## Archive for June 16, 2010

### Reviewers’ Favorite Jokes

Sol Lederman of Wild About Math said that *Math Jokes for Mathy Folks* is “117 pages of pure (vs. applied) fun. […] While I’ve heard a number of the jokes already, there were plenty of new ones to give me a chuckle.” He also said that the following joke — which does not appear in *MJ4MF* — happens to be his favorite:

A farmer was showing his fields to a mathematician and his wife. The mathematician made continual attempts to impress with his intellect, referencing arcane formulas and then doing computations mentally. Frustrated by this, the farmer decided to teach him a lesson. He took them to a field packed with hundreds of cows and said to the mathematician, “If you can guess the exact number of cows in this field, you can have all of them! But if you get it wrong, I get to sleep with your wife!”

The mathematician thought for a moment, his eyes quickly scanning the entire field. Finally he said, “228.”

The farmer was stunned. “How on Earth did you do that?” he asked. ”There’s no way you could have counted all those cows so quickly!”

“You’re right,” the mathematician replied. “‘I counted their legs and then divided by 4.”

A review of the book also appears on MAA Reviews by Fernando Q. Gouvea, who said, “Several jokes appear slightly differently from the way I’ve heard them, which is par for the course: jokes are folk literature, and they change as they move from one person to the next.” I couldn’t agree more. If you tell a joke, you should make it your own.

Dr. Gouvea went on to say, “…if you like mathematical jokes, you might enjoy having a copy,” and he said the following joke was his favorite:

Q: How many topologists does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: Just one. But what will you do with the doughnut?