These jokes are circulated by
word-of-mouth around engineering, physics, amd math departments
at universities and industries; Many are available on the
The best of the genre work because readers of all 3 persuasions think they make out best.
You'll find many variations of the following jokes out there.
Probably the most well known EPM joke of all. Here are 3 versions:
A mathematician, a physicist and an engineer enter a mathematics contest, the first task of which is to prove that all odd number are prime. The mathematician has an elegant argument: `1's a prime, 3's a prime, 5's a prime, 7's a prime. Therefore, by mathematical induction, all odd numbers are prime. It's the physicist's turn: `1's a prime, 3's a prime, 5's a prime, 7's a prime, 11's a prime, 13's a prime, so, to within experimental error, all odd numbers are prime.' The most straightforward proof is provided by the engineer: `1's a prime, 3's a prime, 5's a prime, 7's a prime, 9's a prime, 11's a prime ...'.
How a mathematician, physicist and an engineer
prove that all odd numbers, (greater than 2), are prime.
Mathematician: "Well, 3 is prime, 5 is prime and 7 is prime so, by induction all odds are prime."
Physicist: "3 is prime, 5 is prime, 7 is prime, 9 isn't prime, (bad data point), 11 is prime, and so is 13, so all odds are prime."
Engineer: "3 is prime, 5 is prime, 7 is prime, 9 is prime, 11 is prime 13 is prime, so all odds are prime."
A mathematician, physicist and an engineer are
asked whether all odd numbers, (greater than 2), are prime. Their
Mathematician: "Let's see, 3 is prime, 5 is prime and 7 is prime, but 9 is a counter-example so the statement is false"
Physicist: "OK, 3 is prime, 5 is prime, 7 is prime, 9 isn't prime, 11 is prime, and so is 13, so all odds are prime to within experimental uncertainty."
Engineer: "3 is prime, 5 is prime, so all odds are prime."
Some more variations on the Odd Primes joke:
Several professors were asked to solve the
following problem: "Prove that all odd integers are
Mathematician: 3 is a prime, 5 is a prime, 7 is a prime, 9 is not a prime - counter-example - claim is false.
Physicist: 3 is a prime, 5 is a prime, 7 is a prime, 9 is an experimental error, 11 is a prime ...
Engineer: 3 is a prime, 5 is a prime, 7 is a prime, 9 is a prime, 11 is a prime ...
Computer Scientist: 3's a prime, 5's a prime, 7's a prime ... segmentation fault
Lawyers: one is prime, three is prime, five is prime, seven is prime, although there appears to be prima facie evidence that nine is not prime, there exists substantial precedent to indicate that nine should be considered prime. The following brief presents the case for nine's primeness...
Liberals: The fact that nine is not prime indicates a deprived cultural environment which can only be remedied by a federally funded cultural enrichment program.
Computer programmers: one is prime, three is prime, five is prime, five is prime, five is prime, five is prime five is prime, five is prime, five is prime...
Professor: 3 is prime, 5 is prime, 7 is prime, and the rest are left as an exercise for the student.
Linguist: 3 is an odd prime, 5 is an odd prime, 7 is an odd prime, 9 is a very odd prime,...
Computer Scientist: 10 prime, 11 prime, 101 prime...
Chemist: 1 prime, 3 prime, 5 prime... hey, let's publish!
New Yorker: 3 is prime, 5 is prime, 7 is prime, 9 is... NONE OF YOUR DAMN BUSINESS!
Programmer: 3 is prime, 5 is prime, 7 is prime, 9 will be fixed in the next release,...
Salesperson: 3 is a prime, 5 is a prime, 7 is a prime, 9 -- let me make you a deal...
Advertiser: 3 is a prime, 5 is a prime, 7 is a prime, 11 is a prime,...
Accountant: 3 is prime, 5 is prime, 7 is prime, 9 is prime, deducting 10% tax and 5% other obligations.
Statistician: Let's try several randomly chosen numbers: 17 is a prime, 23 is a prime, 11 is a prime... Looks good to me.
Psychologist: 3 is a prime, 5 is a prime, 7 is a prime, 9 is a prime but tries to suppress it...
There was a mad scientist (a mad SOCIAL
scientist) who kidnapped three colleagues, an engineer, a
physicist, and a mathematician, and locked each of them in
separate cells with plenty of canned food and water but no can
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 desicated 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 ...
Similarly for chemist, engineer, mathematician:
The chemist had collected rainwater to corrode the cans of beans so he could eat them.
The engineer had taken apart her bed and made a crude can opener out of the parts.
The mathematician was slouched on the floor, long since dead. Written in blood beside the corpse read the following:
Theorem: If I don't eat the beans I will die.
Proof: Assume the opposite and seek a contradiction.
A variant: three professionals, a
mathematician, a physicist and an engineer, took their final test
for the job. The sole question in the exam was "how much is
one plus one".
The math dude asked the receptionist for a ream of paper, two hours later, he said: I have proven its a natural number
The physicist, after checking parallax error and quantum tables said: its between 1.9999999999, and 2.0000000001
the engineer quicly said: oh! its easy! its two,.... no, better make it three, just to be safe.
A physicist, an engineer and a mathematician
were asked how much three times three is.
The engineer grabbed his pocket calculator, eagerly pressed a couple of buttons and announced: "9.0000".
The physicist made an approximation (with an error estimate) and said: "9.00 +/- 0.02".
The mathematician took a piece of paper and a pencil and sat quietly for half an hour. He then returned and proudly declared: There is a solution and I have proved that it is unique!
Mathematician: Pi is the ratio of the
circumference of a circle to its diameter.
Engineer: Pi is about 22/7.
Physicist: Pi is 3.14159 plus or minus 0.000005
Computer Programmer: Pi is 3.141592653589 in double precision.
Nutritionist: You one track math-minded fellows, Pie is a healthy and delicious dessert!
A physicist, an engineer and a mathematician
were all in a hotel sleeping when a fire broke out in their
The physicist woke up, saw the fire, ran over to her desk, pulled out her CRC, and began working out all sorts of fluid dynamics equations. After a couple minutes, she threw down her pencil, got a graduated cylinder out of his suitcase, and measured out a precise amount of water. She threw it on the fire, extinguishing it, with not a drop wasted, and went back to sleep.
The engineer woke up, saw the fire, ran into the bathroom, turned on the faucets full-blast, flooding out the entire apartment, which put out the fire, and went back to sleep. The mathematician woke up, saw the fire, ran over to his desk, began working through theorems, lemmas, hypotheses , you-name-it, and after a few minutes, put down his pencil triumphantly and exclaimed, "I have *proven* that I *can* put the fire out!" He then went back to sleep.
Three employees (an engineer, a physicist and a
mathematician) are staying in a hotel while attending a technical
The engineer wakes up and smells smoke. He goes out into the hallway and sees a fire, so he fills a trashcan from his room with water and douses the fire. He goes back to bed.
Later, the physicist wakes up and smells smoke. He opens his door and sees a fire in the hallway. He walks down the hall to a fire hose and after calculating the flame velocity, distance, water pressure, trajectory, etc. extinguishes the fire with the minimum amount of water and energy needed.
Later, the mathematician wakes up and smells smoke. She goes to the hall, sees the fire and then the fire hose. She thinks for a moment and then exclaims, 'Ah, a solution exists!' and then goes back to bed.
A physicist and a mathematician are in the faculty lounge having a cup of coffee when, for no apparent reason, the coffee machine bursts into flames. The physicist rushes over to the wall, grabs a fire extinguisher, and fights the fire successfully. The same time next week, the same pair are there drinking coffee and talking shop when the new coffee machine goes on fire. The mathematician stands up, fetches the fire extinguisher, and hands it to the physicist, thereby reducing the problem to one already solved...
In the high school gym, all the girls in the
class were lined up against one wall, and all the boys against
the opposite wall. Then, every ten seconds, they walked toward
each other until they were half the previous distance apart. A
mathematician, a physicist, and an engineer were asked,
"When will the girls and boys meet?"
The mathematician said: "Never."
The physicist said: "In an infinite amount of time."
The engineer said: "Well... in about two minutes, they'll be close enough for all practical purposes."
An engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician are shown a pasture with a herd of sheep, and told to put them inside the smallest possible amount of fence. The engineer is first. He herds the sheep into a circle and then puts the fence around them, declaring, "A circle will use the least fence for a given area, so this is the best solution." The physicist is next. She creates a circular fence of infinite radius around the sheep, and then draws the fence tight around the herd, declaring, "This will give the smallest circular fence around the herd." The mathematician is last. After giving the problem a little thought, he puts a small fence around himself and then declares, "I define myself to be on the outside!"
An astronomer, a physicist and a mathematician
(it is said) were holidaying in Scotland. Glancing from a train
window, they observed a black sheep in the middle of a field.
"How interesting," observed the astronomer, "all scottish sheep are black!"
To which the physicist responded, "No, no! Some Scottish sheep are black!"
The mathematician gazed heavenward in supplication, and then intoned, "In Scotland there exists at least one field, containing at least one sheep, at least one side of which is black."
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 herself happily as she 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.
These jokes don't seem as common or varied, but still get the point(s) across.
What is the difference between and engineer, a
physicist, and a mathimatician?
An engineer believes equations approximate the world.
A physicist believes the world approximates equations.
A mathematician sees no connection between the two.
The three umpires at an amateur baseball game,
an engineer, a physicist and a mathematician during the week, all
call a player out on what could only be described as a close
call. The coach of the player who thought he'd made the base
asked the umpires why they'd called his player out.
The engineer replied ``He's out 'cause I called it as it was.''
The physicist replied ``He's out 'cause I called it like I saw it.''
The mathematician replied ``He's out 'cause I called him out.''
A farmer, an engineer, and a physicist were all asked to build a chicken coop. The farmer says, "Well, last time I had so many chickens and my coop was so and so big and this time I have this many chickens so I'll make it this much bigger and that oughtta work just fine." The engineer tackles the problem by surverying, costing materials, reading up on chickens and their needs, writing down a bunch of equations to maximise chicken-to-cost ratio, taking into account the lay of the land and writing a computer program to solve. The physicist looks at the problem and says, "Let's start by assuming spherical chickens....".
A mathematician, a biologist and a physicist
are sitting in a street cafe watching people going in and coming
out of the house on the other side of the street. First they see
two people going into the house. Time passes. After a while they
notice three persons coming out of the house.
The physicist: "One of the two measurements wasn't very accurate."
The biologist: "They have reproduced".
The mathematician: "If now exactly one person enters the house then it will be empty again."
A physicist, an engineer, and a statistician were out game hunting. The engineer spied a bear in the distance, so they got a little closer. "Let me take the first shot!" said the engineer, who missed the bear by three metres to the left. "You're incompetent! Let me try" insisted the physicist, who then proceeded to miss by three metres to the right. "Ooh, we *got* him!!" said the statistician.
A physicist and an engineer are in a hot-air balloon. They've been drifting for hours, and have no idea where they are. They see another person in a balloon, and call out to her: "Hey, where are we?" She replies, "You're in a balloon," and drifts off again. The engineer says to the physicist, "That person was obviously a mathematician." They physicist replies, "How do you know that?" "Because what she said was completely true, but utterly useless."
A mathematician, a physicist and an
engineer are each given $50 to measure the height of a
The mathematician buys a ruler and a sextant, and by determining the angle subtended by the building a certain distance away from the base, he establishes the height of the building.
The physicist buys a heavy ball and a stopwatch, climbs to the top of the building and drops the ball. By measuring the time it takes to hit the bottom, he establishes the height of the building.
The engineer puts $40 into his pocket. By slipping the doorman the other ten, he establishes the height of the building.