti replied, "he had another dimension!"

Witnessing two nearby colleagues bent over with laughter at this straight line, Chakrabarti realized that the humour arose from the fact that "through decades they have associated two words - Hausdorff dimension - only in a special context", and that this remark provided an unexpected new dimension for "dimension".

But the winner in the jest category - for sheer absurdity, economy, and unexpectedness - was submitted by David Herzog of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:
"What's new?"
"E over h."

Jokes

In jokes proper, where the quality of humour is not silly but comic, the content plays a more important role in the transition to the unexpected dimension. An entire genre of jokes, for instance, involves the uncertainty principle. A dozen people sent me versions of a joke in which Heisenberg is pulled over for speeding:
"Do you know how fast you were going?" the police officer asks, incredulously.
"No," replies Heisenberg, "but I know exactly where I am!"

In other jokes the content is more about physicists than physics; their supposed unworldliness, for example. Another dozen people submitted versions of the story in which a physicist is recruited to improve the performance of a racehorse, the milk capacity of a cow, or the egg productivity of a chicken. The punchline is always some variant of: "Assume a spherical animal in a vacuum..."

Other jokes centre around physicists' obsessive love for their work. The basic version of one runs as follows. A physicist, who has spent the evening out, is caught by his wife trying to sneak into his house early the next morning. Saying that he has something to confess, he tells of meeting a woman in a bar, drinking too much and winding up going home with her. "You shit," his wife screams, "you've been working late in the lab again!"

Ruth Hamilton of The Yorkhill NHS Trust told an amusing variant in which a lawyer, an accountant and a physicist are discussing, over a beer, whether life is better with a wife or with a girlfriend.
"A wife is better," declares the lawyer, "because of the family support and the help she'll be to your career."
"Nonsense," says the accountant. "A girlfriend is better: you can keep your independence and go out with your friends more."
They turn to the physicist, who says, "It's better to have both. That way, the wife thinks you're with the girlfriend, the girlfriend thinks you're with the wife, and meanwhile you can be down at the lab!"

And four postgraduate students from Bristol and Oxford - David Leigh, Gavin Morley, Denzil Rodrigues and Jamie Walker - evidently had a surplus of time and imagination during last year's QUIPROCONE quantum-computing conference in Dublin. One evening they challenged each other to come up with jokes that begin with "So Alice and Bob walk into this bar...", referring to the two familiar characters whose entanglements are used to illustrate various points in quantum cryptography.

Of the dozens they sent me, the one that made me laugh the hardest had Alice and Bob flirting, then getting more and more intimate, before finally - and as this is evidently a family magazine I was censored and you'll have to supply the explicit content yourself - seeming to perform two incompatible sexual acts simultaneously. This puzzles the barman, who cannot make out exactly what they are doing.
"What's going on?" he says to the house drunk. "I can't quite see it - it looks brilliant but it doesn't make any sense."
"Yeah," the drunk sighs wistfully, "it's a super position."

Found humour
But my favourite category of physics humour is found humour. The phrase is analogous to "found art", in that it refers to humour that is not produced intentionally but stumbled on unexpectedly. This type of humour can be ambivalent or subtle, as illustrated by the following examples.

One, proposed by Chakrabarti, illustrates a subgenre of found humour that consists of serious remarks by would-be science interpreters. The French philosopher and urbanist Paul Virilio once described a quantum-mechanical representation as "a sum of observables that are flickering back and forth" - though, to be fair, his English translators appear to be co-conspirators in this amusing sentence. Chakrabarti noted that while the conjured-up image of frantic suburban commuters dashing from one destination to another is comic - to a physicist it involves a sudden and unexpected shift into another meaning dimension - the lack of understanding involved is "no longer funny, not at all".

The other example of found humour, proposed by US presidential science advisor John Marburger, is the cosmological constant. The term was introduced by Einstein in his equations of general relativity to express the rate at which the universe expands. The admittedly refined humour lies not in the constant itself, Marburger explained, but in the absurdly large discrepancy - some 50-100 orders of magnitude - between its measured value and its value as estimated by the best and most comprehensive theories. "It's as if nature were thumbing its nose at science - like suddenly depositing a mermaid or the Loch Ness monster in a biology lab."

The critical point
What surprised me, though, was how guilty many of the respondents felt about telling and enjoying these jokes, calling them "trivial", "dumb" or designed to make the joke-teller feel "intellectually superior". It was as if those who enjoyed these jokes were afraid of having to endure the Five Live treatment by others, or by their own super egos.

But in a field that uses imagination and play to disclose new truths about nature, the trivial and the true, the fanciful and the factual can be momentarily indistinguishable, frequently giving its practitioners the experience of unexpectedly winding up in new dimensions of meaning. The ability to practise both physics and humour are thus intimately connected - "entangled", you might say - inseparably bound up together in a common and deep-lying origin.

Certain outsiders may resent or be disturbed by the thought that a group of people make a living essentially by playing, and be inclined to make fun of it. But thriving humour in physics - in all its various forms and range of purposes - testifies, not to its narrow-mindedness or superficiality, but rather to its vitality and depth. Only misguided simple pictures of science as a purely logical process relegate humour to the exterior of the scientific enterprise.

Don't be defensive. Laugh loudly and proudly. With respect to the rest of your work, it's not completely different.

Author
Robert P Crease is in the Department of Philosophy, State University of New York at Stony Brook, and historian at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, e-mail rcrease@notes.cc.sunysb.edu

I dunno (3, Funny)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641572)

I always assumed that Bob and Alice were in a strictly distance relationship so I don't see how they would ever meet in a bar. I think the closest they would ever get to physically making love would be a double-encrypted phone sex conversation.

So yeah, my Alice and Bob joke is this:
What did Alice and Bob believe is the most important thing to remember when having sex? To always practice mathematically secure sex!

Philosophy Department (5, Funny)

PenrosePattern (460197) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641581)

The chair of the physics department goes to the provost for the annual budget review.
"I've got some good news and some bad news. The good news is we have alot of exciting things going on in the department - some potential Noble-prize winning stuff. The bad news is we need a new particle accelerator which will cost $10M."
The Provost is shocked. "That is alot of money. It is incredible to me how different departments need different things. Why can't you be more like the math department? They only want Paper, Pencils and wastebaskets. And the philosophy department doesn't even want the wastebaskets..."

Karate Kid learns about RS232 (2, Funny)

f1ipf10p (676890) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641586)

Daniel-son, X-on, X-off! X-on, X-off!

Re:Karate Kid learns about RS232 (1)

TwistedSquare (650445) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641648)

I can't believe it, that one actually made me laugh out loud...

Hmm... (1)

Gary Yogurt (664063) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641587)

...designed to make the joke-teller feel "intellectually superior".

Hahaha, Eigenvalue! What a funny word. That's why it's funny, right? Right? Guys?

Psychology joke (4, Funny)

fluxrad (125130) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641592)

Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?

The free bicycle (5, Funny)

Sir Holo (531007) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641594)


Three (assume they're male) physics/engineering students are having a conversation.

The first one says, "The strangest thing happened to me the other day! I was walking across campus, minding my own business, when a beautiful woman rode up to me on her bicycle. She threw down the bike, tore off her clothes and threw them to the ground, and then cried to me, 'Take whatever you want!'."

His friends look at each other knowingly. One replies, "So, you took the bike, right?"

"Of course! The clothes never would have fit me."

Numbers, now with vegetative goodness! (3, Funny)

gentlemoose (313278) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641597)

What's Avocado's Number?

A Guacamole. Bwaaaahahahahaaaaa. Heeheehee.

*sniffle*

The physics of cows (1)

RealProgrammer (723725) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641598)

Student: Given your theory, how do you explain cows?

Prof: Consider for a moment a perfectly spherical N-dimensional cow....

Old Fraternity Humor... (2, Funny)

cps42 (102752) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641601)

When someone greets me with 'what's new?', I reply...

Nu is the 13th letter of the Greek alphabet...

c/c++ joke (5, Funny)

ikoleverhate (607286) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641612)

Old programmers don't die, they're just cast into the void.

old favorite of mine (5, Funny)

rjelks (635588) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641613)

Heisenberg is out for a drive when he's stopped by a traffic cop. The cop says "Do you know how fast you were going?" Heisenberg says "No, but I know where I am."

Very old IT joke (3, Funny)

mwillson (165675) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641618)

Q. What goes "Pieces of seven, pieces of seven"?
A. A parity error

Oh my GOD WE'RE ALL SO PATHETIC! (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641620)

You know it's bad when you're stealing Jimmy's (From South Park) material. The Interrupting Cow knock knock joke is seriously the best thing in my repitoire (That and "What's brown and sticky? A stick.")

Should I just nip off and shoot myself now?

Walks into a bar.... (1)

ckokotay (206080) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641629)

A neutron walks into a bar and asks - "How much for a beer?" Bartender answers - "For you, No Charge".

Work (5, Funny)

b1t r0t (216468) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641632)

This is a set of equations I found scrawled on a chalkboard one day at college:

WORK = F D

F = M A

WORK = M A D

I tell this one to everyone... (4, Funny)

Unknown Kadath (685094) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641643)

...and they mostly look at me funny.

Q: What do you get when you cross a mosquito with a mountain climber?

A: You can't cross a vector with a scaler.

-Carolyn

The inexplicable geek detector joke (1)

jamonterrell (517500) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641654)

Take a large green index card and a think tip black marker. Write "RED" in very large letters and show it to someone suspected of being a geek.

Think before you mod. While not EXACTLY like the examples, it still fullfills the criteria.

Re:The inexplicable geek detector joke (1)

robi2106 (464558) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641692)

Reference to canadian Red Gree Show? OR am I not geeky enough?

jason

Not again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7641672)

This topic of 'tell us your science jokes' comes up every year or so on slashdot. I don't want to rewrite and read all the same jokes again. Can someone find the previous versions of this topic in the slashdot archives and just post links?

My favorite mathematics joke (5, Funny)

carl67lp (465321) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641680)

I am still a declared physics and math major, even though I'm now CS. Anyhow, here's my favorite math joke:

There was a man in a nuthouse who constantly scared off all the newcomers with a menacing smile and the dreadful-sounding phrase, "I differentiate you! I differentiate you!"--invariably the newcomer would cower in the corner and stay far away from the man.

However, one day another man came in and confronted the first man. Of course, the first began yelling at the newcomer, "I differentiate you! I differentiate you!" But it had no effect on the newcomer. The man yelled "I differentiate you!" several times to no avail. Finally, he broke down in tears. "Why, why?!?" he asked.

The second man stated simply, "I'm e^x."

bad computing humor (1)

mdmarkus (522132) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641685)

I used to work for a place that had an inherently funny product name: xbat. Dumping core was considered inherently funny too. I used to have people rolling on the floor with the line "Xbat just dumped core." My girlfriend didn't think it was funny either... (Neither did the customers.)

0s and 1s (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7641694)

There are 10 types of people in this world: those who understand binary and those who don't.

Mr. Kepler (3, Funny)

Allaran (557295) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641695)


Mr. Kepler: Hey there Earth! I heard you got a new job as a janitor. How's it goin'?

Earth: *sigh* Mmmmm...ok, but my boss always makes me sweep out the same area!

One of my favourites (1)

golo (95789) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641699)

One day the cow in a small village stopped giving milk. So the villagers take the cow up the hill to the mathmetician living up there. They tell him the problem, and he goes back inside his house. The villagers can see him paceing back and forth in his study, and scribbling formulas on his black board (it was s long tim e ago), and finally he comes back out side. The villagers all gather around as he holds up his hands for silence:
Assume a spherical cow, radiating milk isometrically ...

I hate physics jokes. (1)

tjensor (571163) | more than 10 years ago | (#7641704)

Because while I did Physics at University I was one. Taje the "j" out of my name above to see somthing that mae a physicist laugh.

:/
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