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Miscellaneous Science Jokes


What do you call it when a baker tests a new pie recipe that he wants to see if it will work or not?
A pie-pothesis!


What's the difference between mechanical engineers and civil engineers?

Mechanical engineers build weapons.
Civil engineers build targets.


French physicist Ampere (1775-1836) had two cats, one big and a one small, and he loved them very much. But when the door was closed cats couldn't enter or exit the room. So Ampere ordered two holes to be made in his door: one big for the big cat, and one small for the small cat


A mathematician, a physicist, and an engineer were all given a red rubber ball and told to find the volume.
The mathematician carefully 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.
The engineer looked up the model and serial numbers in his red-rubber-ball table.


What's the difference between mechanical engineers and civil engineers?

Mechanical engineers build weapons.
Civil engineers build targets.



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.



When considering the behaviour of a howitzer:
A mathematician will be able to calculate where the shell will land.
A physicist will be able to explain how the shell gets there.
An engineer will stand there and try to catch it.


In some foreign country a priest, a lawyer and an engineer are about to be guillotined.
The priest puts his head on the block, they pull the rope and nothing happens - he declares that he's been saved by divine intervention - so he's let go.
The lawyer is put on the block, and again the rope doesn't release the blade, he claims he can't be executed twice for the same crime and he is set free too.
They grab the engineer and shove his head into the guillotine, he looks up at the release mechanism and says, "Wait a minute, I see your problem..."




A mathematician, scientist, and engineer are each asked:
"Suppose we define a horse's tail to be a leg. How many legs does a horse have?"
The mathematician answers "5"; the scientist "1"; and the engineer says, "But you can't do that!"


Forwarded from a friend who's doing student teaching this semester...

these are actual quotes taken from junior high students science tests....
* The dodo is a bird that is nearly decent now.
* A thermometer is an instrument for raising temperance.


One of my GCSE students (UK, age 16) writing about the blast furnace (bless his cotton socks): "The slag floats on the iron because they have different dentists"



Studying expands knowledge,
Knowledge is power,
Power corrupts,
Corruption is a crime,
Crime doesn't pay.
Why study?


Escaped Lion

A lion escaped from the Jerusalem zoo. He was at large for a month, when he was finally captured and returned to his cage his cage-mate asked, "how did you manage to stay alive for a whole month?"
"It was easy," said the lion, "everyday I went to the University and ate a professor."
"How did they catch you?" asked the cage-mate.
"One day, I made a mistake and ate the lady who brings the tea."

– Louis Berkofsky HAND, smiles@bapp.com


Q: What's the difference between a tenured professor and a terrorist?
A: The terrorist you can negotiate with.


Colleges don't make fools; they only develop them.


Optimist: A college student who opens his wallet and expects to find money.


Articles are warped by: "unexplained acronyms, cryptic symbols, endless sentences, and monstrous graphs".
Analyzing the psychology of why this exists, Phillip Schewe (American Institute of Physics, US) says: "You lose all your readers, but at least you can't be accused of being an idiot. Instead, the readers are made to feel like they're idiots."

– Science, 15 Aug 1997


Final Exams Poem

Now I lay me down to study
I pray the Lord I won't go nutty
If I should fail to learn this junk
I pray the Lord I will not flunk
But if I do, don't pity me at all
Just lay my bones in the study hall
Tell my teacher I did my best
Then pile my books upon my chest
Now I lay me down to rest
If I should die before I wake
That's one less test I'll have to take


It is through science that we prove, but through intuition that we discover.

– Henri Poincare


Furious activity is no substitute for understanding.

– H. H. Williams


In our department, there was a professor known to be God...everybody heard about its existence but nobody actually saw him. Lectures were given by his assistant... "the Prophet".


A professor stood before his class of 20 senior organic biology students, about to hand out the final exam. "I want to say that it's been a pleasure teaching you this semester. I know you've all worked extremely hard and many of you are off to medical school after summer break. So that no one gets their GP messed up because they might have been celebrating a bit too much this week, anyone who would like to opt out of the final exam today will receive a "B" for the course."
There was much rejoicing amongst the class as students got up, passed by the professor to thank him and sign out on his offer. As the last taker left the room, the professor looked out over the handful of remaining students and asked, "Any one else? This is your last chance." One final student rose up and took the offer. The professor closed the door and took attendance of those students remaining. "I'm glad to see you believe in yourself," he said. "You all have "A's."


It has often been said that 'nature is simple' - illusion! It is our mind which looks for simplicity to avoid effort.

– L. Brillouin, in Scientific Uncertainty and Information


An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less.

– Nicholas Murray Butler (1862-1947, President of Columbia University), commencement address at Columbia University - attributed.


"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done and why. Then do it."

– Robert A. Heinlein


Science doesn't have a chance until people learn to carry their intelligence the way James Dean carried his cigarette.


It is one thing, to show a Man that he is in an Error, and another, to put him in possession of Truth.

– John Locke


Professor Niels Bohr, a famous Applied Mathematician-Physicist, had a horse shoe over his desk. One day a student asked if he really believed that a horse shoe brought luck. Professor Bohr replied, "I understand that it brings you luck if you believe in it or not."


Scientific theories tell us what is possible; myths tell us what is desirable. Both are needed to guide proper action.

– John Maynard Smith (Science and myth)


Scientist: A specialist in signs.


A joke about Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937) the New Zealand physicist.

One student in Rutherford's lab was very hard-working. Rutherford had noticed it and asked one evening: "Do you work in the mornings too?"
"Yes," proudly answered the student sure he would be commended.
"But when do you think?" amazed Rutherford.



Rutherford's Atomic Model

Ernest Rutherford (18711937) British physicist, born in New Zealand. He is known for his studies of radioactivity and for his discovery of the atomic nucleus. He discovered and named alpha and beta radiation and was awarded for this the 1908 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Rutherford learned from experiments that atoms contained a very small but heavy central positive nucleus. In 1911 he proposed the model that inside an atom all the protons were gathered at the centre (nucleus) of the atom, with the electrons scattered randomly around, just like the fruit of a peach is formed around the stone in the centre.
This nuclear model of the atom was taken by Niels Bohr (1913) and combined with the new quantum theory to provide the basic description of the atom still accepted today. Rutherford was knighted in 1914.
To learn more about atomic models, click here.



Paul Erdos (Hungarian mathematician, 1913-1996) had the habit of phoning fellow mathematicians over the whole world, no matter what time it was. He remembered the number of every mathematician, but did not know anybody's first name. The only person he called by his Christian name was Tom Trotter, whom he called Bill.

– Paul Hoffman, de man die van 9etallen hield, 1998.


On one occasion, Erdos met a mathematician and asked him where he was from. "Vancouver," the mathematician replied. "Oh, then you must know my good friend Elliot Mendelson," Erdos said. The reply was "I AM your good friend Elliot Mendelson."

– Paul Hoffman, de man die van 9etallen hield, 1998.


About Bertrand Russell (1872-1970, British philosopher and mathematician). The following is supposedly a true story about Russell. It isn't really a math joke since it makes fun of the British hierarchy, but it's funny anyway...

Around the time when Cold War started, Bertrand Russell was giving a lecture on politics in England. Being a leftist in a conservative women's club, he was not received well at all: the ladies came up to him and started attacking him with whatever they could get their hands on. The guard, being an English gentleman, did not want to be rough to the ladies and yet needed to save Russell from them. He said, "But he is a great mathematician!" The ladies ignored him. The guard said again, "But he is a great philosopher!" The ladies ignore him again. In desperation, finally, he said, "But his brother is an earl!" Bert was saved.


When Gladstone met Michael Faraday, he asked him whether his work on electricity would be of any use. "Yes, sir" remarked Faraday with prescience, "One day you will tax it."


Someone who had begun to read geometry with Euclid, when he had learned the first proposition, asked Euclid, "But what shall I get by learning these things?" whereupon Euclid called in his slave and said, "Give him three pence since he must make gain out of what he learns."

– Stobaeus


During a lecture, professor Dirac made a mistake in an equation he was writing on the blackboard. A courageous student raises his finger and says timidly : "Professor Dirac, I do not understand equation 2." Dirac continues writing without any reaction. The student supposes Dirac has not heard him and raises his finger again, and says, louder this time: "Professor Dirac, I do not understand equation 2." No reaction. Somebody on the first row decides to intervene and says: "Professor Dirac, that man is asking a question."
"Oh," Dirac replies, I thought he was making a statement."


A funny anecdote about Enrico Fermi, Italian physicist, 1901-1954. When I was an undergraduate at the University of Texas, I worked in the Fusion Research Center. We had an elderly secretary named Sadie, whose last name I forget. During WWII, she had a job as a secretary at Los Alamos. As she told the story, she was partly responsible for making sure that the scientists properly disposed of secret documents in the incinerator. No one seemed to have problems with this except Fermi who - although he invented the first atomic pile - never could quite figure out how to work the incinerator, and Sadie always had to take him through the steps each time he had to dispose of a document.


Niels Bohr (1885-1962) Danish physicist, on reading of a particularly bizarre physical theory (Dirac's theory leading to the discovery of the positron, to be stuffy about it) Niels Bohr proposed that it would be very useful as an elephant trap. Simply, put an explanation of the theory on a poster, tack it up on a tree in the jungle, and any elephant (a beast noted for its wisdom) that passed by would immediately become so engrossed trying to figure it out that it could be packed up and delivered to the Copenhagen zoo before it realized anything had happened.


The novelist Hermann Sudermann met once Emil Fischer and started thanking him on his discovery of veronal: You know it is so efficient, I don't even have to take it, it's enough that I see it on my nightstand. Fischer replied: - What a coincidence, when I have problems falling asleep, I take one of your novels. As a matter-of-fact, it's enough that I see one of your wonderful books on my nightstand and I immediately fall asleep!


Walther Nernst, the famous German physical chemist, developed an electric lamp, known as the "Nernst lamp", which he sold for a very large sum of money. A colleague of his, not without spite asked him whether his next project will be making diamonds. Nernst answered, "No, I can afford to buy them now, so I don't need to make them".




My Dog Kelly

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