A Mathematician, A Physicist and an Engineer...


An engineer is working at his desk in his office. His cigarette falls off the desk into the wastebasket, causing the papers within to burst into flames. The engineer looks around, sees a fire extinguisher, grabs it, puts out the flames, and goes back to work.

A physicist is working at his desk in another office and the same thing happens. He looks at the fire, looks at the fire extinguisher, and thinks "Fire requires fuel plus oxygen plus heat. The fire extinguisher will remove both the oxygen and the heat in the wastebasket. Ergo, no fire." He grabs the extinguisher, puts out the flames, and goes back to work.

A mathematician is working at his desk in another office and the same thing happens. He looks at the fire, looks at the fire extinguisher, and thinks for a minute, says "Ah! A solution exists!" and goes back to work.

Woman in a bar

A mathematician and an engineer are sitting at a table drinking when a very beautiful woman walks in and sits down at the bar.

The mathematician sighs. "I'd like to talk to her, but first I have to cover half the distance between where we are and where she is, then half of the distance that remains, then half of that distance, and so on. The series is infinite. There'll always be some finite distance between us."

The engineer gets up and starts walking. "Ah, well, I figure I can get close enough for all practical purposes."

Prime numbers

A mathematician, physicist, and engineer are taking a math test. One question asks "Are all odd numbers prime?"

The mathematician thinks, "3 is prime, 5 is prime, 7 is prime, 9 is not prime -- nope, not all odd numbers are prime."

The physicist thinks, " 3 is prime, 5 is prime, 7 is prime, 9 is not prime -- that could be experimental error -- 11 is prime, 13 is prime, yes, they're all prime."

The engineer thinks, " 3 is prime, 5 is prime, 7 is prime, 9 is prime, 11 is prime, ..."

Sheep in Scotland

A mathematician, a physicist, and an engineer are riding a train through Scotland.

The engineer looks out the window, sees a black sheep, and exclaims, "Hey! They've got black sheep in Scotland!"

The physicist looks out the window and corrects the engineer, "Strictly speaking, all we know is that there's at least one black sheep in Scotland."

The mathematician looks out the window and corrects the physicist, " Strictly speaking, all we know is that is that at least one side of one sheep is black in Scotland."


A physicist, engineer and a statistician are out hunting. Suddenly, a deer appears 50 yards away.

The physicist does some basic ballistic calculations, assuming a vacuum, lifts his rifle to a specific angle, and shoots. The bullet lands 5 yards short.

The engineer adds a fudge factor for air resistance, lifts his rifle slightly higher, and shoots. The bullet lands 5 yards long.

The statistician yells "We got him!"

Variation on a joke from Chris Maltby

Difference between a mathematician and a physicist

After taking a course in mathematical physics, I wanted to know the real difference between Mathematics and Physicists. A professor friend told me "A Physicist is someone who averages the first 3 terms of a divergent series"

Benjamin Jones

At the races

A Statistician, Engineer and Physicist go to the horse track. Each have their system for betting on the winner and they're sure of it.

After the race is over, the Statistician wanders into the nearby bar, defeated. He notices the Engineer, sits down next to him, and begins lamenting: "I don't understand it. I tabulated the recent performance of all these horses, cross-referenced them with trends for others of their breed, considered seasonal variability, everything. I couldn't have lost."

"Yeah," says the Engineer, "well, forget that. I ran simulations based on their weight, mechanical ratios, performance models, everything, and I'm no better off."

Suddenly, they notice a commotion in the corner. The Physicist is sitting there, buying rounds and counting his winnings. The Engineer and Statistician decide they've got to know, so they shuffle over and ask him, "what's your secret, how'd you do it?"

The Physicist leans back, takes a deep breath, and begins, "Well, first I assumed all the horses were spherical and identical..."

Jeff Vavasour on rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated

Red rubber ball

A mathematician, a physicist, and an engineer are given the task of finding how high a particular red rubber ball will bounce when dropped from a given height onto a given surface.

The mathematician derives the elasticity of the ball from its chemical makeup, derives the equations to determine how high it will bounce and calculates it.

The physicist takes the ball into the lab, measures its elasticity, and plugs the variables into a formula.

The engineer looks it up in his red rubber ball book.

Kathryn Huxtable on rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated

Point of View

A physicist, a biologist and a mathematician sit in a sidewalk cafe, looking at the building across the road. Two people go into the building, then three people come out.

Physicist: "This must be a measuring error!"

Biologist: "This is proof of procreation!"

Mathematician: "If one more person goes into the building, it will be empty!"



There was a mad scientist who kidnapped three colleagues, an engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician, and locked each of them in seperate cells with plenty of canned food and water but no can opener.

A month later, returning, the mad scientist went to the engineer's cell and found it long empty. The engineer had constructed a can opener from pocket trash, used aluminum shavings and dried sugar to make an explosive, and escaped.

The physicist had worked out the angle necessary to knock the lids off the tin cans by throwing them against the wall. She was developing a good pitching arm and a new quantum theory.

The mathematician had stacked the unopened cans into a surprising solution to the kissing problem; his dessicated corpse was propped calmly against a wall, and this was inscribed on the floor in blood:

Theorem: If I can't open these cans, I'll die.
Proof: assume the opposite...

(name unknown), Reed College, Portland, OR



An engineer, a physicist and a mathematicians have to build a fence around a flock of sheep, using as little material as possible.

The engineer forms the flock into a circular shape and constructs a fence around it.

The physicist builds a fence with an infinite diameter and pulls it together until it fits around the flock.

The mathematicians thinks for a while, then builds a fence around himself and defines himself as being outside.


A scientific metajoke

An engineer, a physicist and a mathematician find themselves in an anecdote, indeed an anecdote quite similar to many that you have no doubt already heard.

After some observations and rough calculations the engineer realizes the situation and starts laughing.

A few minutes later the physicist understands too and chuckles to himself happily as he now has enough experimental evidence to publish a paper.

This leaves the mathematician somewhat perplexed, as he had observed right away that he was the subject of an anecdote, and deduced quite rapidly the presence of humour from similar anecdotes, but considers this anecdote to be too trivial a corollary to be significant, let alone funny.