Why did the chicken cross the Möbius strip?
December 30, 2013 2:28 PM   Subscribe

Scientists tell The Guardian their favourite jokes
posted by Artw (80 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

 
My favorite bits being the bit where they explain/overexplain the jokes, which are mostly terrible and yet strangely adorable.
posted by Artw at 2:29 PM on December 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


Why did Erwin Schrödinger, Paul Dirac and Wolfgang Pauli work in very small garages? Because they were quantum mechanics.

Well, there's me locked and loaded for new year's eve
posted by Mario Speedwagon at 2:35 PM on December 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


"An interviewer approaches a variety of scientists, and asks them: "Is it true that all odd numbers are prime?" The mathematician rejects the conjecture. "One is prime, three is prime, five is prime, seven is prime, but nine is not. The conjecture is false." The physicist is less certain. "One is prime, three is prime, five is prime, seven is prime, but nine is not. Then again 11 is and so is 13. Up to the limits of measurement error, the conjecture appears to be true." The psychologist says: "One is prime, three is prime, five is prime, seven is prime, nine is not. Eleven is and so is 13. The result is statistically significant." The artist says: "One is prime, three is prime, five is prime, seven is prime, nine is prime. It's true, all odd numbers are prime!""

I must be some sort of artist because I totally don't get this joke. (Why did they overexplain just the ones that didn't need it?)
posted by iamkimiam at 2:39 PM on December 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


The patient says: "What do you mean I am obsessed? You are the one with all the dirty pictures.''

I feel like this had to have been used as a gag on Animaniacs. I can only hear it in Yakko's voice.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:39 PM on December 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


The joke explanations remind me a bit of the agonizingly unfunny lieutenant from Good Morning Vietnam who was convinced that his radio show would be as funny as Robin Williams'. Except in this case there is actual amusing content involved.
posted by elizardbits at 2:39 PM on December 30, 2013


But one isn't prime! It's a unit in the ring of integers under multiplication! Gaah.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 2:43 PM on December 30, 2013 [13 favorites]


My favorite one's from the comments:

Heisenberg and Schrödinger are out for a drive when they get stopped by the police. The policeman asks Heisenberg "Sir, do you know how fast you were going?" and Heisenberg says "No, but I know where I am!" Confused, the officer says "Sir, you were doing 80 mph," and Heisenberg throws his hands in the air and huffs "Great, now I don't know where I am anymore!"

The policeman thinks something is going on, and orders the pair out of the car so that he can search it for contraband. He looks under the seats, in the glove compartment, in the back, and then walks around the car and opens the boot. He stares into it for a moment, turns to Schrödinger and says "Sir, did you know there's a dead cat in here?!", so Schrödinger rolls his eyes and snorts "Yeah, we do now!"
posted by ZaphodB at 2:44 PM on December 30, 2013 [55 favorites]


My favorite math meta-joke:

There are 10 kinds of people in the world: those who understand binary, those who don't, and 8 other kinds.
posted by scose at 2:44 PM on December 30, 2013 [12 favorites]


But one isn't prime!

And yet 57 is.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:45 PM on December 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


From the comments:

Werner Heisenberg was stopped by the police for speeding. The policeman asked Heisenberg if he knew how fast he was going. "No," says Heisenburg, "but I do know exactly where I was."

I heard a good expansion on this one recently.

Heisenberg and Schrödinger are out for a drive when they get stopped by the police. The policeman asks Heisenberg "Sir, do you know how fast you were going?" and Heisenberg says "No, but I know where I am!". Confused, the officer says "Sir, you were doing 80 mph", and Heisenberg throws his hands in the air and huffs "Great, now I don't know where I am anymore!".
The policeman thinks something is going on, and orders the pair out of the car so that he can search it for contraband. He looks under the seats, in the glove compartment, in the back, and then walks around the car and opens the boot. He stares into it for a moment, turns to Schrödinger and says "Sir, did you know there's a dead cat in here?!", so Schrödinger rolls his eyes and snorts "Yeah, we do now!".

posted by Artw at 2:46 PM on December 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why?
posted by Ivona16 at 2:46 PM on December 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm a little disappointed that none of them claimed "guess what?" "CHICKEN BUTT" as their favourite joke.
posted by elizardbits at 2:48 PM on December 30, 2013 [16 favorites]


Sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium Batman!

Beautiful in its purity.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:51 PM on December 30, 2013 [20 favorites]


Gah, dammit ZaphodB...
posted by Artw at 2:51 PM on December 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


It used to be that placing sodium where it shouldn't be was in itself Chemist humour, but I think that's a little frowned up upon now.
posted by Artw at 2:52 PM on December 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Aw, a lot of these are pretty weak. Reddit had a great post earlier this year, "What's the most intellectual joke you know?", that had a lot of good ones. I've stolen two of them.

The first requires some thought:
Three logicians walk into a bar. The bartender asks "Do you all want to start with a beer?"

The first logician says "I don't know."

The second logician says "I don't know."

The third logician says "Yes!"
The second doesn't:
Pavlov is sitting at a pub enjoying a pint. The phone rings and he jumps up shouting "Oh shit, I forgot to feed the dog!"
posted by benito.strauss at 2:56 PM on December 30, 2013 [37 favorites]


Did you hear about the constipated mathematician?
He worked it out with a pencil.
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:56 PM on December 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


via the Reddit Thread linked above, god I love this one:

Also from The Onion: "Standard deviation not enough for perverted statistician."
posted by marienbad at 3:01 PM on December 30, 2013 [21 favorites]


Previously: “Two women walk into a bar and talk about the Bechdel test.”

posted by ogooglebar at 3:03 PM on December 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I feel like this whole post and all these jokes deserve an affectionate cat call from Homer Simpson right now.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 3:06 PM on December 30, 2013


can someone explain the Heisenberg and logician jokes. I kinda get the Heisenberg one but not really (I know about the cat thing sort of)

the logician one...??? no idea
posted by sio42 at 3:12 PM on December 30, 2013


A higgs boson walks into a catholic church.
The priest spots it, and starts to chase it away, saying "you can't be in here! get out!"
The higgs boson replies "but without me, how can you have mass?"


[I think I just murdered that joke, but it still makes me laugh anyway.]
posted by k8oglyph at 3:15 PM on December 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love the one about the gene for shyness hiding behind two other genes!
posted by Omnomnom at 3:16 PM on December 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, can someone link to the hilarious post about scientists working out how much to tip?
posted by Omnomnom at 3:21 PM on December 30, 2013


Oh man...

Sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium Batman!


hits me right in that sweet spot where something is so not funny in its individual parts that it becomes hilarious as an actual joke.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:22 PM on December 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


FTA: And another thing, how does Adenosine Triphosphate reduce to ATP? Where's the P?

Okay, I admit I was a fuzzy, fluffy liberal arts major who satisfied all her science requirements without ever taking chemistry or biology or anything requiring lab work, but surely it's Adenosine Triphosphate?

I thought it was interesting that some of the jokes really only work when spoken ("An electron and a positron go into a bar") and some that really only work when written ("There are 10 kinds of people in this world").
posted by Lexica at 3:24 PM on December 30, 2013


Cantor's diagonal elephant.

what's big and gray and proves the uncountability of the reals?
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 3:24 PM on December 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


At a party for functions, ex is at the bar looking despondent. The barman says: "Why don't you go and integrate?" To which ex replies: "It would not make any difference."

This joke is better when you can speak in superscripts: ex.
posted by tss at 3:25 PM on December 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


I guess you could just say "e to the x."
posted by overeducated_alligator at 3:26 PM on December 30, 2013


can someone explain the Heisenberg and logician jokes.

The first two logicians can't answer the question "Do you all want a beer?" with a yes, because they don't know what the others want. They only know if they themselves want a beer. If the first or second logician did not want a beer, then she would know that the answer to "Do you all want a beer?" would be "no", because at most, only two of the three of them would want one. Because the first two answered "I don't know" instead of "no", the third logician knew that the other two did, in fact want beer, and since she wanted one too, she could confidently answer that yes, they all wanted a beer.

For the Heisenberg one, you can go with this statement of the uncertainty principle: "The more precisely the position is determined, the less precisely the momentum [which is directly related to velocity] is known in this instant, and vice versa." This seems like a possibly useful description.

If it doesn't make sense, don't feel bad. I have a physics degree, and quantum mechanics stuff mostly doesn't make sense to me either (but the math works out!).
posted by bethnull at 3:28 PM on December 30, 2013 [12 favorites]


A neutron orders a drink in a bar and asks the bar tender "how much?" Serving up the drink the bar tender replies "for you? Free of charge!" Good for a few eye rolls.
posted by astrobiophysican at 3:32 PM on December 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


What do you get when you cross a chicken with an ostrich?
Chicken ostrich sine theta.

What do you get when you cross a chicken with a mountain climber?
Chicken mountain climber sine theta?

Nope, because a mountain climber is a scalar.
posted by sciencegeek at 3:41 PM on December 30, 2013 [17 favorites]


> Also, can someone link to the hilarious post about scientists working out how much to tip?

Here you go
posted by andycyca at 3:49 PM on December 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


Thank you Andycyca!
posted by Omnomnom at 4:01 PM on December 30, 2013


Two atoms walking down the street. One says "Shit! I just lost an electron!". The other says "Are you sure?". "Yes," says the first atom. "I'm positive."
posted by Devonian at 4:10 PM on December 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


sciencegeek, I heard the second part of that one as "cross a mountain climber with a mosquito" and then punchline is "Nothing, because you can't cross a scalar with a vector."

Because the mosquito is a vector...for diseases...I'll see myself out.
posted by jcreigh at 4:10 PM on December 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


Paraphrased from David Auburn's play Proof:

A band of science geeks plays live at a conference, where the entire audience is made up of mathematicians. "We'd like to play our new song," they announce from the stage. The band then stand in silence for three and a bit minutes before accepting the crowd's applause.

It was an imaginary number!
posted by Paul Slade at 4:27 PM on December 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


An astronomer, a physicist and a mathematician are on a train in Scotland. The astronomer looks out of the window, sees a black sheep standing in a field, and remarks, "How odd. All the sheep in Scotland are black!" "No, no, no!" says the physicist. "Only some Scottish sheep are black." The mathematician rolls his eyes at his companions' muddled thinking and says, "In Scotland, there is at least one sheep, at least one side of which appears to be black from here some of the time."
posted by MartinWisse at 4:34 PM on December 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


Also, why do topologist never have doughnuts in the break room? Because they keep confusing them for their coffee cups.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:36 PM on December 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


I just realised I cocked up that David Auburn joke, and now I've missed the edit window.

The stage announcement should have been "This one's called i".

Apologies.
posted by Paul Slade at 4:37 PM on December 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oooh oooh oooh I have one! Do limericks count?
  ( 12 + 144 + 20 ) + 3 sqrt(4)
 -------------------------------  +  5 * 11  =  9^2 
              7

posted by Westringia F. at 4:46 PM on December 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


"we tried to multiply as you bade us, but we're adders… so we have to use logs." was seriously the most fulfilling punchline I have ever read.
posted by SharkParty at 4:50 PM on December 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


What's new?

C over lambda!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:11 PM on December 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


So, Did you hear about the plastic surgeon who hung himself?
posted by X4ster at 5:15 PM on December 30, 2013


Q: Why did Douglas Hofstadter cross the road?
A: To make this riddle possible.
posted by tzikeh at 5:23 PM on December 30, 2013 [11 favorites]


I think my favorite of these is the behaviorist one. I've heard it before, but I still laugh.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:09 PM on December 30, 2013


The jokes are great, but the explanations....
posted by Dip Flash at 6:40 PM on December 30, 2013


my fave:

A mosquito was heard to complain
That chemists had poisoned her brain.
The cause of her sorrow
Was para-dichloro-
diphenyl-trichloroethane.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:41 PM on December 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


My neuropathology professor was a kindly old German man who spoke in such a dead pan, monotone voice, that none of us could tell he had made a joke until a moment after the punch line. (I think I shared this years ago on the blue)
Two cows were out grazing in ze vield. Ze one cow says to ze otter cow, "Have you heard about zis new dizeeze going around ze varm here, zis 'Mad Cow Dizeeze?'"

"Oh, you mean Bovine Spongivorm Enzephalopathy -- yes, I've heard all about it."

"Vell, aren't you worried?"

"Of courze not, I'm a duck."
One day, he is about to start a series of lectures on dementia and he takes his place in the front of the lecture hall. It's immediately and painfully obvious he's left his fly wide open. A student in the front row whispers something to him and he turns away from the class to fix himself. He then steps behind the lectern and without missing a beat:
"In Alzheimer type Dementia, zee vurst thing zat happens is you vorget to zip up. Zee zecond thing zat happens if you vorget to zip down."
posted by Random Person at 7:56 PM on December 30, 2013 [16 favorites]


Q: What's yellow and equivalent to the axiom of choice?

A: Zorn's lemon.
posted by klausness at 8:10 PM on December 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


I recently picked up this two-part vector calculus joke:

Q: What do you get when you cross an elephant and a mechanic?

A: Elephant mechanic sin theta.

Q: What do you get when you cross an elephant and a mountain climber?

A: You can't. A mountain climber is a scalar.

posted by The Great Big Mulp at 8:18 PM on December 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oops, and I just noticed sciencegeek had already posted that one.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 8:24 PM on December 30, 2013


Why did the chicken cross the Möbius strip?

To get to the same side!
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 8:27 PM on December 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Big typo in the article with this (the joke used in the headline!):
Positron: "You're round."


it should be "Your round." or the joke doesn't make sense
posted by Bwithh at 10:25 PM on December 30, 2013


The last time anyone told a phage joke with any humor was 61 years ago and the punchline turned into a third of a Nobel Prize
posted by Blasdelb at 10:32 PM on December 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


it should be "Your round." or the joke doesn't make sense

Round electrons are a thing.
posted by Artw at 10:36 PM on December 30, 2013


GigaFarad
posted by Chuckles at 11:08 PM on December 30, 2013


Why does the Pauli effect take so many people to screw in a lightbulb?

No, wait.

Why does it take so many lightbulbs for the Pauli effect to ...

aw, dammit!
posted by Smedleyman at 12:03 AM on December 31, 2013


Sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium Batman!

hits me right in that sweet spot where something is so not funny in its individual parts that it becomes hilarious as an actual joke.


Most of the hilarity, judging from my children's reaction, comes from trying to say "sodium" eight times in a row as quickly as you would sing the Batman theme song. (Apparently, bouncing up and down in one's seat is mandatory.)
posted by straight at 1:23 AM on December 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


An infinite number of mathematicians walks into a bar. The first one orders a beer; the second one orders half a beer; the third orders a quarter of a beer; the fourth orders an eighth of a beer.

Before the fifth can say anything, the bartender slams two beers onto the counter and says, "You guys don't know your limits."
posted by straight at 1:31 AM on December 31, 2013 [8 favorites]


A biologist, an economist and a statistician go hunting. After sitting in the blind for a couple of hours they see a deer. The biologist takes a shot but the bullet whizzes past the deer - a foot to the left. The economist also takes a shot, but his goes a foot to the right. At this, the statistician jumps up in glee and shouts "Well done guys, you got him!"
posted by ninazer0 at 1:41 AM on December 31, 2013 [5 favorites]


Some of these have turned up on the Mythbusters web site as Jamie's Joke of The Week.

And any joke is better in Jamie Hyneman's deadpan.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:44 AM on December 31, 2013


Oooh oooh oooh I have one! Do limericks count?

( 12 + 144 + 20 ) + 3 sqrt(4)
------------------------------- + 5 * 11 = 9^2
7


For those puzzled by this, here is a starter kit to point you in the right direction: "A dozen, a gross, and a score..."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:12 AM on December 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


oh my god that is awful

(I had to google, math is hard)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:47 AM on December 31, 2013


Not sure I should admit this, but I don't get the sodium/batman joke. Is it just absurd juxtaposition, or is there actually some there there?
posted by dersins at 8:59 AM on December 31, 2013


The symbol for sodium on the periodic table is "Na".
posted by jcreigh at 9:01 AM on December 31, 2013


Joke 1:

Q: Why did the Presocratics write in fragments?

A: Because they were influenced by the architecture of the time.


Joke 2, MartinWisse's joke from above, just in a slightly different form:

An engineer, a physicist, a mathematician and a philosopher are hiking through the hills of Scotland. On the next hill over, they see what appears to be a black sheep. The following conversation ensues:

Engineer: Hey waddaya know, the sheep in Scotland are black.

Physicist: Well, some of the sheep in Scotland are black.

Mathematician: Well, at least one of the sheep in Scotland is black.

Philosopher: Well, on one side, anyway...


I like this one better because (a) it really is an epistemology joke, and alludes to discussions of the Gettier problem, and (b) it can be read as gently making fun of philosophers.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 9:01 AM on December 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


For a while in the mid 90s we had an outgoing message on our answering machine that began with a real recording of the Bell out-of-service announcement
[bloop bloop bleep] The number you have reached, 3 6 7 6 8 6 9 --
and then cut to my voice
i is imaginary. Please rotate your phone by 90 degrees, and try your call again.
I don't know where we got the idea to do it, but it was awesome for simultaneously proclaiming our unabashed nerdiness AND warding off telemarketers, who would hang up at the first tones and never call again.

(see it's funny cuz in the complex plane the real & imaginary numbers lie along the x and y axes respectively, at 90 degrees to each other, so if you rotate... geddit?)
posted by Westringia F. at 9:09 AM on December 31, 2013 [7 favorites]


The patient says: "What do you mean I am obsessed? You are the one with all the dirty pictures.''

I feel like this had to have been used as a gag on Animaniacs. I can only hear it in Yakko's voice.


I know that it's used in What About Bob? (when Richard Dreyfuss finds that Bill Murray has charmed all the doctors at the Asylum.)
posted by Navelgazer at 9:22 AM on December 31, 2013


Wait, no one's told this one yet?:
The bartended says "What'll ya have?"

So a tachyon walks into a bar.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:24 AM on December 31, 2013


There are two types of people in this world. Those that can extrapolate from incomplete data.
posted by bendybendy at 9:40 AM on December 31, 2013 [12 favorites]


Why did the chicken cross the road?

He was trying to be funny.
posted by Drexen at 9:48 AM on December 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


The symbol for sodium on the periodic table is "Na".

Oh ffs. I should be embarrassed for not getting that.


There are two types of people in this world. Those that can extrapolate from incomplete data.

Not science-y, but I always preferred "There are two types of people in this world. Those who crave closure
posted by dersins at 10:28 AM on December 31, 2013 [5 favorites]


So, Did you hear about the plastic surgeon who hung himself?

No, but the drunk plastic surgeon in our local hospital raised a few eyebrows.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:40 PM on December 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


Some boffins tells jokes.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:41 PM on December 31, 2013


From the world of programming:

Knock, knock.
Race condition!
Who's there?
posted by A dead Quaker at 6:49 AM on January 1 [6 favorites]


I like the similar one:

You've got a (programming) problem and decide "I know, I'll multi-thread".

Noyouw 've gtwoot prlems.ob
posted by benito.strauss at 10:07 AM on January 1 [7 favorites]


There are two types of people in this world. Those that can extrapolate from incomplete data.

Hilarious. Visiting family last night and my younger brother told us this one. But my other brother is a mathematician who spent all his free time this week crunching data on his laptop. That made it even funnier. Also, I didn't get it at first.
posted by ovvl at 3:09 PM on January 2


I am totally going to use that joke in my math job that frequently involves extrapolating from incomplete data.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:51 PM on January 2


- How did you become a genetic engineer?

- I did a Ph.D and post-doc studying gene sequences of the arugula salad herb species Diplotaxis and Eruca, then switched to humans.

- That long on just a couple of plant species?

- Well, it is rocket science.

(Nicked from)
posted by MartinWisse at 6:54 AM on January 4


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