Posts tagged ‘joke’

When Math Falls into the Wrong Hands

My brother-in-law recently forwarded an email that contained a lot of images plucked from various degenerate corners of the internet, and he suggested that this one could go into my next book:

image of a handwritten note, with a definite integral given as the PIN code for an ATM card

I suppose it’s funny enough, and I guess it’s technically a math joke, but there’s a problem.

It doesn’t work.

I know, I know. Most people just read the joke, get the humor that the note’s author has used some odious expression to represent the PIN code, and go on about their day. Plus, I’ve heard that less than 1% of the world’s population has taken calculus, so there aren’t too many people who could actually check the math. Not to mention, how many of them would care enough to do so?

Uh… I can think of at least one person who cares enough.

Venn diagram with circle for knows calculus, another circle for cares about the math in jokes, and contains the author's image in the intersection

While it’s certainly egotistical to think that I’m the only one in the intersection, it’s likely offensive to include anyone in the intersection who really wouldn’t want to be. So apologies to Matt Parker, Des McHale, Colin Adams, Ed Burger, or any of the other funny math folks who think they should have been included.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, right. Bad math.

The definite integral in the joke sent by my brother-in-law doesn’t yield a four-digit positive integer.

calculation from Wolfram Alpha showing the value of a definite integralIn fact, it yields a very irrational number with a lot of digits:

-2.58208625277854512796640677001459519299166472798789689499…

So unless the PIN code for that bank card has an infinity of digits, well, this is going to be problematic.

I propose, instead, that the joke be rewritten to use the following:

definite integral of x-squared dx from 1 to 19Would it be less funny? Probably. But at least it’d be accurate.

Not to mention, it would be a significantly more fair to Darling. Honestly, no one should ever have to do integration by substitution.

February 25, 2019 at 7:31 am 2 comments

What’s in Your Pocket?

PocketI recently received an email from adoring fan Alden Bradford:

Teacher: “Would you like a pocket calculator?”
Student: “No, thanks. I already know how many pockets I have.”

Thanks, Alden!

Of course, that reminded me of this gem from Spiked Math:

Spiked Math. One function says,

And one final pocket joke:

The department chair said to the math teachers, “I have good news, and I have bad news. The good news is, we have enough money for a new microwave in the staff lounge.” The teachers cheered! Then one of them asked, “What’s the bad news?” The chair said, “It’s still in your pockets.”

Ouch.

November 13, 2018 at 6:25 am Leave a comment

Six Degrees of Titillation

It was 75° today. If you live in Honolulu, Karachi, Gaberone, or Rio de Janeiro, that might not strike you as unusual. But let me assure you that during late February in Crofton, MD, a temperature that high is rather unexpected.

But no complaints. It was nice to wear only a t-shirt and no jacket, and it allowed me to use this joke at the start of my presentation:

What a beautiful day! When I was invited to this event, I suspected it’d be close to 20° outside. I just didn’t realize it’d be Celsius.

Horrible, ain’t it? But don’t worry… I’ve got more:

  • Do math majors receive degrees or radians?
  • If it’s 0° today, and it’s supposed to be twice as cold tomorrow, how cold is it going to be? (Stephen Wright)
  • Are you a 45° angle? Because you’re acute-y.
  • Why did the obtuse angle go to the beach? Because it was more than 90°.
  • Are you cold? Go sit in a corner. It’s 90° over there.
  • Why didn’t the circle go to college? It already had 360 degrees.
  • I asked the trigonometer what the weather was like, and he said it was 15π/16 outside.
  • The number you dialed is imaginary. Please rotate your phone 90° and try again.
  • What brand of deodorant did the angle use? Degree.

February 21, 2018 at 6:15 am Leave a comment

Interactions with Fractions

This math factoid, compliments of Learn Fun Facts, is just too good not to share…

\displaystyle \frac{18\,534}{9\,267} \times \frac{17\,469}{5\,823} = \frac{34\,182}{5\,697}

Ah, but maybe you missed it. Did you notice that each digit 1-9 appears exactly once in all three fractions? Pretty cool. But I have to say that this is still my favorite fraction equation:

\displaystyle \frac{1}{2} + \frac{1}{3} + \frac{1}{6} = 1

Simple. Beautiful.

On the other hand, I’m not sure I have a favorite fraction joke. I mean, how do you pick just one? The number of fraction jokes is a lot like

\displaystyle \lim_{x\to 0} \frac{1}{x}.

That’s right. There’s no limit.

5 out of 4 people have trouble with fractions.

I will express polynomials as partial fractions. I will compute the value of continued fractions. I will even find a least common denominator. But I draw the line between the numerator and denominator.

What is one-fifth of a foot?
A toe.

How many tents can fit in a campground?
Ten, because ten tents (tenths) make a whole!

Before you go, here’s a fun little fraction problem for you:

What is 1/2 of 2/3 of 3/4 of 4/5 of 500?

November 3, 2017 at 6:58 am Leave a comment

Just Sayin’

Heidi Lang is one of the amazing teachers at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School. When she’s not challenging my sons with interesting puzzles and problems, she’s entertaining them with jokes that make them think. On her classroom door is a sign titled Just Sayin’, under which hangs a variety of puns. Here’s one of them:

Last night, I was wondering why I couldn’t see the sun. Then it dawned on me.

That reminds me of one of my favorite jokes:

I wondered why the baseball kept getting larger. Then it hit me.

Occasionally, one of her puns has a mathematical twist:

Did you know they won’t be making yardsticks any longer?

And this is one of her mathematical puns, though I’ve modified it a bit:

When he picked up a 20‑pound rock and threw it 5,280 feet, well, that was a real milestone.

I so enjoy reading Ms. Lang’s Just Sayin’ puns that I decided to create some of my own. I suspect I’ll be able to hear you groan…

  • He put 3 feet of bouillon in the stockyard.
  • When the NFL coach went to the bank, he got his quarterback.
  • She put 16 ounces of poodle in the dog pound.
  • The accountant thought the pennies were guilty. But how many mills are innocent?
  • His wife felt bad when she hit him in the ass with 2⅓ gallons of water, so she gave him a peck on the cheek.
  • Does she know that there are 12 eggs in a carton? Sadly, she dozen.
  • When his daughter missed the first 1/180 of the circle, he gave her the third degree.
  • She caught a fish that weighed 4 ounces and measured 475 nm on the visible spectrum. It was a blue gill.
  • When Rod goes to the lake, he uses a stick that is 16.5 feet long. He calls it his fishing rod.
  • What is a New York minute times a New York minute? Times Square.
  • I wanted to dance after drinking 31 gallons of Budweiser, so I asked the band to play the beer barrel polka.
  • The algebra teacher was surprised by the mass when she tried to weigh the ball: b ounces.

And because this post would feel incomplete without it, here’s probably the most famous joke of this ilk:

  • In London, a pound of hamburger weighs about a pound.

August 1, 2017 at 6:34 am Leave a comment

Fractional Fun

It’s well known that 5 out of 4 people have trouble with fractions, but even the mathematically advanced may have a little trouble with this puzzle. Your challenge is simple…

Find the sum of all items in the following table.

A hint is below the table, and the answers are below that. Good luck!

fishbird
woodenfortwoodenfort
whiskeybottlewhiskeybottlewhiskeybottlewhiskeybottle
sith
wraithwraithwraithwraith
tenttent

 

Hmm… it seems that you scrolled down here a little too quickly for the hint. Try harder. To put some distance between you and the hint, here are some fraction jokes:

How is sex like a fraction?
It’s improper for the larger one to be on top.

Which king invented fractions?
Henry the Eighth.

There’s a fine line between the numerator and denominator.
(And it’s called a vinculum.)

Okay, you’ve waited long enough. Here’s your hint. The items in the table are a fird (fish + bird), wooden forts, bottles of whiskey, the Sith lord Darth Maul, wraiths, and tents. (By the way, thanks to www.HikingArtist.com for the cool drawing of the fird!) Hope that helps.

To put some space between the hint and the answer, here are some more fraction jokes:

A student once told me, “To prove to you that I understand equivalent fractions, I only did three-sevenths of my homework.”

I was scared half to death… twice.

What is one-fifth of a foot?
A toe.

Okay, you’ve waited (and endured) enough. Without further adieu, the answer is 2.5. The images in the table are:

  • one fird
  • two forts
  • four fifths
  • one Sith
  • four wraiths
  • two tents

the sum of which is

\frac{1}{3} + \frac{2}{4} + \frac{4}{5} + \frac{1}{6} + \frac{4}{8} + \frac{2}{10} = \frac{300}{120} = 2\frac{1}{2}.

You’re welcome.

Thanks for stopping by. Have a great day!

November 11, 2016 at 11:11 am Leave a comment

Loot™ — Best Game Ever?

Loot

Loot™ by Gamewright

If Loot isn’t the best game of all time, it’s at least the best game for International Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19).

For those who don’t know, Loot is a pirate-themed card game in which you can do three things:

  • Send a merchant ship out to sea.
  • Attack a merchant ship with pirate ships.
  • Play a pirate king or admiral to increase your attack strength.

I bought the game on a whim when visiting Powell’s City of Books several months ago, and it’s clearly the best random purchase of my life. (It far exceeds the tattoo of Rene Descartes that mysteriously appeared on my posterior the morning after one helluva night in Hoboken, NJ. Don’t ask.) The game has many appealing qualities:

  • Simple to learn. It takes less than 10 minutes.
  • Fast to play. A game can be completed in 20 minutes.
  • Strategically challenging. The strategy is not obvious. (I’ve played quite a few times, and I’m not even sure that my strategy is effective, let alone optimal.)
  • And not least important, the following is a direct quotation from the official rules:
    We find that the game’s even more fun when everyone talks in pirate accents.

How do you not love a game that gives that kind of directive? When playing in teams, we ask the following questions to elicit a pirate response:

  • What’s the circumference of a circle divided by 2π?
  • What’s the eighth most common letter in the English language?
  • What is d ÷ t?
  • What’s the 18th letter of the alphabet?
  • Which set of numbers includes the rationals and irrationals?
  • Which letter appears most often in refrigerator?
  • What electrical property is measured in ohms (Ω)?

Here are some other mathy pirate jokes that might amuse.

What has 12 legs and 12 eyes?
A dozen pirates!

What is the pirate alphabet?
ABCCCCCCCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

What do pirates and Descartes have in common?
They think, therefore they ARR!

How much did the pirate pay for his peg and hook?
An arm and a leg!

Did you know that 3.14% of sailors are pi-rates?

Finally — even though it’s not Pi Day — here’s an image you might enjoy, compliments of Illuminations.

Loot

September 14, 2015 at 12:40 am Leave a comment

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About MJ4MF

The Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks blog is an online extension to the book Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks. The blog contains jokes submitted by readers, new jokes discovered by the author, details about speaking appearances and workshops, and other random bits of information that might be interesting to the strange folks who like math jokes.

MJ4MF (offline version)

Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks is available from Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, NCTM, Robert D. Reed Publishers, and other purveyors of exceptional literature.

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