Friday, September 4, 2009

A chemist, physicist, and mathematician.....

Since I am on holidays this week, all I have to offer is a joke I heard last week in Toronto. Apparently, David Tannor told it the week before at a Gordon Conference on Quantum Control. Here is my version:

A chemist, a physicist, and a pure mathematician all check into the same hotel. Unfortunately, a fire breaks out in each of their rooms in the middle of the night. The chemist wakes up rushes into the bathroom fills the bath with water and uses a wastepaper basket to rapidly bail water onto the fire. He quickly extinguishes the fire and goes back to bed.

The physicist wakes up sees the fire, looks at the thermometer on the wall, and does an order of magnitude estimate of the fire temperature and how fast it is spreading. He sits down at the desk and does a couple of quick calculations. He estimates it will require 3 liters of water to extinguish the fire. He measures out this water and pours it on the fire. He is very pleased that his estimate was correct. He goes back to sleep content that he has solved the problem.

The pure mathematician wakes up, sees the fire, and realises there is a problem to be solved. He sits at the desk in profound thought and then writes out some careful notes, ending with QED. He says to himself, "As I thought, there is a solution, but it is not necessarily unique." He goes back to bed content he has solved the problem.

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