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So You Think Physics is Funny? 926

mzs writes "I just found this article in PhysicsWorld by Robert P. Crease detailing some of the 'better' physics jokes that readers sent him in response to an earlier article. Read about why the elements of magnetic flux are hard to understand or about the sexual adventures of Alice and Bob in a bar. Let's use the comments for this article to list more jokes from our technical professions which are funny but not necessarily to those outside of the field. I will close with this gem from the article: 'What's new?' 'E over h.'"
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So You Think Physics is Funny?

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  • Neils Bohr (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cortez ( 316233 ) on Friday December 05, 2003 @04:15PM (#7641506) Journal
    My favorite was the joke about the physics exam in which a young Neils Bohr goes through all the different ways to measure the height of a building using a pen.

    Unfortunately I can't remember enough to do it justice... Anyone? I'm sure its good for a +1 Funny.
  • Re:Not quite (Score:2, Interesting)

    by IggyBung ( 45107 ) on Friday December 05, 2003 @05:51PM (#7642799) Homepage Journal
    The way I've understood it, from the outside, "in our universe", the cat is both alive and dead because we can't observe it.

    From the cat's perspective, "his universe", he is observing a state of aliveness or deadness, but the outside universe is in an indeterminate state.

    The two universes don't actually need to be the they?

  • by sakusha ( 441986 ) on Friday December 05, 2003 @06:09PM (#7642995)
    I used to see an old Cold War-era flyer on the bulletin board in the linear accellerator building on my local campus, it eventually got taken down and I've been looking for a copy ever since. Maybe someone remembers this classic physics joke, someone HAS to have a copy posted on the web somewhere.
    It was a list of "solutions to the submarine detection problem" or something like that. It purported to show how each scientific discipline would locate Russian submarines.
    I only remember a couple of the solutions. Nuclear physicists would bombard the ocean with radiation to convert all the water to heavy water, changing the neutral density point and messing up the boyancy of subs, making them all rise to the surface. Mechanical engineers would build huge dams around the Atlantic, pump all the water into the Pacific, and then the submarines would be left sitting on the ocean bottom where they could be spotted by aircraft.
    I think you get the basic idea, I remember it being totally hilarious, and I'm sure my two lame examples did not do it justice.
  • Re:Not quite (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mattcelt ( 454751 ) on Friday December 05, 2003 @07:11PM (#7643578)
    Then what constitutes an observer? This has always seemed to be a problem with the HUP to me... Say I record the event of the cat's death on a computer (EKG, for instance). Then I look at the computer reading before I open the box to see the cat directly. So I know the state of the cat without actually observing the cat. At what point does the cat actually die? When the computer records it? When I look at the readout? If the computer records it at a particular time, but the waveform doesn't collapse until a later time when I observe it, this seems paradoxical to me.

    Take this a step further - what if the EKG is just an entangled particle? Now we have base matter acting as observers perhaps? What constitutes an "observer"?

    If each universe is unique to the observer, does that mean we have as many universes as their are quantum particles? How do those universes stay so closely collaborated that we can all observe the same initial condition to start from?

    *brain explodes*

Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan